Thursday, 11 February 2016

How NOT to Spend an Overnight Layover in London

We are on a budget, and London is not. We spent two amazing days in this city, and decided not to book an accommodation. Because we are this brave and adventurous. 
 Beforehand, I read on tripadvisor that the McDonald's and Starbucks at Kings Cross are 0-24, and they don't mind people sleeping there. If only we could have tested that!
 Our plans for London changed just upon arrival. This city gave us a really hard time, but that's another topic.

We spent our whole first day walking around London, showing every sight to my boyfriend, and exploring new places together. We were quite exhausted by midnight, so after wandering around the city at night, we started looking for places to spend some time resting at. 

Pubs of London

Turns out these pubs close really early, approximately at 11 PM. Our plans failed badly.

McDonald's, Charing Cross

We looked for fast food restaurants that are 0-24, so thinking that it would be possible near railway stations was a good idea. We were so happy to find a place where we could stay warm for a while! Though, when I asked about their gluten-free options, they weren't too up-to-date, they could hardly help me out. We were planning on spending the night here, but after a while we started seeing members of the security arguing with people who fell asleep. Bad luck. We had to move.

Charing Cross Station

For some reason, I was sure stations would not be closed here. But I turned out to be wrong. This station closes at around 1 AM. We were not happy about that. 

0-24 Shops

There are plenty of non-stop shops all around the city, so we spent some hours walking around them. By now, I think we know all the brands that can be found on London's shelves by heart. Like, seriously, all chocolate bars, and dairy products and everything. After a while, you'll be a bit suspicious walking around the shop for an hour, so this is definitely not an option for how to spend a night in the city.

Waterloo Station

Perhaps it still wasn't quite clear to me that stations actually close for the night. Also Waterloo. But it opens at around 5 AM, and we could sleep very well on the benches while others were hurrying to school and work. Perks of backpacking...

A pub's patio in a crooked little street in Lambeth

It was really scary. And it was windy. And freezing cold. And pouring with rain. It was not fun. 

A 16-storey house in Lambeth

In the end, we found shelter in a storey house that was accidentally left open. We sneaked in, and slept 3 hours on the backstairs. Well, at least he did.. I was still very cold to be able to sleep, but I was really happy we weren't outside in the pouring rain!

 I shouldn't be complaining - it was a really aunthentic experience! We could hear Big Ben every 15 minutes, see a bit of the skyline for free, and even watch the first trains rolling into Waterloo.
 What elso could I have wished for?

I guess it wasn't that much of a good idea to not book an accommodation, but still, we saved a lot of money this way. And our grandchildren will love listening to this story. It's starting to become funny to me as well. London, we could not forget you, even if we tried!

 Have you had such adventures? Can you give us some tips on how to DO spend an overnight layover in London? 

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