When James and I got married, we vowed to each other that we would make every day an adventure, finding joy in the simplicity of the life we build together. But we also promised each other that we would see new places together, that we would fill the longing in my soul for places we’ve never known. We have been on hundreds of adventures together since our wedding day, but our European adventure (& the first time traveling to another country for the both of us!) was, and forever will be, one of my most cherished memories.
London, with its remarkable beauty, bustling energy, and lingering timelessness, had me completely and utterly charmed from the very moment we left the airport.
& Paris, with its intangible intermingling of the past and present so effortlessly, had me enchanted, on a cloud much higher than nine.
I hope the sharing of our trip preserves a bit of the magic we experienced, and shares with you the undeniable enchantment both places embrace.
On our way to London, we had a short layover in Iceland (we flew WOW Airlines – you can’t beaut their rates!). While it was short-lived, we couldn’t help but find ourselves amazed by the small glimpse we caught of Iceland’s beauty.
After a quick bite to eat and a few gazes across Iceland’s horizon, we were off again, & made it to London later in the evening (the time difference took some getting used to!) We stayed at the Hyde Park Boutique Hotel, which was the cutest hotel nestled in the middle of some of the most beautiful streets!
When we woke up the next morning, I swore I was dreaming. It was all so surreal. We had woken up in London! I remember lying there, listening to the quiet streets outside start to fill with energy, my sweet husband’s hand intertwined in mine, thinking to myself that there was no greater feeling. I was living the dream my 6-year-old self had written about in diaries, and fantasized about in my sleep. And I had hoped so desperately that the next 8 days would pass slowly. And fortunately, they did.
We spent our first day walking around the entire city (by the end of the day we had walked over 10 miles!). We started wandering through Hyde Park which hands down was one of the most beautiful places my eyes have ever seen (and literally just down the street from our hotel). The leaves had started changing colors, leaving the entire park in an exuberance of beauty. & the cold air was the cherry on top; I had fallen in love with London in the Fall! It started to sprinkle, so we stopped at a small café in the park and got our first European meal (muffins and tea, classic!).
We continued our walk all the way to Buckingham Palace, where we got to see the changing of the guard. The palace was much more grand than I imagined (and the line to get inside was even grander ((is grander a word?)) It was stunning, nonetheless. Again with the architecture; so. impressed.
We then headed to Victoria Coach station where we hopped on a double-decker red bus that had been turned into an afternoon tea bus tour (SO CUTE & SO FUN). We spent the next two hours drinking tea and eating incredible pastries while enjoying some of London’s most charming views.
Once that ended, we made our way to Westminster Abbey, which held so much history and beauty. Directly next to that is the famous Big Ben (which actually isn’t called Big Ben, by the way. It’s called “Elizabeth Tower.” Big Ben refers only to the clock inside). After giving in to the giddy tourist inside of me for a few moments (thanks, James, for coming in clutch with your photography skills), we rode the London Eye, which offered stunning views of the entire city.
Afterwards, on our way back to the hotel to rest, we roamed through Trafalgar Square (which is measured as the exact center of London) and admired a number of charming London streets with some of the most remarkable architecture I have ever seen.
After a quick power nap, we grabbed dinner at Bella Italia, an Italian restaurant nearby, and reminisced on all we had experienced that day over super yummy food (I had some of the best pizza EVER). We spent a good amount of time there, learning to conform to the slower pace that entertains Europeans, and we really enjoyed it. We had fun getting familiar with their customs (including having to ask for the check when dining at a restaurant). All restaurants over there are in NO rush; they go at your pace, letting you stay and enjoy the atmosphere for as long as you wish, and only ending your dining experience when you are ready to leave. We loved getting to actually slow down and take our time to enjoy all that our time over there had to offer.
Our last full day in London was nothing short of incredible. We woke up early and watched out our window as locals walked their children to school (they all wore uniforms and rode around on scooters!) before heading out for a day planned with some “off the beaten path” type activities. We strolled to London’s “Little Venice” town and ate breakfast at the cutest gem of a place called “Waterside Café.” It used to be a full functioning canal boat, but has since been transformed into a stationary café that serves super yummy food!
We then took a boat ride through the canals of Little Venice on “Jason’s boat” where we were accompanied by incredible views. The boat took us to Camden Lock which was a character of a place to say the least. It was filled with unique shops selling weird trinkets, and outdoor food markets cooking a variety of foreign foods. It felt like a swap meet with its bustling crowds and eccentric vibes.
After we spent the better part of the afternoon wandering around that small town, we headed back to our hotel and got ready for a night at the theatre! We spontaneously had purchased tickets to see “The Phantom of the Opera” at Her
Majesty’s Theatre and boy was it a great decision! We started the evening off with dinner at a traditional English-styled Pub in Trafalgar Square called “The Admiralty” (highly recommend if you ever make it to London, it was BEAUTIFUL and the food was good!).
Our time at the theatre was one I will never forget. I felt like we had traveled back in time, as the theatre had preserved its age quite well. As we sat there in our seats, I couldn’t help but imagine all of the historical philosophers and poets, families, and couples, who had sat in those very spots over the years, enjoying a collection of great plays performed by various talents. I was in awe.
We ended our evening walking through Regent Street, hand in hand, our star struck eyes dazed by all of the extravagant shops and nighttime lights. It was a perfect way to spend our last evening in London.
I laid in bed that night, already missing all of it. Our time in London was quick, but nothing short of magical. I couldn’t believe a place so enchanting existed. And I already can’t wait to go back!
~ (read about our time in PARIS, here.) ~