Continuing our extended weekend in London with days 2 and 3; if you missed day 1 catch up here. Breaking all preconceived stereotypes of London, we awoke to a second day filled with sunny, blue skies.
Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade
After quite the breakfast spread at our hotel we made our way to Buckingham Palace. Fortunate timing allowed us to watch the pomp and circumstance surrounding the changing of the guard, however, it resulted in a thick crowd of people near the gates. We grabbed a spot along the rails (on the wrong side of the circle, it turns out) and stayed for the procession. Since we were too far from the gates to see much of the ceremony, we decided to continue on with our other sightseeing stops.
Next we headed back toward the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Crossing over Westminster Bridge among hoards of tourists, we found the perfect spot for pictures.
Tate Modern Lookout
With the Tate Modern in mind as our next destination, we wandered down the Queen’s Walk past the London Eye and around the bend. Tate Modern is an art gallery that has a top floor cafe with a panoramic view that is completely free. Although it took us a few tries to find our way to the top lookout, the deck offers fantastic 360 degree views of London.
From there, we roamed along the south banks of the Thames to Borough Market. Located just south of the Tower Bridge, Borough open air market is one of the largest and oldest in London. We enjoyed perusing the stalls and taking in the sights, sounds and smells. Eventually we decided which food to sample from the vast selection. I am glad we made the trek to check out this unique area of town.
After the market, we continued on toward the Tower Bridge (often miscalled London Bridge) and came upon a lively area set up with booths and stalls at Potters Fields Park.
We had stunning views of Tower Bridge as we walked along the shore and eventually across the pedestrian portion of the bridge.
The Monument, St Paul’s and Pubs
The opposite side of the bridge landed us back at the Tower of London. We kept walking until we found a place to grab drinks with all of working men in suits near the The Monument. Although we undoubtedly stuck out like tourists, it was fun to watch the sizeable post work crowd gather along the street just outside the bars for drinks and a smoke.
After a couple drinks, we continued on past St Paul’s Cathedral toward one of the oldest pubs in the city, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. This ancient pub has a unique layout across 4 floors. We maneuvered through the floors and finally grabbed a spot with a ledge. Certainly a unique experience of a true London pub; we each enjoyed a Samuel Smith’s beer while taking in the history.
Exhausted from another packed day of sightseeing, we grabbed a quick dinner at Pizza Express and retired to the hotel to rest up for our last day.
The British Museum
On our final day in London, we awoke to rainy, dreary weather. Deciding it was the perfect day for a free museum, we navigated to The British Museum. Boasting the Rosetta Stone and expansive collections of Egyptian artifacts, we could have easily spent a day there exploring the impressive selection.
Hyde Park and Kensington Palace
After a few hours at the museum, we had our fill and headed back out in the rain to catch the Tube up to Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. We spent some time exploring the neighborhood of Kensington before making our way to the Palace. After wandering the grounds and disappointed by no sightings of William and Kate, we found a pub to enjoy a lunch of authentic Fish and Chips.
Following lunch, we ventured back down along the Thames for a closer look at the Houses of Parliament. The rain started to clear and we lucked out again with another lovely late afternoon.
We ended the weekend hopping from pub to pub like a true locals. Although I do not have a picture, one of our favorite places we discovered near our hotel was Temple Brew House. The food and beer selection were top notch and the friendly staff gave great recommendations. We liked it so much we went back a second time in our short stay.
My second visit to London certainly redeemed the first. I understand the appeal of this eclectic city, and although it is pretty expensive, it was a fantastic visit to round out my week abroad for work.
Just for a fun, here are a couple throwback pictures from my visit in 2007!