In my last post I wrote all about how to save money and live on a budget as a backpacker. My trip to the UK throws all that advice out the window. Sometimes even the thriftiest backpacker needs a bit of pampering.
To start my trip I took a ferry and train combo from Dublin, saved a few euros by not flying in but it takes about 8 hours. Everything in London is expensive. Everything. Especially if you are counting in dollars and paying in pounds. With a 1.55 exchange rate it is not friendly to the American bank account. Just to take the tube (subway) you’re looking at at least £4 per trip. One way to save a few bucks here is to buy an oyster card for £5 (refundable when you’re done using it) , it discounts the cost of each trip and adds the convenience of not having to stop at the machine every time. Just load it up with some pounds and you’re good to go.
I spent about 3 days in London and am lucky enough to have a few friends living there so I didn’t have to pay for accommodation. Saved me a minimum of $25 a night. Travel friends are the best! Since I had limited time there my friend Adam and I played tourists and tried to see as many things in one day that we could. If you are going looking for London Bridge I can tell you it is not the one you think it is. Tower Bridge is the famous one and its about a 10 minute walk from London Bridge, you should be able to see it from the latter. We had a nice stroll across the Turquoise Tower Bridge with the herds of other tourists then came back down by the water and checked out Borough Market. If you want to try out a variety of food this is the place to be. For lunch we had the option of Asian, English, Turkish and many more cuisines. I went with a goat gyro type thing at Flying Goat and followed it up with goat milk ice cream. Heaven in my mouth. Absolute heaven. This market is massive and deserves some time to check out all the treats. Some favorites were Mushroom Pate, Truffle Oil Honey and delicious meats that will have you drooling. So worth the stop.
After the market we continued our walking tour of the city along the waterfront. The weather was great and it was like a mini carnival with all the food stalls, people and buskers. Walking by the London Eye I was shocked to see how many people happily wait in line and pay $40 to go up in that monstrosity. I personally wouldn’t wait in a 90 min line for that but whatever floats your boat people. Big Ben was up next and similar to the feeling I got seeing the Eiffel Tower I was giddy like a child on Christmas. I always think I don’t want to see major tourist attractions but then as I am walking up to them I just get so damn excited. Something about being at such an Iconic place is exciting. Checking out Westminster and taking cheesy photos with the guards was also worth every minute of tourist shame.
My last day in London it was Gay Pride and the city was absolutely buzzing. The US had just approved Gay Marriage federally the day before and everyone was in the mood to celebrate, Yay for Gay!!! I however couldn’t handle the mass amounts of people and decided to head out of the city a bit for another travel friend reunion at London Fields. If you are looking for a chill day I highly recommend grabbing a blanket and some beers to lay around here on a sunny afternoon.
For my last few days in England I soaked in the most English experiences you could possibly have. To start I went out to Oxford and watched my first game of Cricket. Not the most exciting thing ever but I did get hit by a ball and my friend scored the winning hit so that got the heart rate goin a bit. From there we went over to Cambridge for a day and my friend gave me a personalized tour of the famous college town. I have never seen Universities like this before and was pretty impressed. How cool would it be to go to school in a mini castle. One must do thing here is to hire a boat and punt along the river. You can go on a tourist boat as well with about 10 others but if you have someone willing to row and steer then lean back and enjoy a private tour.
Next up was Aldeburgh, a quaint little town on the coast of England. The average age in this town must be around 62 and we basically turned into retirees over night. It was grand. For accommodation we booked an adorable little Bed and Breakfast just a short walk from the sea. Again, this is not at all within my normal backpacker budget but damn sometimes you just gotta treat yo self! Nice cozy bed, massive bathtub and breakfast that makes you wish you could live there forever. A few things we did with our time in Aldeburgh include renting a row boat, easting, walking along the rocky beach, drinking, eating, tea time, bocce ball, eating and eating. My very kind friend wanted me to experience every typical english thing he could think of and I basically gorged myself for 3 days. Among my favorites are Black Pudding (must make this popular in the states), Scones with cream and jam and the Ploughmans lunch.
Overall I had a fantastic time checking out this delightful little island, just wish I had planned to stay longer. Pretty sure my wallet and waistline are happy I had to go though. To everyone who fed me, housed me and toured me around, a massive thank you! I promise to do the same when you come to San Francisco!!