So this post is like 5 months overdue…finally getting around to the massive task of blogging my 3 week Europe adventure with my bestie, Mona, this past July! I’ve known Mona and her family since birth (read more about my friendship with Mona here), so after our senior year of high school, they invited me to join them on their European travels! We explored England, France, Italy, San Marino (a tiny republic in Italy), and Switzerland within those 3 wonderful weeks.
Our first stop was London! During our time there, Mona’s cousin warmly welcomed us into his beautiful flat and showed us all around the city. We got to see everything from the biggest tourist attractions to the smallest local treasures. Man, did we pack in A LOT into those 4-5 days we stayed. I don’t think I’ve ever slept as well as I did those nights. Plus, I was still recovering from some major jet lag.
Even though we didn’t stay too long, I fell in love with London’s night life and bustling, winding city streets. We would walk for hours and hours, popping in and out of shops. We even ran into Mona’s other cousins randomly while walking around! So fun! Here are a few (kinda a lot actually) pictures encapsulating our time there, mixed in with a few iPhone shots as well!
Basically, Mona and I got 2 hours of sleep within 48 hours…this was us right after we walked through the door.
Our first meal in London was from Bertie and Boo! So yummy.
From the first few hours we arrived, we got welllllll acquainted with London’s public transit system, the Tube. So intricate!
Wimbledon was going on while we were there, and the streets of London were decked out! We got to try Pimms too 🙂 yum!
Yes, we did a bus tour. Loved hearing the history and learning more about this incredible place! The bus made many stops that allowed us to explore as long as we wanted and hop on the next one or two that circled back. One of the stops was the Buckingham Palace…while the queen was inside!
Next stop was the London Eye! That VIEW from inside was incredible!
My favvvorrrittee thing we did in London was simply walk along the Thames River. There were so many street performers and lots of activity going on – so much fun!
Along the river, we came across this fountain, and Mona and I decided to run in there spontaneously. One of my favorite memories for sure!!
We also ran into this outdoor bookstore – so cute!
Our first night we, of course, had to get some authentic fish and chips. For din on another night, Mona’s cousin took us to this old pub! Soooo good.
Planning out our next moves.
Mona’s other cousins met up with us for dinner! It was great seeing them. I remember going over to Mona’s house as a little kid and nosily asking them with Mona when they were going to get married while they were still dating! Becky was expecting so we took a few, casual photos after dinner!
The picture on the right is how you could typically find me…Mona and I literally sat every chance we could get, haha. So. much. walking. Mona’s mom, Ginger, kept making fun of us for it.
Another thing we crossed off our list was taking a boat tour along the Thames River!
You see that tinnnyyyyy flag on top of the building to the left of the Big Ben? On the boat tour, we learned that it was the size of a TENNIS COURT.
We also toured the Tower of London!
Ahh!! Another favorite moment of mine! After walking across Tower Bridge, we took a small detour down a mossy staircase, which led to a quaint beach with an amazing view of the bridge. We wanted a group picture, and saw a group of photographers talking in a circle, so I approached them and asked if they could grab a shot with my camera. This led to a brief conversation about equipment, our passions for photography, and what we were doing in London. Their gathering happened to be a Instagram meetup they had organized, and we all exchanged Instagram handles after talking! Yay for new friends! I love how photography has enabled me to connect with people I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
After walking back up, we found this random tropical-themed Wimbledon watching right smack in the middle of what would usually be a very busy area. There were free drinks and lots of chairs for relaxing – Mona and I naturally gravitated to the chairs and took a good 20 minute power nap.
We stopped by this place to meet up with some more of Mona’s family! It was such a gorgeous place to snack.
Mona and I took a little walk while people were talking, found this cool tree, and parked ourselves right down next to it to relax.
For one morning we went to see the changing of the guards! On the day we ended up going, there happened to be an extra processional going on.
One of my other favorite things we did in London, was easily going to Borough Market, a huge market under the railway lines filled with British meat and artisanal dairy and baked goods. It reminded me more of a farmers market, but a 4.5 acre one. I could’ve explored that place all dang day.
Mona and I found these free Bastille Day flags in the market. Below, Mona showing her pre-Bastille Day spirit before arriving in France!!
Visiting the British Museum was one of the top things on our London bucket list! We saw so much history, including the famous Rosetta Stone and parts of the Greek Parthenon. After we had English tea and pastries upstairs!
The opposite direction of traffic kept tripping us up! Mona almost got her head chopped off by a bus after sticking her head out and looking left for incoming cars like how we do in the states, which is when a maasssivee double decker bus zoomed in from the right inches away from her head.
Another favorite place was Covent Gardens. The area had the most ammaazzinng street performers. These guys have to AUDITION to get a slot and space there.
Another on our bucket list was the famous Harrods, a huuuggee fancy department store!!