10 Days, 3 Countries, 1 Backpack and Me
Reaching a traveler milestone, I am taking my first solo trip! We have a week-long break from school this month, which means time to travel. First stop: London.
I traded sunny Nice for snowy London, which I discovered was unseasonably cold even for the characteristically dreary city. With inspiration to tour London from a friend who studied abroad there last semester, I approached the city with a insider list of things to see and do.
I took the tube from London’s Heathrow airport to the city center, which took longer than I expected. Nonetheless, I was very happy with my hostel location, as well as with my overall experience. Because of my solo status, I stayed at St. Christopher’s Inn London Bridge at the Oasis, an all-female section of the hostel.
With many places to visit and only a few days to do so, I set out to explore the city.
For reasons I can’t quite explain – maybe it’s the soundtrack, maybe it’s Dennis Quaid, maybe it’s because my sister and I bond over every line – The Parent Trap (1998 version) is one of my favorite movies. Because of my love for the film, I had to visit the James’ residence, or the home of the London-living Lindsay Lohan. Though under construction, the home still transported me back to movie memories. At 23 Egerton Terrace, it sits in one of the most wealthy neighborhoods of the city. The James’ were living large in London.
I spent my first evening in London in Covent Garden, a district near the center of the city. Getting to the area, the Covent Garden underground stop only offered options for the “lift” and for the stairs. Rather than wait in the large crowd for the elevator, I decided to walk, and soon realized why there was a crowd for the lift. With 193 spiral stairs, equivalent to 15 stories, I felt like I was climbing up a lighthouse! Fortunately, Covent Garden was worth the effort. A mixture of luxury stores and artisan shops, the neighborhood was the perfect place to wander after a morning of travel. There were multiple indoor/outdoor buildings, including the central Covent Garden Market, of stalls of pricey perfumes, homemade crafts, and food vendors scattered in between.
Nestled within the criss-crossing streets, Homeslice Pizza‘s golden-lit glow invited me in for some Friday night pizza. I got there at 5:30 p.m. and snuck in at a table alone, but by the time I finished, there was a crowd at the door. As for the food, the paper-thin crust was dusted with a salty pizza flour that added a punch to the incredibly fresh ingredients. One could taste the quality of the basil leaves, tomato sauce, and mounds of mozzarella, a filling end to a full day.
- Two words: Oyster Card. The Oyster Card is the tourist payment card for those who plan on utilizing public transportation while in London. This card was a life saver! I put about 30€ on it at the airport when I arrived and it lasted all trip. The highlight of this system, though, is the daily charge cap. While the capping calculations themselves are a bit complicated, depending on where and how you travel, the idea is simple— travel more, spend less. I reached my spending cap each day I was in London, and was always thrilled to realize when I was no longer being charged for my travel. Tourism done right!
- St. Christopher’s Inn London Bridge
- 165 Borough High St, London SE1 1HR, UK
- The Parent Trap house
- 23 Egerton Terrace, Chelsea, London, SW3 2BU, UK
- Covent Garden
- Homeslice Pizza
- Seven Dials London, 13 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP, UK
Peace, Love, London