Bucket List Trip: London, England

If you read my previous post, you'll note that 2017 was a BUSY year for me. Not only did I get married, move into my first house, and marry off my sister, but I also got to take my first couples trip with Drew, my sister & her new husband. 

While Drew and I were researching trips to take during the fall season, we made a list of destinations we both would be really excited about -- bucket list trips that we'd want to take together in the future. At the very top of our list were England & Iceland. Now, I'm going to tell you a little secret that will change your travel experience forever... Scott's {FREAKIN} CHEAP FLIGHTS

Guys, let me just warn you. If you are hesitant about adventuring and aren't sure if you want to take a trip in the near future, DO NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS EMAIL. Otherwise, get ready to have your world rocked. Scott's sends emails daily about price drops on international airfare. It basically tells you which airports have cheap flights going out of them, which countries you can fly too, and what dates you have to book between. The catch is that you have to book within X amount of hours before the deal is up. So you HAVE to be willing to book a spontaneous trip.

AND WELL, YOU KNOW WE'RE ALWAYS DOWN FOR THAT.

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So, naturally, when an email popped up for England with a layover in Iceland, we jumped on it! And in the process, some how convinced my sister and her soon to be husband to join us -- even though the trip would be 3 weeks into married life for them. {How crazy is that?!} Quickly all the pieces came together. We had the dream team assembled, bucket list countries selected, and four tickets for November all lined up. To say expectations weren't high is a lie... but man oh man did this trip not disappoint. In fact, there was SO much to talk about that I decided to split this trip up into three blogs. So first up, England! {But stay tuned, cause  the day trips from England were unbelievably incredible and Iceland is going to rock. your. world. Promise.}

FIRST STOP: NEW YORK

Okay... I promise there's a reason on why I decided to included our layover destination in this blog. One, it's New York!! Everybody loves New York. Second, please just look at the pictures of the food below. If you know us, Drew and I are HUGE foodies. So when we're in cities with one amazing restaurant after the next, we're going to make the most of it -- even if it's only a couple of hours during our layover. 

I've got to give these two places a shoutout because they were both AUH-MAZING, and worth the stop if you're ever in Queens. The first two pictures are from Queens Comfort. Pictured are the Atomic Fire Balls, and some burger off of their special that unfortunately I can't find the name for. BUT you can see they love Mac & Cheese and well, I do too, so it was love at first sight. If you're into over the top food in an eclectic vibe, this place is for you. The last picture is from Chip; a little hole in-the-wall bakery known for their very extra thick, extra gooey cookies. I could live off of those cookies. No lie. I'd probably gain about 50 pounds, but with how tasty they are NO REGRETS. 

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SECOND STOP: LONDON, ENGLAND

Last year Madison & I were able to take a trip with a girlfriend to Great Britain and had one of the most memorable times driving through Scotland and Northern England. Although driving on the opposite side of the road is always a little terrifying, we wouldn't have changed our choice to rent a car! Renting a car in a foreign country gives you more flexibility to see the destinations you want to see, and on your time. {As long as you don't pop two tires within the first couple of hours our your trip... like I did. But I digress.} 

This trip, we decided to spend a majority of our time in London, but wanted to explore other areas of Southern England that we all were interested in. Our itinerary focused on London, Canterbury, Dover, Rye, Windsor, Stonehenge, Bath, The Cotswolds and Oxford. A lot? It might seem like it, but it actually ended up being the perfect amount for our 5 days in England. 

Naturally, we chose London to be our "home base" for our trip. If you're wanting to explore the Southern region of England, London is a great central hub with access to a multitude of travel resources. Including this CUTE and accessible rental in Chelsea. {Marc was so great to work with -- would highly recommend staying at his rental!}

Honestly, there is A LOT that we could cover in London, so please forgive me if I don't cover it all. But, I will say, with this being my second trip to London, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city in more depth, and felt like three full days in the city really allowed us to see a lot of the highlights. 

CHURCHILL WAR ROOMS

COST: £21.00

ACTIVITY TIME: 1-3 hours (depending on how big of a fanatic you are)

You guys are probably like, huh, I wonder why she started with this one. BUT shoutout to my hottie of a husband below -- this was his first trip to Europe! And one of the things he was most excited about was visiting sites enriched in history, especially when they had to do with WWII or Winston Churchill. {He keeps joking he wants to name our first kid after Winston Churchill... I'm not so sure he's actually "joking."}

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If you love history, you'll love this stop along your trip. It truly was fascinating to learn about the most influential Prime Minister England has ever had, and his influence on Britain's outcome during WWII. I literally get goosebumps reading his quote next to the 10 Downing Street door: 

"I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial... I was sure I should not fail."

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THE LONDON EYE

COST: £23.40

ACTIVITY TIME: 1 hour

Although it is not the most historical landmark the city has to offer, the London Eye is one of the most well-known today. Right across the river from Westminster Abbey, you can easily walk over the bridge for a spin around the ferris wheel, or grab a treat from one of the local vendors while you watch the sunset over the Thames River.

We may or may have not tried to convince the boys that the extra fee to ride the ferris wheel while drinking champagne was a MUST, but they didn't fall for our tricks. {NEXT TIME MY FRIENDS} But, the London Eye at sunset definitely still felt like winning in our books, especially for our first night in the city!

Palace of Westminster & Westminster abbey

COST: £22

ACTIVITY TIME: 1-2 hours

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One of the great things about London is that most of the iconic buildings of the city are located around Parliament Square. Places like Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey are easy to quickly see while strolling around the square, or on your way to the Thames River to view the London Eye. Just like Buckingham Palace is known for the Queen, Westminster is known for Parliament which is the ruling government over England. 

Speaking of politics, due to the timing of our trip, we were able to witness one of England's more unique holidays - Guy Fawkes Night. I'm telling you, I can't remember how many times I heard Drew quote "Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot" from V is for Vendetta in honor of the night... Dang catchy thing wouldn't ever leave my head.

Although the fireworks were fun to watch across England's night sky, what was a little disturbing were the protestors that marched across London at night, and the MASSIVE amounts of police that protected the government and historical buildings amongst the city streets. At no point did we feel un-safe -- in fact it was pretty cool to witness in person since it's not a holiday we share across the pond. Just a taaaaad un-nerving to watch a hundred people in masks march by you, ya know? 

The Churchill Arms

COST: $$ for beer and food

ACTIVITY TIME: Some could stay all day... 

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So, why Churchill Arms? Simply because of how stinking pretty this London Pub is! A winner of the Chelsea Flower Show, this pub has an assortment of flower arrangements on its exterior throughout the seasons. This stop along our trip was simply for a photo-op, and to validate that this pub is one of the coolest pubs in London. {VALIDATED} Beer & flowers. It's the best of both worlds, especially when traveling with boys!

**Also, notice that the building is named after Winston Churchill—Churchill’s grandparents use to be a frequent visitor of the pub, and since then it’s come to house a ton of Churchill memorabilia. That doesn't hurt when you're traveling with Churchill's #1 Fan. 

Sneaking this one in there there too cause #TWINVENTURES FOREVER

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Wembley Stadium

COST: $72.50 per person

ACTIVITY TIME: 3 hours

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If you were to ask me what the boys were most excited about going into the trip, I would have whole heartedly told you this soccer game was it. And by soccer, I technically mean "football" game. {I obviously learned nothing while in England....}

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Crystal Palace versus Tottenham. We went into the game rooting for Tottenham who was expected to win, and they did not disappoint! Let me tell you though, I haven't been to many US soccer games, but the energy and atmosphere of the "football" stadium in London was INSANE. Way more interactive than I expected -- even if you don't know much about soccer like myself, I would highly recommend this activity to anyone looking for a good British experience!

Also, hilariously, just want to point out that for the ONLY goal of the game, Madison and I were below the stadium sipping cider as seen in the picture above... Yep, completely missed it. Guess that just means we'll have to go to another game! {Boys you can thank us later.}

Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station

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Two words: Harry. Potter. Need I say more? Drew might be into the history, but we came strictly for the magic! Well... not entirely, but it is one of the things we love about England in general! If you know us, you know how much we loved posing for the picture above.

We've loved finding the different locations for filming Harry Potter during our trips to Great Britain, and it was fun checking this one of our list while in London! The platform is actually ran by the Harry Potter shop located next door to the cart with paid photographers to take your picture and house colored scarves to dress up in. If you're not wanting to pay the extra money for a professional picture, they totally allow you take your own picture as well -- which is of course what we opted for! 

The Canada Gate & Green Park

COST: Free

ACTIVITY TIME: 1 hour

To be honest, this was not necessary something that was on our list to see. We just happened to stumble across it on our way to Buckingham Palace. Obviously, with all that gold it easily caught our eye! But what we loved most about the Canada Gate was what was on the other side of it. Let me just say, if you're not sure Fall is the right time to travel to England, some of the pictures below might just change your mind. Canada Gate (named appropriately since it was a gift from Canada), plays gatekeeper to The Green Park which is to the right of Buckingham Palace. The Green Park is perfect if you're looking for a place to slow down and take it easy. Whether it's with a stroll on the way to the palace, or a picnic across the lawn -- it's the ideal spot for a little peace and quiet before you hit the crowds at the Palace!

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Buckingham Palace

COST: Free (if you just gaze at it in wonder like we did)

ACTIVITY TIME: 1 hour (can include time with the Canada Gate)

My only regret is that we did not meet the Queen... but maybe next time, right!? This was the second time for me to see the Palace, but it was still as impressive as the first time! After watching "The Crown" on Netflix, this building has really taken on a whole new meaning to me.  Knowing more about the history of the Palace and what it represents to the people leaves me more in awe-struck now that I can associate it's power and not just it's ability to house some cute looking Princes. (Which don't get me wrong - only slightly sad we were not there for Harry & Megan's wedding. That's about the only other thing that would have made our trip even more better than it already was!) 

Other things to look for around Buckingham Palace are: Canada's Gate & The Green Park (mentioned above), The Queen Victoria Memorial (aka the fountain in front of the Palace), and the Captain Cook statue (just for fun.) 

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London Food Recs

Obviously this is one of my more favorite sections to write about. One thing I really appreciated about this group was how much everyone LOVED food. We weren't about eating at chains, or just whatever we could find. Nope. We wanted to find some of the best food in London -- at an affordable price! Thankfully, I had a girlfriend who lived in London for two years that was able to provide us with a list of places to checkout. Her list helped us create a starting point for places we wanted to try, while still adding a couple places here and there that we found on our own! A link to her list can be found here.

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Top Photo: Bubblewrap Waffle | Bottom Left to Right: Barfina, Dishoom, Barfina

Top Photo: Bubblewrap Waffle | Bottom Left to Right: Barfina, Dishoom, Barfina

Sadly, the one place that we all loved the most that was not included on the list we did not get a great picture of, BUT trust us when we say it's our #1 recommendation: Dishoom. For lovers of Indian food, this. place. will. not. disappoint. Honestly, I wasn't 100% I was even a fan of Indian food, but Dishoom has changed that completely. Talk about flavor! Literally, everything I ate I still dream about today. I'm just trying to figure out how to get one in good ole' Arkansas now...

Overall -- London was the real deal for us. As far as big cities go, after two visits I'm fully convinced that London is the best "big" city I've been to so far! It has the overall big city vibe without the towering skyscrapers and overwhelming sense... a lot of great food, and plenty of activities to do regardless if you're into history, sporting events, or magic. Yes magic. {haters gonna hate} I whole-heartedly can say that I can't wait until my next trip to the city! 

But before that happens, I've got to tell you more about the incredible day trips we took from London. If there's is an opportunity for it, you'll want to check out these cities! Up next on the blog, I'll be focusing on three separate trip that will include: 

Canterbury, Dover, Rye || Windsor, Stonehenge, Bath || The Cotswolds and Oxford.

Stay tuned my friends! You're going to love these cute little towns :)

{Also for pictures from our trip, check out @twinventures on Instagram to view our photo journal}