December 29, 2015
We had said goodbye to Kathryn and Brandon at the tube stop nearest our hotel in Kensington. They were taking the hour-long trip on the tube to the London Heathrow airport and we were staying behind; Patrick and I had plans to hang out with my good friend Hillary that day before we headed back to Birmingham. Because Hillary temporarily lives in London, it was a great opportunity for us to see each other and get to knock some things off our London lists - there's just so much that you can't possibly see it all in one or two trips!
The plan was to meet Hillary at the Portobello Market, take a look around and see it and Notting Hill, go over to Covent Garden to see what that's like and grab some lunch, then head to Kensington Gardens to see the palace (Hillary hadn't seen it yet), then traipse on over to Trafalgar Square so we could see it in the daylight for the first time. Seriously, there's so much that you can do and see in London without ever spending a penny. It's pretty fantastic if you ask me.
Seriously, Notting Hill is just the cutest, and the Portobello Market was right up our alley! The architecture is fantastic, obviously, but I wish I had the patience to stick around a while longer and get some better pictures. Next time. The Portobello Market is full of quirky shops and antique dealers, making it the ideal shopping place for me. It was so difficult to not spend any money on all the lovely things I would have been so pleased to take home with me, but alas - I only had a backpack and it was full of our clothes and toiletries. Again, next time!
The rain decided to greet us as we were wandering through the streetside booths, and we escaped the assaulting moisture as we darted from covered awning to covered awning, oohing and aahing at all the pretty little things underneath. We popped into this shop and that shop, stopping for coffee and cupcakes along the way, and eventually decided that we'd better get moving if we were going to see anything else that day.
We made our way to Kensington Gardens and wandered inside the palace for a bit, then decided to take a rest while sitting on the patio and eating our sweet treats acquired at the Market. Honestly, I had no idea that William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Prince Harry lived there - Hillary was the one who told me that, and I probably still wouldn't know if it wasn't for her. That goes to show you how much I pay attention... hah.
When we got to Covent Garden, it was positively swamped - like everything else in London that weekend. Goodness, I've never seen so many people in my life! It was an especially gorgeous day, too, and that completely affects the number of people milling out and about. We did a bit of eating (had my first Shake Shack experience) and a bit of shopping around Covent Garden. Well, mine was window shopping, but still. Then we made our way to Trafalgar Square - yet again, there was an insane number of people there. I didn't really mind it once we got to the Square, though, because there's a heck of a lot more room to breathe than in Covent Garden. The sun was shining, the sky was a crystal-clear blue with hardly a cloud in the sky, and the energy was palatable. Everyone was absolutely loving life and it was evident. And why shouldn't they? The three of us snapped a few pictured and just wandered around, enjoying the atmosphere and the so not typical winter weather in that historic Square.
Honestly, I don't even remember what we did after that - leaving, saying goodbye to Hillary, heading back to Birmingham. We must have made our way to Euston Station for our train, but it's not in my memory bank at all. All I remember is telling Patrick at some point how much I loved getting to hang out with my old friend, how it was so fun to get to see someone after so many years (we hadn't seen each other for 12 years!), and how much I would miss seeing people.
After ten days of being with friends, it was going to be a bit strange going back to spending my days without people I love surrounding me. While I was looking forward to recuperating from all of our travels, I wasn't looking forward to being without my friends. But I was extremely pleased about being able to spend so much time with them in the first place, and I still had a week or so of having Patrick to myself before life resumed to its normal schedule once again.