In December of 2012 we made our first trip to London. We were lucky enough to have our good friend who lives in London put us up for the weekend, and show us around to some of the best parts of the city.

Our first morning got off to a little bit of a rough start.  Our friend had already gone to work and I was fresh out of the shower and looking for his hair dryer.  I couldn’t find it anywhere and neither could Hubby.  In the summer going out with wet hair wouldn’t be the end of the world, but in the winter it spelled out misery.  So my resourceful husband found a handheld vacuum and noticed it was blowing out cold air from one part and suggested this as my best option for drying my hair.  For lack of other options, I did my best to blow dry my hair this way.  It wasn’t fast but eventually I ended up with mostly dry hair and a tired hand.  You do what you gotta do sometimes.

I worked up quite a bit of hunger after that, so first stop was to walk to breakfast at the Belsize Kitchen.  A cute, and delicious cafe not far from where our friend lives.  We ate there every morning-it was that good!  Then we wandered over to the Hampstead neighborhood full of cute shops and lots personality.

Hampstead neighborhood.
I spy a Starbucks!

Then it was onto the tube to make our way to the London Eye.  Side note, I love cities that have easy mass transit, and London’s subway system was awesome. It was a breeze to get around!

When we were making our way from the airport to the train station we were able to pick up a London attractions deals book, which had 2 for 1 coupons for almost all of the major attractions.  This saved us a nice chunk of change, the exchange rate for the British pound is a killer!  Luckily the London Eye was a part of this deal so we decided to go ahead and take a ride around.

View of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey from the London Eye.
Back on the ground, getting ready to head over for a closer look at Big Ben.

 I know they changed the name, but seriously, it’s always going to be Big Ben.

 Just past Big Ben is Westminster Abbey (where Kate and William got married and where Queen Elizabeth was crowned).

We decided to forego the afternoon tea and headed over to Buckingham Palace.

In front of the massive palace gates.

As we were walking up to Buckingham Palace, Hubby saw a helicopter flying overhead and heard it land.  Soon after we noticed the police stopping traffic on the mall (road leading up to the palace).  So naturally we stopped to see what was going on, and soon a motorcade started to roll through.  And in one of the cars I spotted Prince Charles and Camilla!

Hard to tell, but they are in there!

 Then as we were leaving, the police were blocking off the road again, so we decided something else was up and stuck around to watch.  And sure enough Prince Charles and Camilla rolled out of the gates down the mall again!  We think the helicopter brought them into the palace, then they drove a short way down the road to Clarence House (his official residence) to change or something then head out again.  Crazy!  But I was so excited that our trip to England included a royal sighting!

See Camilla in the front?  Prince Charles was hanging out in the back seat.

 Next we made our way over to the Covent Garden/ Seven Dials neighborhood.  We picked up our theater tickets for the night and then just wandered around while we waited for our friend to get off work.  This was another really cool neighborhood to explore.  It had tons of interesting restaurants and stores.

 OK, so here’s my story about why we saw this show.  When I first started looking at theater tickets I really wanted to see Wicked.  When I was looking to buy tickets another show caught my eye, A Christmas Carol.  I thought it would be fun to see that because it takes place in London, it was Christmas time, and it felt special because it only plays at this time of year.  So after weeks of planning on seeing Wicked, I changed my mind and decided we should see A Christmas Carol.  Well when we picked up the tickets Hubby noticed a line on the poster saying “A One Man Extravaganza”  and we thought, “hmm, that’s strange, do you think it could be a one man show?”  Well folks, it was indeed a one man show.  I was expecting a full production with a large cast, elaborate sets, and cool effects, not one guy playing all the rolls on a set that consisted of curtains and three chairs.  I was so sad when I realized what we were in for.  Not that the show was bad, but it just really wasn’t what I had in mind.  Moral of the story, go with your first instinct, not your last minute whim.

After the show, our friend took us out for some Chinese food in Chinatown.  Definitely a very full and eventful day.  There were ups and downs but all in all it made for a very memorable introduction to London.

More fun in London to come…