Two days before Christmas, my fiancée and I went to London for the day! We wanted to see the streets ablaze with Christmas lights, packed with shoppers and infatuated with that Christmas feeling. We had also made plans to visit the enchanting Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.
We booked our tickets with the National Express service to take us from Canterbury at around 8:15 to arrive in London a little after 10. We were just planning to spend the day in London. So despite having to wake up really early to get to London, every minute counted and we were excited to see the city in its full Christmas glory!
After we pulled up to Victoria Station we used our Oyster Cards to take the Underground to Oxford Street.
For those who don’t know, the London Underground offers a variety of different passes for purchase. For anybody who will be visiting London for longer than an afternoon, I would recommend buying the Oyster Card. You have to pay a £5 deposit for the card, but it entitles you to a lower rate for transportation across the city. You can top off (add more value) online or at most London Underground stations. It is easy to use; you hold the card up to the reader at the turnstile and it credits your account accordingly to the distance you travel in the city.
From Victoria Station, we made our way over to Oxford Circus to bask in the madness that was people going crazy over some of the best shopping in London two days before Christmas. I think my highlight shop that we went into was the large Topshop (with the men’s brand Topman on the top two floors). It was around four stories tall and was filled with so many bargains and chic clothes it made me wish I had about a hundred arms and credit cards so I could take it all home with me. Instead, I settled with a hideously ugly Christmas Jumper that I can now use to prove I spent a Christmas in England.
We ate at a Five Guys located by Topshop. Five Guys Burgers and Fries is a US fastfood chain that is mostly concentrated on the East Coast and in the South. Being from California, I had never eaten at one before, so the experience was wonderful (but nowhere near as good as In-N-Out burger). It was pretty pricey (more than £20) but it was so delicious! They packed the bag filled with so many fries there was no way the two of us alone could eat them (and we only ordered the medium French Fry meal) . The burger was savory, and despite the high price for burgers and fries, it was very tasty.
We spent the next couple hours wandering through the shops up and down Oxford Street. From a giant Primark that would outshine many Walmarts back home in the states and the giant seven story tall toy store, Hamleys, to stores like Swarovski and Burberry, there were shops for anybody! I bought my 2014 Annual Edition Ornament from one of the Swarovskis, a Christmas tradition of mine, and we enjoyed some delicious Christmas themed coffees! Enjoy the Christmas gallery below!
Around 17:00, we made our way to Hyde Park and the London Winter Wonderland.
The park itself was a glamorous cross between a county fair, a German Christmas Market, and your local neighborhood church Christmas crafts sale. There were rides, good food, unique collectables and a number of large attractions. Ranging from an ice skating rink to a bar situated on a carousel, the attractions added a wonderful touch to the overall experience.
My favorite attraction was the Magical Ice Kingdom. Inside a -8°C (17.6°F) room, there were many fantasy themed ice and snow sculptures adorning every corner. At the far end of the room, there were two ice thrones where visitors could have their picture taken! From the ice wizard to the snow dragon, it was one of the coolest (literally and in the awesome way) experiences of my life! And the gallery:
After the Ice Kingdom, it felt like summer in the chilly night air. So, we decided to sit down at the “Bavarian Christmas Market” and have a couple glasses of mulled mine. After warming up and re-charging, we made our way to a few of the carnival games scattered around the park. We tried our luck, but, sadly, did not win any take home prizes.
We caught the National Express coach leaving London at 10 pm to make our way back to Canterbury. After a coach ride and quick taxi, it was time for bed!