After a solid dinner of meat and a good long snooze, we woke up on Saturday morning ready to see some sights. First we had a cup of tea and watched a little bit of CBBC, which is children’s programming. It was cute and weird, as most kids’ shows are. I particularly enjoyed Dodge T. Dog.
We boarded the train at Shepherd’s Bush and rode over to Westminster. This station provides easy access to the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. James’s Park, Buckingham Palace, and the Churchill War Rooms. We came back through Westminster several times to see all the sights.
South of Westminster, and due west of the Lambeth Bridge, is a place called the Regency Cafe. The cafe has been featured in a number of films and has an iconic exterior. We were directed there by the Yelp app, which was very useful during our trip when we found ourselves hungry and in one of the gaps on my map of recommended eateries.
If you eat at the Regency Cafe, be ready to order when you get to the counter. Don’t dither. When we got there the line was fairly short, but by the time our food came out the line was out the door.
We each had a “set breakfast” which came with 1 sausage, 2 bacon, 1 egg, choice of beans or tomatoes, toast, and tea or coffee. Actually there was another option besides toast, but I can’t honestly remember what it was. I believe the price was something like £6.50.
This is where my husband fell in love with Wiltshire bacon. If you order bacon in the UK, don’t expect it to look like what you’re used to eating here. They call that “streaky bacon” and a lot of places don’t serve it. British style bacon is made from the back of the pig rather than the belly. It was salty and slightly crisp on the outside, with much less fat than American bacon. He was a little puzzled by the baked beans, but he hates tomatoes, so he just ordered whatever wasn’t tomatoes. He ended up really enjoying the baked beans, and wiped his plate clean with his toast. For my part, the grilled tomatoes were delicious. The tea was very strong. You can see in the picture that my husband had his with milk, and I opted out.
Thus nourished for the day, we hiked back over to Westminster Abbey.
No photographs are allowed inside the abbey proper. Admission to the abbey was £16.00 each, but it was well worth it. Definitely pick up the audio tour – it’s narrated by Jeremy Irons! It was one of the better audio tours we experienced on the trip. Very informative, interesting, and well paced. Later in our trip we experienced a really lackluster audio tour, where among other things the excessively long entries created bottlenecks in foot traffic. No problems with that here.
After the abbey we paused in Parliament Square. The weather that day was stunning. Back home it was 100°F punctuated by massive thunderstorms; in London it never got about 75, and we had several days with zero rain. Even the rainy days were just a polite drizzle for the most part. We got very lucky. We sat under the grumpy statue of Churchill (wait, they’re all grumpy) and then crossed the Westminster Bridge.
This brought us into London’s South Bank. There was a festival going on when we went through, with food stalls and music and throngs of people. We didn’t go to any of the attractions along the river walk, but there are quite a few – the London Aquarium, the Old Vic, the National Theatre, the British Film Institute, lots of eateries…later in the trip we came back through here to ride the London Eye, but I’ll get there in a later post.
There were a ton of tables set up with books. I managed to resist.
There were some gorgeous antique volumes available. My fingers were itching the whole time we walked through.
We walked down to the Globe Theatre. Here’s another one where you need to be aware of the hours – they close early to get ready for the evening’s performances, and tours stop. We took a few pics of the outside, then backtracked a bit to go to the Tate Modern.
I wish I had been able to get a photograph that really showed the inside of the Tate Modern. It’s a former power station turbine building, and the main hall is immense. There are free exhibits and paid ones here. If you enjoy modern art I do recommend a spin through this museum. In the courtyard out front there are often performers set up, too – we saw a very talented contact juggler while we were there.
From here we crossed the Millennium Bridge and walked past St. Paul’s. There was a funeral going on, so we didn’t get to go inside.
We decided to hop a train to Hyde Park Corner and visit the Hard Rock Cafe. My lovely assistant collects Hard Rock pins. The place was a madhouse, and we were starting to get hungry, so we popped around the corner to the Rose and Crown pub for a couple of ciders and some fish and chips.
The Rose and Crown is one of many pubs in London that are part of a larger corporation, but kept the original pub name. Two big chains we noticed were Taylor Walker and JD Wetherspoon.
I didn’t photograph our meal here. It was good – not spectacular, but good.
We walked over to Brompton Road to visit the enormous Harrods department store. This place was insane. You really need a map to get around. The Egyptian escalator was cool and all, but it reminded me more of Vegas and the Luxor than any real Egyptian sights. We were on a mission to pick up a model MINI for a friend. We snagged some souvenirs and wandered around the ridiculous pet section before getting out of that madhouse.
That was an eat-in night, and we stopped by the Waitrose at Westfield.
This was the hard cider section at Waitrose. We were agog. You might get three or four brands of cider at a grocery store in the US.
We bought drinking chocolate (if you can get this where you are, do it, it is amazing) and Jammie Dodgers for dessert, and then once again slept like the dead.
Next: Shreddies, dinosaurs, and pizza