Weekend Write-Up: London, Part I
Weekend Write-Up: London, Part II
Review: InterContinental London Westminster
Review: LHR BA Galleries First Lounge
For Labor Day weekend, Chris planned a "mystery trip" months in advance. He gave no hints and I tried hard not to accidentally find out where we were going (I love surprises). I honestly had no idea where our final destination would be until we reached our gate at LAX on Friday night - we were off to London!
Sunday 9:00 AM GMT | InterContinental London Westminster | London, England
There's just something about waking up in a country that, less than 24 hours ago, you had no idea you were visiting. I sprang out of bed ready to conquer the day and see as much as possible (after tea, that is). Chris, unfortunately had the worst time sleeping last night while he faced dreaded jet lag (sucks to be him - I slept like a baby) so after his night of little sleep, he's not happy to see me.
Sunday 10:15 AM GMT | The Blue Boar | London, England
Conveniently, there's a fantastic option for breakfast attached to our hotel and Chris, who spent half the night Yelping the perfect full English breakfast, agrees that it's a good spot to check out. I order an omelette because I honestly can't handle the idea of Chris' disgusting blood pudding. When the waiter asks us if we would like some tea, we assume it's included and prepare our English Breakfast with a little milk and a brown sugar cube. We feel so British. Turns out, the prices are also quite British. The tea alone was £14. Yikes.
Sunday 11:30 AM GMT | London Eye, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden Market | London, England
After breakfast, we took a walk back down past Westminster Abbey to cross the Thames and take another look at Big Ben and the Eye. Chris points out a door right off the bridge that was used in "Die Another Day" to access an abandoned Underground station (repurposed as Q's gadget lab). I love London. We take a walk across one of the footbridges and make our way over to Trafalgar Square. From here, we head over to Covent Garden Market. On the way, we pass a Nando's and I ask Chris what all the hype is about. All he knows is that "they have a sauce or something that people go nuts for" (we'll have to test it ourselves later). In the market, I'm immediately attracted to the Laduree's, but Chris says no. Instead, we notice there's a Shake Shack in the market and really can't resist getting one to share. We're enablers, I tell you.
Sunday 1:00 PM GMT | The British Museum and Hyde Park | London, England
Following our relapse with American fast food, we head to the British Museum. Neither of us are big museum goers (at least not at length), so the plan is to see the major things and then be on our way. We start with the Egyptian art and the Rosetta Stone (of course), then check out the Greek, then a random smattering of other types of art, including the library and some interesting Asian artwork. I think we got a good feel for the museum, so it's time for a walk outside.
We head over to Hyde Park and enter by the Italian Fountains. So gorgeous. From there, we walk over to Kensington Palace. We're looking for gardens that I saw on my last trip, but despite Google's best efforts, we can't seem to find them. Instead, we stop at a bench to watch both children and dogs attempt to jump in the pond in front of the palace. After giving our feet a break, it's time to meet Chris' friend from university in Camden.
Sunday 4:30 PM GMT | Camden Market and BrewDog | London, England
I've definitely never been to Camden (which Chris sells to me as "alternative") and it's really quite unique. The area is buzzing and we pass a very weird scene with a man wearing a bad wrinkly mask and calling himself "DJ Grandpa" and another, much older man, dancing next to the booth with his shirt off. It's all very awkward. Camden Market is absolutely packed with people and we quickly escape, although not before visiting the weirdest, most specific shop ever - Cyberdog, which is apparently an EDM clothing shop. Then it's time to meet Chris' friend for a few pints at BrewDog.
Sunday 8:00 PM GMT | Nando's and InterContinental London Westminster | London, England
By the time we're finished in Camden, we're not up for anything too fancy, so we make good on the promise to try Nando's. This place is bizarre. It's a Portugese fast casual restaurant, but apparently it's from Africa. I can't even. Basically, there's lots of chicken on the menu and you can put different kinds of Nando's sauce on it. Overall, it's pretty good, but Chris (who claims he can't handle spice because he's Canadian) has so much medium sauce that he turns bright red.
After dinner, we figure we should go to bed, but by the time we make it back, neither of us can fall asleep. Unfortunately, jet lag is now getting the best of both of us. We end up watching quite a bit of bad TV and eventually find a very weird (but arty and therefore, not weird) movie about a 50+ year old woman who travels to Kenya as a sex tourist and details her exploits with young African men. It. Was. Weird.
Monday 8:30 AM GMT | Google UK, other Google UK | London, England
For our last day in London, we don't have too much time. Our flight is in early afternoon, so we just have the morning free. Speaking of "free", we decide to head over to Google UK to grab some breakfast and check out the office. Conveniently, there was an office just a few Underground stops away, but when we get there, we realize that this is the smaller of two Google UK offices. Regardless, this place has a pretty legit juicer and a table full of fruits and vegetables that you can make your own juices with. Pretty awesome.
At this point, unfortunately, because Chris only brought one pair of shoes and didn't get the chance to break them in, he's having a really hard time walking. I want to see the other office, so Chris heads back to the hotel while I go across town. The second office is a far larger space with amazing views, but is pretty confusing to navigate. I always like to see what other offices are like, but don't like to look like an awkward tourist, so it's a fine line to walk.
Monday 10:50 AM GMT | Buckingham Palace | London, England
Once I meet Chris back at the hotel, we decide to take the 10 minute walk from our hotel over to Buckingham Palace so I can "just take one picture". On our way there, it starts raining, which quickly turns to pouring. I take a quick few shots of the palace and end up very wet and cranky. The last thing we wanted to do was take a London cab to Paddington Station to catch our train, but with the rain coming down quite steadily, it takes a while. Finally, we secure our cab and hunker down for the journey back home.
Monday 11:45 PM PST | SFO | San Francisco, CA
20 hours later, we land back at home where we both have work tomorrow. Such is life!
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.