I don’t know about you all, but the last month and a half has been a crazy, whirlwind of parties, shopping, and other various holiday activities. This post is definitely past due but still wanted to share our 3rd stop of our Europe trip…London!
Getting to london from edinburgh
After some research, we found that taking an overnight train to London would be the best option. Not only would we save a little money by not needing another night in a hotel, we could save the daylight hours for sightseeing.
We booked our tickets online a few moths prior to our trip. The website allows you to purchase tickets up to 12 months in advance. There are three different seating/ room options to choose from. The least expensive option is a reclining seat and does not have a private room. The next option is the standard room which has 2 beds and a washbasin. One thing to keep in mind when booking the standard room is that male and female couples who want to share the room must book together at the same time. If you are a single ticket, they will only place you with another single ticket of the same sex. There is also a first class option that has one bed and a wash basin. This is great for single riders who want the privacy of their own room.
The train leaves Edinburgh at 11:45 pm and arrives in London Easton at 7am. We arrived at the train station early in order to board and get settled before the train departed. Before arriving at the train station, we had heard that only paper tickets are accepted. We printed ours when we purchased them online and were able to board with no issues. A gentleman checked our tickets and helped us find the correct car.
The corridor that runs along the rooms is very narrow and can be difficult to navigate through if you have a large suitcase or bag. Our room was not much bigger. With two bunk beds , a ladder and a small sink basin with a cover, there wasn’t a lot of room for us to move. It took some organizing to get all our things to fit, but we managed just fine. The top bunk was able to flip up against the wall to allow more space.
Normally, we are in bed around 10pm so this 11:45pm stuff had us dragging. We knew the ride was relatively short compared to our usual 8-9 hours of sleep, so we didn’t spend much time scoping out the rest of the train cars. Note: the water from the sink is not drinkable, but they do provide you with a small. Bottle of water which we used to brush our teeth.
How we slept
I was surprised at how fast we fell asleep once we flipped off the lights. The beds were fairly comfortable and we both were able to sleep relatively well even though the train stopped several times along the way. Occasionally, the rocking and squealing of the brakes would wake us. We both must have slept well and were surprised when we were awaken by a knock at our door and a gentleman telling us we had arrived.
The man at the door brought us our beverages that were included with the ticket along with a small breakfast snack. They allow one hour to deboard the train once it has arrived in London. This gave us plenty of time to use the restroom, get dressed and pack up our belongings.
Our adventure on the Caledonian Sleeper was great. All the staff was very friendly and it was an overall comfortable experience. Don’t expect it to be as comfortable as a hotel, but it is a great way to save time and money.
The tower of london
The Tower is a definite must when visiting London. We could have easily spent a whole day wandering through the museum and grounds. Many people have said it is very busy and crowded, however, we did not have a problem getting around.
We purchased our tickets online here which saved us £1.90 per ticket and a wait in line. The line didn’t seem too long once we go there but we didn’t want to risk it. Before we went in, we stopped in the coffee shop near the ticket stands for an espresso and a small snack. We did notice several food vendors near the river if you need a bite to eat before your tour.
Of course we couldn’t see everything there was to see at The Tower of London but we did have a few things that stuck out as our favorites:
1. The White Tower
With construction staring in the 1070’s, the oldest part of the castle is the White Tower. Located in the center of the property, the White tower stands four stories tall and has 15 feet thick walls at some parts. Not only is the structure itself impressive, the exhibits inside are fascinating. We enjoyed the Royal Armouries which houses numerous armors of many kings. The details and craftsmanship is incredible especially knowing the tools that were used were nothing like we have now.
2. The crown jewels
The Tower of London is the home of some of the largest and most beautiful jewels and gems. Here you can se two of the largest diamonds weighing in at 530.2 carats and 317.4 carats. Not only did we see beautiful crowns of past royalty, but I remember being in awe of a gigantic punch bowl weighing 546 lbs and could hold 144 bottles of wine!
3. Medieval palace
Shortly after you enter through the gates, climb the stairway on left to find a recreation of King Edward’s bedchamber. The center of the room has a replica bed including the lavish linens. Although the room is nothing like you might see in an episode of Game of Thrones, the room was a luxurious place for many Kings and Queens.
The churchill war rooms
Another place to visit on our bucket list was The Churchill War Rooms. The War Rooms are the underground, secret bunkers where British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the British government directed the Second World War, eventually leading to victory. This tour through the narrow corridors and hallways is very well done. The Churchill museum, which is also included in your ticket, is fascinating. Everyone is provided an audio tour which talks you through each room. I would plan on spending 3- 4 hours in order to see everything.
We bought our tickets online here in hopes of not waiting in a long line. We were glad we did because there was a large tour group that arrived about the same time and we were able to skip the line. There is a small cafe to grab a sandwich and coffee during the tour. After your tour, we recommend the short walk to Buckingham Palace through St. Jame’s Park.
Other Places We Visited
We did our own walking tour of London and stopped by many of the famous sites in London. Here is just a few of the things you must at least visit when in London, even if its only from the outside.
Thanks for reading about our London trip. I would love to hear about your favorite places to visit in London!