london, baby!

Just touched down in London town.

After a few days in Paris, I took the Chunnel to London. The Chunnel (Channel Tunnel) is a rail that connects northern France to southeast England. There are over 23 miles/37 km of the tunnel that is underwater. It’s a very popular way to get from Paris, Marseilles, Lyon, and Lille in France to London. The trip took about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

London was loads of fun as well. I stayed by Hyde Park, a very convenient location to many of the attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye, and Kensington Palace. The London Tube was easy to use and traversed all across the city, which made getting to and from the British Museum, British Library, and Wembley Stadium effortless.

When I came back from vacation, most of my friends and colleagues would ask, “Which one do you better?” London or Paris? Honestly, the two cities are very similar in a lot of ways. An epicure’s dream, culturally enriching with museums that house impressive works of art or sculptures, beautiful urban green spaces and parks, and landmarks that are historically significant.

To me, Paris is a breathtakingly gorgeous city that is well designed, compact, architecturally impressive, and more walkable. Meanwhile, London is more ethnically diverse, and its world-class museums are free. At the end of the day, it comes down to one’s preference. Scones or croissants? Louvre or the British Museum? Versailles or Buckingham Palace? Harrods or Champs-Élysées? Quite frankly, there’s no need to choose. I would love to go back to both.

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Buckingham Palace

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St. James’s Park
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Carnaby Street
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Piccadilly Circus
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Trafalgar Square
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Westminster Abbey and the Supreme Court of the UK
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London Eye
Itinerary:

  • Day 5 (Thursday): At the St. Pancras station, bought an Oyster card to take the Tube to Green Park station. Walked from Green Park to the hotel, a quick 3-4 minute walk. For dinner, had an amazing burger and lobster at the aptly named Burger and Lobster.
  • Day 6 (Friday): Walked to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard. Afterwards, walked through St. James’s Park. Decided to head to Soho for lunch. Serendipitously happened upon Carnaby Street. The first choice was Mother and Mash, but unfortunately they had mechanical issues and were closed that day. Turned the corner and ate at Dishoom, an awesome Indian restaurant. Walked through Piccadilly Circus to Trafalgar Square on the way to the Churchill War Rooms. Explored this museum for awhile before heading over to see Big Ben (under construction). Took a quick tour of the Supreme Court of the UK and walked over Westminster Bridge to the London Eye. Walked towards Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Had a lovely, unexpected fancy dinner at the Punchbowl.
  • Day 7 (Saturday): An early English breakfast, complete with English breakfast tea, at the Wolseley. Took the Tube from Green Park to the British Library. Walked over to King’s Cross station and checked out Platform 9¾. Afterwards, took the Aboveground train to Wembley Stadium to watch the Tottenham Spurs vs. West Brom match. Spurs tied with West Brom 1-1. After the game, took the Tube to Oxford Circus for shopping and dinner at Franco Manca.
  • Day 8 (Sunday): Took the Tube to the British Museum. Walked to the Rosewood London for afternoon tea in their Mirror Room. The afternoon tea was so lovely, and it’s voted best contemporary tea in London. The cakes are inspired by artists such as Jeff Koons, Jackson Pollock, Wassily Kandinsky, Banksy, and Hubert Le Gall. Walked to St. Paul’s Cathedral for a visit before crossing the Millennium Bridge (with views of London Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Shard). Had dinner at Bone Daddies (tonkotsu ramen), a second dinner at Hawksmoor (aimed for Sunday roast which was regrettably out, so settled for prime rib instead), and a matcha latte and matcha monaka (ice cream, azuki, matcha brownie, monaka wafer biscuits) at Tombo Japanese Café & Matcha Bar.
  • Day 9 (Monday): Walked to Harrods and explored both the food hall and the stores. Then, walked through Hyde Park to Kensington Palace. Noticed a lot of reporters there and later found out it was because Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were announcing their engagement that day. Took the Tube to Westminster Abbey and walked through this famous landmark. Took the Tube to Borough Market and ate at a couple of the vendors there. For dinner, finally had Mother Mash.
  • Day 10 (Tuesday): Travel day!

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English breakfast at the Wolseley
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British Library
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King’s Cross
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Christmas decorations
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British Museum
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View from Millennium Bridge
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Sandwiches at the Rosewood London Mirror Room
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Afternoon tea at the Rosewood London Mirror Room
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More Christmas decorations at Regent Street
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Kensington Palace
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Borough Market
Have you ever traveled to London? What were some of your favorite things to do, see, or eat? And what’s your vote – Paris or London? Sound off the comments below!

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