I had my own Anthony Bourdain style layover in London compliments of the airline screwing up my flight. Luckily, London is far from being the worse place to have an imposed visit. With around 20 hours I set out to see a few sites and eat a couple good meals.
Before leaving the U.S. I made the decision to not try to see everything. What happens is that you may see everything, but you experience nothing at all. You just have to make peace with the fact that you will leave having seen only a couple sites. That said, I probably could have been more efficient with my time with just a little more planning, but that isn’t really my style.
As with any travel there are always the unexpected events, so here are some of the highs and lows from my trip to London.
- Princess Diana’s Dresses at Kensington Palace. I had planned to go see Kensington, but only decided to pay the 15.95 pounds to go inside when I learned of the opportunity to see a few of Princess Diana’s dresses.While the other exhibits captured various significant parts of the monarch’s history, the Diana room was really the highlight for me.
- Indian Food. I didn’t have a lot of goals for the trip, but having Indian food was one of them. The restaurant I chose – Shad Indian Restaurant – was based off three criteria: I was hungry; it had a good vibe; and it was very busy. The menu went well beyond just tikka masala, and I eventually landed on a dish that was said to be a super secret recipe. What I can tell you is that it was a mixture of chicken and lamb masala and there wasn’t enough water to fan the flames in my mouth. Although it might have seared some of my tastebuds off, it was still quite tasty.
- Buckingham Palace. If there was one site I had to visit it was Buckingham Palace. I was so serious about this quest that not even the buckets of rain that decided to descend from the heavens could deter me from this quest. If you haven’t guess by now I am something of a royal watcher. Unfortunately, there were no sightings of Kate and Will, but just seeing the monstrosity of a palace was pretty spectacular.
- Stepping in a Huge Puddle. In typical London fashion it rained. And it rained a lot. Of course the one item I forgot to pack was an umbrella. But the real cherry on top was when I stepped in a giant puddle – soaking my pants and shoes. On the upside I am now the proud owner of some jazzy flip flops with the Union Jack flag.
- Missing the Final Train From London. Since I had an early morning flight the next day I decided to stay at the airport hotel in my terminal. In the same terminal was also the express train to downtown London, so it was super convenient. It was all dandy until I underestimated how long it would take to get to Paddington Station and missed the final train back to Heathrow. One VERY costly cab ride later I finally made it back to the airport. There is no way to spin it…this was one costly mistake.
- The Warm Drinks. I totally respect cultural differences, but I just can’t get behind the warm beverages. I went to multiple mini markets and not one had a cold beverage. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but sometimes a girl needs a cold beverage.
Next time I go back to London it will be for longer than 20 hours. I will be a little more prepared. And just maybe I will see a royal.