Last month we had the opportunity to attend a friend’s wedding…in London. How could we say no?? I had never been and Colton had gone once when he was about 10 years old…which doesn’t really count.
We decided to arrive the the week before the wedding to do all our touristy sight-seeing stuff and end our time in London with the wedding.
Before packing, I made sure to check the weather in London so we would be properly prepared. This is something my husband always teases me about…I guess its an unheard of thing for MK’s (missionary kids), or maybe its just unheard of in Tanzania? Either way, his whole family shares the same view…why in the world would you check the weather? Well…growing up in Oklahoma we ALWAYS checked the weather. We weren’t paranoid. But, being in the mid-west, Oklahoma is prone to tornados, rain, sleet, snow, severe storms, microbursts, hail…and this could happen within one a days time!
Anyways….I checked the weather. I was so glad I did because the week that we were arriving in London the ‘Beast from the East’ was also arriving. A massive cold front and winter storm. I packed my warmest clothes (which isn’t saying too much). Colton insisted on only a light jacket for himself despite me trying to persuade him otherwise.
When we finally emerged through the cloud coverage over London, we were surprised to see a blanket of white on the ground. I was so giddy and excited to see snow again. Although I prefer warmer weather in general, over 5 years of only warm weather and no snow makes me miss it sometimes. Colton, on the other-hand, was not as amused to see the snow.
We managed to navigate our way pretty seamlessly to the Underground and map out our train stops to our destination. We were quite proud of ourselves for navigating the system without getting lost. While waiting for our last overground train, in the freezing cold, it actually started snowing. I was so excited. Our friend met us at a coffee shop when we got off our last train and took us promptly (after getting a hot chocolate for myself – it was way too cold for a cold drink!) to a pub just up the street. The pub was quite crowded but very cozy.
Our lodging for the week was about a 15 min walk from the pub. Our friend (the groom)’s friend generously opened his apartment to us for the week while he was away on holiday. It was such a nice apartment and a great location for getting around!
On our first day in London, we woke up in the coziness of a plush bed, carpeted floors, heated rooms, a view (although distant) of the City of London, and light snow dusting the balcony and rooftops. It was magical. I felt like I was on a luxury getaway….but maybe Ive just been in Africa too long 😉
You would think the first thing we would do in London is all the touristy things. Now, this was definitely our plan, but first things first. We had to go the mall. This might sound petty or ridiculous, but it was necessary and part of our plan!
First, being in Tanzania there are no options for getting a good hair coloring. The last time I got my hair colored I decided to go blond, which was fun while it lasted, but I soon realized it was impossible to keep up where we are living. So to avoid it eventually turning into a disaster, I had scheduled a hair appointment for myself just down the road from our apartment. Next, we had to do some shopping. Again, there are no malls, boutique stores, or department stores in Tanzania to buy suitable clothes for a wedding, or even cold weather. We hit up H&M and a few other stores and were able to get all the clothes we needed to stay warm and for the wedding. These were the major things we needed to do, and with those checked off the list, we could now spend the rest or our time in London being tourists 🙂
We had 4 full days of sight seeing and I think we did just about everything imaginable.
We toured Westminster Abbey, walked through Hyde park, saw Buckingham Palace, Tower of London and Tower Bridge (not to be confused with London bridge….but more on that in my next post!), saw the crown jewels, St. Pauls Cathedral, visited the British Museum, the Natural history museum, the national gallery, walked along the Houses of parliament, Big Ben was under construction so we didn’t get a good view of it, but saw it nonetheless. We went to Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Borough Market, Selfridges, Harrods, and even went to Novello Theater to see Mama Mia!. We took one day and visited Cambridge. We went to a few pubs and lots of coffee shops.
Our last day in London was the wedding. It was in a small church in South Kensington. We felt like we were in a movie, maybe the neighborhood of the family in Mary Poppins. The streets and houses were so quaint, clean, quiet and just lovely. The ceremony was beautiful. Simple and meaningful. Although we only met the bride once it was evident that these two people have something very special. We felt so honored to be a part of it.
From the ceremony, we were put onto 2 classic double-decker busses with glasses of champagne. There was a quiz game about the bride and groom, we met new acquaintances, and oddly enough, on our same bus only a few rows in front of us, Colton recognized someone he knew. This guy came to Tanzania a while back when we were in Arusha as part of Colton’s company. He was there with his wife. They were just as shocked to see us as we were to see them. Its a small world!
The reception was at an old dock house along the Themes that has been converted into a venue. Simple. Rustic. Chic. Classy. We met so many interesting people at the wedding and had a great time eating, visiting, and dancing.
We stayed as late as we could. Our flight was the following morning. Not too early, but we needed to get up a bit early to so we could walk to the train station, buy tickets and make our way to the airport. We said goodbye to the bride and groom and left with unforgettable memories.
Our time in London was so amazing. We were there for a full week and it hardly seemed like enough time, although we definitely made the most of it. We already look forward to the next time we are able to make our way back to this city. We made so many unforgettable memories its hard to have a favorite from our trip. Overall, just being able to travel and explore a new city with my husband and best friend is the best memory of the trip.
More pictures here!