“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
When I was in middle-school, my English teacher had tenaciously handed me a paperback of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Due to her persistence, I found myself captivated by European folklore and mythology. Quickly, I moved onto novels like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, which is, by far, one of my favorite pieces of literature. The reason why I enjoyed reading this novel so much was because I admired the character, Elizabeth Bennet, the intelligent, quick-witted and independent protagonist, who went up against societal norms. During college, one of the classes that I had taken was a study of William Shakespeare and his work. Even though I was not looking forward to this class, I ended-up discovering a fondness for the English playwright and dramatist.
My love for the English culture came from books. The adventures that these books have taken me, sparked my curiosity for the world. In a way, it is where I get my itch for travel. With no surprise, the first country I anxiously wanted to step foot in was England. So, when I traveled to London a year ago, I was on a mission to take in all that I can. Out of all the places that I got to see while I was out there, my favorite memory was the time I had visited the White Cliffs in Dover. From the cliffs, you can actually see French soil, which is only 20 miles away. It was at this moment that I felt a sense of gratitude.
If you are looking to take a trip out to London, here’s a glimpse of what my day-to-day were along with some notable recommendations and highlights:
Airline: Norwegian Air
- Has many flights and is typically the least expensive
- Lands into London-Gatwick (LGW), not London-Heathrow (LHW)
Travel Time: Direct (non-stop) / 10h 15m
Travel Period: Mid-Oct to Early Nov
Duration: 4 – 5 days
- Stayed in a chic studio flat in Kensington for roughly $150 USD per night
- For a 3 – 5 star hotel, rates ranged from $200 – $300 USD per night
Transportation: Train / Uber / Walking
- To use the underground train, purchase an Oyster Card at a station
- Uber was typically around $8 – $10 USD per ride
- Navigate the city, including the train lines with Google Maps
Weather: About 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit / Partly cloudy / 14 days of rain out of the month
Day 1 : Arrival | Check-In | Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant | Piccadilly Circus
- Dine at the Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant in Bayswater. They also have (3) other locations across London.
- Check-out Piccadilly Circus, which is known for its shopping and dining. It reminds me a bit of Times Square in New York City.
Day 2 : Windsor Castle | St. Paul’s Cathedral | The Globe Theater | Millennium Bridge | Chinatown
- Purchase a round-trip ticket at London Paddington to get yourself to and from Windsor. The estimated travel time is roughly 3 hours there and back.
- Take a tour of Windsor Castle, where the Queen spends her weekends. Tickets are about $30 USD per adult.
- If you are passionate for the theater, take a tour of The Globe Theater, which is the “home” of William Shakespeare.
- Tour tickets are about $23 USD per adult. Also, you can reserve tickets online to see certain productions running that season.
- Chinatown in London is close to my other favorites that are in New York City and San Francisco. Unlike the Chinatown we have in Los Angeles, these cities really does create a communal environment for the Chinese community.
Day 3 : Stonehenge | The Roman Bathe
- Use Golden Tours for a whole-day trip up to Stonehenge and the Roman Baths.
- A ticket per adult is $107 USD, where a shuttle bus and a tour guide will pick you up at one of it’s two stations. The ticket includes entrance to both destinations, and an exploration of its surroundings.
Day 4 : White Cliffs on Dover in Kent | 9 3/4 Station at King’s Cross
- Purchase a round trip train ticket at King’s Cross, and travel to Dover, Kent, eastward of London. The estimated travel time is 2 hours there and back.
- For the Harry Potter fanatics, stand in line to take a picture of the 9 3/4 Station display, and if you want some HP gear, there is a shop right next to it.
Day 5 : The English Rose Cafe and Tea Shop | Buckingham Palace | Westminster Abbey | London Eye | Tower Bridge | Kensington Palace and Garden
- Want a true English breakfast? Step into The English Rose Cafe and Tea Shop, located a couple of blocks from Buckingham Palace.
- If you are not taking a tour of Buckingham Palace, then catch the Marching of the Guards instead.
- Not at all religious, but I do love the architecture of religious buildings. So, if you are the same way, take a tour of Westminster Abbey, where it is prominently known in London.
- Please note that Big Ben is under construction until 2021, so you can take a glimpse of the London Eye that is opposite of its view instead.
- Take a stroll through Kensington Palace and Garden, which I thought was refreshingly beautiful.