Arriving in London with just 4 days left of our trip, we set out to make the most of our time.
After arriving by chunnel from Paris, we spent our first day in London walking along the Thames riverbank, eating a proper English beef pie, and trying to imitate the accents of everyone who passed by. We thinks we did a bloody good job of it. 10 years prior to our first day in London, we went on our very first date to Naan N’ Curry in Berkeley. To commemorate the event, we went for Indian food and got the unofficial national dish of England (also what we ate on our first date), Chicken Tikka Masala. And like 10 years ago, we had such a good time that we decided to continue seeing each other 🙂
The next day, we did a self-guided walking tour of the City. This is the business centre of London and although only 7,000 people actually reside here, hundreds of thousands of bankers, lawyers and business people converge on this neighbourhood every day. Our tour took us to many interesting sites, are favourites being the original Twinnings tea store and The Ye Old Chesire Cheese pub, where Charles Dickens and other well-known Londonites often ate. That night, we took a “Jack the Ripper” walking tour, where our guide took us through East London and told the story of Jack the Ripper – which was very much like a Law and Order SVU episode set in the filth of 1800 London.
The following day, we ate a proper English breakfast, complete with eggs, toast, bacon, sausage and beans. Fueled up for the day, we headed over to Buckingham Palace just in time to see the Queen’s guards marching down the street on horseback, and then changing with the guards currently on duty. This was quite the ceremony, and we (along with the other thousands of tourists) watched through the gates as they marched, played music and twirled their rifles. After that, we did a self-guided walking tour of Westminster, where we stopped to visit the Churchill Museum and War Rooms. During WWII, Churchill and the members of his cabinet holed up in these subterranean war rooms – complete with living quarters, kitchen and dining areas, offices and map rooms. Although most of the war rooms were abandoned immediately after the end of WWII , the museum did a very impressive job of recreating what the various rooms looked like based on pictures and eye witness accounts.
After the Churchill museum, we made our way over to the National Portrait Gallery, which houses portraits of famous Englishmen and women, from Queen Elisabeth I to Paul McCartney and the recently unveiled portrait of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middelton). At the top of the gallery, we took in our afternoon tea, complete with some savory sammies and scones with clotted cream and preserves. That night we went to a Counting Crows concert at the Hammersmith Apollo. Hey, we know they aren’t English, but they were really good.
On our final day, we visited the Tate Modern museum in the morning, and saw great works by the likes of Miro and Picasso. After exploring and enjoying lunch in Borough Market, we took in some theatre, and finally saw the much acclaimed Book of Mormon. We loved it! Afterwards, we walked through Covent Garden and had some British classics like yorkshire puds with smoked trout and fish and chips at one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants – an English chef that Matt admires for his simple, but creative food.
Tomorrow, we head to Heathrow for our long aeroplane journey home. It still hasn’t hit us that our 4 months of traveling is actually over. We’ve grown pretty accustomed to packing up, and moving on to a new place every few days. But truth be told, we are both looking forward to coming home, and all of the great adventures we still have ahead.