Eurotrip Part IIa: London

londonmapWe spent a lot of time going back and forth from Epsom to London, as it was only about a 30 minute train ride.  It’s been awhile since then and I couldn’t be more glad that I remembered to document what we did!

August 27, 2015 – My first trip to London.  
“Took the National Rail from Epsom to London Waterloo, then took the tube to London Bridge Station.”  I remember stepping into the main area of Waterloo Station and thinking, “wow, I feel like Harry Potter” at the Ministry of Magic.  Very overwhelming and fast paced, not the best place to rubberneck, like I was doing.5A6EF480-AAC5-4270-A816-0675D29495F61dflksdjfFrom London Bridge Station, we walked to London Bridge, stopped by the HMS Belfast, then made our way towards the iconic Tower Bridge.  From the Tower Bridge, you could see the Tower of London from across the way.  I don’t know why, but whenever I think of the Tower of London, I always think about poor Anne Boleyn, even though there were quite a few other famous people killed at the Tower (some of the other wives of King Henry VIII).B44E8E24-77D3-4C0E-B018-EF655509EB8BWe stopped at a little bar under the Tower Bridge which overlooked the river called The Vault.  B had a pint and I tried my first Pimm’s Cup.  LOVED IT.85C1D1CA-9887-4451-90A1-A8022425D36A0D3DC80C-6E5F-4D0D-8475-5FF524084019From the Thames, we walked to Borough Market.  “LOVE this place” was the first thing I wrote about it!  It was sensory overload-didn’t know where to start, couldn’t decide what to get…in a good way.  Items available at the Market ranged from prepared foods, charcuterie, cheese, fresh meat and seafood from local vendors, veggies, cider and honey mead (I approve), and desserts!  B and I ate a huge subpar lunch in Epsom prior to our trip, so we weren’t hungry; instead we got drinks at a stall called New Forest Cider.  B had medium dry cider and I tried the honey mead.  It was very medieval and delicious.  I also had fresh juice (apple + pomegranate), which you can find at multiple stalls.2kjdklfjdF43532B6-341E-457A-8496-491BE354CB9C2DDE8979-6F11-4B14-9061-2BD77293B6C8A24AA0AF-A9B3-4AC9-893D-79CA863C0E30Our next stop was back towards the River to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (because I love literature) and the Millennium Bridge (because Harry Potter).  I was waiting for a Death Eater to come find me, but that was a no-go.  Across the way was St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Unfortunately, I never made it there.  Sadface.C233C5A7-8589-4255-B79E-F89C20F13BD52897B146-3144-4E67-9EAC-6BE763A1BD12We had dinner at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.  It was very good, we both had blue cheese burgers – one with sauce and one with melted gorgonzola.  I think we preferred the melted sauce over straight melted gorgonzola.  We also had the sweet potato fries, which were very good.  They were served with a sauce that we liked very much.  I recall B saying that he thought “it tastes like something,” but he could never put his finger on it.  Now that I’m reviewing the menu, I see that it is BACONNAISE.  BACONNAISE.  I once spent something like 4 whole dollars on a tub of this stuff and hated it, yet somehow I manage to like it when it’s served with a gourmet burger and essentially, a $6 order of fries (£3.95).  Sigh.IMG_9426154295E2-B606-4599-85F1-E1622865CD5CAfter dinner, we took the tube to Piccadilly Circus – London’s teensier version of Time’s Square.  It started to rain, so we didn’t stay long.  There’s an overwhelming amount of shopping here – B was disappointed the Arcteryx store had not opened.  It was also very hard to get a decent photo amongst the hustle and bustle.F51A3E82-33C8-4F33-A2D9-50794E146F99F962B1B1-F2BA-4E85-AA41-AEF2651711E7The last stop of this trip was to the London Eye, Westminster Palace, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.  The London Aquarium was also nearby; I love that the building was so not obviously an aquarium!  The sun was setting and it all seemed rather surreal to be looking at Big Ben and the Parliament building.  Up til that point, I don’t I’ve ever seen anything that ornate.  The Abbey’s facade was undergoing construction, it was very disappointing and a result, underwhelming.  I think it was also closed at that point, though I had really wanted to see the old guys buried there!
*FUN FACT:  Anyone who isn’t a UK citizen cannot go up to Big Ben…big bummer more like!17212365-E535-49A7-AE0E-01F7B3F5F62A

TIPS:

  • For travel within London, we purchased a Day Travelcard at the rail station, which included trips on the National Rail and within certain zones within London.  We always tried to buy them during Off-peak hours (as in, not rush hour – I believe after 9:30am) as they were cheaper.  Plus, trying to get on/off the rail during rush hour is hellacious, especially, if you have luggage.  *Sometimes people are nice and will give you their Day Travelcard once they’re done using them.
  • Most of London’s top museums are free–so research and check them out!
  • Use google.com/mymaps to map out each destination within a city and calculate time/distance on your laptop or computer to make your trip more efficient.
  • London is very walkable and it’s sort of fun trying to figure out the Tube system, but bring comfy shoes.  I keep telling myself this and in lieu of comfy shoes, I go for the “cute” ones…always a bad idea. ALWAYS.
  • APPS
    • If you’re walking within London, use the app maps.me to get around- it’s offline [doesn’t use data] as long as you download the map for the region you need when you have wifi.  It’s also pretty detailed and allows you to pin drop locations and get directions to and fro.  I would have literally been lost without this app in Europe.
    • Citymapper app to help with the navigation on the Rail/Tube.  You can also view the time of the next train/bus/rail etc., in addition to calculating the easiest/fastest route from one destination to the other.  This app was extremely helpful when trying to figure out the best way to get from Epsom to London’s airports.  Mostly, we used it to get from place to place via the Tube.
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Eurotrip Part I: Epsom

 

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Back in August/September, I crossed the pond to visit me boyfriend.  ‘Twas quite nice.  Cannot say I cared for the pound sterling as much as the natives, but it was still a wonderful experience.  I’ve never walked so much in my life!

Our base location was Epsom, in county Surrey.  It was apparently very posh.  Epsom is home of Epsom Downs, where the Derby is held.  I liked to run up the road leading to the Downs, as it reminded me of Game of Thrones!  Epsom also reminded me of everything that is typically English–cute little cottage houses, foxes, lush greenery…  it was like a Jane Austen novel!  Once, the Boyfriend and I ran around Epsom Common and I felt like one of those women in English novels that walked everywhere (Elizabeth Bennet, Tess Durbeyfield, and Jane Eyre come to mind).  My feet were in perpetual pain, but it was worth it because allowed me to appreciate the gorgeous surroundings and minute details of the homes, I may not have otherwise seen in a car.  Now I understand what Elizabeth Bennet means when she tells Darcy she’s “quite fond of walking.”

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The landscape is SO breathtaking and SO GREEN.  It always surprised me to see roses and wild blackberries amongst all the green.  There is nothing like an English rose garden.

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Horses were everywhere in Epsom, as can be expected.  I loved seeing them on the road along with the cars!  There is something comforting about the sound of their trot…

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When the weather was cooperating, we liked to have picnics in the park!  With wine!  We used these Matador Pocket Blankets which can fit in your pocket.

Overall, Epsom was a quaint little town.  We mostly cooked or ate burgers when we went out.  Notable eats:  Pizza Express (I think about the Calabrese pizza A LOT) and Mackie’s of Scotland Traditional ice cream, OMG.