We were supposed to go to service at Westminster Abbey for Easter, but accidentally overslept (#jetlag, amirite?). That was disappointing but maybe we will go tomorrow. In any case, I’m glad I’ve been before just in case we can’t. We rested a bit more and got ready for the day. (Tip: If you’re doing some of your own traveling outside of the contiki tour like we did, it can be easy to save money on breakfast by packing instant oatmeal along with nuts/seeds/dried fruit. Most hotels have a kettle, so it’s easy to make an easy, healthy and filling breakfast in your room. That’s what we did.)
We went on a great walking tour that included Buckingham Palace, St. James’ Palace, St. James’ Park, 10 Downing Street, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Covent Garden, Horse Parade Square (?), Trafalgar Square, and ended in a pub. (The walking tour was free and operated by Sandeman Tours. I highly recommend them. You simply tip what you can at the end, and you get a good price on the meal in the pub).
When we were leaving the pub it was really pouring, so we were going to try to go to one of the free museums, instead of the South Bank like we originally planned, but it was already after 4:30 and most were closing at 5:30 or 6. We got off the tube at Kings Cross/St. Pancras to take a picture at Platform 9 3/4, but the line (queue, haha) was massive. We got pictures of the sign, but not of us in front of it.
We went to a small Marks & Spencer’s (I became obsessed with M&S the first time I visited London. They have a huge variety of quality prepared salads, sandwiches, snacks, and delicious treats at very affordable prices, especially by London’s standards. If you are traveling on a budget like we were, it’s a great place to pick up a quick lunch or dinner.) and picked up canned drinks for the night. I got a mojito and a pink gin and tonic and we got tomato and cheese sandwiches. I also bought a container of the chocolate cake bite things that I tried and loved last time I was here.
We came back to the hotel around 7pm and rested until about 8/8:30. We got ready, ate, drank and left for Covent Garden around 10 or so. Covent Garden was dead. We were walking by and looking at a place called “The Roadhouse” but it didn’t look like anything we wanted. Two English guys came up to us and tried to convince us to go in so they could get in. Guys weren’t allowed in without girls. We ended up agreeing to go in so we could use the bathroom (hope the cover you paid for us was worth it, gentlemen!) The place was soooo lame, it was trying to look very “American” with Route 66 signs all over the place. I guess it could be analogous to the many English and Irish pubs at home, but this place was seriously tacky.
There was nothing going on in Covent Garden, so we walked to Leicester Square. Eventually we walked in to a pub that I think was called “Waxy’s Sister.” I got a cider and Jacinda got a beer. We went upstairs and it was pretty laid back. It was midnight and we had to get back to the tube before it ended at 12:30. Well… it ended early because of Easter. We were left trying to figure out the bus system. At home, this would be simple with a data enabled phone, but alas, we were wifi only for this trip.
After a few wrong turns, missed stops and the help of a kind security guard, we made it on the proper night bus and all the way back to Canary Wharf and our hotel. It’s almost 3 AM now. Goodnight.
We were thinking of going to Westminster Abbey, but by the time we woke up, got ready, checked in to our hotel and dropped our bags at the new one (Imperial Hotel London), it was too late. Man, lugging suitcases through tube stations is the WORST. Thanks to many very kind strangers who swooped in to help us carry our heavy bags up the stairs (although at first it seemed like they were trying to steal them) it wasn’t nearly as painful as it could have been. But seriously, I apologize to all of the London locals who put up with us inconveniencing their commute.
We headed towards Abbey Road and stopped at Baker Street along the way because of an underground closure on the Jubilee Line at Baker Street. We stopped at 221B, the Sherlock Holmes Museum and then continued to Abbey Road. We were directed the wrong way, but after a while, made our way there to take pictures. We signed the wall at Abbey Road Studios as well.
We then wanted to head to the South Bank, but got on the wrong bus (we were seriously bad at overground transportation!) We ate a late lunch at Nandos (basically the best part of the entire Europe trip, to be honest ;)) where we tried their famous piri piri chicken, salad and piri piri chips. Then we headed back to our hotel to check in. We met up at the Contiki basement for a briefing of our tour, to fill out last minute paper work, etc.
We then headed to “London Pub” with some of the gang. Not everyone on our tour was there, but eight of us Canadians started bonding right away at the pub. We had a great time and stayed for hours chatting. The “Great Can8” (as we called ourselves, yes it’s lame, we know okaybye) consisted of Me, Jacinda, Kelsie, Lauren, Scott, Paul, Cole and Andy. (Tip: definitely go to your contiki meeting the night before your departure if you can. Less than half of our group was there, but those of us who were became friends super quickly. This was really nice. We had lots of fun on this trip together, long live the #greatcan8)