Welcome to our second half of the London posts, if you didn’t read about our house sitting, living in London stories, or the fun country walks, please check it out here: London, Part I
Pubs, Dining and Cream Teas
- Cream Teas
- We were introduced to a delicious new type of dairy: clotted cream*. We found the best “cream teas” (which are a pot of tea and one or two scones with clotted cream and jam) to be served in the country, outside of London. Especially after a country walk or run
- *Clotted cream is simply cream that has been baked in the oven at a low temperature for 12-16 hours, then cooled and scooped onto your plate.
- It was fun to explore the various pubs in our neighborhoods and some downtown. Some were run of the mill, others had more character which we enjoyed. Near us in Kentish Town there was a cash-only Ale and Cider house which had 10 different local ciders, a fun pub with a living room feel with fine couches, chairs and decoration, and our most local pub (The Pineapple) which featured a nice little garden/sun porch where we enjoyed a couple drinks while playing cribbage and had great thai food of all things. Usually the pub food consisted of fish & chips, burgers, sandwiches and fried food. We didn’t eat at too many since there were plenty of beers and wines to try. The newest feature to pubs were beer gardens where a yard had a bar and picnic tables so you could be outside.
- Ladies and Gents – Our first weekend we visited this unique speakeasy in Kentish Town that used to be an underground station/bathrooms. You enter from street level and walk down into a well lit room where unique drinks were served. They were very strong drinks so we all had one and shared tastes.
- Knowhere Special – Really unique location under a restaurant in Kentish Town that had a great house menu of craft cocktails that were paired with small plates of food. So different and good!
- Full English breakfast
- The full English breakfast consists of fried eggs, bacon/ham, toast, fried tomato, baked beans and occasionally black pudding. We went out once and enjoyed a full English breakfast although weren’t too impressed.
Entertainment and Tourist Sites
- Shows – Book of Mormon and Memphis – You can’t escape London without experiencing a show or two. We decided to see Book of Mormon and walked out still laughing. It was truly an entertaining show. The second show we saw was Memphis where the singing was unbelievable. We went to this show on a whim one night when we didn’t have much to do and the tickets were cheap.
- Comedy – Free comedy nights at Angel Comedy – being on a budget meant we sought out free things to do. We went to the Thursday night comedy show at a pub in Angel three times while in London. Our first time was the best and offered the funniest array of comedians and the owner/emcee who kept us laughing the entire time. We highly recommend this in London even if you aren’t on a budget.
- Tower of London & Tower Bridge – The tower is an amazing historical fortress. Jenny had been before but was still amazed at the structure. We were blown away by seeing the crown jewels and could not believe the size of some of the diamonds (baseball size)! After exploring the tower and ending in the torture chamber we went to the Tower Bridge where we walked across the top in an enclosed hallway. The best part was looking down through the clear glass floor on to the lower level and water. It was a little freaky.
- Football Match – Jay and I headed to a football match, an exhibition match between Arsenal and Lyon. It was a preseason friendly for both the teams. The stadium was amazing and we saw plenty of goals. It was great to get in at least one match while we were there.
- Boat ride on Thames – We took a leisurely boat ride down the Thames to visit Greenwich village. It was nice being on the water after so much time on land, and we had great weather to boot.
- Greenwich – While in Greenwich we checked out the market (had some great street food), ventured up to the observatory and saw the original measurements for feet and inches, and one of the first clocks available to the public, pretty cool. A nice view with great weather, too.
- Changing of the guards – Yeah, we went, but it was crowded and we were kind of underwhelmed by the whole thing and left early. I guess if you’re a selfie-stick connoisseur, you’d like it…
- Borough Market – Best street food! We went and enjoyed some samples of cheeses, oils, and other artisan foods. We purchased the biggest cookie we’ve ever seen because the baked goods were too tempting. We found a pub at the market that over looked the Thames river to enjoy a lunch of veggie burger and delicious rosè wine.
- Broadway Market – Jay took us to this never-ending market of food and crafts. Again, great street food. We enjoyed a grilled shrimp sandwich that hit the spot.
- Portobello Market – It’s a bit of a touristy area and market but some of the best antiques and goods were found here. We enjoyed a gyro and some local coffee while we took a walk up Notting Hill.
- Camden Market – Funky market full of goods and food. We visited this one the most since it was so close to us. We found a sticker for our computer here.
- Farmers Markets – Farmers markets are found all over the city on various days. We enjoyed the one in Hampstead Heath as we sampled some local foods and bought some delicious goat cheese.
- British Museum – The biggest museum we’ve ever been in and could have spent hours there. Each floor was a different country with ancient artifacts and discoveries long before our time. It was overwhelming and crowded so we only covered a few floors, but it was truly impressive.
- Natural History Museum – Apparently this is the place to visit if you have kids because we were surrounded the entire time. This museum was pretty cool though. We learned all about dinosaurs since that was the main exhibit. It was fun to watch some of the kid’s reactions to the giant bones and mechanical T-Rex. If you visit, go early!
- Science Museum – We stopped in for a quick tour before going to the show Memphis. All sorts of cool things. We saw the first satellite to visit space as well as one of the first computers in an evolution of technology exhibit. Jenny liked the exhibit about the science behind food and why we get cravings for certain things.
- Tate Modern – A giant museum alongside the Thames that houses all kinds of modern art. Jenny used to study art at this place during her study abroad in collage. We had fun trying to figure out some of the pieces and wondering around. Salvador Dahli is one of our favorites.
- National Gallery – We enjoyed that the museums throughout London were free. The first one we stopped at was the National Gallery to observe some paintings. They sure liked to paint Jesus and nudes. The building was beautiful and we wondered around for about an hour or so before we were on painting overload.
- Travel Photographer of the Year exhibit – Very impressive small showing of photographs taken all over the world by top photographers. It was inspirational to see some of the photos. We observed photos from places we have traveled to on this trip and are going to visit. It was exciting to see some of the amazing places our earth had on it.
Since we enjoy the great outdoors we took advantage of the parks throughout London. We ran through most, strolled through some and became regulars at one (Hamstead). We were impressed at how well managed, popular and beautiful all of the parks were. It was fun to see kids playing, dogs running, people walking and picnics being had throughout each park. Here is a list of the London parks we enjoyed.
- Holland Park
- Hyde Park
- Regents Park
- Hamstead Heath
- St James’ park
- Alexandria Park
Well, that’s all from London. It was about 35 days total in London, and all but 4 of those were free lodging due to house sitting! We definitely couldn’t have afforded that much time there without the free lodging. We had a great time watching over the pets we sat for, and really enjoyed getting an intimate view of how life is in London and the surrounding areas.
Next up we’ll be writing about our week in Spain, and right now we’re in Ireland gearing up for our marathon tomorrow (and catching up on blogging 😉 ).
Will and Jenny