I have been dreaming about visiting London for as long as I can remember. It has been a destination on my bucket list from the time I first heard The Beatles, and cemented its place with the first Shaksperean play I read in high school. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream being my all time favorite). Being on a shoestring budget I had been hesitant to commit to a trip to what most Europeans refer to as a very expensive city (yes the pound is worth more than the euro and MUCH more than the dollar). I eventually decided that living off scraps for a week would be worth a weekend in London during christmas time. I through my cares to the wind (hoping my sac of potatoes and meat in my freezer would get me through the week) and took a trip across the Chunnel to London and it was absolutely worth being broke for the remainder of the month.
For this whirlwind trip I was lucky to have my housemate who ADORES London as my tour guide, and my friend Catlin (who I met in Dublin last year) as my host. I cant stress enough how amazing and hospitable the people you meet while traveling are. We were able to see and do a tun (of mostly free things) into our weekend (really our one full day of being In London).
The first stop was Covent Garden..which to my suprise was not a garden at all but a beautiful partialy open partialy enclosed hall with shops, preformers, and beautifull christmas decorations. We bought 4 euro hot subs and sat eating them on a stoop right outside the entrance watching street preformers. I realy got a glimpse of the British roots of America here, the Covent Garden instantly reminded me of its miniature version in Bostons Quincy Market.
The next day we got off to an early start as it was our one full day (and we lucked out with the clear skies). We opted to ride the ferris wheel at Hyde Parks Winter Wonderland instead of the London Eye (9 vs. 20 euros for the wheel), it is part of a Christmas village and in Hyde park…magical!
I could have spent a week just at Hyde Park. The cold weather did not stop this place from being stunning. There was not a cloud in the sky. I also had a special moment where a little girl gave me some peanuts to feed the friendly squirrels and just smiled at me. (Who says the Christmas spirit is dead). All in all the hour or so in Hyde park was nothing short of amazing and utterly too short.
Next we headed to Buckingham Palace and attempted to see Abbey Road (which is not at the Abbey Road Tube stop it is at St.Johns Wood Station). After the long unsuccessful and rather expensive ride on the tube, we headed to the banks of the Thames to the perfect spot to take a photo of Big Ben and the London Eye (as well as some well deserved street vendor fish and chips). On the way we were able to explore a few Christmas markets as well.
Ok, I am a sucker for Christmas markets…I love the decorations, the smells, and the spirt of the markets just turns me from Scrooge to a Christmas Elf every time. These markets were a blast, right off the river Thames. I even found a very franglish wall decoration, and a very inappropriate sign by the fudge which sent us both into a laughing fit (I always achieve tourist status at least once during every trip).
The next morning we headed back home travel tired (the best kind of tired) and wanting more time in this magical city.