I arrived in London with little planned, which is a rarity when I travel. I had a few days in the city before I was meant to visit a friend in Bournemouth and, other than the typical ‘touristy’ sites, I wasn’t really sure what else to see or do. In a city like London, there were so many options that I was feeling overwhelmed. I had a limited amount of time, and part of me felt pressured to see and do as much as possible. However, another part of me just felt like aimlessly wandering around the city to see what I would come across- so that’s what I did.
I took the tube from my hostel (which was a surprisingly simple process) and arrived at Westminster Station. I stumbled out of the tube station and realized I was standing directly across from the Houses of Parliament. I’m not sure if I was slightly delirious from the jet lag, but the sight of them impressed me immensely. I loved the Gothic style and stood there gawking at the buildings for some time.
Eventually, I moved on and walked slowly along the River Thames, snapping photos of the London Eye. I had planned on taking a ride, but the lineup was horribly long and I was shocked at the £29.50 price tag- so I decided against it.
The next day, I took a 3 hour walking tour of the city, and visited Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace, and Trafalgar Square. The tour was great and highly informative. It was also a free tour; the only cost is the tip you leave for the guide.
I had dinner nearby at a nice dim sum restaurant with a great view of the River Thames, the Tower Bridge, and City Hall.
Even though I was able to see most major sites in the city, I feel like my lack of proper planning caused me to waste precious time that could have been used to visit additional attractions and neighbourhoods. I regret not being able to visit Notting Hill or East London, and I would have loved to eat at the international restaurants of Brick Lane. I’m sure I would have been able to squeeze these extra sites in if I had prepared an itinerary in advance.
However, I loved being able to explore London slowly and at my own pace. I did a lot of people watching, manged to navigate the tube with ease, and took in all the sights and sounds that I would have otherwise missed had I been rushing around.
Sometimes it’s nice to arrive in a new city and just wander.