1st Stop in England: London
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Ah London, cheers to you. You invited us in and showed us a good time. There were so many things we experienced within our first two days, that we feel we ought to share it with other couples looking to travel here.
As mentioned in the summary of our trip, one of the first things Ash and I did was utilize the Hop-on-Hop-off tour. Please, please, please use this if you want to orient yourself with the city. The bus will take you around London while giving you a bit of history down every new street. You have the option to get off at any stop, taking as much time as you like to sight see. The ticket is good for 24-48 hours, depending on what you want to pay. You can book these tours on most third party travels sites. Make sure you print out your ticket since some companies will require a hard copy.
Ash and I used the map given to us on the Hop-on-Hop-off tour to pick our top "must -see" landmarks. We would get off of the bus at each one, and then walk around and explore the area. We would catch back up with the bus a few stops later, but this gave us the opportunity to find hidden nooks like the Borough Market off of Borough High Street (as close as you will get to Hogsmeade).
One day in London is not enough. We were glad to be coming back to the city at the end of our trip because we could not see everything we wanted to in 24 hours. We were able to fit in a handful of things, and would recommend doing the following if you have the time:
Tower Bridge: Just walking across it is fun! Plus it gives you the opportunity to walk both sides of the Thames River.
Borough Market: As mentioned before, Ash and I both left this place feeling like we had been part of Harry Potter's world. You can find fresh produce, food, and more here.
London Eye: Worth the ticket and wait. You can see the whole city from this ride and it gives you a better understanding of how big London really is.
Big Ben: So we didn't do anything but look at Big Ben... but when in London you HAVE to get at least one photo of it.
Hyde Park: Walk through this park as much as you can. It is a little green getaway right in the heart of the city. Sculptures, trees, gardens, and a giant river fill the space. We tried to cut through this area as much as we could going from place to place.
When it comes to places to stay, I would say your best bet is through AirBnb. Ash and I found a flat right near Hyde Park... it wasn't the most luxurious accommodation, but we didn't pay an arm and a leg for a city-center hotel. Since most of your time should be spent exploring the city, all you really need is a bed, hot water, and a door that locks. Our AirBnb also had wifi, but that doesn't mean that the wifi will work well. All in all, it was a good place to stay at a prime location without breaking the bank.
Now, if you are wondering about the queer scene in London, Soho district is the place to be. Ash and I went out on a Weekend night and had an awesome time. We started our night with dinner. We didn't have a plan, so we figured we would choose a place at random. Walking down the busy street, we stopped at a place illuminated by warm candlelight. Through the window we could see people were intimately grouped together within an incredibly chic space. It felt like a good place to be, and we were surprisingly able to get a table for two with no wait. I have tried, with all my might, to remember what this restaurant was called. Searching through Facebook, google, and different map applications, I still have not been able to put my finger on it... but I am hoping that someday it will come to me so that I can share it with all of you. The good news; no matter the restaurant you choose, if it is in Soho it will probably be a good one.
From dinner, Ash and I walked over to She Soho, a nightclub catering to women and gender queer folks. Entering the door you walk downstairs into a basement, walls lined with what looks like corrugated metal, and find yourself in a small, dome-shaped room. A DJ takes up a fifth of the floor, and people fit in where they can to dance. We grabbed a couple of drinks at the bar, and made our way to the front of the DJ booth. It felt really great to be out in a new place, experiencing a new style of social life, with my best friend and partner. Ash and I had a great time and danced for a couple of hours before calling it a night. The club may have been small, but it welcomed us into its space and provided all the key ingredients to having a really fun night.
London has plenty to do, eat, and see at all hours of the day. Both Ash and I really enjoyed our time here. In general, we felt pretty comfortable in this city. There didn't notice as many queer folks holding hands (outside of the Soho District) as you would see in Minneapolis, but no one made us feel uneasy about showing public affection. I would recommend this city to all travelers, queer and straight, as there is pretty much something for everyone.
I do want to acknowledge that this recap comes from our point of view, so I would welcome your thoughts about London as well. Have you been to London? What did you see? Where did you go? What did you like? Where there experiences you were unsure about? Please share with us and feel free to ask any questions you may have!
I do ask that this stays a positive and safe space for readers, so please, no hurtful language or remarks about other's experiences. Thank you.