For the longest time the Bugs had wanted to visit London, we had been over seas before but had never made it to the U.K. We were going on a Mediterranean cruise so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to spend some pre cruise time there. After having a bit of difficulty finding a hotel, I went ahead and booked our flights (which I never do). Normally I book a refundable room, then the flights – that way if I can’t find a decent flight I can always cancel the room. Well much to our surprise, we soon found out – it was the Queen”s Jubilee – that’s right, everyone was going to London to celebrate – and it was a national holiday! So just a little tip when planning a trip – check and double-check if there is anything happening when you want to go because even if there is no holiday that you know of, there could be something major happening that you really weren’t aware of, and as we know- demand for hotel rooms will drive prices up. As I mentioned earlier, we had a cruise booked so we were going, but we couldn’t get anything in the neighbourhoods that we wanted (or that we could afford!) so we ended up staying a little on the outskirts in Kensington, which we ended up really liking and would not hesitate to stay here again. I’m thinking this was actually quite a hip neighbourhood – especially when we ran into Stevie Wonder in Whole Foods! (wish we would have gotten a pic but it didn’t seem like the right time), it was however very cool just a few hours later to see him on t.v. performing for the Queen’s Jubilee star studded celebration.
Like our regular recommendation, the hop on/hop off bus was a great way to see the highlights of the city in a relatively short amount of time, unfortunately due to the Jubilee festivities we were unable to get near Buckingham Palace but thankfully we more than made up for it on our next trip.the front of Buckingham Palace
the back of Buckingham Palace
As I said, we were disappointed about missing Buckingham Palace on our first trip but it all worked out perfectly on the next one because on this next trip we were able to get reservations to go inside the Palace. So if your interested in an inside tour, the Palace is open for tours during a part of the summer (usually August and part of September), this is when the Queen is at her “vacation palace” in Scotland. We do highly recommend buying tickets online at The Royal Collection, as soon as you know your travel date and as soon as they are available because this tour is very popular. And though it was a bit of a bummer to not be able to take pictures inside, The Bugs highly recommend the “Royal Day Out” tour because not only does it include the staterooms but it also includes the Royal Mews. The rooms inside the palace were beautiful but they were your typical palace type rooms (lol if there is such a thing,) no real big surprises however we were surprised with how much we enjoyed the tour of the Royal Mews. This area is basically the “palace garage,” where we saw several of the gorgeous carriages and the stables.
West Minster Abbey is a beautiful, gothic church rich in history but is probably most well known for Princess Di’s funeral and the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York (aka Will and Kate) in 2011
We spent much of this visit just walking and taking in the sites and the charming neighbourhoods. We did ride “the Tube” (London’s subway system) and found it quite easy to navigate. Another nice thing about London – no language barrier, although we have always managed in other countries and we have always encountered many friendly and helpful locals, it was nice to be able to read the english signs when trying to get around.
I often get asked for hotel recommendations and I can’t say enough good things about our London choice, St.Ermins. This beautiful property is in an ideal location for walking, you can easily walk to many of the famous sites, and if anything is a little too far (or your legs are a little too tired), the St. James Tube station is located right behind the hotel. This hotel has so much character, and you should see it at night, so beautiful!
Mama Bug had always had a curiosity about Stonehenge, I mean what’s the deal with this huge rock formation in the middle of nowhere? It’s not located in London, but is approx. a 1 hour drive from the city. We made the stop on our way back from our cruise. No real explanations or questions answered but still glad we stopped to see it.I tried to get pictures from several different views to hopefully get an “aha” moment in regards to what we were looking at – but not this time – we left just as curious as when we arrived
It may sound a little crazy, but one of the things that we were most looking forward to when visiting London was crossing Abbey Road (like on the Beatles album Abbey Road). We figured out how to get there and after a fairly long walk, we knew we were there more than a block away just by the small crowd that was gathered at the site. All three of us took the risk in recreating that famous album cover by standing in the middle of this very busy intersection, dodging cars and being “honked” at during the whole process but so very worth it!And if you’re any kind of Beatles fan, check out The Lucky Bugs in Liverpool