A Whirlwind Trip through London

Fasnacht is over. There will a post about it (or two?) eventually, but right now I am going to try to get in the post on London before we start our adventure to Venice this weekend. Part two of our London series was our very touristy city experience (I guess most of them are, though), where I met up with  not just Chris, but his mom and aunt for a tour of the city.

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I didn’t miss my Friday night flight this time around because I got to the airport on time (maybe too early) and did not face gate closures. There was a minor flight delay, but things were otherwise pretty smooth. We were staying in the London Bridge area, which is incredibly easy to get to from Gatwick. I got to the flat that we were renting just before midnight.

The group did some touring on Friday night, but due to a relatively early flight back to Basel (had to make it in time for Chienbäse in Liestal), we really only had Saturday for our touring. We had a relatively set agenda with lunch reservations planned and a busy day.

Our plan was to catch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace in the morning, so we set out about an hour and a half early so that we eat breakfast at Borough Market first. Borough Market is one of my favorite places to visit in London (if not the favorite). The food selection is fantastic and it’s just fun to wander the market stalls. Unfortunately, we really only allotted enough time to eat and not enough time to look at stalls. It was not enough time, but enough to buy fudge (of course) and try Scotch eggs.

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We caught the Tube to Buckingham Palace. We were there pretty early so that we could get a good spot for the changing of the guard. This was much better organized than many of our other attempts to experience this.

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Unfortunately, after about 20 minutes of standing around, we were informed by one of the local guides that they don’t do the changing of the guards on Saturdays anymore. I was suspicious of this claim at first, but was able to confirm that he was telling the truth with a quick Google search that I probably should have done before we camped out in the cold.

It was fine, though, as the changing of the horse guard was at the same time we planned and only a short 15/20 minute away. It was a pleasant walk through St. James Park. This is an event that I did not know existed, but was pretty cool because there were horses involved. We didn’t stay for the whole event, though.

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We had just about two hours until our lunch reservation and while there were a number of ways we could have spent the time, we decided it was just enough time to squeeze in a very short visit to the place that Chris wanted to try to get to, the British Museum. We had a little bit of difficulty trying to get onto a bus to the museum.

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Eventually, though, we got our bus and the double decker bus experience and got to the museum with just under an hour. It gave us time to see a few exhibits, including the Rosetta Stone and an exhibit on Korean history.

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The visit was too short for such a fantastic museum, but we had 1 pm lunch reservations to get to, so we had to cut the stay short.

Our lunch reservations was at Sketch, which was one of those restaurants that seemed pretty hyped in a lot of things that I was reading. It is also insanely Instagram friendly in a Madonna Inn sort of way.

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We had our reservations for lunch, although in retrospect should have tried to do this as an afternoon tea for the full experience. The restaurant was pretty good, though. The drinks and food were delicious. However, the highlight of the meal was for sure the vegetable poke. I want to try to recreate it because it was very good. I mean, I guess if it’s all vegetables, then it’s essentially non-spicy bibimbap? It was still good.

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Also of note were the bathrooms, which were all in a 1960s style white room with a colorful ceiling and about 16 bathroom pods.

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We followed up dinner with a trip to the Tower of London. We couldn’t introduce Chris’s mom and aunt to London without a trip to see the crown jewels. We got to the Tower of London just in time for the final tour of the day by the Yeoman Ward. It was good to have someone entertaining explain the history of the Tower of London to us.

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After the tour, we saw the crown jewels and then hit up the armory. Chris wanted to see King Henry the VIII’s old armor (mostly for the cod piece) and the big dragon made out of armor. I wanted to see the prison as well, but we got out of the armory with just enough time to get a picture of the Tower Bridge before the Tower closed.

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We hopped on a bus from there to get to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We knew it was closed, so we just looked at the cathedral from the outside and grabbed dinner at a nearby pub. We did a quick stop by the nearby Millennium Bridge before catching the Tube back to London Bridge and back to the flat.

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We didn’t have much time on Sunday because we had a pretty early flight to Basel. We initially wanted to spend the morning at Borough Market, but we found out on Saturday that the market is closed on Sundays. There was a brief plan to try to run to Jubilee Market in Covent Garden in back, but we ultimately decided that would be too hectic. Instead, we grabbed coffee at the coffee shop under our flat and had a pretty leisurely morning.

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We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, which was used on some shopping and with what has now become the obligatory Wagamama trip.

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Although it was another short trip to London, we packed a ridiculous amount of stuff into our stay. I wish we had some more time for the British Museum and some of our other stops and the whole Buckingham Palace was nearly a bust, but it was a good trip overall.

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