Tower Bridge & Tower of London
I used the first day in London to knock out most of the touristy stuff and see some local markets.
London bridge is a boring old bridge west of Tower Bridge. I just had to get this out of the way due to most people confusing the two. Tower Bridge is much more spectacular and represents a nice Gothic style.
The Tower of London was founded by William the Conqueror towards the end of the 1066. The primary function of military stronghold of the Tower didn’t change until the late 19th century. At least 6 ravens are kept at the Tower of London at all time, for superstitious reasons.
Banking District & Westminster
Heading deeper into central London, I was surprised to find a lot of business people dressed up at the pubs all enjoying a pint or two in the afternoon. I asked a gentlemen at the bar if it was a holiday and he told me that this is a normal Friday routine. The workers will make all of their deals in the AM and then head to the pub for the afternoon. This is something we should adopt in the States.
Obligatory mention that Big Ben is actually the bell in Elizabeth Tower. Shout outs to Regency Cafe for the best English Breakfast on trip along with having a nice retro (and original) 60s style cafe. I was really struck by the beauty of Westminster Abby and the surrounding House of Parliament.
Parks, Pubs, and Perennials
Not gonna lie, I drank myself through London, popping into pubs on the south bank, north bank, and up through Notting Hill. During the trek I'd stop off in parks, shops and the occasional church. One thing I didn't get to capture was the inside of St Paul's Cathedral. That was by far the most awestruck I've been in a long time.
London has amazing pubs, beautiful parks, and great people. Similar to Berlin I had a preconception of dreary and dull but once I visited, the city smashed my expectations. One thing to note is that I calculated I walked about 18 miles in just 2 days in London.
I wanted to go from the big city to a university town so I had two titans to choose from; Oxford or Cambridge. After doing some research I found people favored Cambridge for the multiple universities spread out through the city. It made for great walking tours. You can easily get lost in the city and that's what I enjoyed most about the city. Friendly people, quaint pubs, and beautiful architecture.
I recommend grabbing a pint and sitting on the bank watching the Punt Boats glide through river.
Notable alumni Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, John Cleese, Robert Oppenheimer, and Charles, Prince of Wales.
Keswick (Lake District)
You might say the Lake District was the primary reason to get to England. I originally saw it on Rick Steves travel channel and made a mental note to visit. Sure enough after a 6 hour train ride and a 40 minute bus from Penrith, I made it to the city of Keswick (pronounced Kessick). Rolling green hillsides, expansive bodies of water, and plenty of sheep to count.
I made it a mission to hike up the Cat Bells and catch a view of the surrounding hillsides. With my Bacon Butty I set out up the mountain... I mean hill. The weather was party cloudy and windy but that didn't bother me. Plenty of people were making the trek up that day. About 2 hours later I was at the top enjoying my breakfast with a view. Keswick is quaint and full of Britannians on vacation.