Last month I had the awesome opportunity to travel to England to visit Isaac in Bristol, where he has been living and working since Thanksgiving. I’ve also been itching to attend a Chelsea FC game in person and figured this was a great opportunity to do so! Pin and I found a great flight deal via Secret Flying and we’ve spent the last few months researching AirBnBs, hostels, trains, etc. When Dave and I lived in Edinburgh, we went down to London for a long weekend and were able to do some of the main tourist attractions. I loved going back to a place I enjoyed the first time and this second time around was really nice to have a more open schedule and flexibility to see the less popular items. My trip was exactly 7 days and needless to say was a lot of fun!
Our flight landed in Gatwick which is south of London. We took a train up to our hostel which was in the Kensington area. As I mentioned, we were trying to keep within our budget so we opted to stay in a 12 person room hostel — my first time staying in a non-private hostel room. I’m glad I packed a box on ear plugs because it’s definitely different sleeping in a room with 12 people (6 bunk beds all crammed in)! Isaac works every other week in a hospital in London so we met up with him to walk around, eat in the city and check out the Museum of Britain. We were also able to visit the National Portrait Gallery, Kings Cross and Platform 9 and 3/4, Baker Street (from Sherlock), Little Venice and Abbey Road.
We took the train out to Bristol, which is a port city about 2 hours west of London. It was a bigger city than I expected and fun to see his flat and where he works. We also saw a Banksy original street art, Bristol is one of his early locations. The next day we headed out to Bath to see the Roman Baths and abbey. Bath is about 10-15 minutes from Bristol. I had seen pictures of the Roman Baths but didn’t realize it was actually a huge complex that was unearthed. We returned to London that afternoon and stayed in an Airbnb and met up with Pin’s roommate, Brittany, who flew in from Utah.
The next day, I went by myself to take a stadium tour of Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s stadium and see their museum. It was so incredible and an amazing experience to see the dressing rooms, press box and press conference room and the stadium from field level. I loved seeing all the jerseys ready for the upcoming match and they had jerseys from other famous players in the Away dressing room — including my idol, Messi, Beckham, and Cruyff! The whole time I was trying not to freak out but I was so excited to see a place in person that I’ve seen just on TV for years.
The following day, the 4 of us went to the Chelsea match vs West Brom. It was pretty cold but I didn’t want it to end! The atmosphere was unlike anything we’ve experienced at any sporting game in the US. I loved how intimate the stadium felt and how involved the fans were. People didn’t come late, leave to get food or talk about things unrelated to the game. This was one of my favorite experiences of my life! The only way it could’ve been better was if Dave was able to be there with me because he gets my obsession with soccer. One of my favorite players, Eden Hazard, scored twice and Chelsea won!
I returned from my trip refreshed and energized. I love how travel in general opens your eyes to the world and helps remind you how good the world is!
Some of my travel essentials for this trip:
Trtl travel pillow – this ‘pillow’ wraps around your neck and holds it so it doesn’t flop. It’s made of fleece and secures with velcro. It’s not your traditional travel pillow, folds up small and almost completely flat. I felt like it worked pretty well and I got a few good hours of decent sleep on the plane.
G4Free foldable travel backpack – we didn’t check any luggage and I really liked this backpack. It was more efficient that a suitcase especially since we needed the mobility of using them on buses, trains, and foot. It was especially nice because a lot of the roads were cobblestone which would have been more difficult with a suitcase. This backpack folds up into a small pouch too! It had a good amount of pockets and straps and held everything I needed. Ear plugs and sleep aid – Not only did I use these items at night but I used them especially to sleep on the plane and avoided jet lag. I calculated how long I should stay awake on each flight, took the sleep aid and planned to fall asleep within the hour. On each flight I was able to sleep more than most people and didn’t feel overly tired or jetlagged upon arrival. The sleep aid I brought was just a generic, over the counter one from the drug store.