London

London is my favorite place on earth, plain and simple. This trip we did some of the things that I would do when I lived here.

Day 1: Skipton to London

Another day, another train trip, another train delay. Again because of a fatality. This time we were moved to a parallel train and then just waited on that train for a couple of hours until the incident cleared. Then we made our way onto King’s Cross.
We opted to walk from Kings Cross the mile to our hotel rather than taking the tube part of the way. We were a little sweaty when we got there but it wasn’t a bad walk. There were lots of people out and about; it appears the University of London just started in the last couple of days. Lots of student types out.

After dropping our bags at the hotel we walked over to the Norfolk Arms for Neck Oil IPA before heading across the street to the North Sea fish restaurant where we ate fish and chips. And then we walked back to our tiny room which is thankfully not on the top floor! We overlook the backyard rather than Gower Street and the potentially noisy manhole cover.

9,528 steps today

Gower Street
Gower Street in Bloomsbury, near the University of London and the British Museum.

This was our second trip to London. On our first visit we hit some of the more common sights: the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's, Hampton Court, and so on. You can read about that here.

Day 2: Shopping and Immersive Theatre

Breakfast here at the Ridgemount has changed a little since we were last most likely due to COVID. You now order cereal rather than it sitting out on a table. And I swear the breakfast is bigger than I remember it but whatever. Still the nice family-owned place we love.

Michigan sweatshirt
Random Michigan nonsense sweatshirt.

Then in the evening we went to The Burnt City after beer and pizza at SALT Woolwich. The beer and pizza was good. Very good in fact. We had reservations though we didn’t end up needing them.

Today we went shopping on Oxford Street which was pretty much a non-event. The stores were very warm so we didn’t spend much time in them but we did check out Primark and Uniqlo and Selfridges. Didn’t buy anything. Uniqlo still has good prices on Merino wool but nothing we couldn’t live without.

beer and reserved sign

The immersive theater experience was interesting. It was dark and smoky and confusing at times. Some of the scenes that were acted out were difficult to understand. It was more about mood and emotions I think then an actual storyline. They deliberately work to separate you right from the beginning. So Steve and I were separated from the get-go but then managed to find ourselves in the labyrinth that was Troy. Eventually I found Greece, after I met up with Steve. We were there for about two hours at which point I was desperately thirsty and super sweaty and my knees were hurting. So we went to the bar and sat and had some cold water and then decided we might as well leave.

We took the Elizabeth line back to Tottenham Court Road and stopped off at the College Arms for a pint. While we were sitting there a troop of 20 to 30 college students showed up. They managed to actually get inside and get beer and then brought it back out to the sidewalk and chattered like magpies. So we went home.

17,482 steps today

Day 3: Tate Museums and Shakespeare

Today we visited the Lady of Shalott — one of my favorite paintings — at the Tate Britain. Where they had other great art to look at too!

modern apartments
Talk about living in a fishbowl ...

We took the Thames boat down to the Tate Modern, which was new to both of us.

The city was beautifully highlighted in the late afternoon glow.

Thames view

Then we had some more traditional theater in the way of Shakespeare’s The Tempest with a nice meal beforehand at the Swan. We actually bought a bottle of wine with dinner. It was all good and the bread was delicious. The setting at the Globe Theatre was different being open air although we had a roof over our heads and cushions for our butts on the wood benches. It was a light-hearted take on the play with some references to the Tate Modern and to Harry Potter. Oh,and Prospero in a canary yellow Speedo.

After the play we walked across the weebly wobbly bridge aka the Millennium bridge and caught the tube at St Paul’s.

12,925 steps today

Day 4: Harry Potter Studio Tour

Today we did the Harry Potter studio tour up at Watford Junction. Back in London we went to the Euston Square tube station and got our railcards attached to our Oyster cards by the kind guy over by the turnstiles. Then we walked over to the Museum Tavern where we sat outside for a Greene King IPA that was not very good followed by a Neck Oil IPA and a burger and barbecue chicken. Both meals were good and filling. We finished up with a pint of Guinness each.

9,926 steps today

Gryffindor common room
Gryffindor common room. This always looked so cozy in the movies. It does in "real life" too.

Day 5: Greenwich

Today we went to Greenwich. Luckily there’s a #188 bus that goes from Russell Square all the way to Greenwich by way of some neighborhoods on the south side of the river that I haven’t seen much if at all. It wasn’t what I would call scenic but it was more interesting than the tube. We got a seat right up front on top. Traffic was terrible and the woman across from us was complaining about the lorries parking in the bus lane. 

We took the Docklands Light Railway on the way back since I hadn’t done that before either. That’s a whole different side of London with all the glass towers. We stopped off at the Rising Sun on Tottenham Court Road for a pint and once we saw how much they were we only had one. We walked down the street to the College Arms where we had another couple of pints and dinner.

ship in a bottle
Ship in a bottle outside the National Maritime Museum.

We were back home before dark where we had a brief chat with our host about the fact that they’re getting the lounge back. For the last few days there’s been furniture and drapes and things like that stacked up in there. Apparently they’re doing some remodeling as she said they pretty much are always doing.

10,268 steps today

Day 6: Portobello Road and The Windsor Castle

Another light day today. We took the tube to Ladbroke Grove for the Portobello Market. The tube was pretty crowded and the station was even more crowded as we got off and made our way down stairs and through the turnstiles. The market itself was also busy though not packed. We were able to walk along at a slow pace and not get separated too much. Didn’t see anything worth buying.

Then we walked over to the Windsor Castle pub for lunch and beer. Since it was a nice sunny day we asked to sit outside. Had I known we would be sitting on the edges of somebody’s cocktail party I might not have done that but it was still nice to be outdoors. Besides two points of Neck Oil we had chicken with garlic and rosemary and a pan roasted cod with samphire, which turns out to be some kind of vegetable. It’s good!

From there we walked down to High Street Kensington where we caught the tube back to our place for a bit. Now we’re out for the last beer — maybe two who knows? — at the Marlborough Arms right around the corner.

9,265 steps today

Day 7: Victoria & Albert Museum

We hit the V&A Museum to check out some different areas. We took the tube there and started out taking the #14 bus back but then the bus stopped at Hyde Park Corner and since there was tons of traffic we decided to just hop on the tube at that point and take that the rest of the way.

V&A entrance

We walked over to the Museum Tavern which was closed so we ended up having a couple of beers at the College Arms before having dinner at Chettinad.

8,919 steps today

Day 8: Brighton

We spent our last day in England in Brighton. I’ve been wanting to see the Royal Pavilion since it was being reconstructed back in the ’80s when I was last in Brighton. So we took the train down this afternoon.

Brighton Pavilion above trees

LWe actually had about the best beach whether you could expect for this time of year. It was about 60° and sunny. Almost wished we had more time to spend at the beach.

We plan to go to the Museum Tavern tonight and get some traditional pub food for our last night.

13,709 steps today

Ridgemount Hotel entry
Ridgemount Hotel entrance. All the hotels on the street look similar on the outside.

Essentials​

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Lodging

We stayed at the Ridgemount Hotel the last time we were in London too. We like the friendly, family-owned atmosphere and love the location in Bloomsbury. As long as we don’t win the lottery or become allergic to stairs this will always be where we stay in London. Our room wasn’t huge but large enough and clean and well set up.

Dining

You can get whatever you want somewhere in London, and probably a lot of things you didn’t know existed. We enjoyed our meals though we got harassed about a tip at the North Sea, which was a first here. 

Transportation

London has excellent public transportation. The tube is easiest and generally quickest, though not interesting. Buses are slower but you get a view. We used the Heathrow Express train to get to and from the airport and while it’s the most expensive option it’s also the quickest and easiest, depending on where you’re heading once in the city. We got an Oyster card so we didn’t have to keep pulling our credit cards out but you can just use a contactless credit card and get the same rate.

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