I hit London for the very first time and I was well impressed. I spent about a week exploring as much of the city as I could. And I think I gave it a pretty good go!
For fear of this post being really super long, I'm just going to do a sentence or two about each thing I did. Some of my super fave things may have a lil bit more.
The Lion King was absolutely freakin' amazing and would probably be one of the best (if not the best) things I did in London. I sat in the second row of the second tier, next to the loveliest older people who I ended up making really good friends with by the end of our 2/3 hours together. I actually got emotional when the curtains came up and 'The Circle Of Life' played around the theatre. The choir/band was amazing. Every song was perfect. I was in awe at the costumes, especially in the scenes like 'The Circle Of Life' at the beginning and end when all costumes were on display. The giraffes and cheetahs were incredible. The Elephant was in its own league entirely. The actors were so talented too. Adult Simba was played by a Samoan/Kiwi which made it even cooler. Timon & Pumba were exactly like in the movie - hilarious. The singing by everyone was 10 out of 10 and as embarrassing as it is I actually sung along with every single song. I didn't sit there singing my lungs out or anything but my foot was tapping away and I mouthed along with all the lyrics. INCREDIBLE 10 OUT OF 10 EVERYONE MUST GO.
As well as The Lion King, I ticked off a whole bunch of other London bucket list items. First things on the agenda was to ride a double-decker bus. On the first day, me and a few girls who I was going on my Topdeck with jumped on one of the hop-on-hop-off buses and rode around London seeing the sites. We sat on the top deck of the bus and soaked up that London feeling.
While on the bus we stopped off at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. I'm going to admit I wasn't expecting much, just a few celebrity wax figures to take pictures with but I was blown away. Not only by how realistic some of them looked (like really creepy. I couldn't stand too close because I thought they would reach out and snatch me) but the whole thing was an experience. Each room housed different 'themes' of wax figures and the cool wee 'Spirit Of London' ride was an epic and funky way to soak up some English history.
After Madame Tussaud's it was off to Buckingham Palace. We thought about going for the changing of the guards but decided to wait until a bit later. We couldn't be bothered dealing with the crowds as we were on a tight schedule to get everything ticked off. Buckingham Palace was amazing, of course. Queen Lizzie has it looking in tip-top shape and while I didn't see her it was still cool to see where she lives.
Somewhere after the wax museum and Buckingham Palace, we scoffed back some English fish & chips and mushy peas at one of the many pubs dotted around the place.
After the Topdeck and after Cambridge, I had a few days by myself to explore London. I managed to hail a black cab. Best experiences ever. I had awesome drivers every single time who would happily chat away with me and give me advice on the best places around London. I loved them all and often told them to keep the change.
My hotel I stayed at while I was by myself was awesome and central. It was a block away from Hyde Park so each morning I would get up and head for a stroll around it. I was #blessed with the weather while I was there. It was the great British heatwave and we had hot, hot sun every single day I was there. The Brits were struggling a wee bit but I was loving it, even getting sunburnt.
My hotel was at the Italian Fountain end of Hyde Park which made for pretty views even if I didn't feel like walking far.
I walked twice to Kensington Palace during my time in London. It was located at the other end of Hyde Park from me. I would literally walk straight through the park and I was there. I went once by myself and once with Rhiann at 7 am in the morning after a wild night out somewhere in London town. I didn't see Wills, Kate or the kids at either of my visits.
The good thing about walking straight through the park meant I was also super close to the museums. I went to the Natural History Museum which was pretty cool for a museum and the Science Museum too. Both would be great if it was a dreary day in London. I also visited the British Museum one day as well. The highlight there was seeing a real life wrapped mummy and a real-life unwrapped mummy.
My hotel was also central to Oxford Street. A blessing and a curse, it was a 15-minute walk to reach it. I went for a couple days, looking at the massive shops. There were so many people and I found myself lowkey freaking out sometimes. My bucket list item there was going to Primark and it did not disappoint. So cheap but with so cool clothes. I brought five or so items, could have brought more but I was conscious of running out of money and suitcase space.
If I walked the opposite way from Oxford Street I headed toward the famous Notting Hill and the Portobello Markets. I saw a little bit of Notting Hill, the fact I got a little lost didn't help. And Portobello Markets were pretty cool, chock full with knickknacks, food and homemade goods and crafts.
I personally preferred Cambden Markets over Portobello Road Markets. Camden was crazy, and my black cab taxi driver warned me about some of things I might see but it didn't really prepare me. I went on a weekend day so while it was busy it wasn't too OTT, but one thing I noticed was all of the punks. Punk culture is alive and well in London and they all hang out in Cambden with their bright ass mohawks and ripped black jeans with metal t-shirts on.
Finally, I will round out my London post with my time down near the River Thames. The London Eye, Big Ben & the London Dungeons were all on the agenda down there. The London Eye was great... for 5 minutes. I found that the half hour round trip was overall pretty boring. It was exciting getting on and starting to move and then after about 2 minutes I was over it until we got to the top. At the top I snapped some pictures, got a selfie and then sat back down for the descent. It did give great views over London and I am so happy I was there bright and early because some of the pods were being loaded with over 30 people. And it was a mid-20degree day. Not nice!
I laid eyes on the Big Ben, barely. He was covered in scaffolding. So while I technically saw him, I didn't really see him.
The London Dungeons was a last minute inclusion in my trip. Aunty Trin recommended it and for some reason, on a whim of braveness, I brought a ticket to go by myself. As soon as I entered the dungeons I knew I had made a massive mistake. It was so well done, everything down to the smell was dungeon-esk. I ended up making friends with a middle-aged South African lady who was also by herself. We clung onto each other when we were scared, screamed together and kept each other good company throughout the horrific experience. I say horrific in the nicest way possible too. It was great, it really was and I learned so much about the 'darker' history of London (Great Fire of London, the Plague, Jack The Ripper etc) but boy did I SHIT myself in parts. Another one I 100% recommend.
I actually also got called up during the Sweeney Todd reenactment and the crazy butcher lady tried to cut my hair off. He didn't slit my throat like he did his other victims thank goodness but boy there was a moment there when I wasn't sure what was going to happen to me.