England (London)

LondonMainx

I’d seen London and various parts of England in the movies, on the Travel Channel, and in tons of travel books, but what a dream come true to finally see it with my own two eyes. It’s everything the shows and books made it out to seem and so much more… Out of the seven of us who traveled together, my two nephews and myself were the only two who hadn’t seen London and still, only 1 nephew and me who hadn’t already been to the UK… We arrived in London after a 7 hour flight from Washington Dulles and took the Tube 45 min or so to our beautiful B&B just south of the heart of London… We dropped our bags off (we flew in at 6:30am so our rooms were not ready when we arrived a few hours later) and took off on the Tube to the city centre of London…

As most travelers, the first thing we realized we needed to do was change our money over to British Pounds… One of the big travel mistakes we made both in London and Paris was changing money at post offices and money changing booths… DO NOT DO THIS!! I think I lost well over $100 in their company conversion fees… If you can, always find a place where it reads “NO CONVERSION FEE” on the window… You can find places that don’t charge a fee but you have to look for them… A great place to change your money in England is at any “M&S” super market… They are friendly, quick, and most importantly they do not charge a fee… Also, if you’re in England or France visiting family, have your relatives change your money at their bank as they will not be charged a fee by already having an account with the bank… I think this was one of the biggest and most costly frustrations during our time overseas and next time, I will know how to avoid it…

London is an amazing city… Though we only had 24 hours to see as much of it as we could, we were still able to see Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, and 10, Downing Street (where the Prime Minister lives)… We also ventured out to an Indian restaurant near Euston Station and spent some time walking in the southern part of London where our B&B was… I found the English to be very helpful, gracious, and quite charming…

I’ve always heard that British food is “bland” or “not very tasty” — I found the food to be the exact opposite… I’m not sure I’ve eaten in any other country (including the U.S.) where nearly every meal was absolutely delicious but that’s the experience I had in the UK… A few places that can be found all around England we ate at and would highly recommend are “Pret A Manger” (www.pret.com), “M&S” (www.marksandspenser.com), “Nando’s” (www.nandos.co.uk), and “Costa Coffee” (www.costa.co.uk). The Brits love their cookies (or “biscuits” as they say), cakes, and cupcakes as well… The Asda’s (British version of Walmart – they are even owned by Walmart) literally have rows of baked goods and candies… A little slice of heaven! What amazed me the most besides the flavor of the food in the UK is the fact that nearly 100% of all their food is free of artificial color, artificial flavors, and chemicals… Made eating even that much more enjoyable…

Next trip to London will include way more time to see all the other areas as well as some train rides to towns just north of London and to the west to Wales… Save your money, plan a trip, and see this amazing city and country…

-haven

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