We had plans to go to Europe for honeymoon, following our original July wedding plans; but sometimes the universe intervenes and plans change. Planning a trip and replanning a wedding seemed daunting when I first learned we would need to in the beginning of August, but all the pieces fell together nicely and somewhat surprisingly. The wedding planning has been ongoing and I am enjoying the process, despite theknot wedding planner app badgering me about my checklist (mostly in my head because there are still so many boxes to check off). I was able to get most of the big things done, like rebooking a venue, flowers, securing the photographer, engagement photos, cake – always cake, and a few other things, before we flew across the Atlantic.
Most people hem and haw about travel plans, bicker about money, and fuss over the details. We absolutely would have been that couple if we still had the year to plan it. Instead we just went for it, thanks to our generous parents who offered to help us pay for wedding and honeymoonin’ things. (We really appreciate it more than you know! <3) There was no time to banter about flights or hotel accommodations. We booked a package on Expedia and hoped for the best. I should note that Josh has been to London before and knew whereabouts he wanted to stay, which turned out not to be the exact right hotel but was even better. So in a matter of four days we had travel plans and wedding plans.
We left for London via Logan on a Virgin Atlantic flight overnight. I had never internationally traveled, so it was all a new experience for me. We arrived at the airport early as advised by the TSA, with our appropriately packed luggage carrying the exact amount of liquids allowed. Have you ever really looked at the TSA website of what is permissible and not permissible, because if you are in need of a laugh you should. Josh and I had to look up what some of the items I could pack in my checked bag actually were. You’d be surprised! Anyhow we got through security, where of course I had to go through the scanner, but not Josh and I was dazzled by the duty free shop lights. I didn’t buy anything but we did go grab drinks and a shrimp cocktail, why not start vacation off right? We got on the plan and didn’t really sleep, but who cares we were heading to London. Josh might have cared a little because there was a screaming child next to him who cried much of the six hour flight. We arrived at Heathrow the next morning (five hour difference) and took a hundred dollar cab to our hotel, where they immediately offered welcome wine and I fell love at first sight with London or at the very least the County Hall Marriott.
Our room wasn’t ready so we went off exploring, which was what I loved about our trip. Aside from our planned Paris day, we had no real plans. We knew where we wanted to go but no tight schedule as to what day or time or anything so restrictive. We just wandered about Westminster, getting our first taste of fish and chips at a floating pub on the Thames before heading back to our hotel for a relaxing evening. We finally checked in around 3, napped and went downstairs for a nice meal. By nice meal I mean the most expensive dinner for two I have ever dreamed of having, but well worth it complete with filet, English chips complete with mini mayo and ketchup jars, delicious greens, tasty drinks, and the best waitress ever. She was new to London, arriving just a month earlier from the Netherlands. She liked so much she bought us a glass of champagne to toast our honeymoon and came over to chat every time she saw us in the bar over the next week. Day one was in the books and it was magical, or at least I thought so when I looked out over the glistening lights on the Thames and the Lit up London skyline of Westminster Palace, Big Ben (even under construction) and the glow of the London Eye.
Monday and Tuesday were spent marathon walking, literally. That first day we walked thirteen miles from the London Eye to Westminster Abby, where I was able to see the latest addition of Stephen Hawking and the burial site of famous Queens including Elizabeth I, to Kensington, where I say Diana’s palace, a Christo installation along the Serpentine, numerous sculptures and historic monuments, ate a restaurant donned in flowers inside and out, to Knightsbridge, where I saw people wearing more money than I make in a year at Harrods, and back – well into a cab that took us the last few miles back. It was everything I had hoped it would be, especially after we sampled our own personal lemon merengue pie with gold leaf, curtesy of our new favorite waitress. Tuesday we headed down the Southbank stopped by Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, played with a plague rat (puppet only), and spent the majority of the day at the Tower of London where I got to see the sparkling crown jewels, was startled by a raven, saw Henry VIII’s cod piece, and walked through the last known location of the kidnapped princes, and fell in love with history all over again. We walked back through the financial district over the Millennial footbridge and ate Founders pub before heading back to the hotel bar for a nightcap.
Wednesday was our planned Paris day. We booked a tour through Golden Tours and needed to be at St. Pancras station bright and early to get the Eurostar out to Paris. We ironically bumped into another American couple from our hotel on the way over. The tour provided a day at the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre along with a bus tour of some of the historic sites. We were greeted at the Gare du Nord by our tour guide waving a flag who quickly ushered us by potential pickpockets to the Mercedes Tour bus. At that point I was still enamored by the idea of Paris, until we drove a little way and I immediately noticed a tent city and the real life overcrowding issues Paris is experiencing. The architecture was breathtaking, it was still after all Paris. I was elated to see the Arc de Triumphe, the square where the guillotine once stood (history nerd), and of course that first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower wasn’t quite what I envisioned but still an architectural feat and the views from the observation levels were extraordinary. Dinner at the 58th Tour Eiffel was phenomenal. The Louvre was less inviting because it has become over commercialized and is milling with millions of people it seems all rushing towards the Mona Lisa. It was however something I won’t soon forget, because I did get to stand within twenty feet of the great works of da Vinci and even nearer to the gorgeous Venus de Milo. But I will admit I was happy to get back to London. I should note we met a fabulous older couple from the states also on our tour who we spent much of the day with. They had some great marriage advice and were wonderful travel companions.
By Thursday we were beat. We enjoyed our daily hotel breakfast equipped with my favorite silver teapot and sugar cubes, spoke with concierge about tickets for a Les Mis and went to the Aquarium located in our hotel. Admittedly after the aquarium we napped before getting for our night out in the Theater district. We took a cab to Piccadilly Circus, frequented St. James Tavern and headed to the Queen’s Theater for Les Mis. Now I had watched the movie but it pales in comparison to the live musical. We had six row seats, thank you Concierge, and it was incredible. The theater itself was gorgeous, the performance was riveting, and in that moment I couldn’t have been more in love with Josh or our honeymoon. It had really been an amazing few days so far. We walked back to the hotel and decided that Friday and Saturday would be exploring days by bus and boat rather than foot.
We took a bus to Madame Toussaud’s on the other side of town. It was definitely a touristy experience that I enjoyed and Josh humored, even though a number of the photos feature him and attractive wax celebs. We were entertained by our bus tour guide who mostly talked to us, since we were the only crazies on the upper deck during the rain, and showed us humorous Trump videos and tried out Bostonian accents. It was a nice day riding around London. We went to Borough’s market which was an amazing experience. It had great energy and great food. I learned that I love ciders while in London. We hit up Carnaby street and ate at a small pub later that night. We were trying to get as much in as possible. We even stumbled on an animal rights rally.
Saturday was our last full day in London. We spent the morning at the National Gallery which is one of the eighth most visited museums in the world. Their collection was nothing short of impressive. They had great works by all the big names in the Renaissance and the impressionists. Even Josh was impressed. From there we went on a City Cruise boat tour to the Prime Meridian in Greenwich and got to take in some different sights along the riverbank. We walked back down the Southbank later that evening for dinner at the wharf, where I learned prawn still come with the face (Josh just laughed) and hopefully won some good luck by being pooped on by a pigeon. It was still a great last date night in London.
On Sunday we had breakfast for the last time and said goodbye to our fabulous hotel and London. It was an epic honeymoon. We flew home exhausted and happy!
Since then I staged a scavenger hunt for my sweet goddaughter’s birthday, started school, went to garlic fest, found my wedding dress, was showered with love by my friends and family, and am just enjoying these busy days.