A London Stroll -or- How I Spent My First Day in England

Okay, so yesterday wasn’t my first day in England ever, but it was my first day there this year. And it was a great one! I honestly didn’t have any plans, so I just spent the day wandering around the city.

Wait, let’s back up for a minute. I’m in England right now. Did I mention that already?

As you no doubt remember, this month is proving to be pretty much the same as last November in regards to the amount of travel I’m doing. After having already hit Long Island nearly two weeks ago, I jetted off to London this week. The flight was pretty uneventful, which is actually always a good thing in my book when it comes to flying, and I arrived safely in one piece (we even landed nearly 30 minutes early!). Getting through the border at Heathrow always seems to go quickly, even when the lines are long (which they thankfully weren’t this time). It just feels like the process runs more efficiently here than it is in the US. I debated checking a bag this year (carrying on is so much easier!) and decided in the end that I should do it, so I picked up my bag and headed for the Underground station in Terminal 4 to make the journey into the city. I’m staying at my friend Sophie’s mother’s house again, which is SO perfect! It’s in Lewisham, which is easily reached from central London. This is the part of the journey where having a checked (read – larger) bag was a little bit of a pain because I had to schlep it with me through a few train changes (during morning commute time, no less) and then from Lewisham Station to the house. But hey ho, that’s life. I got here safely, got settled, took a shower, and was ready to start my day, all before noon! Oh, and did I mention that I didn’t sleep on the plane?

Despite not having slept, I was amazingly awake throughout the day. Because the weather was SO nice here yesterday (temps in the low- to mid-50s and a fair amount of SUN), I decided I would just do as much walking around the city as I could. And that’s exactly what I did! I had no agenda, so I hit some favorite spots, like Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square (the latter looks quite different now than it did when I first started traveling here – lots of construction), walked down the Victoria Embankment towards the Palace of Westminster and then crossed the Thames and walked back down the other side towards St. Paul’s and the Tower of London. I specifically wanted to head towards the Tower when I remembered all the poppies that were recently placed around it to remember World War I. Because I had no agenda, I also hadn’t done any research on things to see or do, so I wasn’t sure if the poppies were still out. Unfortunately, they were in the process of being removed, but there were still a couple of big sections of them out, so I was happy to see those. I wouldn’t have been bothered if they had already been taken down because I had a nice walk and the Tower is right next to my favorite view in London – Tower Bridge. So even without the poppies, I would have wanted to go down there anyway! Though I will say that I’m very glad I got a sense of how breathtaking the full display of poppies must have been because just seeing the small amount that was there was pretty amazing.

In the late afternoon, I met up with my friend Jason, who’s visiting from Philadelphia, and our friend Dan and his boyfriend James. We had plans to meet up with several other friends in the evening (at Retro Bar, no less – hurrah!), so we did some more walking as we made our way from Tower Bridge towards the bar, taking various pictures along the way. We peeked into St. Paul’s (they were about to start a service, so we didn’t stay long) and also stopped for a some photos at Somerset House. I’ve never actually been there before (that’s what I love about London – you can come here for years and still not see everything), but they had a gorgeous (HUGE!) Christmas tree out and also a fun-looking ice-skating rink.

When we finally reached Retro Bar, unsurprisingly, much fun was had. πŸ™‚ There must have been 20ish of us there through the evening – so fun! Of course, I’ll be seeing many of the same people in Brighton this weekend, but seeing them all tonight was a great way to end a great first day back in London. Events like that remind me how many great friends I have and how much fun it is to see them!

As is customary with my posts, I now present you with several photos of my thoroughly enjoyable day.

Starting off my day in London right at Trafalgar Square.

A quick stop in Leicester Square.

Looking up at the Zimbabwean Embassy. One of my favorite pictures of the day!

Covent Garden is getting into the Christmas spirit!

A protest about student tuition fees going down the Strand. There were thousands of people!

Cleopatra’s Needle on the Victoria Embankment.

The London Eye and London County Hall.

I tried something different when editing this photo of Big Ben. I like it!

Coming up on St. Paul’s from the Millennium Bridge.

Didn’t I say the poppies were pretty amazing?

I always feel like I’m truly in London when I see this view.

Why not take a selfie with my favorite landmark?

The Shard wasn’t quite done last time I was here. Glad to see it’s finished!

With all that bright blue coloring, the ice-skating rink at Somerset House almost looked like the ocean.

I didn’t take this one, but I had to include a photo of my with some of my fabulous friends. πŸ™‚

As first days of vacations go, I’d say this one was at least a 9.5/10! I started to really hit my “wall” around 10p, so I left my dear friends to get back to Lewisham then. My Fitbit tells me I walked over 30,000 steps yesterday, so between that, not sleeping, drinking, flying, etc., I definitely had a fulfilling day. Looking forward to another great day today, so check back over the next several days! Oh, and don’t forget to also follow me on Instagram to see the fun pics I’m posting there.

Now, onto day two!

One thought on “A London Stroll -or- How I Spent My First Day in England

  1. I adore exploring a new-to-me city on foot, with no agenda. Sounds like a terrific day to me! πŸ™‚ [And your photos are STUNNING. Wow.]

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!