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A quick trip to London at the holidays

Ben and I took a last minute quick trip to London with friends last week to see the city all dressed up for the holidays. It was so nice to spend some time just the two of celebrating the end of the semester.

I still had a few deadlines to meet and Ben had a final to take, plus we had lots of sleep to catch up on, but we managed to still have some fun 😉

Here’s a quick itinerary of what we did in our three and a half days in the city.

What is most obvious is what we didn’t do; take pictures. My camera spent a lot of time back in the hotel and it was nice to spend less time documenting and more time experiencing (although I do wish we had a FEW more photos, especially of the group of us).

 

Day 1: Monday

  1. get off red-eye + uber to hotel
  2. Christmas concert at St. Martin in the Fields
  3. National Portrait Gallery
  4. Early dinner at Dishoom (yummy indian food)
  5. Christmas carols at Trafalgar Square (those lions!)
  6. Liberty London
  7. Strolling Oxford and Regent street Christmas lights

Day 2: Tuesday

  • Almond Croissants at Pauls
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Harrods
  • Signor Sassi for lunch (Italian)
  • Back to the hotel for a nap
  • St. Pauls Cathedral (tried to go to Evensong but it was cancelled so Ben got a fantastic haircut instead)
  • dinner at Stix ‘n Sushi (potentially our best meal of the whole trip)
  • Wicked the musical

Day 3: Wednesday

  • Stroll to Hyde Park
  • Kensington Palace
  • Natural History Museum
  • late lunch at Cote (SO good)
  • back to the hotel for work/finals
  • Les Mis

Day 4: Thursday

  • Buckingham Palace
  • Dominique Ansel Bakery for a cronut
  • back to the airport

A few highlights:

  • Les Mis: There are hardly words for this musical. We thought Wicked was wonderful and were then blown away by the talent and power of this performance. We had so much fun at Wicked the night before that we moved Ben’s final up a few hours to try and make it in time to catch another show our last night. Ben finished his final and we sprinted from the hotel to the tube and from the tube to the theater. We arrived at the ticket counter at 7:26 for a 7:30 show and asked what tickets they had available. Sometimes last minute things pay off because we snagged fifth row center seats for a great deal.
  • Late night macaron tasting with friends: We got a selection of macarons while shopping at Harrods on Tuesday and spent one late night back at the hotel chatting with friends and sampling the different flavors.
  • Raphael cartoons in the Victoria and Albert Museum: The fashion exhibits were fun but the most awe inspiring were the Raphael cartoons. I learned that a cartoon in art refers to full-scale preparatory work for a fresco, oil painting, or tapestry. In this case, the MASSIVE paintings were templates for tapestries that hang in the Sistine Chapel.
  • Singing “dancing through life” as we waltzed home after Wicked. And that meal before Wicked. We stopped in a Stix ‘n Sushi place after striking out attempting to find this hole in the wall Indian place before the show and it turned out to be possibly the best meal of our trip. We tried wagu beef, had the most incredible cauliflower in a black truffle sauce, and decided grilled edimame is the only way to go.
  • Running around with our friend’s kids by the lions in Trafalgar square: One of my favorite memories of London is eating gelato on those lions with my own siblings over a decade ago. Most of the time on this trip we were so grateful our kids were having so much fun at Grandma’s but that one half hour, running around with giggly children, we really wished Lincoln and Adelaide were with us.
  • Ben’s British haircut: When St. Pauls was closed for an event and their Evensong was cancelled, we decided to trace our steps back to the barber shop we passed so Ben could step in and get a needed haircut. We didn’t realize it would be a 50 minute affair with a double wash, four different cuts, and a lots of massages.  And then there was that fire thing around his ears. He loved it.

Details:

  • We flew into Gatwick and took an expensive and long Uber into the city during morning traffic. We were so tired that we were happy to snooze on the 1:45 minute drive instead of navigating train changes.
  • On the way back we ubered from our hotel to Victoria Station where we checked our bags for two hours and walked to Buckingham Palace. After retrieving our bag we took the Gatwick Express to the airport and it was super easy (and much more cost effective).
  • We got oyster cards to use for the trip and returned them at the station at the end of the week to get the 5 pound reimbursement.
  • We still ubered quite a bit because often the uber ride was just a pound or two more than two train tickets and more convenient.
  • We stayed at the Resident Inn by Marriot in Kensignton right by Earls Court tube station (friends had points and were traveling with kids so it was a great fit). It would have been more convenient to a lot of things to be staying more central but the price was good and the flat-lined Kensington streets were so cute. I was also really happy to have Marriot amenities (a fantastic mattress, thick towels, and great water pressure, plus a good complimentary continental breakfast). Overall, we were really happy with the hotel although, if heading back again just the two of us without kids, we’d probably stay a little more central.

P.S. We didn’t make it to Tate Modern which was on my list for this trip. We also chose not to do the British Museum and the Tower of London because those were the two things we did the one day we spent in London three years ago (see the post here – I was quite pregnant). If you’re headed to London, though, don’t miss the Tower of London.

travel outfit essentials:

these Cole Haan black sneakers: I wore these everyday and on the flight. I packed another pair of sneakers for working out (that I never wore ;). (more cute sneakers here)

black leggings: I wore these on the red-eye over and ended up wearing them for another day or two of site-seeing.  (more cute leggings here)

black puffer coat: it was above 40 degrees but I was grateful I had a warm coat, especially for walking around the city at night. (more puffer coats here)

black crossbody: I love this one because it can hold my DSLR. (more Rebecca Minkoff bags here)

 

 

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