Just about a month ago we had a long layover in London. In that 11-hour layover, we actually had enough time to see many of the major tourist attractions. So, what did we do this time?
Being on a budget is really a blessing for us on this visit. It forced us outside the tourist areas and into a neighborhood that we had never explored and saw so much more of what London is about. Walking and exploring the neighborhood is how you really discover the soul of a city. So, we were excited to land in Battersea and wander. From our home base, we spent much of our time roaming Battersea, Clapham, Chelsea, and Westminster. Each of theses neighborhoods (district/city), were so unique. You can see the gentrification and diversity of Battersea and affluence of Chelsea. Clapham was vibrant with young professional, but maybe a counter to Shoreditch edginess and liveliness, which reminded us of home in the pacific northwest. Tip: Eating in the many great takeout (mom-and-pop) places in Battersea is the best way to stay on a budget, but the really amazing things are the owners. They are super friendly and really want to get to know their customers. Each place made us wandering nomads feel like we were at home. That's a win in our book! Oh, they also only accept cash.
We were also able to do a quick getaway to Stonehenge and Bath. We did it on a tour coach versus public train. It allowed us to see the country side and it was in the end cheaper and more convenient. Often people pack their day tours, but we looked for a tour solution that provided us the most free time versus being ushered around and not being able to experience anything. Oh, and we really enjoyed Bath and Stonehenge! Definitely go! Tip: The most common day tour from London is Westminster, Stonehenge, and Bath with a lunch stop, but you are in a constant rush from one place to another with a bunch of driving in between. The Stonehenge and Bath only (no food) trip gives you guided information on the bus, essentially entertaining transportation, but provides free time once you get to the destination, which was perfect for us. We had about 1.5 hours at Stonehenge and 3.5 hours in Bath to do whatever we liked. It was a long day though, starting at 8:30 am and returning around 7:30 pm with traffic. If you have extra time, I would spend a couple of days in Bath.
Although we were in London for more than 4 days, it was fast. We had an American Thanksgiving in London, which was the first Thanksgiving abroad for us, and then dinner and cocktails into the early morning on Black Friday with our friends. No shopping for us. Sites are nice, but nothing beats time catching up with friends!
Grocery Beer Price Index: 2.1 pounds for 500ml Fullers London Pride ($2.75)