A photographers look
October of 2021 I finally (yes, FINALLY), made my way to the UK. Now, this was my first time in the UK and I would highly suggest you get to the "known" London sites early in the morning and in my opinion, you need just a day here if London isn't the only place you plan on visiting. If you are planning on going anytime soon just an FYI, Big Ben is still not done with construction and while just seeing it is awesome all in itself it is a bit of a letdown when half is gone or covered. Don't get me wrong, the touristy places are totally worth it! You'll want to see them at least once in your lifetime. The London Bridge is beautiful and if you get the chance take the Jack the Ripper tour (even if it's not your thing as it's not really mine either) but it was interesting, to say the least. I would say worth it for sure. And if you go to the London Bridge it's not much of a walk to the meet-up point for this either. If you don't want to walk much then don't worry because London's public transportation is unbelievably good. Just don't leave your belongings on the tube... yes there is a story and I may tell you all later on. It's a good one so stick around!
You can see London Bridge, Westminister Abbey, Big Ben, London's Eye, Buckingham Palace, and a few others in just a matter of a few hours really. It could take you longer of course if you are able and want to go inside each one. The Abbey was definitely my favorite and when I went it was closed. Sad day, but my fault since I went on a Sunday and hadn't thought about that at all. If you want to go inside the Abbey don't go on a Sunday. Otherwise, Sunday wasn't bad at all for walking around. It got a bit crowded in the afternoon near the London's Eye so keep that in mind but it is a great place to find some little food carts. I recommend you walk around as you find the best photo spots! The image below is low quality sorry but the point here is the little hidden gems around London you can find if you simply look for them. If you love the movie Hook with Robin Williams then search for the Peter Pan statue located in Kensington Gardens. It's a beautiful little path and you can take a quick little detour to the Princess Diana memorial fountain and then right up to Buckingham Palace. You most likely won't see any members of the royal family but you may see the changing of the guards.
As a photographer, I loved walking around. Now, it could have to do with my leaving my purse on the underground after only being in London for about an hour. Talk about a major stressor! I do not recommend talking with your child who's having a meltdown while you're half a world away and trying to keep your wits about you while in a place you've never been before. And go figure the only thing I left was the really important things that in no way could I recover quickly. My passport (eeek!), wallet with credit cards, ID... not good! And if you've never been on the underground it is somewhat similar to the subway in New York. They come and go in a matter of moments. I was off the train for a matter of maybe two minutes, had just walked up the stairs, when the little bit of color I do have in my face went immediately to ghost white. I started to panic and ran over to one of the people working the underground. It took every bit of me to not start bawling while trying very quickly to explain what had just happened. He took me to the main office at that station only to realize that other than making a few phone calls down the line to a few stations there wasn't much they could do. What surprised me was that everyone there kept telling me not to worry. That 90% of the time your stuff is returned. Of course, I was like ummmm no way. That just doesn't happen. So, at this point I hadn't even checked into my room yet and decided to hop on the train line I had left my purse and was just gonna ride and stop at as many places I could to check for it. Keep in mind that it's the underground for a reason. Most stops you have to walk up a million stairs (clearly not but it felt like it lugging around all my crap). It was a nightmare! After about two hours and no luck, I headed back to my original stop where I initially lost the purse. Once I got to the top and close to the main office one of the workers stopped me and asked if I was the young woman who had lost my purse earlier, I said yes, and he told me they had found it!!! It was at a train station down the line and kid you not would have been the next stop I checked had I just kept going. A lady had found it and once she got off the train gave it to one of the workers at her station. True to their word from the beginning I had everything returned, down to even the peanuts from the airplane! You can guess I was just crazy excited and ready to really begin my London trip.
Trying not to go forever long here I would totally recommend all those great places I mentioned above as well as checking out the Harry Potter Studio Tour. We went through a charter but if you can drive yourself. The only complaint I had was even if I had taken my kids this trip we were stuck there for so much longer than needed so it felt like a waste of a day. Don't get me wrong, the tour itself was so worth it, but it can most definitely be done in about two to three hours and that's with seeing everything there is to see and we were there for approximately six hours. It is a must-see though! Especially if you're a Potterhead like me!
Don't be distracted while taking the underground (read above), hit up all the major tourist sites, walk around if you can to find cute lesser-known areas in London, don't be scared of the Jack the Ripper tour (it is if anything interesting), last little thing... if you venture outside of London hit up York! It is the most charming little place with so much history and absolutely gorgeous little roads with the cutest shops. I can't recommend it enough. Below you'll find a list of my must see's when visiting London. If you have any questions feel free to reach out!
(These are in no particular order)
- London Bridge
- London Eye
- Big Ben
- Westminister Abbey
- St. Dunstan's Churchyard
- King's Cross
- Harry Potter WB Tour
- Peter Pan Statue (Kensington Gardens)
- Buckingham Palace
- The Sherlock Holmes Museum
- Jack the Ripper Tour
- York and Diagon Alley (if you wander outside the city)