Elizabeth Tower

With Turkey in the rearview mirror I set course for London, the plan here was to meet up with Seb once again since he had a work engagement at Heathrow for the weekend, so the original plan was for me to fly to London via Frankfurt, get my tourist on while Seb worked, and stay with him at his hotel. We’d then explore the nightlife together, and then fly back to Frankfurt with him on Sunday evening and commence my Eastern Europe trip from there.

Things didn’t go exactly to the original plan, and that’s quite okay. This trip has really taught me to go with the flow and not to be so keen on sticking to an organized itinerary. All in all, going to London from Turkey, and then coming back to Eastern Europe didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but having someone to hang with for the weekend certainly made it worthwhile for me. The flights were cheap enough so I pulled the trigger on a flight from Istanbul to London Gatwick, and then caught the train into the city center. Also, instead of staying with Seb, I decided to stay in a centrally located hostel, versus a hotel nearby to Heathrow, which is roughly 45 minutes outside of the city. Since my flight in and out of London didn’t go through Heathrow, it didn’t make sense for me to be close by to that airport at all. I decided to make it as easy on myself as possible for my eastern Europe trip and got a flight to Budapest via Wizz Air, that way I could work my way west to Frankfurt.

London has always been a place of great intrigue for me, so close to NYC in many ways, both in distance from one another, and also by means of way of life and overall cultural similarities. Immediately upon setting foot in London I loved it. It reminded me a lot of NYC but more charming, and much older.

Upon my arrival in London, the first thing I did was make my way to the meeting point for the Sandeman’s free walking tour. A free walking tour is something I like to do in order to get some history of the city I’m in, while also orientating myself by means of someone who has lived in that city for a good deal of time and can field any questions I may have over the course of the 2.5 hours we’re meandering around the city. This tour in particular was the Royal tour, and may not have been my first choice as a tour, but none the less it was free, and the tour guide was great. These tours are usually great informational tours from a top-level perspective, and if you’re looking to actually investigate some of the places more in-depth, you’ll have to do that on your own time. All in all my guide was very well-informed, and was probably one of the best guides I’ve had in my travels thus far in terms of keeping the group engaged, and providing interesting information.

Abbey Road Crossing
Abbey Road Crossing

Friday night we kept it relatively low-key, since Seb had work early in the AM, and I wanted to get the most out of the day and see as much as possible. First stop was to Abbey Road, where I collected the obligatory photo of the street used as the album cover, and then a quick look at the studio next door. From there I made my way to the Samarkind Hotel, which is where Jimi Hendrix died, and finally to Baker Street. Which is also the name of this song, perhaps one of the most iconic and recognizable sax solos to date says music aficionado, and my dear friend, Matt Sefcik. I meandered through the city soaking it all in, taking a lot of the iconic London sights in, and had myself a wonderful day. Since we took it easy Friday night, we turned it up to 11 for Saturday night. We met up with one of Seb’s childhood friends that lives outside of London and spent the night bar hopping in the neighborhood of Angel, all in all it was a really fun night, but I paid for it dearly the next day since I didn’t get in until 4 AM or so, and had to check out at 10 AM.

As a whole I truly enjoyed London and would definitely head back there in the warmer months to give the city another run. The weather actually cooperated quite nicely for me during my stay, as I was expecting a cold and grey weekend, but 2 of the 3 days I was there produced beautiful days. If it wasn’t for the damn British Pound (At the time of writing 1 pound is roughly $1.70), it’d be an even more attractive place to visit. For those that haven’t made their way to London, do yourself a favor and stay for at least 3 days. Next stop, Budapest!