Weekend Write-Up: London, Part I
Weekend Write-Up: London, Part II
Review: InterContinental London Westminster
Review: LHR BA Galleries First Lounge
For Labor Day weekend, Chris planned a "mystery trip" months in advance. He gave no hints and I tried hard not to accidentally find out where we were going (I love surprises). I honestly had no idea where our final destination would be until we reached our gate at LAX on Friday night - we were off to London!
Friday 5:30 PM PST | SFO | San Francisco, CA
Quick drink at the SFO Admiral's Club prior to departure. A summer evening calls for white wine. Then we jump to board our flight down to LAX.
Friday 7:15 PM PST | LAX | Los Angeles, CA
We make our way through security at the LAX international terminal and head to the OneWorld Alliance VIP lounge. This place is pretty swanky, but it's absolutely packed. During several points throughout the evening, announcements are made to remove personal items from chairs so that others could sit down. Nearly everyone around us has an Aussie accent and I am secretly hoping that we were boarding a flight Down Under. I drink one too many glasses of wine and I'm a bit tipsy as we make our way to the gate. Chris' idea of a joke is to stop at the gate departing for Guangzhou - look where we're going! I don't buy it, so we continue. Finally, after months of wondering, the secret is revealed - we are heading across the pond (...and the entire United States) to London and we're boarding an A380! I'm stoked. I've never flown in an A380 before and this one is brand new to the British Airways fleet. We may be riding in coach, but we're definitely flying in style. Time to settle in for a long flight.
Saturday 4:30 PM GMT | LHR | London, England
We made it to London! Customs is nearly painless. Lucky me - I'm one of the few non-EU passengers on the plane, which means the "other passport" line is nearly empty. The border agent takes my immigration form and asks where I am flying after "3 days" in the UK. "Back to California!" He looks at me like I'm completely mad and asks why I would fly so far for such a short trip. "My boyfriend and I really like to travel" I say, but now he's wondering where said boyfriend is. I point to the (much longer) EU line and explain he's over there. Unconvinced, the customs agent decides to ask me about my profession and gets excited when I tell him where I work. I've said the magic words - passport is stamped and I'm off!
Chris is excited because he's booked the Heathrow Express, which will get us to Paddington Station in 15 minutes (as opposed to over an hour on the Underground). He's saying something about a discount for business class on the train after paying for an economy class plane ticket. I have no idea what he's saying to be honest, I'm just excited to be here!
Saturday 5:30PM GMT | In an Uber | London, England
Chris' main thrill in life is taking Uber in every city possible, so we grab one from Paddington Station to our hotel. A sleek silver Mercedes pulls up and it's time to go.
Saturday 6:00PM GMT | InterContinental London Westminster | London, England
This guy has really outdone himself. We check in to our gorgeous hotel and immediately try to figure out how to work the fancy lights and extremely large sliding bathroom door. Apparently, the bathroom is wired for sound - sure, why not? We're across the street from a Tube station and a five minute walk from Westminster Abbey and 10 minute walk from Buckingham Palace. I suppose this will have to do.
Saturday 7:30PM GMT | Imperial College London, Royal Albert Hall, The Queens Arms | London, England
After showering and getting settled in at the hotel, I'm anxious to explore. I've been to London once, but it's been four years and I've been dying to go back. Chris went to grad school here, so we head over to his old neck of the woods and he gives me a brief tour of his (sadly, quite ugly) alma mater. From Imperial, we walk over to Royal Albert Hall and then the edge of Hyde Park.
Now it's getting dark and it's time for a pint. Chris has a favorite pub nearby, but despite attending university here for a year, he may not remember how to get there. (I scratch my head at the thought.) We wander through tree-lined streets and eventually happen across an adorable pub tucked away on an unassuming side street. Ok, I guess it was a bit tricky to find. We luck out and the usually crowded pub is not too busy.
Saturday 10:00PM GMT | London Eye, Big Ben | London, England
After dinner, I have the brilliant idea to head over to Westminster and take some night photos of the Eye and Big Ben. Chris is a champ and tries diligently to get the perfect shot. Unfortunately, there are still 80 kabillion tourists with the same idea we had, so it's a bit tough. Finally, we head back to the hotel. My trick to beat jet lag is to sleep when you're supposed to sleep and Big Ben just chimed 10. See you in the morning, London.
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.