By Kimberly Arriaga Ruitenburg,
The first part of this adventure started with taking the train from Rotterdam Central Station to London St. Pancras; taking the train to Brussel Midi first and then hoping on the Eurostar to London, through the Canal tunnel (tunnel that goes under the English Channel).
After a 6-hour journey, including train transfers, we made it to London.
With London’s underground, which is 100 years old, we went to our hotel located in South Kensington and our first stop was Kensington Gardens. This is one of the 8 Royal Parks around London and here we can find Kensington Palace, were you can go inside and there’s also a small restaurant and gift shops. The Gardens around the park are very colourful and filled with all sorts of different plants and flower. Kensington Gardens also has 2 artificial ponds, one right in front of the Palace and a big one, that is shared with Hyde Park, which was our second stop. This is London’s biggest park. It features a Botany and different sculptures and statues, including a fountain in memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales, were a lot of kids where playing (and I wanted to play too, the weather was very hot, haha).
Now it was dinner time and we went full British, we went to the Pub, had some drinks and fish & chips, of course. They were amazing!
I was never a big fan of the Hop On-Hop Off tours, but earlier this year in Mexico I went on this tour and I really liked, so we decided to try it out in London too, and it was a success!! London is a very big city, so walking the whole time is not an option. The other alternative is taking the underground and double-decker buses, where you can’t see much and there is no explanation about buildings, streets and parks. There are different bus tours in London, we took The Original, it has 5 different routes and we took 4 of them. The first day, after a 10-minute walk, we hopped on the bus and hopped off at the stop for the London Eye, from where we could see the London Eye, Westminster Abbey and the Elizabeth Tower (nicknamed Big Ben). We walked around and took some Instagram-worth pictures and hopped on the bus again and stopped at the Tower Bridge. You can walk through the whole bridge, and there is an exhibition.
Included in the Hop On-Hop Off tour, was a cruise through the Thames River, which we of course took. The departure was at the pier next to the Tower Bridge. We cruised to Greenwich, known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It’s a small town, filled with old buildings, stores and a market. We walked through the town and headed back to London. We cruised under London’s most known bridges, next to different known buildings too until we docked at Westminster Pier (next to Westminster Abbey) and we boarded our bus again and we were headed to Piccadilly Circus.
By this time, we were exhausted so we decided to have some dinner. Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square are filled with a lot of different restaurants and big stores (a lot like Times Square in NYC).
On our second full day in London, we took the Hop On-Hop Off bus again, this time to Notting Hill. Before heading to the Portobello Road Market, we wandered the colourful streets and tried to decide which one was our favourite. The Market is located at Portobello Road and is filled with food, clothing, art and so mucho more. It’s one of the biggest markets and it’s highly visited. Do to the very hot weather, we could not stand walking around it anymore, so we went inside another pub, had some drinks and fish & chips, to recover the lost energy.
To the end the day we decided to go back to Picadilly Circus, to do some shopping and have dinner. I’m a big Jamie Oliver fan, so we went to one of his London restaurants, Jamie’s Dinner and ordered Jamie’s Super Corn and Quinoa Salad, perfect to cool down a bit. Then we went back to our hotel with the non-air-conditioned underground. The next morning, we were heading back to St. Pancras, to take the Eurostar to Brussel Midi and then continuing to Rotterdam.
This was a guest blog post by Kimberly Arriaga Ruitenburg.
About Kimberly Arriaga Ruitenburg
Kimberly is a 22-year-old nutritional gastronomy student, born in The Netherlands and living in Guatemala. She has been traveling since she was a little girl and this is the way she started making traveling a part of her life. Studying nutritional gastronomy, Kimberly has been learning and trying new food and has started liking food even more and mostly understand what is behind preparing a dish.