Unpopular opinion: if I had been alive in the 1770s, I would have been a Loyalist. I love the royal family. God Save the Queen and all that. (I love America too, okay? But Princess Charlotte is the cutest.)
Our second full day in London was our British Royalty Day, and I loved every minute of it.
We started with coffee and breakfast at an adorable Aussie coffee shop right by Queensway Station, Urban Baristas. They had a v60 for 2 on the menu, so we happily ordered that along with our food.
We were right by Kensington Palace Gardens, and we walked through them to get to Kensington Palace for our tour. This was our day to go visit our friends Will, Kate, Harry, and Meghan at their home. We were a bit early, so we sat outside and enjoyed the gardens for a bit before our tour began. When we visited it was Prince William’s birthday, and we saw a helicopter fly right over us and land just by the Palace before we went in. Kensington Palace was home to Queen Victoria when she was growing up, so we got to see several rooms that she lived in and learn about her life. Her childhood doll house was one of my favorite parts. We also toured the King’s and Queen’s state apartments in the palace, and saw a Princess Di fashion exhibit.
Next, we went to explore the Sunken Garden, a favorite of Princess Diana and the location where Harry and Meghan were photographed to announce their engagement.
Our afternoon tea at the pavilion overlooking the Sunken Garden was one of the things I was most excited about on the trip, and it did not disappoint. We each had our own pot of tea, as well as a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, and desserts.
We walked around the palace and then along the street right beside it with all the embassies. As we were walking around the side of the palace, we saw a truck coming out that had just delivered their groceries. It was a strange feeling to know that while we were touring the front portion of the Palace, there were members of the royal family at home just on the other side.
We headed home to rest for a bit, and then took the Underground to Westminster to attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey. The building itself is absolutely beautiful, and I was excited to see the place where Will & Kate’s wedding took place. The choir was lovely, but we agreed that the service didn’t feel worshipful. It was strange to be in a place that was so full of beauty and not feel inspired to worship. For dinner, we headed to the local pub, the Westminster Arms, and shared a very British dinner. We had steak and ale pie, some cider (for me) and whiskey (for David), and a lemon tart before heading back to our home in London.
We were both pretty tired at that point, but we decided that we couldn’t just lounge at home for our last evening in London. We ventured out to a craft cocktail place called Old Mary’s, tucked away in a basement that used to be servant’s quarters for the house above. It was a very cool place and the drinks were fantastic. There was only one guy working, and he was also the one who created the menu of drinks. There were only a few other people in there, and we spoke to some of them before we left. They were from Waxhaw, North Carolina, the same town where David’s parents live, and one girl went to the same high school as David’s brother. It’s a small world, after all.
For our last morning in London, we went straight back to Urban Baristas for more coffee and breakfast. This time, I convinced David to sit on the upper level I had been eyeing the day before. Once we finished, we walked back to our AirBnb to collect our things and took the Underground back to St. Pancras. Since we bought Oyster Cards, we were able to return them and get a refund on what we hadn’t spent. Our change was dispensed in pounds, so we spent it all on snacks and water at a Marks and Spencer before we headed back to the land of the Euro. We were glad we arrived a bit early, because the process to get on our train to Paris was much more involved than our journey from Edinburgh-London. On our first journey, our bags weren’t scanned and nobody actually checked our tickets until the train was moving. We just walked onto the train. On the EuroStar from London to Paris, we had to have our bags scanned and passports checked. It was still a much simpler process than getting on a plane and much more comfortable. I thought going underneath the English Channel would be a little scary, but honestly we weren’t even really aware it was happening. We were in open countryside for a while after leaving London, then it was dark and enclosed, and before we knew it, we were in open countryside again, although French this time. Next stop: Paris!