As a teenager in High School, I spent countless hours in class daydreaming about how I’d soon be old enough to leave home and head off to London. As someone who had long loved history, royalty and the idea of being a Princess, I found the idea of running off to London irresistible. The city of Buckingham Palace! Harrods! Prince William!
The Tower of London! My first trip to London came much later in life than my teenage self had imagined – University and Trans-Atlantic flight costs have a funny way of doing that- but it was nevertheless the amazing experience that I had hoped it would be and will remain amongst my favorite memories. My husband and I went on an extended tour of Europe for our honeymoon which included a stay in London.
To say I was excited would have been an understatement as I had dog-eared guidebooks upon guidebooks, tube maps highlighted and shopping spots pre-selected. We flew into London and immediately realized why the flights were so much cheaper when you flew into London’s Luton airport- the airport was in the middle of nowhere! The ridiculously long taxi ride through first beautiful English countryside and then London traffic didn’t bother me in the least as I sat staring out the window.
I was so transfixed to the sights that I failed to notice the hundred pound taxi bill which had accumulated… We arrived in London on what we were told to be a very normal day – pouring rain. We spent four days trying to stay dry which might have dampened anyone else’s spirits, but being from a very precipitation heavy area ourselves (Vancouver, BC) it was nothing we weren’t used to. There was no way I was letting a little rain spoil this trip.
Our first tourist destination was the cacophony of tourist attractions around Buckingham Palace. I was so impressed with the opulence of the Palace, just sitting in the middle of London. I found it to be slightly odd that the Queen actually lived there as it was surrounded by bus loads of tourists and it just didn’t seem to have the grandeur I had thought it would bring.
I understood very quickly why the Queen allegedly loves to spend time at her Country residences as they are secluded and private. We took a spin over to St. James Palace as well as Kensington Palace although just peering at them from the road is as close as we got. I couldn’t get over the fact that some of the cars driving in and out of the gates might actually be real live royal family members so I made my husband sit for quite awhile trying to get a glimpse of someone I recognized.
Westminster Abbey is not too far away, and neither was Big Ben- more famous London attractions that made me smile as we took picture after picture- I was finally here! Luckily, I did get a chance to get up and personal with a member of the Royal Family when I spent an afternoon with Prince William… At Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Remember that torrential rain I was talking about earlier?
That forced us to find indoor activities such as the wax museum which was actually quite entertaining for the poses we took next to the famous statues. After looking at all the beautiful jewels which were strung around the necks of the wax celebrities, I had a hankering to see some diamonds so we took a trip over to the Tower of London where I was absolutely gobsmacked (Good British word!) by the history. If you have even a remote interest in history, you will find yourself enthralled by the stories of what happened at this Tower- and the fancy jewels displayed will not dampen your enthusiasm in the least.
After looking at very fancy jewels in cases, I wanted to go try some on so we made our way over to London’s famed Department store, Harrod’s where we thought we’d spend a few minutes wandering around. Plans changed very quickly when after an hour we had barely made it through one area of one floor. The store is literally home to everything you can dream of and more.
We went from looking at horse riding saddles to couture dresses and then eating Laduree macaroons to spending time in the pet section complete with dog dressing rooms. If you had told me I could have just spent the rest of my trip in Harrod’s, I might have. I had tears in my eyes at the Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed Memorial – a very touching tribute by Dodi’s father, the store’s owner.
While we were only in London for a few (short) days on this first trip, it was a city that I immediately felt at home in. Coming from a relatively “new” country, Canada, I loved the history that was present in every single building and on every corner. Was London everything I expected it to be? Absolutely, down to the delicious fish and chips we had at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant.
My biggest regret actually came as we were boarding the Express train to Paris when I suddenly realized I hadn’t even had one cup of tea the entire time I was in London. For shame! I left my bags with my poor bewildered husband on the Eurostar platform and ran into the concourse at St. Pancras where I found a shop, ordered a tea to go and then scrambled back to get to my seat before the train whirled off to Paris. As we started down the black tunnel, I took a sip of my tea and realized it was only a few hour plane ride away- and I’d be back.
Amanda, The Duchess, is the head writer and leader of the team at What Would Kate Do. Her fascination with anything and everything Kate started when the British media began their campaign to have Kate renamed “Waity Kate-y” whilst she was also patiently waiting for her long-time Prince Charming to give her a ring as well. Happily, both the Duchess and Kate are both now in possession of pretty rings- and Prince Charmings. When not fervently reading about everything Kate-related, the Duchess can be found browsing through vintage shops, planning her next trip to be near the ocean or trying to become a wine connoisseur.