Prior to August 30th, I hadn’t seen my father in person (thank goodness for Skype) for nearly a year and a half! Disgusting! And I hadn’t hugged my mother since the beginning of June. And the last time we were all together with my brother as well?? Try 23 months ago! So it was time for a reunion, and what better place for it to be than in the UK?!
We could show them parts of the city that we already loved and experience new things with them as well. Instead of providing a long, drawn out explanation of everything, I figured it would be best to list them in bullets since we did SO much!
- Sandeman’s Walking Tour (FREE) – we had done this before but it’s different with a different guide. They take you around some of the city’s highlights with delicious anecdotes about its history.
- National Portrait Gallery (FREE) – a beautiful and diverse display of portraits that date back hundreds of centuries. The one I was most interested in viewing? You may have heard of him once or twice – Mr. William Shakespeare. Did you know that he had one of his ears pierced?
- National Gallery (FREE) – another stunning display of paintings ranging in age and subject. Some were so beautifully preserved that you would have sworn they were rendered in Photoshop. I was most excited to see a portrait by none other than Leonardo DaVinci.
- Waxy O’Conners Pub (FREE, but not if you want to munch) – a humble underground pub in the heart of Chinatown housing a large petrified tree planted 250 years ago in Ireland, and plenty of tucked away seating perfect for enjoying a pint.
- Evensong at Westminster Abbey (FREE) – a rare glimpse into the choir performances and sermons delivered at the famous church. I even walked past Sir Isaac Newton’s tomb on the way out! There is a separate entrance for this on the side.
- New Sandeman’s Grim Reaper Tour – this was an interesting new experience for us. From the same company that does the free walking tour, this one took place in the evening and focused on the dark parts of London’s history. We even learned that Jack the Ripper claimed his first known victim 125 years ago, on the very same day we did the tour…creepy… Did you know that to this day, they have never identified the serial killer?
- Royal Observatory – so it turns out that it can be quite expensive to stand over the Prime Meridian, where Greenwich Meantime begins. So we didn’t stand over it but we had a look at the gorgeous view beyond the hill at Greenwich Park, gawked at the largest telescope I’ve ever stood by (it’s free to go into the dome to see it), and browsed through the gift shop.
- Greenwich Market – a lovely collection of local artisans, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. Free to browse but pricey yet unique for goods.
- London Bridge – it’s unclear how many stood on this site before it was constructed in the 70’s – enough to warrant a playful song about the failures of the previous ones I guess. It’s a great walk over the Thames, with a beautiful view of the famous Tower Bridge
- The Monument – just off London Bridge and around a corner stand tall The Monument, a memorial column constructed in honor of the Great Fire of London. Its height represents the distance from the column to where the fire started in 1666. Built just a decade later on the site of the first church the fire engulfed, it’s a beautiful dedication to disastrous event.
- Museum of London (FREE) – houses a wonderful display of artifacts from early human existence in the area, as well as goods and clothing from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
- British Museum (FREE) – I can’t believe this place was established so long ago – 1753. That’s even before the US was established! This museum houses a great collection. My favorite wings hold the Egyptian exhibits which house impressive statues, relics, and even mummies. Cleopatra lies in the upper Egyptian exhibit and the actual Rosetta Stone is encased in the lower exhibit. Sure, they should be in an Egyptian museum, but it’s pretty incredible to be in the presence of such historically significant artifacts.
- Camden Market – this is probably my favorite place in London! I love these stables and horse hospital-turned market stalls. Great food, great crafts, great vibe, and truly eclectic. It’s free to explore if you can get out of there without purchasing anything – good luck!
- Green Park – a beautiful walk through the park on our way to Buckingham Palace. It’s named Green Park because it houses only green trees, no colorful flowers…creative.
- Buckingham Palace – we didn’t go in. Pretty bland on the outside if you ask me.
- Borough market – a true gem located under the south end of London Bridge. This market, that sells food from around the world, has had successors dating back to 1000 years ago, pretty cool!
- Southwark Cathedral – we stumbled across this beautiful building on a walkabout and were lucky enough to catch a piano performance in the meantime. This place has been around for SOOO long! Shakespeare actually attended there and that wasn’t even during the cathedral’s early days! So historical.
From there we headed north to Burscough, where my family and the fiance’s family would FINALLY meet!
CLICK IMAGE BELOW TO SEE WHERE WE STAYED: