March 10, 2023 — Personal
I am now a world traveler. My wife and I finally took an actual vacation to London - where we got to experience a lot of new things!
I had never been on an airplane before this trip. I’m not a fan of heights, but for some reason, I wasn’t very nervous about the actual flying part. FlightAware eases my nerves about flying, as you can see how many airplanes are in the sky at any given moment.
The part that made me most nervous was all airport-related:
- Have all the proper documents
- Arrive on time
- Find the right gate
- Luggage check
- TSA Security
That stuff. Very intimidating for someone new to flying. Everything went smoothly, though, and we were able to board the plane.
The flight from Baltimore to Iceland was the first flight. We flew Play Airlines, a budget airline that, while not the most comfortable, was still enjoyable. My wife did learn she gets motion sickness while on planes, unfortunately.
The layover in Iceland was welcome after spending about six hours on a cramped, warm, and muggy plane. We stretched our legs and enjoyed the cold for a bit until we had to board the next flight to London.
The London flight was a bit easier (and shorter), and we made it there in one piece! Next stop was our hotel.
After a long flight, we were ready to take a nap!
We stayed at the hub by Premier Inn near the Goodge Street station. Which was a decent spot, easy to walk around and find things or hop on the tube to other parts of the city.
Staff were all super nice and accommodating. They had unlimited complimentary coffee and tea and served breakfast!
Our week in London
The main inspiration for the trip was my wife Vickie. She has met a lot of awesome folks from all around the world through her online writing community. This was a chance for them to finally meet in person and attend a K-pop concert they are all fans of. I’m super glad she got this opportunity and was able to enjoy spending her time with her new friends.
I am a very anxious person, and while I did manage to enjoy my trip, I had trouble planning anything beforehand. I pretty much winged it and even got to meet one of my friends from overseas.
The band my wife was going to see was having a pop-up shop in Waterloo Station, so we walked there together. We probably could have taken a train, but we wanted to be able to explore and see some sights.
After the pop-up shop, we ventured onto our next destination, The British Museum. We stopped in at their pizzeria and had a wonderful pepperoni pizza with chili jam on it. It was delicious.
I wasn’t aware of how excited I was going to be to see the various exhibits at the museum until I was actually there. I was very excited.
My wife was finally getting to meet up with her friends! She went to brunch and had a wonderful time.
I was exhausted from traveling, though - so day 2 was a bit of a non-starter for me. I stayed at the hotel, relaxed, and worked on coding projects. I know, I’m not very fun!
Later that night, we met back up for dinner at Din Tai Fung in Covent Garden and got to experience the deliciousness of soup dumplings for the first time.
Much more exciting day: I got to meet one of my friends from the Frontend Horse community, Arran.
Arran toured us around the London Bridge area. He told us all about the history of various places, even showing us some Roman ruins along the way.
We explored the Southwark Cathedral where we got to meet Hodge, a cat that lives in the cathedral.
We stopped in at the Borough Market, had a delicious crumble, and talked politics.
Later that night, Vickie went to the concert, and I met back up with Arran for more exploring. We walked and talked, stopping for snacks along the way. We finished off the night in a lovely British pub.
We went to Paddington Station to visit the Paddington Bear statue and pick up a souvenir from the store.
From Paddington Station, we took a walk to Hyde Park, where one of the best moments happened:
Vickie loves birdwatching, but the only birds we had seen were pigeons. She expressed she was hoping to see different types of birds while in another country. Not a moment later, a parakeet landed in front of us. Apparently, there are tons of parakeets flying around in London! She was ecstatic!
Before leaving the park, we stopped at the statue of Queen Victoria (Vickie’s namesake). Next, we headed towards South Kensington to visit The Design Museum.
The Design Museum is gorgeous. Many wonderful pieces on display from various aspects of design:
- Graphic design
Definitely a great stop if, like me, you are into that sort of thing.
We rounded out the day by heading over to King’s Cross Station. There we checked out Platform 9¾ and visited the Harry Potter shop.
On the final day, we went to the V&A Museum. There was an exhibit there called ”Hallyu! The Korean Wave” which showcased the global impact of South Korean pop culture. This was amazing!
They had several items from our favorite movies, like Oldboy and Parasite, as well as from K-pop and fashion.
We checked out the rest of the museum as well, seeing awesome pieces from various eras and places. I especially enjoyed seeing items from Japan.
After finishing up at the V&A, I heard there was a protest occurring outside the Russian Embassy. We decided to go check it out. Protestors painted the street in front of the embassy the color of the Ukraine flag, yellow and blue. People were there showing support for Ukraine, asking Russia to stop the invasion. Seeing this was quite an experience for me.
We grabbed some food and returned to the hotel to rest up and get ready for our trip back home.