Travel Diaries: Surprise Trip to London + Iceland

I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. My husband surprised me, along with my best friends by traveling half way across the world to explore London and Iceland. I’m still pinching myself with the reality that this ACTUALLY happened! I had the best time taking it all in and exploring the two beautiful cities. I’ve compiled a few highlights from our trip below.

London:

What to Do:

London Eye: We opted to upgrade our tickets to the VIP Champagne Experience and it was totally worth it! We beat the crowds by spending our time before the ride took place in a cute bar located in the ticketing building, but out of the chaos followed by a small group setting that bi-passed the long lines. Once in the Eye the whole ride takes about 30 minutes with spectacular views of London all while enjoying a glass of champagne in hand. It was a fun way to start our tour of London!

Tower Bridge: Architecturally breathtaking, the Tower Bridge is an iconic piece of London that is a quick and easy tour not to be missed. You can cross over the lower half for free (estimated 40K of people do so a day!) or tour the inside and top half of the bridge with the gorgeous (but terrifying) glass floors and insight into the history and how the bridge was built. Restaurants nearby include Duck and Waffle and Coppa Tower Club.

Tate Museum: This was an unexpected find in London not originally on our plan to see. The museum mixed with both historical and modern art was fun to walk around and do one afternoon. They have quite a few exhibitions that rotate through there. Although beautiful in the inside I am not sure I would highly rank this do if you’re pressed for time in London. If you happen to be in the area and are looking for some time to kill I would definitely put this on your list!

See a play- Lion King: I have always wanted to see the Lion King and seeing it in London was a dream come true! It was a spectacular show that I highly recommend seeing (in London or not!). They Lyceum theater was perfectly set up so there didn’t feel like a bad seat in the house. We were perched on the second floor and the view was still amazing. Since going, I have heard really amazing things about the London theater and I hope whenever we go back to see more plays!
Notting Hill: Walking distance from our Airbnb were the cute colorful homes and shops that line the neighborhood of Notting Hill. We spent a short afternoon walking the neighborhood admiring the bright homes and touring the local coffee shops and light shopping.

High Tea at Kensington Palace: I’m pretty sure it’s a sin to go to London and not enjoy High Tea! The Pavallion located at Kensington Palace hosts a high tea. Fun experience to break up the day and do before or after walking the palace. I recommend making reservations in advance as this can be a popular tourist Attraction. After tea walk the grounds and tour the palace. I imagine in the Spring time the garden is spectacular to see!

Most Instagramable Locations:

Notting Hill: this colorful neighborhood is lined with homes painted in the most cheerful colors!
Elan Cafe: There are several locations located across London all of which are incredible cute and decorated to perfection on the inside. I could have spent all day doing a tour and eating sweets from their locations!
Coppa Towerclub Igloos: Seasonal location right on the river allows for an intimate dining setting in these cute igloos.
Sketch: I am sad I only caught this location with my iphone. Every room is designed differently (including the pod shaped bathrooms). Their main dining space by far is the most adorable with plush pink chairs and modern art sprawled across the walls.
Duck and Waffle: (not pictured) we went later in the evening which was not ideal lighting however during the day this high-rise restaurant would make for some gorgeous views and pictures!

Where to Eat: Ok this obviously is the most important part of any trip. Sadly I barely took any photos of my food, and if I did it was the aftermath (proof below!). Rather, I savored every bite leaving you only with my reviews.

Duck & Waffle: The best restaurant we ate at while we were there. Their bacon wrapped dates, reginette truffle pasta and rib-eye are not to be missed on the menu. Everything was spectacular and wished we could’ve went there several more times during our stay!
Sketch: I will start with the food, this was pretty amazing. Definitely second to Duck & Waffle and I would say still say depending upon your time it might be worth it to checkout. Their service however was awful which was unfortunate and would be the only reason we wouldn’t go back. If you go the scallops and cauliflower were delicious!
Elan Cafe (coffee and desserts): I will forever dream about their delectable sweet treats and coffee at Elan. This should be a must on your list to check out at some point for both the aesthetics and the food. I don’t eat cheesecake however Elan makes an oreo one that is to die for! They also make a signature Red Velvet Latte that I have been trying to figure out how to re-make at home!
The Hayden: Fantastic spot for brunch on the weekends with a killer Bloody Mary and Benedict! Truthfully I took a bite of everyone’s meals and there was not a bad meal that we tried for brunch. My only wish was that it was open for brunch during the week as well!
Coppa Tower Igloos: Not only a unique experience but surprising affordable! We went for breakfast and all plates were under $12! Food was good and location was perfect starting point to tour around. You’re near both the Tower Bridge and The Shard!

Iceland:

We were only there for less than 24 hours so it was a quick in and out trip.
We ate at a restaraunt in town and then headed to Pablo Discobar for a quick drink before heading to see if we could spot some Northern Lights. Pablo Discobar did not disappoint! We ate light apps at the bar as we had already grabbed dinner elsewhere but wish we would’ve picked Burro (the restaurant downstairs to Pablo Discobar) as our dinner spot. Drinks and tacos were wonderful and I would recommend checking out if you’re staying in Reykjavik.
We didn’t have much success in spotting the Northern Lights but did find that the Aurora App is incredibly helpful in locating them! We could barely see them but were able to navigate outside the city just enough to capture a small amount of green lights floating around the sky. Be warned it is incredibly windy and cold this time of year so I would pack accordingly!
We opted to do the Blue Lagoon the following morning, which was absolutely wonderful and I definitely recommend. I was nervous given that this is a large tourist attraction, but they keep the lagoon incredibly clean and well put together. It was the perfect way to end our trip. After walking nearly 5-7 miles a day in London my poor legs were very tired and ready for a break. Taking a nice hot soak in the Lagoon was perfect and needed after so much adventure!

Huge shout out and thanks to my amazing husband for putting it all together and all of my friends and family who flew across the world to celebrate! I welcome my 30s excited and ready to see what the next decade of my life brings me!

xo,
Kahla