What We Did - London, Paris & Brighton

Sunday, April 15, 2018
We're back!

After a week and a half of traveling, I'm incredibly glad to be home, cooking my own food, sleeping in my own bed and cuddling up with my cats, both of whom are extra lovey and adorable right now. I'm not so glad, however, to have traded in the 70 degree, sunny Paris weather for the winter weather advisory we're currently in, but you can't have it all right? And now, after yammering on about this trip for the last few months, it's finally time to share with you lot what we got up to!


We spent 5 nights in London, staying at an Airbnb in the fantastic Belsize Park area. The first night we got in we wandered down to Camden Town, checked out the market, had a few beers at The World's End, and generally just took our time walking around and back up to our neighborhood, getting the lay of the the land.

The second day started off with a free walking tour starting in Covent Garden. We learned a lot of history from our tour guide and "enjoyed" our first spring English rain. For lunch we had a slice of pizza at Homeslice in Neal's Yard and then wandered through the Covent Garden area more. We went down to Camden Town again for dinner at Wagamama and then sought refuge from the rain in our flat.

Day three kicked off with a visit to my favorite museum, the Victoria and Albert museum. We caught a free introductory tour which gave us a lot more context of the exhibits and the museum itself than we would have gotten on our own. I highly recommend it! After the museum we grabbed some food from M&S and had a little picnic in Hyde Park. Since the weather had cleared up a little bit, we a little window shopping on Oxford street for a bit and then took the tube over to St Paul's Cathedral to do more sight seeing. We saw the cathedral, walked across the millennium bridge, popped into the Tate Modern for a bit, and then walked down to Tower Bridge. By then it was getting misty again so we took the tube up to Hampstead, did a little more window shopping and had dinner at a local burger place before heading home.

The summary of the fourth day is really short -- The British Museum. We spent easily at least 6 hours in the museum, taking several 30-45 minute free tours of specific rooms and doing our own wandering as well. We took tours about Roman Britain, the Enlightenment period, Medieval Europe and the Abyssinian reliefs, all of which were really well done and informative. We even ate lunch in the museum cafe which wasn't half bad! After the museum started closing we headed to dinner at Punjab in Covent Garden for some curry.

Our fifth and final full day in London had all kinds of activities. We walked over to St John's Wood to quickly check out Abbey Road and then headed back to Oxford street again, this time to do some actual shopping. We hit up all the high street favorites and of course Liberty. I only made one small purchase at Liberty and got a couple books at Waterstones -- I had to fit everything in my suitcase after all. We had lunch at Dishoom which was fantastic (and there wasn't even a line!), did some more shopping and then ended the day at the National Portrait Gallery for one of their Late Shift evenings.

And of course on our last morning in London, before catching our Eurostar from St Pancras we had to quickly stop by Platform 9 3/4 in King's Cross. What self-respecting Potter fan could skip that?


Our three nights in Paris were jam packed. Our hotel, Hotel Palm, was only about a 15 minute walk from Gare du Nord so we happily walked in the beautiful, sunny 70 degree weather. After checking in we took our time wandering up to Sacré Coeur and joined the throngs of people sitting on the grassy hill in front of the cathedral, soaking up the sun and enjoying the view. We wandered the streets a bit more afterward, ending up people-watching outside at a cafe for a few pre-dinner drinks, and then grabbed dinner just down the street from our hotel.

The second day in Paris was just as beautiful as the first, even with a small rain shower in the early afternoon. We walked from our hotel to the left bank, heading to Boulevard Saint-Germain. We window shopped for a bit, then grabbed some beautiful and absolutely delicious eclairs from L’Éclair de génie and ate them by the fountain at Place Saint-Michel while waiting for our free walking tour. The walking tour was again very informative and well done -- highly recommended. We ended in a bar, grabbed a few locally brewed beers and then headed to the République area for dinner. The evening was capped off with a river cruise at sunset from the Eiffel tower to the Louvre and back.

We had a very early start on our third and last full day in Paris. We went to the Musée d'Orsay and used the Eurostar 2-for-1 deal. Seeing all the impressionist paintings was incredible, and even the museum itself was beautiful. After the museum we went to see Sainte-Chapelle which was easily the most breathtaking thing on the whole trip. The huge, intricate stained glass windows date from the 12th century and are completely awe-inspiring. Once we finished drooling over the windows we walked to Notre Dame, passing a little bird street market (???). Mass was happening while we toured Notre Dame which added a sense of realism to the grandeur of the whole church. To rest for a bit we headed to Jardin du Luxembourg where we sat in some chairs and sunbathed and people watched. We had to be up really early the next day for our train, so we grabbed some croissants, a baguette, cheese and some wine and headed back to the hotel.


After an early Eurostar trip, a tube ride and another hour long train journey we arrived into Brighton. We were too early for check in at our Airbnb so we just headed down Queen street to the seafront. After a long weekend in Paris we were very good at people watching so we practiced a little more from the sea front while we waited, this time doing a lot of dog watching as well. After finally checking in we walked to Hove to grab fish and chips from Wolfies. To close the night we grabbed a few gin and tonics at The Gin Tub, which has become a serious contender for rank as my favorite bar ever. They have a huge number of gins available, the garnishes were beautiful and you order from an old school phone on your table!

Our only full day in Brighton started with a trip to Billie's for breakfast. Their portions were huge, the prices cheap and the food was delicious. After stuffing ourselves, we worked it off by walking to the Royal Pavilion to take a gander. Then we wandered around North Laine, hitting up Snooper's Attic, Abode Living, Utility and many other cute shops. To take a break from the consumerism, we walked the beach a bit and enjoyed the sun peaking through. In lieu of breakfast we grabbed some lattes and a snack from The Flour Pot bakery which was fantastic and then went back to the flat for a little rest. For the last dinner of our trip we walked back to Hove and had some delicious pizza at Fatto a Mano.

Before heading home we filled up on bagels from Bagelman and a few lattes from Small Batch Coffee. After checking out the duty free section, a 7.5 hour flight home we were back stateside in Chicago for a lovely stay with my aunt and uncle.
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