Day 3 began with a 3 AM wakeup call in Iceland and ended with a pint in a traditional British pub. What a dream (bleary eyed with jet lag of course)!
We flew into London's Gatwick airport and made our way through the masses to the attached train station. We hopped right onto an above ground train that made it's way through the English countryside and several small cities. What a perfect way to take in the variety of the area! We passed cows grazing, young kids playing organized soccer (football!?), and we loved how traditional the homes where. Most were framed in brick and tightly packed, but there was little new construction. It was fun to see people living in normal houses that have existed longer than our country!
King's Cross would be our home base for the next few days. We arrived around lunch time and made our way to the Tune Hotel King's Cross. We will save the specific details for a later blog on budget traveling, but the hotel was a mix between a hostel and a normal hotel. You pay for the bare minimum (ie: private room/bathroom, sheets, pillows, etc) and any extra's are paid for. We decided to splurge on cable tv and hairdryer, but brought our own towels and skipped the "clean your room everyday" perk. We arrived a few hours before check-in time so we had to sit in the lobby. Even early check-in was expensive! I snagged some coffee at a shop across the street and came face to face with my first "Obviously, I'm not from here moment". I ordered our food and coffee and the barista asked, "Eat in or Take away?" I stared blankly for a few seconds until she said "will you be eating it here?" and I realized she was asking "For here or to go". Oh well, you can only blend in for so long.
After a short nap, we made the five minute walk back to the underground station and headed towards the Piccadilly Circus stop. We'd heard it was the "Times Square of London" and that rang pretty true. Coming up out of the station we were hit with a sensory overload of massive LED screens, street vendors, and oversized versions of the stores we are used to in America. We wandered into a restaurant called Garfunkels which looked to be like a British chain version of TGI Fridays. Allie ordered roast chicken with jacket potato (baked potato) and I had the steak and ale "proper pie" which was like a chicken pot pie with steak, mashed potatoes, and brown gravy. Tasty!
The great thing about London and the underground system in general is how easy it is to use and how frquent the stops are. You can literally hop on anywhere and get off at almost the exact address you need. From Piccadilly Circus, we walked in a random direction and found ourselves at Trafalgar Square which features several large monuments, an art museum, and a beautiful fountain. We walked down one main street which took us past the Treasury (lots of armed guards) and to our surprise, BIG BEN! Allie wasn't immediately convinced it was the right clock tower because it seemed a bit smaller than she imagined, but nonetheless we took some pictures and admired this historic landmark before finding an underground stop along the Thames river and heading home.
Before heading to bed we stopped at a pub directly across the street from our hotel, the Lucas Arms. I ordered a pint of local IPA and Allie ordered lemon meringue (more on pregnant travel later). I was surprised by how warm the beer was (not sure if it's a british thing or just this pub) and how much less hoppy it was compared to American IPA's. We also weren't sure how tipping in England works, but the bartender was sure happy with the amount I left (one pound)! He gave us a rousing 'Cheers!" and we headed off to bed.
Here are a few things we learned on London Day 1:
1.) Take Away= To Go
2.) As far as bed preferences go, Allie and I both lean towards the ultra soft side of things. Our backs would be sore for days after sleeping on the "firm" mattress of our London Hotel.
3.) Chain Restaurants exist everywhere.
4.) Sometimes landmarks really are smaller in real life, but that doesn't diminish the beauty or historic significance.
Next week we get a British history lesson, Allie gets her shop on, and we eat dinner with the chef. Stay tuned!
Missed any of our Strouse House Adventures in Europe? Read them here!
Let the Adventure Begin | Strouse House Adventures: Europe
Greenland is Ice. Iceland is Nice. | Strouse House Adventures: Iceland
Welcome to London | Strouse House Adventures: London
Taking a Stroll Down Memory Land | Strouse House Adventures: London
Football and Famous Mummies | Strouse House Adventures: London
Leaving London | Strouse House Adventures: London
Falling in Love with Dublin | Strouse House Adventures: Dublin
Keep up with our other adventures here in our STROUSE HOUSE ADVENTURES!