The London Stop
If you visited my blog last week, you likely caught part one of this eight part series talking about my two week trip traveling around Europe. The first stop was Paris, and you can find that blog HERE, if you’re so inclined.
Now jumping into my second of eight cities. London!
Having done my vegan research before I arrived, I kept hearing about how incredibly vegan-friendly London was. But I gotta say- I was a bit disappointed! There wasn’t quite as much as I was anticipating. And after the incredible amount of bread from Paris (considering a trip back just for that basket o’ bread, tbh…), I was hoping for something other than the go-to vegan burger. But I didn’t really get that.
Getting from Paris to London
Taking the train from Paris to London was quite the experience. Because the UK is NON-schengen, you DO have to go through passport control into and out of it. This isn’t nearly as extensive as going through the airport, but I was none percent prepared. And because of how the politics are leaning currently, please do a bit of research before you go, just so you’re prepared going in, as procedures will likely change.
My train ticket said I needed to arrive 45 minutes early, at least, and this was so I could go through the screening. Everyone in the train station was very kind, but it did move slowly and it took me a pretty substantial amount of time to find where the actual section that I needed to go to. Hint: take a breath, and look for signs for EuroStar. My go-to of just flat out panicking, turns out, isn’t super helpful. Weird.
After a pretty quick train ride (who knew Paris and London were so freaking close?!), I had the continued joy of navigating another major transit hub. If I found Paris to be confusing, I was again fully unprepared for London. The benefit? Everything was English.
After some frantic running around (why can’t I just chill out?!), I managed to make my way to Paddington Station, then to my hotel.
There, I dropped my bag and went on the hunt for my first vegan meal.
Personally, I found the busses to be easiest to navigate. The tube seemed to randomly terminate trains, they often became very crowded, and there were so many of them and so many lines that I found it to be totally overwhelming. But the busses were much easier to figure out, and who doesn’t want to ride in the classic, cute, red busses??
(Can you tell I’ve been enjoying some strong, italian espresso as I write this post?)
Before I even placed my order at VBurger, I did a quick wander around and was pleasantly surprised to find a few vegan food stalls. Young Vegans was one that I saw, but wasn’t able to go to, tucked back and to the left if you’re standing on the street looking in.
But please! I have to warn you! You will likely be overwhelmed with how much they have to offer, and you will want one of everything. I speak from experience.
I picked up a few sweet treats to take back to my room along with my burger and fries from VBurger, and grabbed myself a hot chocolate to fight off the chill. Sugar rush in London? Yes, please!
From there I made a stop at Whole Foods, then back to my hotel to regroup/stuff my face.
It should go without saying, but the food from both Nora and Nama and VBurger were insanely delicious. They fare exceeded my expectations and I would 100% recommend both.
The London Eye
From there I made my way down to the London Eye right around sunset. I was torn on doing this, as the ticket was quite expensive in my opinion, (about $30 USD, I think), and the weather was very overcast, so I wasn’t sure how good it could possibly be.
But ultimately I am glad I did it. The trip around is about 30 minutes, and you do share the pod with other people, but it was pretty cool to get a bird’s eye view of the city. To see the sky getting dark and the lights of the city switching on was quite beautiful.
From there, though it was dark, it was still quite early, I figured I’d wander around and see as many landmarks as I could. I stopped at Westminster Abbey for a quick picture, then over to Buckingham Palace.
I am really sad to say this, but I was totally and completely underwhelmed. I think that Paris was such a shock to me with it’s incredible architecture and it set the bar so very high, that London just didn’t hold the same wow-factor.
And this is what Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) looked like, all dressed up for maintenance. (forgive the terrible photo quality!)
The next day, having checked so much off my to-do list already, I enjoyed quite possibly the saddest hotel breakfast of all time-a single cup of black coffee. But I never expect to be able to find vegan food at a hotel, so I was prepared with my delicious chocolate croissant from the day before.
Note: you DO have to reserve your ticket before, but it does not cost anything to do so.
It’s a small, indoor garden with a lovely view of the city. There are breakfast options, though none vegan. It was a cool experience to again see the city from so high up. Honestly, I would have been disappointed if I had to pay for the ticket, but, again, it was free, so it was a good way to spend an hour.
And that was it. That was the last on my English to-do list, and it was still quite early in the day. I made my way over to by CHLOE. for a nice big lunch and from there enjoyed the Black Friday deals that were so prominent there at the end of November.
Overall, London was nice, and I did love the comfort of being in an English speaking country, but like I said, I just didn’t find it quite as spectacular as I anticipated.
I would certainly go back to the UK, but in the future I think I would spend more time exploring areas outside of London.
See you next Monday for stop 3-Brussels, Belgium.