Tique Travel: The England Edition

Cheerio, mates! I rang in 2016 across the pond this year and it couldn’t have been better. In this edition of tique travel, I’ll break down our 48 hours in London + quick trip to Ipswich, England.

We took the red eye out of Charlotte on December 30th and landed in London on the morning of the 31st. A quick 7-hour flight felt like nothing because I was so tired from a busy holiday season that I think I fell asleep before the plane even got off the ground.

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After touching down in Heathrow around 7 a.m., we hopped on the tube and headed to Central London. Our hotel was in a neighborhood called Shoreditch, which I had heard was super vibey and would be perfect for me and Jarrod. We knew within a few minutes walk from the tube to the hotel that it was! The pub and restaurant-lined streets were filled with locals, not tourists and the graffiti art on the warehouse walls made my little hipster heart flutter. We stayed at the Ace Hotel, which just so happened to be having a private NYE party that hotel guests could attend for free…SCORE!

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After a short nap, we hit the streets. We wanted to knock out all of the touristy stuff in one day so we could spend the rest of the trip as we pleased. I had already been to London several times, but this was Jarrod’s first and you can’t visit without seeing Tower B ridge, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye and Trafalgar Square. We bought an Oyster Card (an absolute MUST if you plan to use the tube/bus system to get around) and hopped on and off the tube until we’d seen it all. Jarrod is a history nerd and loved the Tower of London, while I personally always like going to Buckingham and imagining the royal family standing out on the balcony.

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When the tourist stuff was crossed off the list, we headed back to our neighborhood for happy hour. There was no Shoreditch (get it) of pubs and clubs in the area so we picked one that looked busy and had a few drinks to start off our New Year’s Eve, which also happens to be my birthday. After happy hour, we went out to dinner and hit the town. {Side note: the city of London puts on one of the best fireworks displays in the world on New Year’s Eve. Apparently, the bridges are the ideal places to watch. By the time we’d finished dinner, and had a few drinks, we didn’t feel like getting back on the tube and heading to see them—big mistake. We watched them on TV and wished that we’d been there!}

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[Photo courtesy of The Daily Mail]

On New Year’s Day we slept in. Like majorly slept in. Whoops. I think it was a combo of the partying and time change. When we finally woke up, we headed straight to Oxford Street to check out the post-Boxing Day deals. I’m SO glad we got to go at Christmastime. The lights and trees were just magical.

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After our walk, we headed to Spitalfields, another neighborhood really close to ours, that friends recommended we spend time in. We wanted authentic fish and chips, and our friends that live in London suggested we try Poppies. O-M-G. So cute. So tasty! The restaurant was in a really cute neighborhood, so we decided to pop into a few taverns and bars around there for a low-key night since we HAD to be up early the next day. The Commercial Tavern was our favorite. We could have stayed there all night but forced ourselves to move on to another spot.

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Our Saturday morning started with brunch with my college roommate (Hi, GM!) who is now an official Londoner. She moved over a few months ago so it was great to catch up with her.

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Our day plans had been set long before we left Charlotte. We were going to see an English Premier League football (soccer) match, a bucket list item for my soccer-obsessed fiancé. I’ll admit, I wasn’t excited for this portion of the trip, but it ended up being awesome. This wasn’t your typical soccer game. This was crazy—I’d compare it to an NFL game in the States. Fans were wild and loud. They sang chants, blew bubbles and cussed at the refs. The tickets weren’t cheap, but Jarrod was in his happy place and that’s all that mattered. West Ham (the home team) beat Liverpool.

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After the game we hopped on a train and headed to Ipswich, a small town about an hour outside of London where my mom was born and some of her family still lives.

It was hands down the highlight of our trip. While in Ipswich, we visited a neighboring town, Woodbridge, and had pints at the 2nd oldest pub in the country—built in 1450.

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The majority of our time though was spent catching up with my family and there is nothing better than that!

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After two fun-filled days with some of the best people I know, we boarded the train again and made our way back to Heathrow. If you get the chance to take a spontaneous trip this year and have any interest in London, DO IT. I found our trip for a steal on Expedia. The flight is easy! Email me if you want to know more at [email protected]

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