#Kurtantravels - London Travel Guide Part 1

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Some hiatus I've taken here huh? Hopefully you follow me on Instagram so you at least knew I hadn't completely fallen off the face of the planet ;-). If you do you have also noticed I posted a few photos from across the pond a few months ago. The husband and I took a bucket-list trip to London and Paris this past October and I've been itching to share all the details of our travels. I've been wanting to go to Paris for as long as I can remember and while I was away at Wanderlust in West Virginia last June, Rob randomly started checking out flight prices. He found some pretty great rates, sent me a text and all I could say was hell yes, book it! We filled in the rest of the details from there. ready-for-takeoff

We flew to London on Virgin Atlantic and even in our steerage economy seats we felt really well taken care of. (Booze came complimentary with our dinner!)

We've been really loving AirBnB these past couple years and used it to find comfortable accommodations for our European adventure too. Our little London flat was in the South Kensington area and very convenient to an Underground stop. Speaking of the Underground - don't try to take your luggage on it. Just enjoy a nice cab or Uber ride to and from whatever travel station you're arriving/departing from and save yourself the stress. Not all of the tube stations have elevators or escalators so if you "accidentally" over packed and are wearing shoes that are more cute than workout appropriate you might have a little trouble lugging a suitcase around. This goes double if it's rush hour.

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We took an overnight flight and arrived fairly early in the morning which gave us some time to kill before we could get into our AirBnB. So we ventured to Greenwich and the Prime Meridian. It's always pretty cool to stand across one of these geographic dividers.

Next we went to see Buckingham Palace. We came on an off day so no changing of the guard, still absolutely worth it though.

Buckingham Palace

It was finally time to check in. We had to do a bit of traveling to go and retrieve our bags from storage but despite our afternoon of suitcase schlepping we were in good spirits once we were able to check in to our space and get freshened up. And then it was time for a pub.

first pints

After that we hopped back on the tube and worked off our pints and snacks with a walk around Big Ben and the London Eye. Big Ben came into view as we walked up the stairs from the Underground and my initial reaction really was "Holy Sh**!" It's an impressive sight. We did not ride the giant ferris wheel Eye, for us it just wasn't worth the cost. We also had dinner plans and needed to get over to Piccadilly Circus.

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We were in for quite the evening. A friend of ours from home put us in contact with a friend of hers from time spent studying abroad and they (the friend-of-our-friend) offered to be our culinary tour guide. Obviously I was pretty excited about this prospect. We should have been completely jet lagged and ready to go to bed at like 8:30 pm, but it was well past midnight when we finally got back to our flat. Great food, cocktails and conversation are magic like that. Our new friend led us to four speakeasies that evening, beginning with the Experimental Cocktail Club. We only had one drink there, the cocktails were plenty good enough to consider a second but our fear of jet lag and desire to make it to all of our new friend's suggested spots meant it was one and done. Our second destination was Opium, a cocktail and dim sum platter. This is where any possibility of an early evening began to fade. Baskets of dumplings and other bites kept coming and the cocktails were top notch. I love drinking out of anything tiki related.

cocktail-at-opium

Our third stop was unplanned. Our host had tried to get a reservation but for whatever reason that particular Thursday was a popular night. We were all in a good mood and felt serendipity was on our side. We sallied up to the door of The Blind Pig and within 5 minutes we were being led up the stairs. We had been told there was standing room only which didn't bother us, but I don't think we'd even had a chance to order a drink before a great table opened up. This bar served me my favorite cocktail of the evening, the Slap 'n Pickle. It was Henrick’s gin, Wolfschmitt kummel, apricot brandy, lemon juice, house pickle brine and a pickle shortstack. We also somehow managed to find room for some more snacks and the slightly tighter waistbands were totally worth it. The fried chicken, duck fat fries, and anything that came in a jar was seriously, seriously good. Again, how we were still awake and functioning now is beyond me and we still had one more speakeasy to go.

the-blind-pig

Our fourth stop was definitely the most elaborate. Cahoots is a 1940's themed bar located in an old, no longer used underground station and it 100% looks the part. From the staff to the drink ware, everything was on theme. We were actually seated inside an old tube car. Many of the cocktails were based around victory gardens and made with fresh produce. Rob probably ordered the most interesting one at the table. Without the booze it could have passed for a really healthy snack! I actually snagged one of the paper/newspaper menus and we've since had it framed.

veggie-cocktail-at-cahoots

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This is when we finally admitted (and quite begrudgingly) that we should probably call it a night. We felt like we could have kept going, but we didn't want to push it. We had high tea and Les Miserable to look forward to the next day. We also made tentative plans to hook up with our local friend again in a few days. As we Uber-ed back we were all smiles. Our adventure was off to an incredible start.