by Courtney Inkpen

What We Did In London, England...


Hello everyone--I'm so excited to share a little bit of an overview on our latest trip to London, England! We had such an adventured filled week full of sights, sounds, and TONS of pastries, haha!
*tips & gram spots are at the bottom of the post*


Before the trip, I pretty much kept tabs on all the places that everyone seems to visit. I saw one place that kept popping up, and how can you not want to visit it: Peggy Porchen Cakes!
With it's pastel pink doors and window sills, and adorned in seasonal flowers, this little bakery was on the top of the 'need to visit' list.


I ended up caving and got their raspberry & lemon cake, macarons, and a delicious pot of their summer berry infused tea (soooo good!). Justin had a cookies & cream cupcake with a iced mocha latte. 


If you're wanting to find more grammable spots, Saint Aymes is another great bakery to get the perfect shot! It's set up with florals in the front & back. We ended up stopping there, mainly because they have unicorn decorated cookies and we knew we just had to bring Ryleigh a couple for when we got back home.


A lot of bakeries & cafes are set up & decorated in honor of seasons/holidays.


We were pretty much in walking distance to a lot of the main attractions. We walked through Hyde Park to get to Kensington Palace and walk through the gardens. We even took a separate time out of our afternoon to have high tea at the palace.


It was such a cool experience to have tea for two in the gardens and eat all the yummy mini cakes and sandwiches. We even learned a little bit about how high tea came about & how it became popularized. You can thank Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, who knew the true meaning of being 'hangry', haha!


Spilling the tea over tea!


I shared a little inside look at this little brunch spot, & received a lot of DM's on Instagram about where it is. It's called Aubaine Selfridges, & it's located in the Selfridges department store on the 2nd floor. It's tucked in the corner near the shoes, but it has a great view of Oxford St.!


I'm a sucker for pretty wisteria, and they have a gorgeous display of faux wisteria hanging from the ceiling and draping down the corners of the restaurant!


Sketch is the one place you NEED to have dinner at. I recommend saving it for the last night of your stay in London, because it is a nicer restaurant & that's what we usually tend to do to end the trip on a high note.

They have multiple dining/cocktail rooms with a different theme, but the popular area to have dinner at is the pink room a.k.a The Gallery. When booking the reservation, I was super confused on the website, because each room had it's own interactive web page and got distracted haha. But I figured it out which room was which & booked our dinner.

It's a huge room that's decked out in nothing but pink, with gold accents. On the walls were some clever posters that made us giggle a little, and their pink velvet seats were so comfy!

We also stepped out our comfort zones when it came to dinner. We love oysters, so we started off with that as an app, but then came the main course---I'm not exactly sure what the name of the dish was called (& I wish I took a picture of it) but it was a round raw patty of duck and beef topped with a sort of jam & paired with a bloody mary, green beans and a fine line of creamy mashed potatoes. It was definitely a first for me to eat raw meat, but it was actually very well seasoned and delicious! I told Justin that this must be what it's like to be a zombie when it comes to eating something raw, haha!

FYI, they do have other things on the menu that aren't out of the ordinary like that

They also have the infamous egg shaped bathrooms! They're soooo cool and unique!


We certainly lucked out with the gorgeous spring weather in London--
A lot of their cherry blossoms were still in bloom!


You may have seen this area in many London based movies, & I didn't realize how HUGE Notting Hill is!
So if you're a southerner like me & love visiting Charleston, this is kind of the equivalence to rainbow row...except it's not just one row...it's many many streets filled with gorgeous townhomes that are painted in pretty pastel & bright colors! I also just can't stop gazing at the chic architecture of these homes.


Trees were blooming all over Notting Hill!


Since we were still getting used to the time change, we got up super early, so we walked around Hyde Park some more and made our way to this coffee shop called Lido. Where I had a latte & butter scone, and Justin had a chocolate croissant and this really unique brand of soda. It's called Green Cola, and it's 0 sugar, 0 aspartame, 0 everything, but made with stevia. It's actually way better than a Coke zero IMO.


We did end up taking a tour in Kensington Palace and read up on the history of all the Kings & Queens that had once lived there. We even saw a dress that Princess Diana wore & tried on a few tiaras (see above lol)


Of course you've got to see the sights of Buckingham Palace! They usually do a changing of the guards but, of course, the day we went, there was no scheduled changing. But no worries, later on in the week, we got to see some sort of guard action at the Tower of London. {more on that below}


Did you know, that one of my favorite flowers is the tulip--& boy are there tons in London!


We saw the gorgeous architecture of St. Paul's Cathedral and climbed 257 steps to get to the top to see all of central London! 


I remember watching one of the Fantastic Four movies where it featured them saving the London Eye, & I remember wanting to go on it one day because it was ginormous! FYI, this thing is massive, and so are the pods! You can fit a good sum of people into one little pod. We saw more of the sights of London while riding up, & this is also where I spotted that Big Ben was under renovation.


We saw {some} of the Tower of London. It was our last day, & we only had a little over an hour to check out inside before they closed. We originally just wanted to the Crown jewels & then see what we could, but the line to view it was super long & probably would have taken the entire hour to get to them. So we ended up skipping it & saw the Bloody Tower, Torture at the Tower, Royal Beasts, and checked out the overlook of the river and Tower Bridge. 


This place is huge---so, if you want to visit, allot at the minimum 3 hours to set aside to see all that is in here.


Any Harry Potter fans out there!?
Visiting Platform 9 3/4 was the cherry on top to a great London trip!
We originally wanted to go on one of those Harry Potter walking tours, but just being able to see the actual platform at Kings Crossing was good enough for us! We were that couple that waited in line to get our picture taken at the wall, haha! But we definitely weren't the only ones!

There's also a HP shop right next to it, so if you're wanting to get one of their heat changing mischief managed map mugs, then grab one! We also picked up wands for our two best friends {as you can see pictured below lol} 


TIPS:
-DO NOT take a taxi from the airport to central London. I complained to Justin about this, on why we didn't take one...then he told me the price! It may seem more of a relief, but you'll be shelling out much more than if you were to take the train at Heathrow to Paddington.
-ALWAYS have change! You'd be surprised but their public toilets usually require a small fee to get in in order to use. Also, always carry around some cash too. I hate to be that person, but I was craving a Burger King burger sooooo badly. I also didn't want to get tremendously full since we were grabbing dinner later. But we couldn't use our credit card there because it required a signature. So either make sure your bank account card is full or have some spare cash on hand. {sadly I did not get that burger}
-GET AN OYSTER CARD! SO much easier to use than to buy single tickets on the tube or train. Plus it gets rid of the hassle of always having to get a new ticket, & makes traveling through the gates that much easier.
-DO NOT stand on the left hand side. There are signs EVERYWHERE on the tube that say not to. It's just like traffic, it keeps things moving smoothly. Everyone also walks on the left hand side, so always try to be courteous & keep that in mind. You're not going to see every single person do it, especially during peak hours in the morning & after work.
-CHECK SIDEWALKS before crossing. Not all roads are marked, but in the busier/touristy areas, there's markings at the crosswalk that will tell you which way to look. Remember, they drive on the opposite hand side, so you need to make sure you're looking out carefully.
-BRING THE CORRECT ADAPTER. I'm so glad I checked to see if their charging adapters were the same as when we went to Greece...they're not. Their outlets are completely different compared to a lot of other European countries, so it's just best to get a universal adapter.
-TIPPING NOT REQUIRED. Just like Greece, it is not necessarily expected to tip, mainly because it's included already in the bill. But always check out the receipt to see if it has been added. If gratuity (or a discretionary service) wasn't included, leave a tip.
-KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between the Tower Bridge & the London Bridge. Yup, I got called out on this one, but I totally needed to know because I had no idea! There are lots of bridges, and that big pretty one that you see in movies or just hanging out in the background of your group picture, is NOT called the London Bridge. It's the Tower Bridge.
-TAKE AN UMBRELLA. I can honestly say that we lucked out on beating the bad weather. We literally beat it too. We felt rain drops as we were walking into one of the undergrounds, and then came back up to our next destination AFTER it had just finished raining there. We missed every rain cloud! But it's always still good to carry an umbrella just in case!
-GET THE LONDON PASS! We had the London Pass and was able to do a lot of things with that! We visited the Tower of London, the London Eye, St Paul's Cathedral, and we were able to check out more sights with the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour.
-KNOW BEFORE YOU GO. I'm horrible with maps & the tube is HUGE! So always try to map out where you're going the night before. There's so much foot traffic that goes through the underground, & everyone has somewhere to go, so it's best to get an idea before hand.
-BIG BEN IS BEING RENOVATED. If you're wanting to see Big Ben anytime this year or next, it is currently covered in scaffolding and being renovated. I mean, huge landscapes or monuments like this are going to have to go through this sort of thing once in a while. It also has to be up to date, so I think it's pretty understandable. It's renovation won't be done till 2021.
-WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. This is a given if you're planning on doing a lot of walking and traveling on foot.

INSTAGRAMMABLE SPOTS:

    
          


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