Being a tourist is so fun!
Many people have asked me how my trip to Europe was a few weeks ago. I never know what to say when people ask me that besides, “It was decent. I had a really good time.” Most of the time, I don’t feel like explaining everything especially because it’s too much to talk about. I decide to use the platform of this blog to write about my trip experiences instead. If anyone wants to know how my trips went, they can read about it right here! Or, follow me on my personal SnapChat. However, since I don’t allow everyone on my personal snap, this would probably be the best bet. 🙂
It’s important to know that as I briefly mention this trip, I am going to highlight some helpful tips as I go along. That way, if you are thinking about traveling internationally, you’ll have a better idea of what to do. Please note: I am not an international travel connoisseur, for that I can direct you to my best friend DaNae, who will be highlighted in March’s addition of Special Spotlight.
So, let’s get start on this trip! January 17-24, 2018
London, England This wasn’t my first rodeo in Europe. Two years ago, I went to Budapest, Hungary, Berlin, Germany (hated it), and Amsterdam, Netherlands. This was my first time in London, however. This trip came about because my friend Krystal’s family was headed out there for a birthday party in Manchester, England. Krystal’s family is Jamaican and some of them live in London and Manchester. Krystal told me about this trip back in October while we were in Mexico for my birthday. Of course, I invited myself. We booked the tickets in late November. I unfortunately, did not plan ahead to save money so when it was time to book the flight I spent the rest of my paycheck. I do NOT recommend doing this. I am an advocate for proper planning.
I flew to Orlando to meet up with Krystal (that’s where she currently lives) and we flew together for London. From Orlando to London the flight was about 6 hours. We flew Virgin Atlantic and had a great experience. They had movies, free wine, good pretzels, and the seats were not all the uncomfortable. The flight was pleasant. We arrived in London and one of Krystal’s cousins picked us up from the airport and took us back to her house. It was strange at first because they drive on the opposite side of the road and car than what we were used to so I was praying for my life in the backseat. We arrived at her cousins house to relax and wait on Krystal’s grandmother, father, and cousin to get there. We didn’t know we’d be waiting about 7 hours. We did a little homework and ultimately went to sleep. Once the rest of her family arrived, we chatted for a while and then headed to the hotel. Our hotel was outside of the actual city of London in East Croydon.
Tip: When booking a place to stay, always keep location in mind. Of course, cost is essential but think about the things you want to do in the city. The further away you stay, the more you will have to come out of pocket for uber or public transportation. In this case, we had to buy train tickets to get us to the city of London the next day. For accessibility purposes, I recommend just booking a hotel or Airbnb close to the city.
Our hotel was in a nice neighborhood, though. There were shops and bars around so if we would have gotten to the hotel sooner, we could have explored a lot more. Before we went out, Krystal and I walked around the corner to the liquor store and met some random guys on the street who started walking with us lol.
Tip: It’s okay to talk to people when you go out of the country. That’s how you learn and broaden your perspective. Of course, make sure you are safe and being smart about what you’re doing but don’t live in fear. Anything can happen anywhere.
Krystal, her cousin, and I walked to a bar that night. They played American hip hop music and to our surprise, most of the White people at the bar knew the words to the songs. Drinks weren’t that expensive so we each bought a round of drinks for us. Krystal and I met two local girls who were so amazed that we were from American and danced and talked with us most of the night. Then I turned to my right and seen a security guard pretending like he wasn’t looking at me. And he was fine. So, me being me, I gradually made my way over to where he was standing and flirted lol. Why not? #securitybae
*P.S. The fashion in London is amazing!*
The next day we got to explore a little bit of the actual town in London. I want to give major kudos to Krystal but she is the reason why we got around town and figured out public transportation. Her Tmobile service worked extremely well so she was about to GPS and look up train routes for us.
Tip: Don’t be scared to ask the locals for directions. Most of them are happy to help. You just need to be bold and say ask them which train you need to ride or if you’re walking in the right direction. Everyone isn’t unfriendly. If you meet an unfriendly person, keep it moving and ask the next person.
We were able to take a brief tour around the city. We saw those big red buses you see on TV and it reminded me of the Spice Girls (if you don’t know who the Spice Girls are…I’m disappointed in you). We met another guy in a store similar to a mini-Walgreens. He seemed to know all about America and even said Donald Trump was the worst president ever (duh!).
He ultimately ended up following us on the bus tour we went on only because he thought I was attractive and was going to leave with him to go back to his house. No. He started to creep me out and he had no sense of how to keep his hands to himself as he was trying to put his hand up my dress. Needless to say, I was irritated and mad. When he finally fell asleep (he was drunk by the way), we asked the bus driver to let us off at the next stop and we left him there…sleeping.
I can’t remember everything we went to but I was disappointed when we went to Big Ben only to discover it was under construction and the entire thing was covered. The best part of what we saw was Buckingham Palace. We got there at night so we didn’t get to see the guards changing shifts but we got to see a little glimpse of them walking back and forth.
We left for Manchester, England the next day for the birthday party. We didn’t do anything in Manchester besides go to the party but we got to get dressed up and we were so cute!
We left for Paris, France the next day. This was my favorite part of the trip
Paris, France Paris is the most beautiful place I’ve seen thus far. It is so hard to describe what it looks like. You just have to experience it. I didn’t take many photos but from what you can see from the pictures I did take, it’s grand! French people for the most part are very friendly and of course, fashionable. Again, Krystal put her Dora the Explorer skills to the test and got us around on trains. She had no probably stopping someone and asking them if they spoke English so they could point us in the right direction.
My favorite part of the trip was when we were walking to the metro, we came across this statue that looked like a torch. As we approached it, we saw pictures of Princess Diana taped to the bottom of it. We soon realized, that we were standing on the overpass where Princess Diana died! It was crazy because we weren’t even looking for this and we all thought she died in England.
My least favorite part of the trip (including in London) was the food. In my opinion, the reason why Europeans are in better health than we are in America is because they don’t really season their food. Most of the things I had were very bland. Krystal had some flavorful duck, though.
Tip: When you are exploring an unknown city, you are going to be walking…A LOT. so be prepared for that. Walking is better because you get to see more of the town and take it all in. It’s difficult when you are traveling with older people because you often forget that it is going to take them some time to walk places. Be patient but also plan your trips accordingly. You are also going to get lost. That is the purpose of traveling to places you don’t know. It’s okay! It’s all about the experience and once you find your way, it will be fine. Check your attitude about getting lost. It’s not a big deal.
They have an area in Paris that has free WiFi OUTSIDE while you’re walking around. There’s so many stores and restaurants in this area, too. I forgot the name of it but it was so pretty! I wonder why Jay Z and Beyoncé are always in Paris. For one, they can afford it, and two its just a nice place to be.
We went to the Eiffel Tower, OF COURSE! Who goes to Paris and doesn’t go to the landmark of the city? We rode up to the second floor of it and the view of the entire city was phenomenal. You could see how HUGE Paris actually is. The down fall of that experience though was that it was raining and they had the grassy area gated off so you could only take a picture outside of the gates. Still an overall good experience.
We didn’t go out in Paris because our hotel was unfortunately hella far from the actual city but I definitely want to go back so I can experience the night life.
Lastly, we went to Musée Rodin. It was a museum and I wasn’t sure what exactly we were looking at because everything was in French but we did see the Thinker!
The trip was fun!
Tip: Remember, Europe is about 6-7hours ahead of us so your sleep schedule may be off at first. Mine was off the whole trip. I would fall asleep on the train or at restaurants while waiting on my food because I didn’t sleep at night. Below is a video that Krystal recorded of me basically falling asleep on the train. Pardon my middle finger but this was funny.
But it’s okay, I got her back 🙂
❤ Queen T