I went to London for a work trip near the end of October. And I was really surprised to learn that most people commute 2-4 hours into London since they live further out.
For some reason, I just assumed everyone was relatively closer. But now it makes a lot more sense why so many people talk about their train system.
The game I’m working on recently had an in-game Halloween event, and I was there to present it to a group of press and content creators. I flew in on a Wednesday, and left on the Friday. One good thing is that I never truly adjusted to the jet lag, so coming back and settling back into Eastern time was a breeze. It did make for some very “floaty” times during London though, when I felt I was in zombie-mode.
The first day I landed, I took a taxi from the airport to London. I was used to taking taxis for work from the airport to my hotels, but I was not prepared for the trip to cost me £100. That’s like, 1/5th of my flight ticket to Heathrow from Montreal. Turns out people usually avoid the taxis and instead opt for Ubers. Lesson learned. BUT I was delighted at how roomy the taxis were though!
Once I got to the hotel, I dropped off my stuff and headed to Regency Cafe on an Uber for breakfast. I was super jetlagged, having only had about 3 hours sleep on the plane. It was also around 4 or 5AM back at home, so my body was wanting to crash. I lined up at the cafe, but was turned away at the front since I didn’t have any cash on me 😦 So I ended up walking to a nearby restaurant for my brunch instead.
My first English breakfast was pretty good! I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular to begin with, but I always love a good breakfast. I also like that I got my tea in a little tea pot!
Knowing that I was close to some tourist attractions, I walked towards Westminster Abbey and the Big Ben. The Abbey was pretty, but I was too exhausted to want to pay to go inside. And the Big Ben is still being repaired, so I mostly only saw scaffolding. However, I walked across the River Thames to go check out the London Eye and other attractions near it.
I don’t love Shrek. Or how prominently it was advertised here on the boardwalk since there was a thing called “Shrek’s Adventures”. I do want to come back one day to see the London Dungeons though! It’s kind of neat how the whole boardwalk is populated with touristy things. I’m sure locals don’t enjoy passing through the crowded and confused tourists, but I liked the proximity!
I ended up wandering to Waterloo Station and found myself unable to keep my eyes opened. So I took an Uber back to the hotel to take a quick nap.
After waking up, I ate at a nearby pub. I had fish and chips! I actually don’t like battered foods all that much. I did like the fish itself though! It came with mashed peas, which is not something I usually eat. But it was pretty tasty. I was also pretty surprised at how many times I’ve seen people order fries—or “chips”. During brunch, two little old ladies who sat near me just had fries and tea.
I later ventured out and walked to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I somehow managed to catch a projection show that was happening there! It looked very nice, but I couldn’t quite get the gist of what the story was about. When I walked back to my hotel, I didn’t end up sleeping till around 3AM. Again, I wasn’t trying very hard to adjust to the time difference haha!
The next day, I knew I wanted to go check out the area across the Millennium Bridge. It was about a half hour walk away from my hotel, but I didn’t mind getting some fresh air. Across the bridge were Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. I didn’t get to spend too much time at Tate Modern—I can definitely come back to check out more of it. However, I ended up having my brunch at Swan next to Shakespeare’s Globe.
I had tea for one! There was honestly way too much food. I ended up not quite being able to finish the dessert. But it was very nice to watch the River Thames while I munched away on sandwiches!
After tea, I walked over to Borough Market. I had a friend who was very adamant I had to check it out. It’s very quaint and reminds me of Granville Island back in Vancouver. Except it’s located under a bridge, so when big freight trucks pass by overhead, you can hear the rumbling. If I wasn’t so full from tea, I would’ve definitely tried a few snacks in the market. I saw oysters the size of my face too!
It started pouring, so I had to take an Uber back to the hotel instead of walking. That gave me two hours or so to take a quick nap (I was starting to crash again) before I had to head off to the venue where the Press Event was happening!
I thought the event itself was super cool. Huge props to our EMEA press team! I gave my presentation, mingled with some awesome folks, and ended up getting back to the hotel at midnight. I tried to go to sleep since I was hoping to wake up early the next morning so I can squeeze in a few more attractions I had missed on Day 1 due to my exhaustion!
I did manage to wake up at around 8AM the next day and for the first time during the trip, was able to grab breakfast at the cafe downstairs. I felt bad for not eating there since it’s included in my hotel stay, but I could never quite make it down in time. After a quick breakfast, I checked out of my hotel and took an Uber to Buckingham Palace!
I had hoped to catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony on the Wednesday that I landed, but it took me longer to get to London than I initially thought so I missed it. However, they also did a guard change on Friday! In the end, I stood outside in the drizzle for about an hour, waiting for the fancy guards dressed in their red uniforms and their fuzzy hats to march by with their band. It was neat, and I enjoyed it, but I was getting a bit cold. I headed over to the Buckingham Palace gift shop and got some loose leaf tea, a tea towel, and a keychain for myself.
Then I started my trek towards Brompton Road. It was almost a half hour walk, and I had to lug my luggage with me, so I was pretty tired after it all. I wanted to check out Harrods, but they wouldn’t let me in with a suitcase 😦 So I went to Harvey Nichols instead. There was a conveyor belt sushi place at Harvey Nichols, and while Britain wasn’t famous for sushi, I just wanted something familiar.
I looked around some more after lunch, but then soon called an Uber so I could get to the airport in time for my flight. I felt I tried to do what I could with the limited time I had in London! But I do hope to one day come back so I can explore more. And maybe on a trip that feels a little less lonely!
Don’t get me wrong, I do like not having to deal with socializing with coworkers or other people since I solo-travel for work sometimes. But it does make the 3 hour waits at the airport very lonely, and I mean, no one really wants to go to afternoon tea by themselves? But anyway—until next time London! And next time, I’ll bring back even more English sweets!!