The land of Queens and Kings, history, both wonderful and tremulous have littered countless history books with the tales of London and the wonderful city that has stood the test of time and captured the hearts of so many. So much of our own history stems from theirs, and for bibliophiles out there going to London is almost it’s own sort of Mecca. For many years I had wanted to explore London and it’s colorful past, so when I realized we only had 3 short days to take in as much as possible I planned it down to the hour (a little crazy, I know).
*** Tip: A great buy for this trip is a London Pass, which will give you entrances to various museums as well as discounts on certain attractions, you can read more here.***
We started off strong. After landing into Heathrow at 9am we cabbed it over to The Savoy where we were staying to drop off our bags and get it going. The key to adjusting to your new time zone (at least for me) is to just keep going, so grab yourself a coffee or tea, whatever keeps you awake, and let the adventure begin!
The Tower of London
The first stop we made was The Tower of London. Ideally you should buy your tickets ahead of time so as not to wait in line, but there are always tickets available. To get it out of the way, make sure to see the crown jewels first (there is always a long line), that way you can free yourself to explore the rest of the grounds without the hassle of waiting in line all day. The crown jewels are placed in a long corridor with moving walkways on each side so as to keep the line from getting too long.
Afterwards make your way over to the armory to take in the vast collection of weapons and armor used by princes and kings; most notably you’ll notice Henry VIII’s suit of armor which was one of his last constructed for him showing his large stature of the day.
After you’ve taken in your fill of The Tower mosey on over to Tower Bridge to take in some spectacular views of the river and look down on city life through the glass floor. While inside make sure to enjoy the exhibits on how the bridge was constructed as well as the amazing victorian engine rooms. They are still using the same technology (with some minor upgrades) that was used back when it was first constructed!
***For lunch we just grabbed something from Pret since we wanted to make the most of our short time in the city, but there are plenty of wonderful taverns in the area to try***
The Globe Theatre
Crossing over to the south side of the bridge we hurried our way over to Shakespeare’s The Globe Theatre. The best way to get there (walking) is by taking the Bankside, that way you can get a scenic view of the passing boats.
A little background information: this is not the original Globe Theatre; the original burned down in 1613, was then rebuilt the following year in 1614, and then finally closed down by an ordinance on 1642. The current one standing is a recreation of the original built in 1997 about 750 feet away from the original location.
Once you get there you can easily buy tickets, and tours are given every 30 minutes. As someone who studied theater, it’s such an interesting experience seeing how small the stage had been as well as how well the acoustics were for the time period. If you’re looking to really experience what it was like to see a show during shakespearean times you can check out the shows that are currently playing in the evenings here.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
With the last visiting entrance time into St. Paul’s being 4:15pm we got there with just enough time at 3pm. If you’re short on time take a cab, but I really suggest walking the Millennium Bridge. The steel suspension bridge is pedestrians only and a wondrous engineering feet, plus its a direct shot to St. Paul’s.
Inside most cathedrals you’ll see traditional works from artists like Bernini, Michelangelo, and various other renaissance artists, and while you get that in here as well, the most exciting pieces are from the artists of today expressing their views of spirituality and the church. Artists like Bill Viola, Yoko Ono, Pablo Genovés, and many more have showed their pieces here making the viewer wonder and question; which if that’s not the point, I don’t know what is.
Tea At The Ritz (Dinner)
With this first day being non stop we headed back to The Savoy to take a quick nap before getting ready for dinner. “Tea for dinner?” You ask; absolutely! Unlike tea in America, tea is a ceremonious affair and there is no place better to experience this than the glamorous Ritz London. Technically it’s “afternoon tea”, but is it really afternoon when it’s 7:30pm? Make your choice from the long list of teas available (I suggest the house blend), drink in some champagne, and enjoy your large tower of assorted tea sandwiches, biscuits and sweet treats. Pinky up!
Now, I urge you to book this reservation way in advance because getting a table at last minute is next to impossible. Also be advised that there is a dress code, you can get all of the info here.
Stay tuned for Day 2 and 3! For my daily adventures follow me on my Instagram, and as always, safe travels!