My final flight back to the United States flew out of Heathrow Airport in London. Despite having spent a semester studying here, there were still a few things I knew I absolutely had to see. I gave myself a final four days in London before I had to fly home, and in this time I had the most lovely sights and experiences, topping everything from my semester. If you’re interested in picture-perfect sights and instagram-worthy settings, here are my must do’s.
1. Notting Hill
This neighborhood of London, home to Portobello Market, is worthy of being famous for much more than the movie. Behind the tube station “Notting Hill Gate,” as well as further into the neighborhood towards Portobello Market, the houses are painted in gorgeous pastel hues, with vibrant doors as centerpieces. This is my absolute favorite neighborhood in London for simply walking around.
2. The Roof Gardens
The Roof Gardens are technically a bar in Kensington. I actually attended classes at Heythrop University, which is right down the street from this unassuming office building. However, on the roof of 99 Kensington, is a garden oasis. This particular oasis in London comes complete with enchanting pink flamingos, which wander freely in the Tudor Gardens. The gardens are free to enter, although it’s nice to buy a cocktail and wander as you sip. More information available here.
During my semester in London, I primarily ate in and grocery shopped, in an attempt to save money. However, as the end of my trip was nearing, I felt the need for a splurge. The absolute best splurge ever in the form of dining in London is Sketch. This tea room and restaurant has 5 unique rooms, each designed by a different artist with a theme. I had the opportunity to eat in The Glade, and I wandered through to see The Gallery and The Parlour, as well. A bit pricey, but I would recommend stopping by for a cup of tea and croissant at the very least. The ambiance is beyond worth it, the staff is lovely, and did I mention how beautiful it is? More information and reservations here.
4. Art Gallery
Art galleries and museums in London are generally affordable or free, and there’s almost always at least one exhibit on to catch your interest. For me, I had to opportunity to visit the Hayward Gallery and Carsten Holler’s Decision exhibit. This exhibit investigated art as an experience. You traveled through a completely dark, steel encased tunnel, into a world of huge spinning mushrooms, to a “clock” made of pills. Then, you strapped on goggles and headphones to enter “the forest” world, or observed the roaming bed which moved about the gallery at whim. You could observe giant salamanders, and a huge die which you could crawl into. Finally, the visit ended with an opportunity to “fly” in a hang gliding contraption on the roof, and exit the exhibit on a giant steel slide down the side of the building. It was magical. Also, something comparable to an acid trip (or so I would imagine).
Sigh. Told you London was lovely. Despite the high prices, I adore London, and I am so grateful for my time there. I couldn’t have picked a better place to end my time in Europe!