Yep, I'm serious.

Recently, my mum and I (love that british spelling there...) visited the sunny (yes. Sunny. I have proof) country of Scotland. (I think Scotland is a country....I know it's not independent from Britain, but I think it should be. Anyhoo.)

After spending some quality "travel time" in Edinburgh and St. Andrews, my mum and I departed from Scotland (more on Scotland later..I promise), we flew to London and stayed overnight at a nameless hotel (I forgot what it was called)*. We had an 18-hour layover in London, and in a flighty and nearly very dangerous leap from traveler to tourist, my mum booked a cab for us.

The next morning after breakfast, our driver picked us up and drove us about 30-45 mins through morning traffic to West London (Heathrow is well west of London, in case you didn't know). Even though we only had 2 hours in London, we actually got to see a whole lot. 
After driving past rows of increasingly fantastically opulent marble homes, we stopped outside of the Prince Albert Memorial and the Royal Albert Hall, where the only decent recording ever of Les Mis (the musical) was made. 
A rather poor panorama of the Royal Albert Hall
Prince Albert Memorial
Then we saw Buckingham Palace, and I was incredibly surprised at how close it was to the road (the White House here in the US is like...fourteen miles away from the road and is safely guarded by a three hundred metre tall fence with dragons)...the gates were even open! And unicorns! 
Buckingham Palace. WITH THE GATES OPEN!
We then drove past Harrods. It was big. What I gathered from it was that you could live in the chocolate department and frequently leave your empty-chocolate-carton house in search of food, clothing, and Egyptian art. I deduced that these people are known as Englishmen.

Moving on.

Oh. Yes. Westminster Abbey. Be still my heart.

We drove to Westminster Abbey and as soon as I saw it, I was like. O.O


And miraculously, there was no line. And we went inside. And I, quite literally, indubitably, without a doubt, had a cow right there and then. I almost fainted when I saw the grave of Ralph Vaughan Williams (my most favouritest composer) and Sir Edward Elgar. William Wilberforce, Sir Isaac Newton, David Livingstone, The Unknown Soldier, Winston Churchill, Muzio Clementi, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens....need I go on? 

I was in a constant state of violent swooning. Despite this, I did enjoy quiet moments of revelation around the graves of the greats. It was a traveler moment filled with profundity in that violent swirl of "touristiness".

Enjoy these photographs of Westminster Abbey (from the outside. They're a bit curmudgeonly, although respectful to history, and only let you buy tour guides. Thus I had to forbear taking pictures of my favourite graves.)
Westminster Abbey from the Cloister
Westminster Abbey
Muzio Clementi, the inventor of the Pianoforte. Just say a quiet 'thanks', peeps.... And by the way, this was in the cloisters outside. They let me take this picture.
And before we went back to the airport, I even saw the MI6 building and Parliament!
This isn't a very good picture, but it's the MI6 building, and here's proof I saw it!
And here's the clock tower that houses Big Ben! And you can see a bit of the London Eye right there..
Also, a very poor picture of Parliament. But hey, I saw this too.
So, there you go! Proof that you can indeed get a very good idea of London in only 3 hours. Next time you spend an 18 hour layover in Heathrow, don't spend it in Heathrow... That'd be a shame to sit in an airport when you could be TRAVELLING! 

Not really off the beaten path, but who cares? 

SALES PITCH ALERT. Skip this part if you just don't care. 

The tour group we used was London Magical Tours. The driver was very entertaining and enlightening (you don't really NEED the optional tour guide), he dropped us right off at departures, and the car was very very nice. 

Check them out at

*P.S. Sorry for all the bloody parentheses. I won't use them anymore (after this one, of course..and maybe a few more).


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    I'm a traveller, not a tourist. I love visiting obscure and beautiful places around the world. I used to live in Europe, but I now reside in the States.

    Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.

    ~Francis Bacon


    December 2013