We were staying with friends Amanda and Katie for the first few days.
Not to worry we made up for it later with a night out, and our first and last London black cab trip.
There are loads of markets all around the city that we liked wandering through. Camden market was great to see on the weekend, it was full of people and it covers such a big area with so many stalls filling the sides of cobbled streets.
It was a tough decision for lunch but the duck confit sandwich was delish!
We could have happily eaten there every day (you even get a good view of The Shard which is Europes tallest building but looked smaller than a lot of others we’d seen in the states)
Sunday called for a nice drive in the country so we hopped in the car with Amanda and Katie and headed for the coast.
We stopped at the White Cliffs of Dover, renowned for being a great landmark for travellers entering the country by ship. The chalky cliffs are kept white by the sea winds which prevent grass growing on them.
On a clear day you can see across the English Channel to the French coast (not possible on our visit).
Our next stop was Canterbury and a pub lunch before we took a walk through the Canterbury Cathedral, mothership of the Anglican Church.
It’s such a magnificent building, we didn’t realise the true size of it until we got inside and saw the height of the ceiling.
We needed to make sure we had a big breaky to fuel us for the day (don’t worry only had it once). Highlight of this meal was when going up to pay being greeted by “You aiiiight guv’nor?”
The flag on the Palace was raised, meaning the Queen was in residence.
Harrods was very impressive, didn’t quite realise how many different types of everything they would have. Would be a good place to have a wedding registry!
Brick Lane was said to be a fun experience so we had dinner there with friends Michael and Georgia.
Essentially its a stretch of street lined with Indian restaurants and they all try to bargain a special deal with you as you walk past. I think what we learned was that it was the same deal at each place!
We’d heard about the many museums and galleries around the city, but only managed to get to a couple during our visit.
As well as the older works of kings, queens, parliamentarians, there were also Andy Warhols, a recent portrait of William and Harry and THE original Kate Middleton portrait. Unfortunately no photos were allowed so couldn’t get a pic beside the princess.
We also went through the Natural History Museum which covers so much info from dinosaurs, stones and gems, birds from around the world to butterflies and insects. The building itself is impressive too, lovely architecture that houses a huge dinosaur skeleton in the main entrance
There are some nice walks along the Thames, and it’s a good way to get perspective of the modern buildings amongst the old.
The Tower of London itself was very popular the day we visited (especially with lots of school groups) so we decided not to go in, we can save that for our next trip.
To get around London apart fom walking we spent at least an hour a day on the Tube. Despite all our London resident friends complaints it works pretty well, and is fast and easy to get around. To be fair though we mainly avoided peak time travel.
The big finale to our time in London was the Ascot races. Not the greatest day in terms of the weather (we only used our picnic blanket as a makeshift umbrella) but lots of fun to have the day out with Amanda, Katie, Eric and Pip.
We didn’t see the Queen or place any bets but then again we probably did enough gambling in Vegas! You might ask what we wore, well for Rach the occasion called for a new dress and a pair of £6 shoes. On the other hand apart from undies, socks and a belt Matt borrowed his entire ensemble from Erics friend Andrew. Who knew he suited red pants.
While not the prettiest / nicest city we have visited by a long shot, we now understand that many kiwis put up with the terrible weather and high cost of living for pretty much one reason, being access to Europe travel. In addition to this there is a huge amount of world class activities events concerts etc happening almost every night of the week.
Our 11 nights in London was the longest stint we’ve had in one place so far on our trip and we couldn’t have done it without bunking down with friends.
Thank you so much to Amanda, Katie, Michael, Georgia, Eric and Pip for having us stay.
Remember we’d love to catch up again somewhere in Europe.