After our few days in Dublin, we went to London. I have been there once before about 10 years ago, but it was Tae’s first time. We had a list of ideas ready, but were pretty flexible about how we spent our time there. Because of Tae’s work trip, we actually spent one night in London, took a train two hours north to Birmingham, England for two nights and then came back to London for two nights. (Tae insisted on more food photos in this post, so you can thank him for that. Our food photography could certainly use some work.)
Two of our nights in London, we stayed at the Z Hotel Soho in the Leicester Square area. Because the two nights were split, we got to test out a few different rooms there (including one of their apartment rooms). It was in a great location, close to many of the plays and musicals, close to food, and easy to grab transportation.
Our first night, Tae wanted to check out football, so we headed to Bodeen’s Barbecue. The food was delicious and we had a great time sitting at one of their communal tables. We actually shared a table with the Allstate guy (also known as Dennis Haysbert).
On our first full day, we went to the Camden Lock market. Tae had a quick business meeting in the area, so it was a nice way to spend the morning. I’m not sure it needs to go on anyone’s list of things that they must do in London, but if you are nearby – check it out.
We knew that Indian food would be a priority in London, so we made sure to start off the first full day with the highly rated Dishoom (thank again to Yelp for helping us find the best places to eat). It did not disappoint! As a bonus, we went there on a Monday afternoon and found out that on Monday afternoons, when it comes time to pay your bill, they bring over a dice on a tray and if you roll a 6 your meal is free. Magically, we did roll a 6, so we paid nothing (but we did tip well). It was confusing and exciting.
Later that day, it was rainy, but we still wanted to take advantage of a bus tour to get a good idea of the city. Despite the rain, Tae convinced me to sit on the top of the bus (with no covering). I’m so glad that they had those garbage bag ponchos. It was much better views, despite the weather! (Although, I have no pictures because I was too busy being bundled in my poncho.)
That night, we headed out to Birmingham. Birmingham is about two hours north via train. Tae was at a conference and while I ventured out one day, the second morning was spent resting up for the remainder of our trip. In Birmingham, I went to see Aston Hall. It was a nice tour and really inexpensive.
We had dinner at an Indian restaurant in Birmingham and I realized it was 3 years since our first date!
On our return to London, we knew that there was a lot we wanted to pack in. The first night, we had dinner at Bill’s Soho Restaurant (delicious) before heading over to see Les Miserables. If you know Tae, this is his favorite musical. (Like, he listens to the music in the car once in a while.). When we passed by the theater and were able to get reasonably priced tickets, we jumped at the chance. I would highly recommend the London production!
The next morning, we were up early to go to Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is only open two months out of there and we just happened to be there the final week that it was open. This was my absolute favorite part of our trip. It was such a great tour, you had a headset to listen to, moved at your own pace, and there was a lot to see. My favorite part was seeing how they set up the room for State Dinners. I also liked seeing the Queen’s clothes. She is so tiny! Sadly, but of course, there are no pictures allowed. You will have to google to get some ideas of the tour OR come over for a visit and check out my souvenir book (Tae is probably shaking his head that I wanted/needed this).
After Buckingham Palace, we grabbed lunch at a street market near Victoria street (I think it was the Stutton Ground Market). It was perfect to give us each options for lunch.
Our next stop was Westminster Abbey. So many people recommend this as their favorite tour in London. It was a self-guided tour and you have your headset to listen as you go. I really enjoyed it (particularly trying to figure out how the big ceremonies happen in there).
Oh, and here I am telling Tae “they said NO photography in here!”
We took a walk down to see Big Ben and contemplated doing the London Eye, but decided just to keep walking.
After a full day of tours, we had plans to see Wicked that night. Neither of us had seen the show before, so it was fun to see something new that so many people love.
Because of some crazy hotel arrangements, we also switched hotels this night. This was another one of my favorite memories of the trip. We were walking to The Phoenix Hotel in the Kensington neighborhood and as we approached the corner, I said “hey, this looks just like where I stayed with my family 10 years ago”. Well, it turns out, we had booked the EXACT same hotel that my family stayed in during our trip to London. Out of all of the hotels in London, it was such a funny coincidence. Here I am, pretending to be my brother, Bryan, who slept in this very lobby ten years before when he was struggling with the time change.
On our way back to the hotel after the show, we were desperate for food and happy to see that the Phoencia Lebanese Restaurant was open. While it was nothing to write home about, their hummus was the best part.
Our last day, we had the morning to finish up some sightseeing. After a quick breakfast, we decided to stroll through Hyde Park and view Kensington Palace before heading to the airport. It was a jam packed trip, where we had tons of fun, explored a lot, but were happy to return home.