London: The Dedicated Tourist Edition, Part One!

So this was my Mom and I's second trip to London, and my third, and I realized I had still barely touched the tip of the iceberg with many popular tourist attractions, so we set out to rectify that, heads down, tourist hats on and inherent lollygagging/window shopping natures set (briefly) aside! 

We stayed in Blackfriars, which was very central and convenient for to'ing and fro'ing to the sites. Our first day we visited Tate Modern, of which I have no pictures, but to be frank the building is kind of hideous -sorry Tate Modern! 

We were able to breeze through it quite easily in a couple of hours - to be honest it is under a lot of renovation so I'm not sure if we saw everything there is to see, but it's definitely worth a look if you are down the South Bank.

Our second day we had an itinerary planned of:

*Tower Of London
*SkyGarden view
*Covent Garden/something/we weren't really sure!

So the Tower of London is very imposing and impressive and full of gawping fellow tourists. It's all so old and historical and full of gruesome stories of princes.

Tower of London

Roman Wall!

White Tower

Horsey Armour!

Cool dragon sculpture made of weaponry, Tower of London

London Bridge

So yeah, Tower of London is very cool and definitely worth visiting. The Crown Jewels are amazing, of course, they stick you on a conveyor belt so you sort of slowly whizz past them but you can get back on and go around in circles if you want (we did!). No pictures of those bad boys allowed, sorry!

They try to play down how many people were killed and tortured there weirdly though, there are quite a few bits of the audio tour and exhibits that say something to the effect of "We only killed 17 (I forget exact number) people, really no big deal!". The tower where they have a display of a rack and some other torture shackle things is also very demure about it all "Yeah this was a torture rack, we only used it once in a blue moon though so no need to get your knickers in a twist".

I laughed at one point as we were walking behind a couple of Americans who both sighed in slight disappointment that "I thought there'd be more torture!"

I'll be honest though, by the end of all of the tower climbing my knees were killing me, and it is a ridiculous amount of stair climbing, often you are climbing to the top of a tower on teeny winding stone steps and you get to the top and there is like...a poster and some sound effects. I was kind of over all of the climbing by the end!

Our next planned stop was to go to the "Sky Garden" in the um...Walkie Talkie building - it has a real name which I forget but everyone calls it that because that's what it looks like (see picture at top of post, it's the funny shaped one next to the Gherkin shapen one...London you really are random with your skyscrapers!).

It's one of the few high views that are free in London - the Shard costs almost £30 which I think is OUTRAGEOUS. There are restaurants in some of the taller buldings but the bloggers' favourite Duck & Waffle was closed while we were there. I also tried to get a reservation at Sushi Samba but they only had 11:00 p.m. dinner reservations.

So we walked there (about 10-15 minutes from the Tower), and we had made reservations ahead of time online as you are meant to (it's free but you book one hour slots) and...there was a huge line wrapped around the building. Like well over a hundred people. And we were just like "Hell NO!".

I mean, they probably let people in in large clumps, but it didn't seem like there was any way to differentiate if you had a time slot reservation (you can just turn up to it and chance your luck), and we didn't want to stand in line and then not get in because we missed our slot. Plus I knew from reading online you have to go through a heavy duty security check that takes up time too. SO yeah, we weren't feeling it - I get that it is a popular thing obviously as it's free, but the organization seemed a bit lacking.

So we had a little think and kind of randomly ended up here:

Ok so that's Big Ben, not where we ended up going but it's the first thing you see when you get off the tube at...


Houses of Parliament

Westminster Abbey!

We had sort of ruled out going to Westminster Abbey as my Mom had already been and I wasn't super fussed about it...but we ended up there, and it was really awesome. I had only driven past the area on tour buses in the past, I admit.

You are not allowed to take pictures inside, except for a few of the areas outside the Abbey proper. The Abbey itself is very massive and sort of spooky and you are given an audio guide with the dulcet tones of Jeremy Irons to guide you through the various tombs, monuments, chapels, religious and historical tidbits, etc. It really is worth seeing, it can be kind of a mob scene trying to squeeze into the smaller chapels, but I do recommend it wholeheartedly. The gardens were closed when we were there which was too bad but other than that it was lovely.

Ok well I suspect that's plenty of touristing around for one blog post! As usual I learned the lesson of "You can only plan for so much/ you've got to roll with the tourist punches" pretty early on this trip. Which ended up working out possibly even better so hey ho. I will finish up the rest of our trip soon for anyone interested!


  1. Great post of a fun time !

  2. How interesting to have such old buildings with such new buildings! Some day I would like to do a bus tour with my sister, because there is no way I would be able to navigate all that on my own the first try.

    1. The bus tours are good for ticking off "Yep, seen it", you do have to be pretty organized on foot. Plus I do feel like I know my way around "the tube" a bit now, which helps. Yeah the old/new thing is everywhere, they go all out on the new too so it's even more strange looking architecturally! I do hope you get to visit, it's a very nice city, not too stressful really as far as cities go for tourists.

    2. Oh my gosh, so beautiful! I loved this! I definitely want to do London someday, I just don't know how. Like, should I do a group tour, should I do it with hubby and navigate on our own? Oy. I want to see all the things. All the things. I know. I will just be rich and do it on my own but pay someone to be my guide so I don't have to navigate. :) Ha ha Seems like a solid plan.
      Also, do you know your Sunday Confessions post isn't working? Just curious.

  3. Hey Becky, yes I deleted that one, whoopsie! Just wasn't feeling it this week. I have never done the group tour thing, so I don't know about them...they do do Jack the Ripper ones which the gruesome side of me may have tried to unsuccesfully persuade my last two travel companions to do though! I would recommend the bus tours though maybe your first day, just so you can see what you might want to see, also you can hop aon and off them and they are free transportation. I think I've spent like a grand total of 11 days in London now and still feel I've only scratched the surface. ;-0