After an amazing week, we were finally at the end of our amazing honeymoon in Spain (for all the details, check out Honeymooning, Part 1: Stockholm; Honeymooning, Part 2: Madrid; Honeymooning, Part 3: The palace, a Cathedral, and lots of Hot Chocolate; and Honeymooning, Part 4: Seville, and all the travel mishaps.). I’m going to preface this post by saying there were some verrrrrry important lessons learned in those 20 hours… keep reading :-p
We had scheduled our return flight with a long layover in London so we could
sightsee run through the city snapping photos like crazy people on a mission to see as much as possible in 20 hours. Our flight out of Spain was uneventful, and we landed at Gatwick airport outside of London. It was Sunday evening when we landed, and it. was. busy. There was a transportation strike going on, so there were trains getting cancelled left and right, but luckily we were able to get on the Gatwick express train to Victoria station. It was so packed that we ended up crammed in between some bicycles and the bathroom… lovely. Once at Victoria, we looked at the train schedule and got on a train heading out towards our hotel… or so we thought. Now, here’s where some learning comes into play. I had printed all of our travel documents so we would have them handy, but somehow ended up getting the address for other location of our hotel… so we trekked out to Blackheath village, walked into this super swanky hotel lobby, and were promptly told we were at the wrong location. I’m not ashamed to admit that at this point my husband and I were both exhausted, stressed out, and pretty sick of traveling. so I did the only sensible thing and burst into tears. The lovely English gentleman behind the counter was nice enough to call us a cab, and we took a very expensive cab ride all the way back to the theatre district, which is really not that far from Victoria station, where our actual hotel was. So here’s the lesson: Double, triple and quadruple check the address and location of all your accommodations before you head out, otherwise, you, too, can take an very long and expensive 3 hour detour using multiple forms of transportation across a strange city at midnight, too.
Once we got to our room in London, we promptly fell asleep and slept off the all-too eventful night before. Our game plan was to get up and go explore until we had to head to the airport that afternoon. So, we packed up, checked a map, and started walking. We walked through the theatre district, grabbed some fish and chips from what was probably a tourist trap (but we were hungry, and it was delicious) and headed towards Piccadilly circus. After we explored the area there, we hopped on another big red tour bus. This time, we opted for The Original London Tour and took the Yellow Route so we could see as many of the main attractions as possible. This line hits all of the major spots, including The Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, The London Eye, and both the Tower and London Bridges. This tour company uses headphone jacks in the seat so you can listen to the audio tour in one of 11 languages (!!), and it was honestly extremely informative. They definitely are taking advantage of the worldwide Harry Potter phenomenon, because at least half a dozen sites included some sort of Harry Potter reference. Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited about all of them. While we didn’t have time to hop off and visit any of the attractions, we were both happy that we at least got to see and snap photos of them like the obnoxious tourists we were. (Excuse the iPhone photos taken from a moving vehicle- I tried to include the best ones!)
The only site we really missed was the front side of Buckingham palace, because the tour had a stop at Victoria train station right before we got there- so convenient!
From there it’s just another episode of trains, planes,
automobiles Uber, hotel, early car service, plane, Uber… and finally home.
In case you’re a list-loving kind of person- as I am- I threw together a TOP 5 list of why we love guided bus tours when you’re crunched for time. Check it!
Five Reasons to Take a Bus Tour on a Long Layover
- It’s the most bang for your buck- you get to see more attractions in a shorter amount of time
- Bus Route Frequency- most routes have buses that run about every 10 minutes, so if you do want to get off and see one of the attractions in more depth, you have the option to do so without losing time waiting for the next bus to come back
- Targeted Tour Routes- You can choose your tour route based either on location, or the types of attractions you want to see. In London, you can take a route geared toward the museums or the palace, so if you’re rather spend a few hours hopping between museums, you can do so with ease.
- Discounts- Most of these tour tickets come with discounts for major retailers or food and beverage chains that are found in or near the transportation hubs, so if you are on a layover and will have to eat back at the airport, you will likely have a coupon!
- Convenience to major transportation hubs- just like we were able to get off directly at Victoria station, many cities include train stations as attractions- so it’s like a free ride back!
I hope y’all enjoyed the recap of our honeymoon! Up next, I’ll be sharing some tips on finding the cheapest flights, and starting a new series about the towns I play in on tour (Hey, I’m a musician! Check out my music HERE!)