Mom told me not to fall in love in London. She didn't say anything about falling in love WITH it.
Updated: Feb 9, 2020
My mom called me while I was in JFK airport, getting ready to take off on my first ever girls' trip with two of my best friends, Elie Thawn and Jane Davidson.
"Don't fall in love in London, Jax," she warned. She didn't want me to find a reason to move even further away from her and my dad, who still live in Los Angeles. She didn't warn me not to fall in love with the city itself, or with the UK in general. Rookie mistake, Mom.
This past December, Elie, Jane and I explored London (and several surrounding areas in the UK) for 12 days. The trip. was. INCREDIBLE! Sure, there were a couple hiccups, but we saw some amazing sights, had some delicious drinks and food, and just had a fantastic time hanging out together. I already want to go back... perhaps in the warmer months.
Elie and I arrive in London! We get settled into our hotel at Trafalgar Square before heading out to get manicures. It was Elie's second manicure ever. Then, we went to Harwood Arms, a Michelin-Star gastropub. We thought that we ruined food for the rest of the trip, it was that good.
Elie and I get a delicious baked beans breakfast pot, then head to The Who Shop and Museum. We explore Trafalgar Square, go into the National Gallery, and walk around Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey as Theresa May is experiencing her "vote of no confidence" for Brexit. Then, we get dinner at The Port House before heading to the #2 bar in the world, The American Bar. It was like a religious experience. Afterwards, we go back to the hotel and try to determine which celebrities are like "my ideal man." This led to a Google search for "Martin Freeman Sexy." ZERO regrets. 😂
We go to Golden Union and get fish and chips the size of our heads. We walk around Oxford Circus, see the Marble Arch, attend the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland where Elie had her first ever mulled wine, then go to Fumo for dinner. They sat us pretty quickly, but this was the place where we learned the importance of making reservations in London. We have an early night, since we have to wake up early for...
...Plymouth!!! We leave extremely early in the morning and take the three hour train ride to the coastal city. We have our first pasties, stumble upon the Mayflower Steps (funny story there. We both thought the other person put it on the list of things to see in Plymouth... turns out it was Jane who was looking for things to do there lol), and explore until our much-anticipated tour of the Plymouth Gin Distillery. We got to make our own gin! Mine came out quite well. It is called "Home for the Holidays," and it made with juniper, coriander, lemon, angelica root, cardamom, cassia bark (aka Chinese cinnamon), nutmeg, and licorice. We head back to London, and meet up with Elie's boyfriend Jose, who came up from Madrid to spend a few days with us.
I check out of the hotel and head off for our weekend in Edinburgh! Unfortunately, this day was off to a rocky start, since I was dropped off at the wrong station, I lost the ring I have worn every day since I got it in Italy, and we had to pull our suitcases through the rain and wind (surprisingly, the first day we experienced it so far). But other than that, I would say Edinburgh was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We went to Edinburgh's Christmas, got haggis and scotch at Makar's Gourmet Mash Bar, and went to the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. After we went back to the hotel and freshened up a bit, we went to a bar, where we got some scotch flights and a group of lively Polish people bought us shots (Jose wasn't too thrilled).
The weather in Edinburgh was much better. Our train back to London wasn't until the early afternoon, so we got breakfast and did some shopping along the Royal Mile. It was a really nice, relaxing morning. I definitely want to go back to Edinburgh for a longer period of time. Then, we get to London, where Jane had finally arrived! We lug our suitcases to the airbnb in the pouring rain. We go to one of Jose's favorite restaurants, Conchiglia, for dinner.
We go to see the Tower of London, and then walk across the Tower Bridge to explore the South Bank. I go to my first sushi place where they have the rotating bar. We walk through Borough Market, see Shakespeare's Globe, and walk along the river until we get back across the Millennium Bridge (that was the only time Elie was walking faster than the rest of us!) We see St. Paul's Cathedral, get a drink nearby, and then head back so Jose can get ready to leave. Since Elie was understandably sad, we decide to order Nando's and watch movies.
HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR!!! Need I say more??
After that, we get dinner at Plum + Spilt Milk, then go to Sky Garden for drinks.
Elie is officially too sick to join us on our adventures, but Jane and I still had a great time on our tour of Stonehenge and Windsor. Stonehenge was really cool too see, and Windsor was stunning both inside and outside the castle. We bring Elie some food when we get back, we crack open a bottle of wine or two, and somehow end up having a long discussion about Big Dick Energy. It was unanimously decided that our friend Rebecca, who couldn't join us because she was still in finals at business school, has the biggest dick energy of all of us by far.
Elie is still really sick, so she stays in for another day. Jane and I go to brunch at a very popular Indian restaurant, Dishoom. We saw Buckingham Palace, got a really nice afternoon high tea at Fortnum & Mason, and then we saw a West End musical, Everybody's talking About Jamie.
Elie is finally well enough to join us again! We want to keep our last full day in London light but memorable. We do this by going to Dandelyan, the #1 bar in the world. This, and The American Bar, both absolutely deserved these ratings. What an amazing ending to this fantastic trip. I can't wait for the next one. (hint hint, friends 😉)