Thursday, September 30, 2010

London: Days 1 and 2

M & I traveled to Europe earlier this month for the very first time.

We spent five nights at the Le Meridien Piccadilly in London. We were able to get the Starwood employee discount for a classic room for $89 USD per night, which is a completely amazing price.

The hotel itself was nice and the staff seemed nice enough. They let us check in early at 10:00 am, which was wonderful since we'd been up all night and just wanted to take a quick nap and shower. The room was small, but had enough space for the two of us. I forgot to take a photo of it, of course.

The concierge wasn't entirely helpful. He gave a us a great map that we used our entire stay. But, gave us wrong information twice. The first time was no big deal and easy to square away. The second time had me fuming mad.

While the location of this hotel is technically perfect because it is close to everything. It also was the worst part of the hotel for us. Huge crowds gather in Piccadilly Circus each night and many stay all was loud at times but not unbearable. What was unbearable was the recycling center next door. At all hours of the night there were trucks unloading glass and we got to listen to it shatter for hours on end. We didn't sleep very well at all. The hotel was sold out, otherwise, we would have asked to be moved. If I were to travel to London again, I'd probably try to stay in the West End. We used the restroom a few times at the Strand Palace Hotel, which seemed really nice.

We took the tube from Heathrow to Piccadilly Circus, which was super easy. We traveled by tube a lot during our stay as it was super easy. But, because the months leading up to the trip were insanely busy for me I didn't do a ton of planning beforehand. So, when we were finally in London we were like - so, now what? After taking a two hour nap on our first day, we decided to do a hop-on hop-off bus to get us acquainted with the city and figure out what we wanted to see and do.

After the tour with a little help from our Top 10 tour book, we made a list of what we wanted to do for the rest of the trip. We're both big fans of architecture and were excited to get some great photos while in London. We also just wanted to walk around and explore the different areas.

Our second day, we started out with a cruise on the River Thames. It was included with the price of our bus ticket from the previous day. It was such a nice day to be out on the river and we got some really great views of the city and the Tower Bridge. To the left is a shot of the bridge as we were cruising under it.
After the cruise, we were let out near the Tower of London. There happened to be NO LINE at all at 2:30 pm on a Friday, so we decided to check it out.

I had no idea when looking at it from the outside just how large of a space there was in there. There was a small line to see the Crown Jewels, but it went quickly. To be honest, I was more impressed with the architecture of the buildings that I was the jewels. But, it was neat to see them. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the Tower.

Tower of London photo


After a few hours at the Tower, we decided to walk over to St. Paul's Cathedral. We made it inside just before mass ended. It was absolutely beautiful inside, but we weren't allowed to take photos. M wasn't very happy about this. Here is one of the outside for you, though. Right after we walked outside they closed the entrance since mass was over. We definitely lucked out. I would have been bummed if we didn't get to see inside.

After St. Paul's, we went across the street and had dinner at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen. M had the Jamaican burger (mango and ginger sauce, salad, mayonnaise & relish) and I made my own with cheddar cheese and pineapple. They were both delicious and I highly recommend visiting GBK if you're in London. It is a chain and there are a few locations around the city.

After dinner, we walked back to our hotel and crashed early since we were exhausted from our busy day. But, we saw some really cool buildings and theaters along the way and scoped out some restaurants for upcoming meals.

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