Hello everyone! Happy Saturday! I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. I just got back from a fun “work trip” in Guatemala (blog post coming soon!) and have locked myself in my room with the heat blasting, a million blankets, wrapped up in bed. This snow was quite the rude awakening from the sunshine and swimsuit weather I got used to! Although, it does feel so good to be back in my own bed and back with Aaron. After spending two weeks together 24/7 in Europe it was so weird to not be together for a whole week. That’s the longest we’ve ever been apart.
Sorry that it has taken me so long to get this post up. I’ve been dying to tell you all about our Europe trip since we got home but I was off to a new country only a week after I got home. But hey, better late than never, right? 😉
This was by far my favorite trip we have ever been on because it was a world of firsts for me. First time out of the country, first time meeting some of Aaron’s family, first time seeing where he grew up, and first road trip through Europe. Safe to say, it was amazing.
A while back when we visited New York, I wrote up a guide to New York and basically what we did and where we ate, etc. I’ve had so many questions about this trip so I decided to do the same thing with our Europe trip! So here we go! First up…London and Paris.
Day 1: After nearly 24 hours of traveling and some SERIOUS jetlag, we finally reached our hotel in London on Christmas Day. We were completely exhausted so we took a quick nap and then decided to walk around town. I would HIGHLY recommend walking everywhere rather than a taxi (they can be crazy expensive). We walked past Hyde Park and up Oxford Street. This was amazing because they totally deck it out with some of the prettiest Christmas decorations I have ever seen. Literally ever corner you turn down has different amazing decorations. This is an awesome spot for shopping. (LOAD UP ON TOPSHOP AND ZARA!) After walking down Oxford Street (take a detour and walk down Carnaby Street, it’s darling), we walked around Piccadilly Circus. This is like the Times Square of London, so cool. Then we grabbed a bite to eat. Aaron wanted me to try fish and chips for the first time so we stopped at a really cute place right next to Piccadilly called Great British Fish & Chip Co. It was so good that we came back almost every day! Haha. After refueling, we took a stroll past Trafalgar Square (we stumbled across a DJ playing a set in the middle of the square), over the bridge, stopped by the London Eye and took a look, then back across the bridge to Big Ben and the House of Parliament. This was an experience. Seeing that for the first time was amazing. The street is just everything I envisioned London to be. Red phone booths, big ben, rain, old school black taxi’s…I felt like I was on a movie set! Make sure you wait around to hear Big Ben ring!
Day 2: On our second day in London, we got up early and decided to hit all the big landmarks in the daytime! Our hotel was right across from Hyde Park so we took a stroll through the park and stopped at the duck pond. This park is so beautiful it doesn’t even feel real. Everything is so crazy green! The duck pond was full of swans and cute little ducks. It was windy and beautiful and everything I had hoped it would be. After walking around the park, we walked across the bridge to get a look at the river. Stop at one of the street vendors and grab waffles!
After the park, we headed to Buckingham Palace. This whole area is so cool. Even the roads are red because they are “royal roads”. The gardens that surround the palace are beautiful too. Like I said earlier, get lost, explore everything. The coolest part about the palace was that the queen was actually staying in the palace! (When the flag is up, she is there, when the flag is down, she’s not.) It was so crazy to think that an actual queen was staying in an actual palace that we were standing outside of. WHAT?!
I was actually kind of disappointed because it was my life’s goal basically to get a photo with one of the guards but because the queen was in house they were all on the inside of the gate. But after walking around we stumbled upon The Guard’s Museum which was FULL of guards. So if you’re looking for a place to find guards, this is the place.
Next, we had to hit Big Ben in the day time. Right next to Big Ben is Westminster Abbey, and if you’re a history junkie like me and Aaron, you will love this. Get the audio guide tour to hear all about the history! (Quick side note, me and Aaron were so excited about London that we watched a million PBS specials about the history of London. haha this actually was fun because it made us even more excited about the things we got to see!)
Lastly, we walked down Exhibition Road (this area is so cute! The LDS chapel there is so beautiful. Stop in and say hi!) into the Knightsbridge area. THIS IS POSH. The homes and shopping around here are awesome. Me and Aaron walked down all the little side streets just to look at the cute homes. Then we were off to Harrods! Even if you don’t buy anything, Harrods is an experience in itself. It’s like a museum! Stop by the bakery there and grab a Zebra cronut. This was recommended to me by a friend and I still crave it to this day! (Plus you get to walk out with a Harrods bag 😉 )
Day 3: This was definitely one of my favorite days. We took a train early in the morning into Leicester, where Aaron’s grandparents live. The train ride through the countryside was so beautiful that I almost cried. If you ever get a chance to go to England, don’t just stay in London. Take a train ride into the countryside! England and London are so different. When we got off the train, Aaron’s cute Grandad and Grandma picked us up and took us on a tour of the village. This was my first time ever meeting them so they give us a full tour! I had permanent heart eyes driving through the village. It was the cutest thing I have ever seen. Cottages, green fields, fog, sheep, rolling hills, everything I had ever pictured England to be. We spent the day with his grandparents, chased sheep with the dog through their land, and then ate dinner with the rest of his family that I had never met before! It was such a sweet experience to spend that time with everyone, getting to know everyone, and even though we had never formally met, they welcomed me with such open arms and made me feel so welcome. I’m not lying when I say I married into THE best family.
After our day in Leicester, Aaron’s uncle picked us up and we visited their home in Crewe. Again, this was my first time meeting this side of the family and it was so fun. We laughed the whole time we were with them. Aaron’s Aunty and Uncle took us on a tour with their kids around the town. They showed us a beautiful stately home in Crewe (I felt like I was in Downtown Abbey), took us up to a beautiful folly overlooking the countryside, and took us to the oldest tudor house in Crewe! After the tour we ate dinner at their home and played Heads Up for ages. Again, could not stop laughing.
Day 4: We woke up early and took a train back to London. When we got back to London, we hopped on the tube and headed off to London Tower Bridge. This was one of my favorite days we spent in London. History galore. This was where Henry VII killed his wives, they took prisoners and traitors, and all the crowned jewels are. This is definitely a must do when in London! After the bridge, we took a boat tour around the River Thames. This was a lot of fun. We hopped on a boat right before sunset. It was beautiful and our tour guide was hilarious. We got off the boat, grabbed some fish and chips, and got in line for the London Eye. TIP: The line (the Brit’s call it a queue) may look long, but it moves MUCH faster than you would think. We hopped on right after the sun set and it was so cool to see the city all lit up!
Day 5: This was our last day in London so we decided to visit as many museums as possible! We started the day by seeing Trafalgar Square in the day, then walked around Covent Gardens. (This was my favorite area. Cute pubs, restaurants, and shops.) The first museum we visited was the National Gallery which was my favorite museum. Van Gogh, Monet, Seurat, Da Vinci, Turner, and Rembrandt’s works were there. Next we went to Victoria and Albert Museum. This museum was beautiful. They had a really cool exhibit about the evolution of fashion when we were there! After this, we saw the British Museum. I personally thought the building was cooler than some of the stuff in it, but their Egypt exhibit was so cool. They have real mummies! When we finished with the museums, we headed back around the Covent Garden area and ate dinner at a place called Honest Burger. SO GOOD. Get their homemade lemonade!
Where To Stay: During our time in London, we stayed in a cute little area called Kensington. This is actually where Aaron’s mum grew up! Great locations, close to the tube and near Hyde Park. We had debated on if we would use AirBnB or if we should just book hotels and we ended up booking all our hotels through Hotels.com. We found AMAZING hotels for great prices using them. Some of them we actually a lot cheaper than most AirBnB’s we had looked at.
How To Get Around: My number one recommendation for this would be to walk. It’s so fun to walk around and see things or turn down random streets and stumble across some cute buildings. Get lost! It’s fun. When we weren’t walking, we got an Oyster Card to use the tube. This was a cheap, easy way to get across town. When we got sick of walking, we would take an Uber back. They’re much cheaper than taxi’s and are usually very friendly!
Where To Shop: Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, Covent Gardens, Knightsbridge.
Favorite Places To Eat: Great British Fish & Chips Co., Nandos, Honest Burger, Tortilla, Amorino’s Gelato, Harrod’s Cronuts.
Day 1: We took a train from London to Paris to spend New Year’s there. We stayed at Saint James Albany Hotel right across from the Louvre. This was a great location! Close to everything. Again, we used Hotels.com to get a good deal on our room! We only had a day in Paris so we tried to get as much in as possible. We started by walking around the Louvre, then walked through the park and down the Champs Elysses. Paris was just as romantic as they said it would be! We lucked out the day we got there because they weather was beautiful spring type weather. After walking down the Champs Elysses, we made it to the Arc de Triomphe. Take a second and look at all the detail. It’s incredible. Then, if you want a laugh, watch the cars drive around the roundabout and try not to fear for everyone’s lives. HA. We then took an uber up to Notre Dame. This was AMAZING. The building is so incredible. Gear up for a long line though. After this, walked across Ile de la Cite (lovelock bridge, you know we ahd to stop and kiss at that baby. Check that one of the bucket list) down the cute romantic streets of Paris along the Seine river. On the streets along the river are the cutest vintage street markets. Make sure you keep some euros on you! Then we took an uber to the Eiffel Tower. Holy crap guys. It was amazing. So much detail and so much bigger than I expected! We spent most of the night here since it was New Years. We watched the sun set here, then stayed to watch it sparkle. It was beautiful. Avoid the crowded walkways right in front of the tower and wander around the parks and walkways around the river surrounding it. We found a nice quiet spot in a park near the tower so we could enjoy it better! When we were ready to wrap up the night, we walked down some of the streets past major designers stores, Dior, Chanel, Fendi, Chloe, Valentino, etc. back to our hotel. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped and bought some candies off of a street vendor and grabbed crepes for dinner (very nutritious meal, highly recommended 😉 ) When we got back, we rung in the New Year at the spa in our hotel because they had issued a warning about the safety of Paris on New Years and cancelled a lot of the festivities. But I still wouldn’t have wanted to ring it in any other way. The next morning we grabbed more crepes and picked up our rental car to then start our big road trip!
Where To Stay: We stayed at a hotel called Saint James Albany that was beautiful and right across from the Louvre. Great location and a beautiful place. Just like London, we used Hotels.com to get the best deals!
How To Get Around: Walk everywhere you can, and when you get tired, call an uber, not a cab. As usual, cabs are more expensive, plus more of our Uber drivers new how to speak English which made things a bit easier!
Where/What To Eat: Macarons at Laudree are a must. Grab a baguette and a crepe from anywhere. We got ours from small little restaurants and everything was so good!
TIPS: It’s definitely helpful to know a little bit of French. Most people we met did know English, they just preferred if you at least tried to speak in French. Keep euros on you for small vintage markets and street vendors!
I hope you guys get a chance to visit London and Paris soon. I’m already wishing I could again! Have a great weekend. Keep an eye out for my Italy post coming next!