Tag Archives: Buckingham Palace

The Big Europe Trip: London

11 Jun

A couple of months ago James had to be in Zurich for work, so we decided to add a couple of cities and make a vacation out of it.

It’s not an international trip if I don’t start it with the Paper Plane cocktail at the Polaris Lounge:
MVIMG_20190424_145120I had fish and chips for lunch and this lovely meringue for lunch-dessert:
IMG_20190424_153326Also I received three compliments on my new Globe-Trotter luggage before we even landed. =D

Day 1

We arrived around midday and got a fast pass through the arrivals hall at Heathrow which saved us a ton of time. We collected our checked luggage, purchased Oyster cards, then took the Piccadilly train to our AirBNB.

We wanted to make it a low-key day so we could recover from the flight but still tell ourselves we’d seen a bit of London, so we checked out the Google office. They were very into their post-it note art!
IMG_20190425_155854The elevators were cool – they had that fancy technology where you press the button for your floor and it assigns you an elevator.

In one of the microkitchens we discovered canned water. I don’t know why we found it so shocking but we did.
IMG_20190425_154201It’s weird, right??

The office was pretty small but there was a lot of construction nearby to build a larger campus – hopefully we get to see it next time we visit! It’s hard to tell, but the little floor level markers are Android figures.
IMG_20190425_145654Speaking of Android figures, here is a hint for what I bought as my London souvenir:IMG_20190425_151327On the walk back to the station there was this cool bird cage swing. =)
MVIMG_20190425_160819_1 We had an early dinner at an Indian restaurant, then headed to a couple of cocktail bars. IMG_20190425_192048_1The cocktails at Lounge Bohemia were very inventive and the presentation was fantastic, but taste-wise they ranged from average to awful. There’s just no way to make a red bull reduction taste good. We had a lot of fun though!

My tasting menu was “good morning” themed and contained six mini cocktails. I was already pretty excited that my first drink came in a bathtub and halfway through I found this little guy:
IMG_20190425_194837 This toothpaste one had rum and peas in it. It was kind of gross and I made James finish it.IMG_20190425_201545This is a photo of him resentfully drinking it:
IMG_20190425_201442The coffee cocktail was my favourite:
IMG_20190425_202305Feeling like we’d beaten jet lag, we took the bus back to our place for a well-earned sleep.

Day 2

We started the day off at the Tower of London. We went on the Beefeater Tour (definitely recommend! It’s free and really informative), looked at the Crown Jewels, and had a nice walk around. This is James standing where the tower moat used to be:
IMG_20190426_094706 Afterwards we walked across the Tower of London Bridge and took a bunch of photos. It was windy and my hair makes it look like I have a ton of eyeliner on.IMG_20190426_115044Then went to the Borough Market where James bought some scotch eggs for a morning snack. They were delicious, but right afterwards we had afternoon tea at Sketch, so the timing wasn’t ideal.

Sketch is famous for its gorgeous bathroom (scented with a billion Diptyque candles) and individual pod toilets:
IMG_20190426_132219 Also its beautiful pink room: IMG_20190426_140826The food was delicious (and AYCE – damn you scotch eggs) and we were massively stuffed at the end.

Afterwards James bought himself a souvenir – a hand carved umbrella from James Smith & Sons. They had cheaper umbrellas, but James argued (quite rightly) that the point of going to a store like that is to buy their custom-made ones.

The ones in this photo started at £250 depending on the wood and the shape of the handle.
IMG_20190426_174438But James fell in love with this super fancy option.
IMG_20190427_112719Hello Owl!

The store customized the umbrella’s height to him, which was pretty cool. Here he is getting fitted (behind him are the cheaper regular umbrellas)
IMG_20190426_173835We then went to the British Museum, which was amazing, and not too crowded on a Wednesday evening. We saw all the highlights, and I think James was quite pleased at being able to show Owl a bit of the world.

The Easter Island statue:
MVIMG_20190426_200229 Assyrian lion sculptures:IMG_20190426_202137And the Rosetta Stone (this one was just me – Owl saw it earlier with more people around):
MVIMG_20190426_202206Then we went to the Connaught Bar where we had fantastic cocktails (James thought they were the best of the trip) and bought a bottle of their house gin.

Day 3

In the morning we went to Westminster Abbey which was a lot more interesting than I expected. The highlight was definitely the Jubilee Galleries for an extra £5 – we got to see the Magna Carta, and had a killer view down the length of the chapel. No photos allowed though. =(

Afterwards James and I split up and he went to a gin class at the City of London Distillery where he learned about gin and distilled a bottle with his own custom mix of ingredients.
IMG_20190427_131928He got to name it and said he wished he’d called it Jamegin.IMG_20190427_135402They store the recipe on site, so if James ever runs out he can get them to make him another bottle. =)

While he was making (and drinking) booze, I went shopping and had some more Indian food for lunch.
IMG_20190427_131108Afterwards I went to the Burberry flagship store. I tried on almost every trench they had looking for the perfect one, and eventually found it in the Heritage Kensington in honey. I think the coat looks much nicer open rather than belted, and I love, love, love it.

31e83adca0a909c83ff20ac740520612e938d7f0

image from Burberry

Maybe I should rethink my usual method of shopping online because apparently I don’t know myself as well as I think I do – I surprised myself by preferring the double breasted trenches and more relaxed fits.

Anyway, giant, unwieldy Burberry shopping bag in hand, I met up with James again and we headed to the Royal Stables for some more sightseeing. We went later in the day (around 3:30/4pm) and we were practically alone as we looked at all the different royal carriages.
IMG_20190427_160129We also went to the Queen’s Gallery, which wasn’t quite as spectacular, though I did get to see Faberge eggs for the first time, which was pretty cool.

The highlight was definitely the Buckingham Palace state rooms. In Summer the rooms are open to the public but in Spring they only have small group tours on days when the Queen isn’t in residence. It’s more expensive, but it was amazing. 

James and I agreed it was one of the highlights of our trip to London, which was unexpected because we’re not normally interested in that kind of stuff. But the tour guide was really informative and a fantastic story teller (Her: If you’re looking around and wondering whether something is real gold, it is), and we got to see a bunch of priceless art and history in a really intimate, unhurried setting.

As usual, no photos allowed, so here’s one we took outside the palace afterwards.
IMG_20190427_200552
Then for dinner we went to Bob Bob Ricard. IMG_20190427_224849Don’t mind if we do!

Day 4

We were pretty knackered by day four, and had a bit of a sleep in before popping down the street to Blacklock Soho.
IMG_20190428_121320Where we had the world’s largest Sunday Roast.
IMG_20190428_123933The Yorkshire puddings were so big that they had multiple potatoes living in the craters. James liked the roast beef, pork and crackling but my favourite was the lamb. It was delicious and if I ate like that every Sunday I would be as fat as a yorkshire pudding.

Then we went to Jensen’s so James could try (and buy) some more gin. We also went to the Tate Modern where we saw – and failed to appreciate – a bunch of Rothkos. James discovered he likes Surrealism though, so there’s that.

The Tower of Babel at the Tate Modern:IMG_20190428_171115We had dinner at Padella, which I had been forewarned would be very busy. Also, when you see there is a queue outside the building, that is not a queue to get into the restaurant – that is a queue to leave your name/number to get a dining time. We got there 30 minutes after it opened and had an estimated eating slot at 6:30pm/7ish – perfect!

To kill time went for a bit of a wander around the waterfront.
IMG_20190428_182210 (1)You can see a little bit of my lovely new coat!

When we went back to Padella the pastas were beautiful. Really tasty and really affordably priced, even with wine.IMG_20190428_190720Afterwards we had cocktails at Lyaness which, in its former incantation was rated the best bar in the world, but eh. It was fine, but I can think of several bars that I think are superior. I did like this sign in the hotel lobby though:
MVIMG_20190428_195454(It turned out the sign changed automatically every 10 minutes or so. I sent James out to admire it and he came back confused because it just had some random quote about coffee).

I enjoyed our time in London – I think we packed a lot into three and a half days. =) The next morning we grabbed an Uber to the airport and got on a flight for the next leg of our trip – Switzerland!