This past weekend I was finally able to visit London. I've been eager to see this city for quite some time now, so I'm thrilled to be able to share my experiences and create a full itinerary for you! London is an interesting place. It's filled with history and is home to the royal family, but it's also a thriving city with hidden gems, such as markets, unique restaurants, and shopping! London's diversity is something I have never seen before. One moment you're in front of Buckingham Palace, and the next you're walking down Carnaby Street popping into each quirky store. But please take note, you'll be running around the city, so pack your walking shoes!
A visual map of London to follow along!
Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to get started with our day. We stayed in Holland Park, which I highly recommend! It's about a 20 minute walk from Kensington Palace, so that's what we began with. After seeing the palace, we took a stroll through Hyde Park to eat breakfast at a well known café named Elan Café. It's known for it's picturesque aesthetic, and the Instagram worthy backgrounds, so of course we had to see it for ourselves!
Of course I had to snap a picture in front of the famous "Coffee is the New Black" sign.
The food also does not disappoint. But be sure to get there as soon as it opens, or be ready to stand in a line outside the door to get a taste of this amazing restaurant!
Next up was Buckingham Palace! We were able to walk from Elan Café to the Palace and enjoy the sites. The area surrounding the Palace is always buzzing with tourists during the day, so if you want to ignore the crowds, Buckingham Palace also looks beautiful at night, and there is close to no one outside the gates!
After we basked in all of the palace's glory we set off for the next destination, the London Eye. During our walk there we were able to see Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey, Palace of Westminster, and Elizabeth tower. All of these landmarks are very close to one another so it's super simple to make your rounds to see it all!
My roommate and I decided we wanted to ride the London Eye to get great views of the city. At first we were hesitant because that's one of the most touristy activities you can do in London. However, we pushed our ego aside and went for it, LOL! It ended up being our favorite part of the day, so if you ever find yourself in London, do not leave until you experience this!
After the London Eye, we headed back across the bridge towards Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. Both great places to see while in London!
After seeing Covent Garden, we headed into the city to see Tower Bridge. Before the bridge we stopped at Borough Market. This was one of my favorite aspects of the whole day. Borough Market is a huge market filled with everything your tummy desires! There's fresh product, meat, and seafood for sale, along with dozens of different food vendors where you can grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Next stop: Tower Bridge!
After walking across Tower Bridge we visited the Liberty Department store, and then headed towards Carnaby street. We were on the hunt for fish and chips, so we found the perfect restaurant right on Carnaby. We enjoyed dinner, and let our feet rest. We were racking up the steps and needed a major break.
We concluded our day by exploring Oxford Street, then circling back to Buckingham Palace to see it lit up at night. The day was long and tiring, but it was 100% worth all 43,000 steps. (I told you it was a lot of walking)! London is a city in its own category and I cannot recommend visiting enough. I now can say it is one of my favorite cities, and I cannot wait to go back and relive its beautiful culture and diversity.
I made it to Italy! It has been a whirlwind of a week, but I am in Milan safe and sound. Before I go into detail about my new city I call home, I wanted to create a blog post about how to do Florence, Italy in a day. My friends and I wanted to explore a new city before we get busy with school, so we decided to go to Florence. It is a short train ride away so we were confident we could see the important landmarks in 10 hours. If you ever find yourself in Milan, or Northern Italy, I highly recommend visiting this historical and cultural city for at least one day! Be sure to book your flight, train, and bus tickets through Go Euro to find the lowest rates throughout Europe. I have attached the link so give it a look! www.goeuro.com
Our train left Milan at 6:30 am and we approached Florence around 8:30 so it was a simple commute. As soon as we got to Firenze station we bought a bus ticket to go to the Luxury Outlet Mall. It's about 30 minutes away from Florence, however it had positive reviews so we thought it would be worth it! The mall was amazing with great deals so I highly recommend it.
Be sure to check out Gucci Cafe if you end up visiting the mall!
After a morning full of shopping we hopped back on the bus to head back into Florence for some sight-seeing. Florence is generally easy to navigate. If you have Google or Apple maps you'll be set. Nevertheless, don't be hesitant to explore and get lost. You usually stumble across the most beautiful views and architecture when your nose isn't stuck in a map or phone.
Seeing the Statue of David was a priority, so that was the first order of business. This is a piece that you must see if you ever find yourself in Florence. You hear about this statue and see it in art history textbooks, but you don't fully understand the level of artisanship until you see it yourself. You can book your ticket in advance here! www.accademia-tickets.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2MfM_KX63wIVFKWaCh1d_gShEAAYAiAAEgIUJ_D_BwE
After visiting the Accademia Gallery, we wandered the streets, canals, and bridges of Florence.
Next stop was the iconic Flornece Duomo. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - known for its Gothic and Renaissance architecture along with the beautiful pastel colors. One cannot comprehend the true size and beauty of these buildings until you are right underneath them. MUST see! To go inside the Duomo get tickets here! www.viator.com/tours/Florence/Duomo-Official-Ticket-Admission/d519-31070P42#checkAvailabilityAnchor
We stumbled across a Magnum Chocolate store so of course we had to indulge.
After stuffing ourselves with chocolate, we decided some cardio to work off the calories would be sufficient. We set off for Michelangelo Square, a panoramic overlook of Florence Italy, located in the Oltrarno district.
The walk to the overlook was a view within itself.
The hike to the overlook was quite steep and tiring, however, the panoramic view was 100% worth it. We sat on the steps with hundreds of others and watched the sun set over the magical city of Florence. This is the perfect way to end the evening, and most importantly it's totally free. Be sure to go to this lookout if you ever find yourself in the charming city of Florence, Italy.
With my departure date rapidly approaching, I have had several inquiries about how I'm packing and what I'll be doing to keep everything organized and prioritized. If you've visited this blog before, you know that I've already traveled quite a bit. Therefore, I was never too worried about the packing situation. (Other than deciding which of my precious shoes and bags I would bring along, of course)! I feel like a lot of my readers are also travelers, and would benefit from some helpful hints about what is essential and what is not. Granted, I will be living in Italy and not just vacationing there, so some of these items may not be an essential on your travel list. I have linked great products from passport holders, to the camera I use for all of my travel and blogging.
A little passport holder is something that I think any avid traveler should have. It keeps your passport safe and secure, and this specific product has compartments for your debit/credit cards, and a spot for your airline ticket. I have a feeling this is going to become my everyday wallet while I am living abroad. You can find this marble print passport holder on Amazon for only $10.99! www.amazon.com/Eccolo-World-Traveler-Passport-Storage/dp/B06XXVTPFS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1547079435&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=marble+passport+holder&psc=1
Something else that is extremely important to consider is purchasing luggage tags that are sturdy and durable. These are sold separate from the passport cover but they looked almost identical to me, so I purchased them hoping they would match, and they did! These adorable little tags have a line for your name, address, phone number, and email in case something were to happen to your luggage. And the quotes on the front just add to the design. It comes in a set of three, so it was perfect for me as I am taking two large suitcases and a carry-on! You can find this set on Amazon as well. www.amazon.com/Eccolo-World-Traveler-Marble-Luggage/dp/B07GRDQWPK/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1547079846&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=marble+luggage+tag&psc=1
Another product that is essential on a trip abroad is a portable charger! I don't know about you all, but I am constantly snapping pictures when I am traveling which runs my battery dry. You never know what kind of outlets a different country will have, so you cannot rely on stopping at a coffee shop to charge your phone with your regular iPhone charger. I did the research for you guys and found out this is Amazon's top rated portable charger. It has a cord that comes with it that is compatible with iPhone or Android, as well as a spot to plug in any other cords you may have. It's the perfect size and will easily slip into your purse or backpack after you're finished using it. www.amazon.com/Portable-Charger-Jackery-Bolt-6000/dp/B01A6L85CC/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1547080273&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=jackery+portable+charger&psc=1
Something else you need to keep in mind is that pick-pocketing is real and you need to be aware of the bags you carry. This is why I searched for a backpack with a zipper and a flap that goes over the front and clicks. This is another great find off of Amazon! It's black genuine leather and can also be a cross body when you maneuver the straps the right way. This is definitely going to become my go-to purse while I'm abroad! www.amazon.com/Leather-Backpack-Backpacks-Daypack-Black-R/dp/B018VEUDS0/ref=sr_1_105?ie=UTF8&qid=1547080660&sr=8-105&keywords=black+genuine+leather+backpack+for+women
A few other great items to consider while traveling are:
Outlet converters: www.amazon.com/OREI-Italy-Adapter-Plug-Type/dp/B008JCVGT0/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1547080812&sr=8-18&keywords=outlet+converter+us+to+italy
Portable Laundry Bag: www.amazon.com/iwill-CREATE-PRO-Backpack-Dorm-Room/dp/B014KSWKSM/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1547081082&sr=8-14&keywords=laundry+bag
I wanted to get new luggage for my upcoming trip so I decided to look at Groupon since full sets can get pricey. I found this "Travelers Choice" 3 piece set for only $139.99, when normally this set is $479.99! They are hard-shell which I was looking for, they have a two inch expandable design which creates more space, double spinner wheels, and a fully lined interior with a zipper and straps! And not to mention a cup holder on the back of each suitcase, with a spot to charge your phone if you have a portable charger! This is a great set to buy if you are in the market, and I know they'll last me for several trips to come.
A close-up of the cup holder and USB port.
I hope this blog post was helpful and can end some of your all's search for certain products. The goal was to ease some stress in order to create an exciting and smooth travel experience! Happy traveling!
I'm Emma Kay
A girl from Kentucky with high hopes and big dreams. I love all things fashion, travel, and long sessions of retail therapy.