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The Final Stop: London

By November 22, 2017May 11th, 2018One Comment

I flew straight from Rome to London, and I honestly can’t believe that I’m finally at the last stop on my world tour! It’s insane to think that the trip is almost over, and yes, I’m VERY excited to get home!

London was never on the initial itinerary – it was another city I’d planned to save for a later trip to properly appreciate it. But alas, as I looked to book flights home from Rome, they were all either super expensive or had horribly long layovers (but not long enough layovers where I could leave the airport…). So I started looking for flights home from any of the major cities in Europe, and I happened to find one on Norwegian from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale for $345! (And that was the slightly more expensive fare – I opted for meals and baggage up front, so that added into the $345.) But alas, this flight was on Monday and my mom was leaving Rome Saturday.

So I decided the best course of action was to have a weekend in London! I stayed in Kensington, right on the park. I’m so glad I did, because the first night I was there, there was an absolutely stunning sunset. It was the kind of sunset where the entire city grows gold, and it was so beautiful!

Stunning sunset from Italian Water Gardens in Hyde Park, London

After that, I learned a lesson about London. I’d checked on my phone to see if rain was expected, and there was a 0% chance. So I didn’t take my umbrella when I went to dinner with just my down jacket and white t-shirt. I thoroughly enjoyed my real, London fish and chips (definitely better in London!).

And then it was almost pouring out when it was time for me to go back to the hotel! I laughed, because of course I’d even checked the forecast to see if I should bring my rain jacket, but alas… the forecast was quite wrong. Luckily I managed to walk quickly back to the hotel and was not thoroughly soaked, but I learned a lesson about being in London and not being prepared!

Amanda Plewes in front of Thames and London Eye

The next morning was my one full day in London, so I woke up early and headed out to explore the city. As I headed out of the hotel, there was a half-marathon being run through the royal parks. I stopped to watch for a bit, and I have to admit that I was kind of emotional. It was almost a year to the day since I’d run the Chicago Marathon, and watching (and cheering) for the runners brought back so many emotions.

I continued on, and my first stop was the Parliament building on the Thames and Big Ben. It’s been quite the scandal (and everyone abroad had an opinion), but Big Ben has been silenced for a few months so that the workers doing restoration won’t have their hearing impaired. Apparently, it’s the first time Big Ben has gone silent since World War II, so it was a tough choice. There was all sorts of scaffolding on the tower when I was there, so it wasn’t as perfect as you see in the movies. But that just means I need to go back!

Amanda Plewes in front of Parliament and Big Ben in London

I wandered the Thames for a bit, and then headed to see Westminster Abbey. Along the way, I passed a ton of statues – including one of Winston Churchill! He’s one of my heroes, so it was cool to see him honored there.

Statue of Winston Churchill in Westminster, London

The church is giant, and impressive – even after seeing so many cathedrals in France and Italy! I didn’t go into the church, because they were in the middle of services.

Westminster Abbey in October 2017

I then headed on to London Bridge. I mean, you just can’t NOT go to London Bridge after singing the song for years! I saw Tower Bridge, but didn’t go close to it. I wandered around the London Bridge area before heading to Buckingham Palace. I ended up getting to walk through the Palace park to get there, and it was a gorgeous fall day for the walk!

Thames and Tower Bridge taken from London Bridge

Finally, I spent my afternoon shopping on Sloane Street and then wandering Harrod’s. It was a wonderful way to spend the day!

The next morning, I had a few hours before my flight, so I decided to go walking through Hyde Park and Kensington Park. I knew I’d be sitting for quite a long time on the plane home, so I thought the exercise would be good, and I’d get to see more of London. Kensington Palace struck me as very different from Buckingham Palace – much quieter, and somehow managed to feel secluded even in the middle of everything!

I feel like I crammed so much of London into just a couple of days, and I still did not even begin to see the city!

London was definitely one of those places where it was like “holy crap! I’m actually here!” I’ve spent so much of my life seeing pictures of it, seeing it in movies, and it was a perfect ending to the trip to see it in person.

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