After working every single day for about a month straight, I knew I needed to take some time and do something for me, preferably in a “safe zone” where I didn’t have to worry about running into any of those pesky students. And so, I decided to tick something off of my “London Bucket List” – visiting Kew Gardens!
I went there having done so little research, it was almost comical. I knew it was a really pretty Royal Botanical Park area, but thaaaat was about it. I picked a beautiful September day, figured out the directions, and prepared to let myself be wowed .
And was I wowed…! I can honestly say this is probably one of my favorite things I have ever seen in London. As soon as I got there, I almost immediately plopped on the grass next to a lake, some gorgeous flowerbeds, and a P&P style house, just soaking up the rays:
Eventually, and reluctantly, I thought, ‘Huh. I should probably actually look at the map and figure out where there is to do here.’
GULP. Yeaaaah…. this is gonna take a while. Apparently there are 300 acres of Kew Garden goodness, which means almost nothing to me but from the red square in the middle right side to the red square on the lower left corner is about a mile – so pretty much miles and miles of park! Time to get a move on.
I started a leisurely stroll around the Garden, taking in some expected sites, like a Tropical Greenhouse, waterfalls, and a Sound of Music-esque covered walkway…
And some unexpected sites, like a delightful aquarium with the funniest looking fish I’ve ever seen – this guy is about six inches tall and honestly the width of a piece of paper!
I also found the benefit of not doing research was that I could be pleasantly surprised; I spent five minutes walking around outside of a mystery greenhouse, taking pictures of the foliage around, and had my socks knocked off when I walked in and found a giant lily pond!
Just about when I was starting to get a little tired, I was able to tuck in to that quintessential British tradition: a cream tea.
This also gave me the opportunity to sort out what I still needed to do, as I had been here an hour and covered a lot of ground… or so I thought.
Turns out I had JUST done that teeny corner of the map and still had approximately 3/4 of the park to cover. Oh my giddy god.
Of course, by that time the mid-afternoon sun and park frolicking was starting to hit me: just in time for a reading break! And just in time to find one of the most secluded and peaceful spots I have ever encountered:
Well, secluded except for my little buddy who came up to join me. Anyone have any idea what kind of bird that is? My only hope was that it wouldn’t be a dangerous one!
I wasn’t the only one with an interesting bird visitor by my next reading spot:
After about two hours of wandering around, I reluctantly realized I should probably head to the other half of the park and take that in before closing time. Little did I know just how wonderfully… quiet such a popular attraction could be! There was literally no one on this lane that I wandered down – it got to the point where I actually got a little nervous I had somehow wandered out of the park/would be lost there forever!
I finally got to round out my visit with my first time (to my knowledge) seeing an American Redwood Tree (as they are called here)!
And I concluded by taking a birds-eye view at the top of the trees:
So, even though the entrance was fairly astronomical (£16), would I recommend it? Yes, yes, yes! Particularly as so many other things in London are free. This was just such a wonderful experience, especially on a beautifully warm September day. I would even suggest planning the whole day there, taking a picnic lunch and a book, and spreading out your exploration with plenty of relaxation and food time.