We arrived in London on a Saturday evening and stayed until the following Tuesday afternoon. This gave us a solid two & a half days to explore the city together, along with my brother-in-law, Milen, who lives and works just outside of London. Milen was a great tour guide, showing us some of his favorite places as well as all of the requisite sights. I've been to London before (about seven years ago), but Tiho never has. We did a lot of walking. In all honesty, I think we could have used another full day to really spread out some of the sight-seeing (we fell into bed exhausted each night), but in retrospect, it was kind of cool to jam in as much as we could.
We stayed three nights at the Hilton Kensington, which served us wonderfully. The hotel clerk kept us waiting for approximately seven minutes at check-in while he called to make sure our room was ready, and apologized by providing us with a free bottle of wine. Can't beat that. We chose Kensington as our home-base mostly because I wanted to be in close proximity to the quainter neighborhoods in London (Notting Hill, Holland Park) but still near all of the buzz of central London. The hotel is a five minute walk from two stops on the central tube (subway) line, enabling us to get pretty much anywhere in the city quickly.
Following, a sampling of photographic highlights, mostly in the order we experienced them. I realize now that I almost never take photos of food/restaurants while traveling because usually, I'm too hungry to stop and take out the camera. I assure you, we ate (and drank) well. I also realize that I don't take too many photos where crowds of people/tourists are present. I gravitate towards "clean" shots and get mad when a random lady's fanny-pack obstructs my vision. This is why you won't be seeing any images of Buckingham palace below. Good, God.
Overall thoughts + memories I want to preserve from this leg of the trip:
-Consuming the best Turkish food of our life in a hole-in-the-wall joint near our hotel. Seriously amazing falafel. I wish I remembered the name of the restaurant.
-Climbing St. Paul's Cathedral and meeting a friendly lady from California with whom I struck up an immediate friendship (extroverts!). She didn't bring her camera for the climb so I snapped a few of her at the peak and promised to send them after we returned to the US.
-Walking across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern and buying a colorful Matisse print from the current exhibit.
-Acquiring a horrible sunburn on only one arm from wandering all day in a t-shirt and forgetting to reapply sunscreen.
-Strolling through Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park, across the Tower Bridge, along Oxford street, around Trafalgar Square & Picadilly circus, past the London eye, The Shakespeare Globe Theater, Westminster, Big Ben & Buckingham Palace (to name a few of the many places we visited).
-Eating lunch at the most charming little outdoor bistro on the south bank near Borough Market (I devoured my elderflower champagne cocktail, asparagus & artichoke macaroni & cheese, and roasted peaches in raspberry sauce over vanilla ice cream).
-Eating dinner at the coolest restaurant in Soho where the table was actually a interactive touch screen menu.
-Buying a cheap umbrella at Primark when it started to rain while we were en route to a fancy(ish) bar for evening drinks.
-People-watching on the grass in Leicester Square after a brief tour of the National Portrait Gallery.
-Taking pictures of all of the colorful doors in Holland Park (separate post to come!).
All in all, London was beautiful. There was obviously a lot we weren't able to see or do in our limited timeframe, but with Tiho's brother currently based there, I don't see what's stopping us from hopping back across the pond sometime soon. :)
[Photos: June 2014 // London, United Kingdom]