Ever wondered where 25,000 steps gets you in one day in the city of London? My guess is no, but I will tell you anyway.
After letting my first 5 alarms ring for about half an hour, I slowly regained consciousness and with that, excitement about it being Day 1 of what was to be a very memorable two week adventure. I was grateful for the slight sleep-in following our 30 hour journey from Melbourne. We stayed at Tower Bridge London Apartments which was conveniently located within walking distance from shops, food, transport, and of course, Tower Bridge.
The plan for the morning was to grab breakfast first and thanks to Yelp I found a highly-rated option not far from where the apartment was; and thus, began the trek to our first stop – FUCKOFFEE.
A brisk walk through a cute little garden and a few tiny streets later and we were there. It was pretty much your usual café – coffee, pastries, sandwiches, cakes, etc. except for the fact that they have a really cool loyalty card and they don’t charge anything extra for soy/almond milk. Oh, and couches. I love cafés with couches because to me they say “come in and stay here” rather than “buy something or get out”.
After chowing down my first of many croissants on this trip, I was ready to venture to Tower Bridge. By late morning, the sun was fairly strong and we were blessed to have relatively clear skies for most of the day given the amount of walking that I had planned.
The Old Spitalfields Market was only about a 10-15 minute walk away once we’d crossed the bridge. There were different kinds of food stalls and they all looked just as good. I ended up getting a pastella and mix of 3 salads for £6.50. It was very tempting to look at a lot of the clothing/accessory stalls but thankfully I forced myself before the trip to convert only enough AUD to cover food and tickets.
After lunch no.1 we walked to the Sky Garden building where there’s a free observatory if you book your ticket in advance. If you book it in advance. I forgot and did not and they were all booked out. Guess that just means I’ll have to make a trip back to London some time soon 😛
We ended up continuing on towards London Bridge, from which you can view the Tower Bridge from a distance. On the way I spotted the cutest cars on the road and this happened a lot over those two weeks in Europe. I’ve still got my eyes on the fiat, which was everywhere over there.
So since the Sky Garden didn’t work out, we headed straight to our second lunch spot – Gordon’s Wine Bar, London’s oldest wine bar. There’s not a whole lot of breathing room in there but one could argue that it’s part of what gives this place character. It’s probably the coolest bar I’ve been to though – if you go past the bar area underground you can sit down and drink up in a candlelit cave; or, if you’re after fresh air there’s a long courtyard down the side of the building as you enter the gate with a lot of seating. It gets really busy though, I think it was around 3PM when we were there and it was packed.
The process for ordering was a little confusing as it’s not conveniently serviced from one counter. You order drinks from inside and food from either a separate area inside or from the guy at the food cart outside, depending on what you get. I got the vegan hotdog because I’m always curious about faux meat. The texture and taste kind of tasted legit and the hotdog itself wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t say it was AUD$20 worth but it was definitely an upgrade from IKEA dollar hotdog standards.
The wine-in-a-cave experience was the highlight for me. I thought the wine bottle candle holders were quite clever and the warm lighting it provided was enough to make being surrounded by concrete actually feel cozy. I also felt rather boujee sipping on some of the chardonnay we got considering my palate is so used to bottles of cheap “whatever is on sale at BWS”.
By now I was in a slightly tipsy food coma (is this a sign that I’m doing Europe right?). We walked across the River Thames and for the next hour, just wandered around the London Eye area, up to Big Ben – which to our dismay was completely covered up due to construction works – and hunted around for some red telephone booths so I could be totally touristy around Westminster.
On our way to Buckingham Palace, we passed through St. James’s Park which had several squirrels scampering around and we met a man who’d apparently been feeding them for the last four years.
Buckingham Palace – great to say I’ve been and seen but other than that I wasn’t really blown away by anything.
Around sunset, the temperature started to get really chilly real quick and so I was keen to warm myself up with something carb-heavy and filling. The vibe at Pop Brixton was rather different from the Old Spitalfields Market; the latter was more laid back, family-friendly, and there were a lot of working people there during their lunch break. Pop Brixton on the other hand had bouncers out at the front, loud music pumpin’ and was extremely packed – albeit a much much smaller market. I was craving some pizza and came across Made of Dough – whole wood-oven pizzas made on the spot. I ordered the ‘bloody vegan’ and it was bloody good.