So when we bought our tickets to Italy, there was a 4 hour layover in London. Ok, cool, a little long, but whatever. Then 20 minutes after we bought our tickets, I noticed that the layover airports were different! We flew into Heathrow and out of Gatwick!!! What the hell man!! You'd think there would be giant bold faced colored lettering warning you of the different airports, but no-nothing. Seriously hard to notice this difference when both airport codes start with 'L' and because this is not a problem you ever come to expect. Luckily, I called American Airlines, and they were happy to change our flight out of DC 2 hours earlier free of charge. Now we had 6 hours between airports and although we might have been able to make it between airports in 4 hours, 6 hours gave us some breathing room.
So my first thought was 'awesome - we actually get to touch ground in England', making it a short, but official visit. But then as I researched I realized a direct transfer between airports was unnecessary since we had a bit more time and that we might as well take public transit into and out of downtown London. That way we could actually see London itself! Turns out Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace are all within a mile of the London Victoria Station - which happens to be the station that the Gatwick Express train leaves from. So a plan had formed!
Now, remember, we were not staying in London so we had ALL of our luggage with us so we didn't go in to anything. As we left the station, the city looked, well, like any other city in the US. But then we got to Westminster Abbey and I started to feel like we were really in London. It was massive!
Not far after was Big Ben, the icon/building that I most associate with London. Brad thought it was smaller than expected, but it was still pretty cool to see. We walked out on to the bridge just past, where we could see the Thames River and the London Eye (the giant Ferris wheel).
On our way to Buckingham Palace, we ended up strolling through St. Jame's Park, an unexpected highlight! We saw a ton of crazy looking birds and some that looked like pelicans, which in fact turned out to be pelicans. We read that they were brought as a gift like 500 years ago and to this day they have remained, pretty crazy right?! The water was beautiful to walk along and flowers were blooming all over!
We strolled past a guardsman, ya know the ones with the tall furry hats, and saw some other guys practicing some formation with horses. Our last stop was Buckingham Palace. There were swarms of people, and it seemed way lamer than in all the TV shows and movies I've seen that have featured the Palace. I was more interested in the tulip field across the street! After that, we headed back to the train station to make our way to our real destination: Italy!
Katherine & Bradley
Two engineers with a passion for food and travel! Join us as we eat our way through the world!