We booked our Marrakech weekend through easyJet‘s list of inexpensive holiday packages, which include airfare and accommodation. It did mean we had 8 hours between flights to kill, but luckily, Gatwick is a 30-minute train ride to downtown London.
Once we landed in Gatwick, we headed to the Left Luggage department. Here, you can leave your bags for the day while you explore. Rates were about £11/day. After storing our luggage, we followed signs for the train station within the airport. From here, trains left every 15 minutes to Victoria Station, which puts you close to all the famous attractions. Dan and I had never been to London, so this was going to be a wham-bam day of sightseeing!
When we got to Victoria Station, we found a free city map and were happy to realize that we could walk between all of the big sights. We covered a lot of ground that day.
After the London Eye, we got lunch near Blackfriars Bridge. There was a restaurant with riverside seating where we had good beers and fish & chips. This place also had a huge gin selection!
From here, we walked along the Thames towards the Tate Modern, which was free to enter, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
By now, we were tired of walking, so we found a double-decker bus going back to Victoria Station. Along the way, we got to pass The Palace of Westminster (iconic home to UK parliament), Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.
Even as a native English speaker who could confidently read signs and ask for directions, I found London to be kind of stressful to navigate. I couldn’t imagine being an English language learner and trying to tackle the train stations of London. It gave me a renewed appreciation for my students and a fresh perspective on my TEFL teaching.
Our return layover at Gatwick was a little shorter – 6 hours. Factoring in the passport check and security lines, we decided not to do London, but to instead take a taxi to the neighboring town of Horley. The taxi took all of 10 minutes and cost about £8. Dan had read about a pub there, Ye Olde Six Bells, that dated back to the 15th century and we thought that sounded super British and very chill.
The land on which the pub stands was acquired in 1263, but they think the pub itself was built in about 1450. Next door is a chapel and it’s rumored that a secret passage way exists between it and the pub. The bar service was friendly, the environment cozy, and the food comforting; a much better experience than over-priced fare in the airport.