Our recommended 3 day itinerary in Tuscany for wine lovers. Travel through the beautiful Val d’Orcia, discover Brunello and Vino Nobile wines, pecorino cheese, and pici pasta in Montalcino, Pienza, Monticchiello, and Montepulciano.Read More
Hey! It's Chelsea, one third of the Euro Travel Coach team and Betsy and Greg's daughter. You may remember me from my blog posts about the Azores and my mom's post about my wedding last summer. My husband Sam and I moved to Bristol, U.K. this past winter. Since moving, Sam has been traveling to London for work regularly and I’ve been known to tag along from time to time. Because he’s working, I spend the days exploring the city on my own. I find that it’s actually great fun to travel by myself as I get to set my own pace and do exactly what I want – be it attend a yoga class, spend a mere 10 minutes at a free museum, or stand in a ridiculously long line at a street food vendor. Here are a few of my favorite things to do while alone in London:
Go to Borough Market
Like any food lover who spends time in London, I adore Borough Market. There is an incredible selection of produce, cheese, meats, spices, and baked goods as well as a section dedicated to street food. I usually buy a few things to bring home (Kimchi! Salami! Sumac! Tiny tins of Maldon Salt!) and then have lunch at one of the street food stalls. I don’t even feel like I’ve been to London if I don’t go to Borough Market.
Pop into the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery
I love art, but I have a fairly short attention span, so museum fatigue is a very real thing for me. One of the best things about London is that many of the most popular museums in the city are free – so you can spend as little as 5 minutes in a museum and not feel an ounce of guilt. The National Gallery has an incredible impressionist collection, so I love popping in to marvel at Monet’s Water Lilies or Cézanne’s Bathers. The Portrait Gallery, on the other hand, offers lessons on U.K. history as it features paintings of nearly every important figure in British History, especially members of the royal family. I was woefully ignorant about the British Monarchy prior to moving to Bristol, so visiting the Portrait Gallery a few times has been a great education for me.
Walk between destinations rather than take the tube
When traveling with a group, I often feel pressure to get from point A to point B in as little time as possible; but when I’m on my own, I revel in walking. It’s such a great way to see parts of the city you never would if you always use public transportation or take cabs. Sam usually stays in a hotel near Euston Square – from that area, I love walking through Fitzrovia and Soho, maybe stopping at the British Museum or popping into a shop at Covent Garden on the way, then continuing over the Waterloo Bridge and along the river, passing by the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe, then working my way through the afore mentioned Borough Market, and finishing up with lunch at 40 Maltby Street or a pint at Fourpure (or Brew By Numbers if it’s a Saturday!).
Go for a run in Regent’s Park
Regent’s Park is home to a lovely rose garden, an open air theater, a zoo and more; but I love just going to people (and swan) watch. There are lovely wide running/walking paths and gorgeous flowers and landscaping, making it the perfect place to run off all the delicious food I always seem to eat when in London.
Have lunch alone at a popular restaurant
This is one of my favorite things to do in any city. When you’re traveling by yourself, you don’t have to worry about finding two seats next to each other – you can squeeze into a bar seat at restaurants that are typically booked up weeks in advance, or get seated quickly at popular no-reservation eateries. Some of my favorite restaurants in London include Kiln (small plate Thai food), Bao (Taiwanese steamed buns), and Honey & Co. (Middle Eastern cuisine).
Attend free Concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields
Every Tuesday and Friday, an up and coming artist gives a free lunchtime concert at the beautiful St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. They are always very good and not too long (usually around 45 minutes) making them the perfect break in the day. Regardless of whether there is a concert going on, I definitely recommend at least popping your head into the church – the architecture is stunning.
You can’t talk in a theatre, so why not go by yourself? I love going to see plays during the day, especially when it’s cold or rainy. I always want matinees to be cheaper than evening performances, but, sadly that’s not always the case. However, I do find that there’s typically a better selection of afternoon shows at the TKTS booth than evening shows, so you may be able to see something you wouldn’t be able to get a ticket to otherwise. Note that most productions do a matinee performance on Wednesdays only.
Go to a coffee shop or co-working space to work on Euro Travel Coach Small Group Trips, Custom Itineraries, and more
I love that I can do my job from anywhere! There are some lovely spaces to get work done in the city, my favorite being Timberyard Seven Dials for its lightning fast internet, massive tea selection, and delicious pastries.
London is such a fun, vibrant city to visit, and I’ve truly enjoyed getting to explore it on my own. As much as I love traveling with others, it can be just as much (and sometimes even more) fun to sightsee and dine by myself. Cheers to alone time!
Are you planning a trip to London or elsewhere in Europe? We can help with that! Are you planning a trip anywhere in Europe? We can help with that too! Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Italy, France, Ireland, England and all of Europe. We also still have spots available on our small group trip to Tuscany and our small group trip to Piedmont! We'd love for you to join us! You can always reach Betsy at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!
1) It’s fun to make your own trip plans! You get to be your very own travel consultant.
There are few better ways to spend an afternoon than looking at all the options you have available when you want to travel to a fabulous new location. The Internet provides soooo many resources and pictures and reviews that you can literally spend dozens of hours finding just the right accommodations for just one trip. If that’s your idea of a good time, then you are just like me – you think this is fun! If you want to make travel plans to Italy, check out the Rick Steves Italy guide; if you want to plan a trip to France, try Lonely Planet France; if you would like to explore your Irish roots and make trip plans to Ireland, start with Frommer's Ireland. There are guidebooks and maps and internet sites for all sorts of travel and it is so much fun to explore them all. Check out TripAdvisor and see all the reviews and forums on the places you want to see! They are unending! You really can be your own travel consultant for Europe. The only thing better than anticipating a trip, in all its details, is actually traveling to the places you planned and finding out they exceed your already high expectations.
2) You get to day dream about traveling to places half way across the world.
Each time you plan to go someplace you can literally imagine yourself there! You get to decide exactly how much you want to spend, how you want to get from A to B, where you want to eat, when you want to take a break and what show or museum you want to visit. If you are the planner, you get to anticipate your traveling companions’ needs and desires while you are planning and take all this into consideration as you make itinerary decisions. You have the chance to imagine how much fun you will have with your friends and family going all the places you chose personally. It’s like giving a Christmas gift day after day. Daydreaming about your travel plans is pure joy. It removes you from the worries of the day and takes you to a totally new place, in your mind.
3) You save lots of money planning a trip on your own.
You literally can save thousands of dollars by planning your own trips. Depending on where you want to go and what you want to do, you can create custom travel itineraries based on your personal research, knowing what you like best. When you save all that money that just means you’ll have funds to travel again another day! You are paying only for what you want to do and nothing that wasn’t personally planned by you. I think saving money is a great thing. Save it so you can spend more on a splurge here and there that you really want to experience. And remember, sometimes the simplest pleasures while traveling cost very little. Some of my very best memories involve hiking and picnicking on left overs from the day before. Now, I might buy a new bottle of wine for an end of trail celebration, but many simple travel pleasures don’t cost anything – like the conversation you might have asking directions from a local person and laughing about the language barrier. That doesn’t cost a penny!
4) You learn about the history and culture of the places you are traveling.
When you are researching your own travel plans you have the chance to really dive deep into the history and the culture of the place you are traveling to. You have this opportunity whether you plan your own travel or someone else does – but if you are doing the planning, you have a vested interest in learning about your destination. This is vital to really experiencing the culture and if you read a lot while making your plans you don’t have to go out of your way later to find information about the places you will be visiting.
5) You can help your friends with their trip plans when they want to travel, which is really rewarding.
If you plan a trip for yourself or your family, you are better equipped to give friends travel advice and reliving your trip is great joy!! Making memories is what travel is all about!! I can’t tell you how happy it made me to get a picture from some friends who traveled to Sienna, Italy and the Amalfi Coast recently. They sent pictures of themselves in the places I recommended. They attached a picture to an email and all they said was “We LOVED IT!” I can’t even describe how much pleasure that brought me.
So plan your own travels!! I highly recommend it!! And of course, if I can help point you in the right direction or if you simply don't have time to plan your own custom trip itinerary, I’m just a phone call or an email away! Let me help make your travel dreams come true!
On another topic, please tell me what you ‘d like me to write about. Here are some ideas: different places I’ve been; best food experiences; most delicious wine; or resources for finding good, trusted information. Is there something else? I’d love for you to send me your suggestions. In any case, please give me some comments – tell me what you like, what you don’t like and what you’d like to see. I’d love to respond to your comments and make this conversation a two way street!