Travel, UK

Visiting London: Day 1 – Arrival in London

It’s been 7 years since I’ve visited London, 7 long years. I studied abroad in London back in 2015 for a semester and had the time of my life. However, circumstances such as life, post-college depression, COVID, and lack of financial stability prevented me returning since then. This was the year where that would change. 2022 was my year to finally visit a city I love!

I spent months planning and researching for my trip to London. I decided to go during the month of March because plane tickets were a bit cheaper, I had accrued enough PTO by then, and the weather wouldn’t be too terrible. Plus, COVID restrictions were easing up at that point and I wanted to take the opportunity to travel to the UK before anything changed. I got my plane ticket, booked my activities and accommodation, and I was all set!

Day 1 consisted of my 7 hour flight from Newark, New Jersey (March 18th) to Heathrow airport in London. I arrived in London around 7am on Saturday, March 19th. Once I made it through the airport and to my hostel for breakfast, it was about 9am. I had the whole day ahead of me and I couldn’t even check into my hostel until 3pm. But I managed to make the most of my day before check-in. Here’s what I did:

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English sausage with tomato beans and bread for breakfast
Breakfast at Selina Hostel in London, English sausage with tomato beans and bread for breakfast.

Spent time with my cousins

I have family here in London. I have cousins and other family members who I honestly didn’t know existed until I studied abroad back in 2015. It’s one of those things where they moved there decades ago but lost, or never even had, contact with my family here in the USA.

However, I was lucky enough to have met some cousins of mine back in 2015 and new cousins this time around! But that day, I connected with my cousins I met years ago and we decided to spend the day together. I was a bit tired and didn’t want to really do much but a lovely get together was a nice way to start my day.

A walk through Kensington Gardens

After sitting around and catching up for a bit, my cousins and I decided to take a lovely stroll through Kensington Gardens. It’s not far from where they live. The weather was gorgeous and sunny that day, and my younger cousin wanted to meet up with her friends. So, we took a walk through the park to connect my cousin with her friend.

Now, my cousins are WAY taller than me. I would’ve loved to go at a slower pace but they were yards ahead of me. I had to struggle to keep up with them, as I have very short legs and I was still a bit tired from my flight. However, I did manage to pace myself once I caught up with them, thankfully.

We chatted, walked, and looked at all the beautiful scenery around us until we got to our location.

A walk through Knights Bridge

Once my younger cousin met up with her friends, my other two cousins decided to take a little walk through Knights Bridge as well. Knights Bridge isn’t far from Kensington Gardens, so it made sense to continue our little walk into this area.

We walked in and out of some shops, looked at some cute stores, and tried to decide where we wanted to go for some lunch. I was very hungry at this point and so were they. While we contemplated where we wanted to go, we walked around the lovely little neighborhoods and busy streets of Knights Bridge.

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EL & N Cafe in London
EL & N Cafe in London
iced matcha rose latte at EL &N Cafe in London
Iced matcha rose latte and vegan chocolate cake at EL & N Cafe in London

Lunch at EL & N Café

Finally, we had stumbled upon a EL & N Café which looked cute and lovely. We ordered a vegan chocolate cake to share and latte drinks. I ordered the iced matcha rose latte. This was my first time trying matcha, a latte, and rose in a drink. Basically, a first for everything because I’m an iced coffee type of person. The iced matcha rose latte was good, it was an interesting flavor combination.

My cousins and I later found out that this cafe is one of the best Instagrammable cafes in London. So, if you’re looking for a lovely place to take awesome pictures, this is your place!

Dinner at Franco Manca

Once we were done at EL & N Café, my cousins and I went back to their place to chill for a little bit. My younger cousins had some things they had to do for school, so they worked on that for a bit. My older cousin and I talked about my plans for the week in London.

After our little walk, we all went to have dinner at Franco Manca, which is a cute little pizza place near Lancaster Gate. The pizza was pretty good, I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. My cousins enjoyed their pizzas as well. We all talked about different things and had a great time together.

A relaxing evening

For the next 3 to 4 hours I’d say, we relaxed at their place and I fell asleep for about an hour or so. That jet lag is no joke and I was extremely tired at that point. I unknowingly fell asleep, I wanted to try and stay awake for a while until I checked into my hostel, then I’d go to bed. But I guess my body decided otherwise and I took a little nap on my cousin’s couch.

I awoke from my nap after about an hour and talked to my cousin a bit more. By this point in time, it was after 10pm and I still had to make it back to my hostel to check in, take a shower, and go to bed. I said my goodbyes, ordered my Uber, and left their place for my hostel in Camden.

Mocha coffee at Selina Hostel in London
Mocha coffee at Selina Hostel in London

Check-in at my hostel

I finally checked-in at Selina hostel around 10:30-11pm. Very late, I know. The staff person checked me in but didn’t show me to my room or anything else in the hostel. For some reason, the staff person assumed that I had already checked in before and knew where everything was. I told her I didn’t, to which she said she’d be there shortly to show me as she was busy.

I didn’t wait around for her, because I was exhausted and in need of a shower, change of clothes, and sleep. So, I proceeded to my 8 bed mixed dorm room. When I entered the room, I was surprised to see and hear how quiet and somewhat empty it was. I was expecting it to be a bit more lively. This wasn’t the case and I was totally fine with it. I think since I’m a bit older (a couple years away from being 30), I just prefer my hostel settings to be a bit more relaxed and chill but still have a cool and fun vibe.

But after a long flight with jet lag, the peace and quiet was lovely. I got my things out, showered, and went to my bottom bunk to relax.

Met new people

When I was on my bunk, a lovely girl named Tal from Israel started talking to me. I think because I was the only girl in the room who was still awake, she probably wanted to talk to somebody. We got to chatting about where we were from, what we were doing in London, and our future plans. We decided we would explore some of London together the next day and go to a club together. I was really excited to have met a new person!

Eventually, another lovely girl named Diane from California, entered the room and got to talking with us as well. After introducing ourselves again and talking about our travel plans, Tal and I invited her to join us tomorrow. With a plan for exploration set in place for the next day, and the time being after 1am, I bid everyone a good night and fell asleep.

The end of the day

I’d say my first day in London was a great success! I did a lot more than I was expecting, considering how tired I was. I also met two lovely girls and made plans with them to explore London! The beginning of my trip was looking pretty good and I couldn’t wait to see what else it had in store for me.

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