visiting london for the first time

Amazing Weekend Away: Visiting London For The First Time

Hey there, 

I recently returned from my very first trip to London, which is incredible considering I’m nearly 40 and had never set foot in the city before. Let me tell you, it was a fantastic time!

Dan meticulously planned a weekend getaway to coincide with picking up our eldest daughter from university in Portsmouth. She was coming home for Christmas, and we couldn’t wait to see her! We woke up bright and early, around 4:30 am on Saturday, ready to embark on our adventure.

The journey to London itself was quite a rollercoaster of emotions, filled with excitement and anticipation. We drove into Richmond and left the car in a multi-storey car park for the duration of our stay. Unfortunately, the original plan to take the train into central London hit a little snag due to rail strikes. But hey, no worries! It just meant taking a bus ride and a few tube rides instead, but you know what? It added a touch of adventure to our trip. Reaching central London, I could feel the thrill of being in this vibrant city as soon as we stepped out of the tube station, ready to explore the city.

We spent the entire weekend, from Saturday morning to Sunday evening, exploring. We left early Sunday evening and travelled to Portsmouth for an overnight stay. First thing on Monday, we picked up our daughter and embarked on the long journey back home to Harrogate.

visiting london for the first time

We stayed at The Thistle London Marble Arch

The hotel was stunning, with grand architecture and elegant interior design, leaving me in awe. As I stepped inside, the inviting aroma of freshly brewed coffee from the delightful Costa coffee shop nestled within greeted me. 

The Thistle London Marble Arch: Though a bit pricey for one night, the experience was worth it. The hotel’s luxurious ambience and impeccable service made it memorable. One highlight was the prime location, offering a splendid view of bustling Oxford Street. From my room, I admired the city’s vibrant energy below, with its crowds and twinkling lights.

The hotel’s amenities were top-notch. From plush bedding to meticulous attention to detail, every comfort was provided. Overall, my experience exceeded expectations. It was a haven of luxury, comfort, and convenience that left me feeling pampered. I will cherish the memories and eagerly look forward to my next visit.

visiting london for the first time

Seeing ‘Wicked’ at Apollo Victoria Theatre

The highlight of my trip was experiencing the renowned musical ‘Wicked’ at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. I’ve wanted to see Wicked for as long as I can remember!

Getting to the theatre on time was no easy task. As we headed towards the tube on Oxford Street, unexpected closures and a massive crowd posed challenges.

In the chaos, I briefly lost sight of Dan. But determined to push forward, I navigated the busy street, walking on the road’s edge. With time running out, we daringly walked through Hyde Park in the dark. Despite fatigue and sore feet, we arrived just in the nick of time.

Stepping into the theatre, an energy filled the air, setting the stage for an awe-inspiring performance. The captivating story, enchanting music, and exceptional talent of the actors left an indelible mark on my memory. Truly unforgettable!

visiting london for the first time

Afterwards, we were fortunate to find a black cab waiting outside the theatre’s entrance for our journey back to the hotel.

visiting london for the first time

Camden Market and Hawley Wharf’s covered food courts

Our trip to Camden Market was an absolute sensory treat! The atmosphere was buzzing with energy, and I couldn’t resist exploring the diverse range of stalls. From vintage clothing to handcrafted treasures, there was something unique at every turn. And let’s not forget about the food – oh my, the flavours were simply delightful! The traditional fish and chips left a lasting impression on my taste buds. Amidst the beautiful stalls, one stood out with enchanting lights, drawing me in like a moth to a flame. I got lost in the record shop, utterly oblivious to the passing time.

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London Underground – Braving the Tube

Let’s dive into the London Tube, shall we? As someone who’s not the biggest fan of tight spaces, it posed a challenge. The packed tubes made quite an impression on me, especially during the busy pre-Christmas weekend and amidst the strikes. Being squeezed in with strangers, shuffling in and out as the doors, helped me overcome my fear of confined spaces and crowds. And how could I forget those crazy steep escalators leading down to the tube?! I must admit, though, I did enjoy strolling through the underground tunnels and catching a glimpse of the talented buskers. Watch your step when wet – those floors can be pretty slippery.

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Visiting Leicester Square Christmas Market

A visit to London in December would only be complete with stepping into a Christmas Market, and Leicester Square was our chosen destination. The market was a magical wonderland adorned with twinkling fairy lights, handing mistletoes, and beautifully decorated stalls resembling cute little wooden huts.

 It was a festive fiesta that filled the air with the scent of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, and sweet treats. We browsed through various stalls selling unique Christmas gifts and handcrafted items – a perfect spot to pick up souvenirs. The crowd made the experience even more delightful. 

We patiently waited in line to explore the awe-inspiring Lego shop during our visit. Additionally, we couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge at M&M World, where we spent far more than we had intended on M&M’s.

London

Marvelling at the Christmas Lights

December in London is a magical time with enchanting Christmas lights you can’t miss. The city transforms into a vibrant canvas of colours as sparkling lights adorn the streets. It’s like entering a fairytale, where every corner fills you with wonder. Remember to marvel at the iconic Oxford Street lights, a breathtaking sight that will awaken you. Stroll along the street, gaze up at the dazzling displays, and immerse yourself in the festive cheer surrounding you.

Exploring the Natural History Museum

One of the most memorable parts of my London adventure was our trip to the Natural History Museum. This incredible architectural wonder is home to a diverse collection of specimens from different branches of natural history. The dinosaur exhibit was incredibly captivating, transporting us back to when these magnificent creatures roamed the Earth. But the museum is not just for history enthusiasts; it’s a must-visit for anyone who wants to explore and appreciate the remarkable wonders of the natural world.

Things I want to do next

  1. Visit the British Museum
  2. Explore Buckingham Palace The Changing of the Guard
  3. Take a stroll in Hyde Park
  4. Experience the view from the London Eye
  5. Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral
  6. Tour the Tower of London
  7. Shop at Covent Garden
  8. Explore London’s food scene at Borough Market
  9. Take a river cruise on the Thames
  10. Experience the art at Tate Modern
  11. Visit the iconic Big Ben
  12. Relax in the serene Kew Gardens
  13. Dive into history at the Victoria and Albert Museum
  14. Roam around the Notting Hill
  15. Experience the hustle of Piccadilly Circus
  16. Wander in the world of literature at the British Library
  17. Admire the grandeur of Westminster Abbey
  18. Take in the sights from the Shard
  19. Visit the historic Greenwich Observatory
  20. Harry potter Studios

My final thoughts!

My visit to London was genuinely exceptional, surpassing all expectations. The city’s dynamic energy, profound appreciation for arts, history, and cuisine, and the genuine warmth of its people have made an indelible impression on me. Despite our limited time, it only serves as a reminder that I must plan a more extensive visit in the future. London is an awe-inspiring city that beckons me to explore its wonders further and delve deeper into its charm.

Before you go, here are a few other posts you may like:

Travel Bucket List | 10 Countries I seriously want to visit someday

Short Family Break To Scotland | Isle Of Arran

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