Day 1: Travel · Check-in · Explore
I flew from Nice to London Gatwick on British Airways and had a great experience. The staff was friendly and the complimentary lunch on board was good as well.
At Gatwick I reunited with my friend Karol after nearly a year apart and we made our way to the train we had pre-purchased tickets for. The Thameslink is a fast and easy way to get from the airport to a more central point in London. We took the Bedford line from Gatwick to Blackfriars Station. I would recommend using trains, trams, and metros as opposed to taxis; they provide a cheaper and more authentic experience.
From the train station we made our way to our Airbnb – just about a twenty minute walk with luggage. We booked a room in an apartment with a couple – an American woman and Italian man, very close in age to ourselves. They had great reviews and the location and price couldn’t be beat. We scheduled it with the hosts to drop off bags, even though the room was not supposed to be ready until later in the evening. People are usually willing to work with you if you give them enough advance notice. Booking an Airbnb where the owners live in may seem daunting at first but can really be a great experience. As long as you do your research and read the reviews you can end up with an amazing place to stay. First-hand advice from locals and a cozy space to come home to at night are just a few of the benefits. For ourselves in particular, it was nice to have a fellow American and ex-pat, as well as a native Italian. We were able to bond over the differences between the States and Europe, and at the same time got countless tips and suggestions for our upcoming travels in Italy.
After dropping off our bags at the Airbnb we began site-seeing, with the intention of visiting the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Tower of London (£), Monument to the Great Fire, St. Paul’s Cathedral, One New Change rooftop, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Tate Modern.
The day ended back at the Airbnb getting acquainted with Jocelyn and Andrea over a dinner of homemade lasagna and pistachio gelato from the shop Andrea works at.
The first day was overwhelming – exciting, stressful, hectic, busy, wonderful. Visiting a new city is a whirlwind and day one in London did not disappoint.
Travel tip: Remember to pack light when possible. More often than not you’ll be carrying your bags up and down several flights of stairs.