The sole reason we were traveling to London in our first month in Italy was because the Miami Dolphins were playing the New York Jets at Wembley stadium as part of a 3-game NFL series. Since Ryan is a dedicated Dolphins fan, he took advantage of the fact that we were going to be a short flight away from the game and booked us on a flight as soon as we got to Italy. We were only planning to be there for two days, so we knew we would need to return to see other sights especially because it would be my first time in London.
Our flight was scheduled to leave out of Pisa at 6:30 AM. We arrived there right in time for boarding, but were then informed that the flight was going to be delayed a half hour because the plane’s lights needed to be fixed. A half hour turned into an hour, whereupon they announced that a new plane needed to be flown in and our flight wouldn’t leave until 1 PM! We were so upset because it nearly ruined our one day of sightseeing in London before the game on Sunday. However, instead of staying in the airport for the entire morning, we decided to salvage the day and do some sightseeing in Pisa while we waited. Our Pisa post talks about the sights we saw and our initial impressions.
After our abbreviated tour of Pisa, we flew into Stansted airport, which was another hour and a half away from the city, thus taking even more time out of our day. The only thing we had time for were our reservations for high tea at the Lanesborough Hotel at 4:30 PM. After an exhausting day of traveling and sightseeing, we were finally able to relax in an upscale parlor in a five star hotel. The tea menu was exotic, and I ended up choosing a chocolate tea, which in fact did taste like chocolate without the sugar. Add a little milk and it tasted like hot chocolate! Ryan had a more floral tea that was also excellent. But what really makes high tea special are breads, sandwiches, and pastries. They came out on a four story platter, starting with finger sandwiches on the bottom and then working its way up to another three layers of pastries. I wish we taken a photo because the food was really too beautiful to eat. The finger sandwiches were delicious, and so were pastries, but there were far too many of them for two people to eat without feeling sick! After the pastry tower, however, you are served scones with clotted cream. You have never tasted real scones until you come to London. They are a better version of the biscuit, but the clotted cream and jams put it over the top. It was the best part of high tea.
Given it was a beautiful, we took our own walking tour of the major sites in the city, passing by Buckingham Palace, St. James’s park, Big Ben, and down past the river with the Ferris Wheel. I was certainly falling in love with the beauty of the city and was thankful we were such a short plane ride away.
The next day, we had time to see one sight before the game. We chose the Churchill War Rooms because of its proximity to our hotel and it was one of the sights Ryan had not visited. The museum is a tribute to Winston Churchill’s life and walks you through the preserved rooms of Churchill’s underground government quarters while we was leading England through WWII. Athough I did find some of the stories fascinating, I thought the museum was not laid out very well, and some of the information felt out of the context (this may also have been because we were not as well versed in English history). This left us just enough time to get a traditional lunch of fish and chips and shepherd’s pie (both amazing), before taking the “tube” to the stadium. We were blessed with a warm, sunny day with high, yet center-view seats of the game. It was actually my first NFL football game, so it was quite ironic that I was seeing my first one in London. There were hoards of British fans there, wearing any NFL jersey they owned regardless of the team so you can imagine there was a sea of colors. The game was enjoyable, although Ryan was disappointed to see another loss for the Dolphins. We managed to avoid the mass exodus of fans from the stadium, and was able to squeeze in on one of the first trains after the game. We ended our night with some curry at an Indian restaurant before heading to our excruciatingly early flight the next morning. We nearly missed the plane since we accidentally got on the wrong train to the airport, but it was delayed 15 minuts, nearly saving us another headache! We certainly noted to leave earlier next time around, especially for Stansted airport!