I can’t believe it is time to say farewell to London. In the last week and a half we managed to cover a fair amount of ground with visits to historic sites (St. Paul’s, Buckingham Palace), musicals (The Lion King, The Book of Mormon), centuries “olde” pubs (Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, the Black Friar, the Guinea), outdoor markets (Columbia Road Flower Market, Old Spitalfields), eclectic restaurants and movie theaters (Sketch, Electric Cinema) and even squeezed in two day trips (Bath and York)! I also got to try some authentic Indian Food in Brick Lane (Preem), which I loved! And a proper English Breakfast (Regency Cafe), which made me miss pancakes. We ended it all on a sweet note with a visit to the cutest little cake shop (Peggy Porschen). I’m really going to miss this city.
It started with our first trip to the theater. Before the show we met in Chinatown (a close walk to the theater with an endless amount of choices) where the highlight of our meal was definitely the crispy duck pancakes.
Tuesday was a perfect London day for me as I sat and enjoyed breakfast at a cafe near our flat, then walked over to the National Gallery (a free art museum – entrance to most museums in London is free) by Trafalgar Square. Even though the museums are free, they are world-class. The National Gallery has an impressive collection of over 2,000 paintings spanning eight centuries and worth a visit if you enjoy art.
After the museum, I met Jim for dinner at The Guinea (a pub from 1675 with a steakhouse in back) and then headed to Notting Hill to see Beauty and The Beast at The Electric Cinema. This place was by far my favorite movie theater I have ever been to (the cinnamon sugar donuts and leather seats helped a lot). Sorry Coolidge Corner Theater (Brookline, MA), you are a close second.
Wednesday, May 10th was a beautiful sunny day and I spent it walking around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Even had time to catch up with my old friend Peter…(Pan, the statue, not the man painting the picture).
After the parks, I met Jim for dinner at Sketch, one of the most unique restaurants I’ve been to. We had dinner in The Gallery, but there are a few different rooms each with their own vibe. Even the bathroom of this place was interesting! The stalls were individual pods/eggs! If you are in London, I’d suggest stopping by for afternoon tea or a drink before heading to dinner (bar opens at 6pm).
By the time Thursday rolled around I decided to head out of the city. I had a few people tell me to go to Bath, and it did not disappoint! Bath is an easy train ride from Paddington Station (90 minutes) but would suggest starting this or any day trips early as most places/sites in these towns close by 5pm.
On Friday we saw The Lion King at the Lyceum Theater, which lived up to the expectations.
Saturday morning we decided to try a true english breakfast (sausage, eggs, beans, black pudding and toast) at Regency Cafe, which had been recommended to us.
To help digest all of the food, we decided walk around St. Paul’s before carb loading again at some of the oldest pubs, like The Olde Cheshire Cheese, The Black Friar and Ship Tavern. Unfortunately, the outside galleries at St. Paul’s were closed but if you are not scared of heights, tight spaces and a decent climb, the 365 degree views of the city from these galleries are terrific. We still trekked about halfway up to the Whispering Gallery to get a better look at the dome.
Sunday morning brought flowers, lots and lots of beautiful blooms at The Columbia Flower Market in Shore ditch, a vibrant area full of funky shops and food.
From one market to another, next we wandered over to Old Spitalfields, where there has been a market at the site for 350 years. There was a cool assortment of clothes, leather goods, jewelry and other accessories that made me wish I had more room in my suitcase. Also, some really cool bars if you just walk around like the Blixen and the Frog. And don’t forget to stop in a local curry house on Brick Lane. We loved Preem as they helped us navigate the menu and it was absolutely delicious!
By the next Monday I decided to take one more day trip this time to York. From King Cross Station, York is about two hours by train. If you have an extra day in London, I would highly recommend Bath or York.
At Clifford’s Tower you can get some great views of the city.
And then walk over to the Shambles for some shopping.
Then on Tuesday we had dinner at Rules, the oldest restaurant in London, a pretty cool place given its history and the fact that they give you Guinness out of a cold silver tankard.
Finally… our last day was Wednesday and I couldn’t leave London without taking a photo of Buckingham Palace
…or without a sweet ending courtesy of Peggy Porschen Cakes! The strawberry and champagne cupcake was AMAZING!