A Getaway with Our Merry Girlfriends
Show of hands: How many of you went—or wanted to go—backpacking through Europe with your bestie(s) after you graduated from ______ (fill in the blank with any scholarly endeavor)? We ask because there are a few of us here at My Girlfriendships® with a hand in the air. This blog is dedicated to inspiring a redux—or a first-ever—jaunt over the pond. Yep, we’re bringing you to merry ol’ England, either London or Nottingham to be exact. Backpacking optional.
The things to do in London are endless. It’s rich history and iconic sites attract millions of visitors each year (it’s second to Paris as the most visited city in the European Union). It’s diverse, made up of 32 administrative boroughs (read neighborhoods), plus the City of London, which is often referred to as “The Square Mile” because it’s a literal square mile in area. It’s almost a city within a city, with its own distinct mayor, police force, and traditions. Here are three London must-sees: The British Museum, The Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace.
What to Do
- The British Museum | Discover two million years of human history and culture through exhibits such as “Thomas Becket: Murder and Making of a Saint” and “Nero—The Man Behind the Myth”, or galleries like the Egyptian sculpture or the African Gallery. Then there are Sutton Hoo and Europe Gallery, tracing the story of Europe from starting from 300 A.D. The gallery's centerpiece is the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, which is considered as one of the most spectacular and important discoveries in British archaeology.
- The Tower of London | Although its exterior might be grim and even unimpressive (especially when compared to stately Buckingham Palace), The Tower of London's interior is always bustling with activity. The Tower, which actually comprises multiple towers (12 of which can be explored by the public), offers something for everyone. Here are three things to be sure to see:
- Crown jewels exhibition. Enchanted with the history of the monarch, prepare to be dazzled by this breathtaking, world famous collection of 23,578 gemstones (don’t miss the legendary diamond with a scandalous past: Koh-I-Noor). You'll find the Crown Jewels under armed guard. These gems are a unique working collection of royal regalia and are still regularly used by The Queen for important national ceremonies. Dazzling, breathtaking gemstones and that Koh-I-Noor diamond! How can our My Girlfriendships crew not visit here?
- Take an entertaining tour led by the Yeoman Warders (tower guards). During the hour-long excursion, the guards will regale you with tales of The Tower's past.
- Lastly, the White Tower, an iconic symbol of London's heritage and one of the world's most famous castles. Inside, you'll find the 350-year-old exhibition, "Line of Kings," along with artifacts from Henry VIII, Charles I and James II.
- Buckingham Palace | The London home of Queen Elizabeth II is open for tours in the summers and select dates during the winter and spring. On the tour, you'll have access to the 19 State Rooms (not the Queen’s private quarters, of course) where the royal family host guests for state, ceremonial, and official affairs. Opulently accented with chandeliers, candelabra, paintings by Rembrandt and Rubens, and exquisite English and French furniture, these rooms display some of the most magnificent pieces from the Royal Collection. Along with the grand interiors, the State Rooms are also a witness to history. Those who closely followed the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton will recognize the Throne Room, which served as the backdrop for the official wedding photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Are we down for a visit to the Queen, girlfriends?
Where to Stay
Knowing that London attracts millions of visitors every year means there is a plethora of lodging choices so, to help with your travel plans, here are just two suggestions:
- The Resident Victoria | Located in a privileged position next door to Buckingham Palace, and just a 5-minute stroll from Victoria Station, The Resident Victoria is the perfect base for those wishing to discover the iconic sites of London. Many of the capital's most famous landmarks, including Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament, are all just a short walk away.
- Cheval Three Quays of London | Situated on the banks of the River Thames in an area rich with history, Cheval Three Quays features a selection of 159 modern luxury apartments, available to book for any length of stay. Cheval Three Quays has a range of accommodations available, from intelligently designed studio and open-plan apartments to grand penthouses with views of some of London’s most iconic landmarks. The building first opened its doors to the public in 2014, and its location immediately adjacent to the Tower of London has made it a favorite for visitors looking to explore this vibrant and ever-changing area. The design of the building acknowledges the site’s original use as a set of docks for unloading tobacco and other cargo arriving from the West Indies.
128 miles north of London is Nottingham, known for the legend of Robin Hood, lace-making, Raleigh bicycles, and tobacco industry. Looking for girlfriend fun and adventure in Nottingham? Here are some things we think you should do:
What to Do
- Adrenalin Jungle | What a unique experience: the chance to try archery in Nottingham, in the wooded depths of Sherwood Forest—notable thanks to Robin Hood and his band of merry men. You don't need to be a Maid Marian or Little John, The Archery in Nottingham will give you the chance to learn how to fire arrows. The archery range can accommodate groups of six to 16 guests at a time; however, for a girlfriendships® party of 16 or more, you can book a double session.
- The Robin Hood Experience | Why not stick with the Robin Hood theme? Your girlfriendships crew will relish every bit of this experience. Take an interactive journey back through time to the world of Robin Hood. Along your journey, you'll experience the sights, sounds and smells of Medieval Nottingham. The coolest thing? A chance to meet your favorite characters brought to life through the magic of cinematic hologram technology so lifelike you'll believe they are the real thing!
- The City of Caves | Awarded “Travelers Choice 2020” by Tripadvisor®, this museum is a set of man-made caves dating from 1250 AD, when they were discovered under the local shopping centre. Immerse yourselves in the winding labyrinthine carved deep beneath Nottingham’s city centre, witness the lives of the people living and working shrouded in a dark but safe world, and soak up the atmosphere— including WW2 air raid shelters.
Where to Stay
Staying in Nottingham near Sherwood Forest? Here are two suggestions:
- Sunny Mount Bed and Breakfast | After spending the day having Robin Hood adventures as the Merry Men…er, girlfriends, what better place to stay than at a late Victorian elegant B&B? Sunny Mount Bed and Breakfast sounds ideal. This great, late Victorian property (built in 1903) is a home away from home. It has stylishly designed suites with attractive layouts. Its high ceilings add to the feeling of space and freedom.
- Mama’s Inn | Mama's Inn Boutique Guest House occupies two charming Victorian villas on the northern fringes of Nottingham City Center. Modern, industrial, shabby chic, colonial, baroque—the new owners couldn’t choose just one style so decided to use them all by creating themed rooms, representing the most beautiful cities in the world. The building's attractive original features, high ceilings and big windows gave the opportunity to create 10 totally different guest rooms based on perceptions of Paris, Casablanca, Venice, Vienna, Tokyo, New York, London, St. Petersburg and Cairo. A simple trip to Nottingham lets you experience memories of other metropolitan cities as well.
Gather your crew and start planning your getaway!