I was lucky to have 24 hours to spend in London at the end of a business trip to the UK earlier this year. Having never stepped foot onto the soil of my ancestors, I was giddy with excitement. I was staying at a hotel near the airport, so I could catch a shuttle, then hop onto the tube to go exploring.
I had the worst blisters of my life (my boots were not made for walking) but I had the best time. I have to book a holiday to the UK again, just to experience London at a more leisurely pace.
Here is my list of the 10 things I did in London in 24 hours:
1. Shopping on Oxford Street
This was a must for me. I have a bit of a shopping problem, and loved exploring the fancy and not so fancy stores along this bustling street. It’s a good thing I was alone, since I spent more time than is acceptable inside Primark, and ended up with the biggest shopping bag, filled with clothes for me and the boyfriend. Primark has similar pricing to Mr Price, and they have such awesome clothes. I would go back to London, just to shop there again.
2. Watching millionaires in bow ties near Hyde Park
I somehow ended up near Hyde Park at night (queen of aimlessly walking around), and I am eternally grateful for the well-lit sidewalks. Walking down Park Lane, I saw a number of larney people in their chauffeur driven cars, being dropped off at restaurants that I wouldn’t even glance at. They were wearing bow-ties. On a Thursday evening. So posh.
I also found the Tardis:
3. Dinner with a friend at Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant
I met up with my friend Sean who I hadn’t seen in months. He had moved from Chicago to London, and it was so nice to see him again. We decided on Jamie Oliver’s Recipease restaurant in Nottinghill for dinner. I had a juicy burger and a cocktail, and we got to watch people learn how to cook at the giant workstation in the middle of the restaurant. Apparently you can book a cooking class where they show you how to make pasta and whatnot. It looked like so much fun. Downstairs there was a shop selling numerous foodie items. How gorgeous are the meringues?
4. Late night tube rides back to your hotel…
…which you have yet to check into. I checked in after midnight. My feet were sore and my arms were throbbing from having to lug my giant shopping bag around. My room had 2 beds!! I had almost no sleep, because I wanted to go exploring as early as possible. It was completely worth it.
5. Theatres in Leicester Square and the flashing lights of Piccadilly Circus
My first stop for my last couple of hours in London was Leicester Square, I wanted to see London’s West End even though I wouldn’t have time to catch a show. I took photos of buildings and statues, and even got drizzled on. Piccadilly Circus is like a toned down version of Times Square. Not that dazzling during the day, but I’m sure it looks ultra-fancy at night.
6. M&M’s world
Whilst in Leicester Square, I could barely miss the tacky M&M’s world store-front. The chocolaty smell they pump through the store entices you in, and then you can’t help but explore the number of floors all littered with the overpriced M&M’s paraphernalia. You can even order personalised M&M’s which they will print for you while you wait. I bought an ice-cream scoop, some salt and pepper shakers and lip balm. Not one M&M 😀
7. Walk across the park
The next item on my “Must try to do everything” list, was to witness the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham palace. I first had to find this palace, which required walking through the gorgeous “Green Park” (I was very reliant on Google maps in London, it was my safety blanket). What a gorgeous park, with its ultra-green lawns, giant trees, daffodils, foot paths and benches. I want to go and have a hundred picnics in all the parks in London.
8. Visit Buckingham palace for the changing of the guard.
I feel like I was at a disadvantage with viewing the changing of the guard ceremony. Being 1.52m tall is a huge problem in bustling crowds. I could barely see over people’s heads, and my claustrophobia prevented me from wanting to join the clamour of people pushed against the gates. That being said, I did enjoy bearing witness to the somewhat obscured view of the pomp and ceremony associated with this event. Majestic guards marching along on their horses or with their instruments putting on a show, it was fabulous. And I found the place I want to stand if I ever go again. The palace itself is a really boring rectangular building. Not at all castle like. Very sad for my pre conceived fairy-tale notions.
9. Stumbling across Big Ben
After her Majesty’s loyal servants had finished with their fanfare, I headed in the direction of the river. I wanted to go to Borough market, and pass some landmarks on the way. After what felt like 10km of walking, I happened to look up and see a clock. I was like, “That’s a cool clock” and promptly snapped an instagram pic. Only after a few minutes did I realise that I had found Big Ben. Thank goodness I’m not a tour guide. 😀 I also took some cool pictures of other fancy buildings. I didn’t linger though, because I was starving, my feet felt like balloons, and I had to find Borough Market.
10. Pie and Mash for lunch from Borough market
A tube ride under the river Thames took me to my sought after destination. Borough Market. When Joburg markets reach this level of awesomeness, I will let you know, for now they seem like poor imitations. Hundreds of vendors selling their wares from fresh fruit and beer, to giant meringues as well as a multitude of lunch options to choose from I was in foodie heaven. There were a lot of people visiting on their lunch break. How cool is that? Any who, since I had been in the UK for a few days, and hadn’t exactly sampled any traditional English fare, I decided to join the long queue at the Pieminister store. They had awesome names for their pie’s like “kate and sidney” and “moo and blu”, I ordered the freeranger chicken pie with mash and gravy, and found a barrel and a stack of hay to sit on and enjoy my lunch. It was the ultimate warm comfort food, perfect for the drizzly London weather, and I was thrilled to be able to sit and let my feet throb for a well. I explored the area around Borough market for a while, before deciding to call it a day, and head back to my hotel to fetch my bags for the trip home.
I’m besotted with a little town called London, and can’t wait to go back. See you soon love. ♥