Stop two on our Euroadventure was London. We landed at Heathrow in the morning, just before 11:00am and were scheduled to depart to Athens at 9:40pm. This gave us plenty of time to enjoy the long layover. We didn’t really have a solid plan of what to do which was so unlike us, but all the issues leading up to the trip had exhausted my planning abilities.
I had stumbled upon the Heathrow Express when researching online prior to our arrival and lucky for us, an agent was selling roundtrip tickets at the baggage claim. We purchased our tickets for £36 each, which was quite pricey. If we were more familiar with London or had a longer time there, I definitely would've gone another route, but this was the quickest way and easiest, so that's what we did! Other trains supposedly took an hour and this one was a direct train with no stops - much faster. You can also buy tickets online in advance for a discounted rate but I wasn't ready to commit prior to our departure. After we freshened up in the baggage claim, we got on the train.
After 15 short minutes, we landed at Paddington Station, which the ticketing agent had informed us has a luggage store (so convenient!). We stored our carryon there for easy retrieval, as we would be heading to a different terminal upon our return to Heathrow, so it was best to grab our baggage before getting back on the train (also a suggestion from the ever so helpful ticketing agent). At the luggage store, we purchased tickets for a hop on hop off bus tour - the perfect way to see the city in just a few hours! We walked down the street for about 5-7 minutes and found the bus stop for our tour - the London City tour (Fun Fact: all the buses in London are red double deckers - so you really have to pay attention to find yours). The people at the luggage storage place convinced us to do that one, but I think they're all the same really. We set off and decided to sit up top for a better view. The tour comes with headphones, which can be plugged in at each seat, so you know what you're looking at! The bus also had wifi which was an added bonus.
We decided to hop off at Westminster Abbey because we were starving, and someone was kind enough to point us in the direction of a nice pub where we could get lunch just a few minutes away. After a short 5 minute walk we landed at Fuller's.
Q selected the tasting board, which came with three meat pies, three ale pairings, mashed potatoes, and gravy! I got fish and chips. The food was awesome - just what we needed. The meat pies, similar to American chicken pot pies, were so flavorful. People say English flood is bland, but that was not the case for us! My piece of cod was so big I couldn't finish it! The tartar sauce was the best I've ever had, by far. I also had tea (the English way, with milk and sugar; I normally drink it black), and it was fantastic! For whatever reason - maybe a subconscious bias - it was some of the best tea I've ever had. After we finished up lunch, we decided to walk around a bit.
We explored the historic area around Westminster Abbey and got to see the famous Big Ben. It was getting somewhat late and I was feeling anxious about getting back to the airport (it was the QUEEN’S birthday and there was a lot of traffic!), so instead of hopping on the 1.5 hour route to see the other side of London, we decided to head back to the airport. We located the bus stop that took us back to the airport, and then we were on our way! We made it back to the Paddington Station with a lot of extra time so we decided to stop at another pub nearby for hot beverages, as it was quite chilly by that time.
After our tea/coffee stop, we picked up our luggage from Paddington and went back to the airport. We got through security pretty quickly and picked up a quick bite in the airport to hold us over. Next stop: Greece!