We are new to traveling in Europe. We expect (hope) to do a lot of it over the next few years (specifically out of London to the continental Europe), so we need to become professionals at it. When booking our trip to France, we didn’t know that there is a direct train to London Stansted Airport from Cambridge (stops at the airport terminal) and that Stansted Airport flies to many countries, including France. What we ended up doing was spending a full day in London and staying overnight before catching a plane to Paris out of London Gatwick Airport. The benefit was that we were able to explore London.
Live and let live. And, you know, learn a little too.
Our first learning experience was coming to find out that England loves a good queue. Long queues for the subway in the morning are epic in Kings Cross and Victoria Stations. We also learned that we needed to have an “anytime ticket” that allowed us onto the tube (subway) before 9:30 a.m. And so we walked. We walked from Kings Cross to the British Museum, only to learn that they still were not displaying our favorite piece of artwork: Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. However, we stayed and wondered through the British Museum for awhile and grabbed some caffeine for the morning.
After stopping at a few bookstores and going through the National Gallery, we crossed the Millennium Bridge and tried to go for a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe. Because there was a matinée showing, we were unable to tour the Globe (maybe we’ll get to it next trip). We settled for grabbing a pint at the Swan restaurant, which is attached to the Globe. Finding our silver lining: we discovered a new (to us) beer that we both love: the Camden Ink Stout, which is locally brewed in London (in Camden, technically). They have brewery tours, so that will also be on our list of things to do next time we pass through London.
Our next stop was the Tower of London. I read about the ceramic poppies being “planted” at the Tower of London to commemorate and remember the 888,246 British military fatalities during the first world war – each poppy represents one person. The UK entered the first World War on August 5, 1914 – 100 years ago. The last poppy is to be “planted” on November 11 of this year – on Remembrance Day in the UK (Veteran’s Day in the US). You can actually buy and dedicate a poppy, which I think is amazing.
This tour of London ended with fantastic Chinese food from My Old Place. We try to note where the locals go – it is usually where the best food is in the city. However, this restaurant recommendation comes from a friend, Lora, who lived in London for awhile. We didn’t make it to her other restaurant recommendations, but we have plenty of time to go back!