Following a fun week in Ireland I finally made my way off my second island of the trip and onto my third (and hopefully final in Europe) island, Great Britain. I took a late flight from Dublin to Birmingham, England and hung around the airport for a few hours before boarding a bus to London for a whirlwind twenty-five hours in the city. Before leaving for Europe I had absolutely no interest in London, a busy, touristy, overpriced city with far too many people in it. And, if you’ve read any of my blogs in the past you know that I’m not really the biggest fan of cities in general (shocking), so honestly twenty-fives hours in London was plenty.
After arriving early to London I quickly made my way from the bus station to my hostel, dropped my bags, and sprinted back to Parliament Square where I was to meet a walking tour of the city. Before arriving in the city I spent some time planning (with the help of my friend Meredith as well and suggestions from about ten other people who’ve spent considerable amounts of time here) my time in the city. Because of my limited time in London I needed to be efficient about where and what I spent my time on. There was no time for dilly-dallying if I want to see as much as possible, so joining the walking tour right away was a good choice as I knocked out about five of the major sites in two hours.
Our tour, a two-hour walk through the main downtown area, covered the majority of the major attractions. We started in Parliament Square, the hub of all tourism things in London. Parliament Square is a busy place as you can imagine, but it gives immediate access to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. From the Square we made our way toward Westminster Abbey before cutting in toward Horse Guards building. We got views of 10 Downing Street, home to the British Prime Minister, and made or way through St. James Park before reaching Buckingham Palace. We were lucky to arrive at Buckingham Palace during the changing of the guard, so we were able to see the ceremony that accompanies it along with the hundreds of thousands of tourists also trying to see the same thing. The tour concluded by heading through Trafalgar Square and past the National Gallery before making it back to Parliament Square. Overall it was a good walking tour, which I still feel is the best way to start out your time in any city.
Following the tour I decided to head toward Tower Bridge and the Tower of London to see the two main sites that aren't in the main district. Unfortunately the Tube workers were on strike during my time in the city, so rather than take the subway or walk an hour up the river, I decided to rent a bike share bike and ride the city. This turned out to be my best decision of the day as it cost only 2 GBP and I was able to use the bike the entire day. This is a much cheaper mode of transportation that the Tube would have been so it ended up working out for the best.
Once reaching the Tower of London I attempted to make my way inside, but was quickly turned away due to it already being four in the afternoon and the museum closing at five. I ended up walking around the Tower instead and then walked across Tower Bridge to get some pictures of the city before heading back to the main downtown area to get some dinner with a friend.
Like I said, short and sweet. My suggestion if you're planning to head to London is to either allot for four to five days and get the London Pass which grants you access to everything, or to just spend a short amount of time there and get a crash course like I did. Renting a bike was certainly my best decision there while it gave me a quick and cheap way to see the city rather than take an expensive cab or Tube ride, or walk for the entire day.