London Calling

Hi, My name is Alise, and I’m absolutely terrible at making blog posts and editing trip photos. Actually, the photos were edited for a bit, it’s the writing part that takes so long…and squarespace’s back end is not made for as many photos as I try to upload at once.

Jonathon and I went on a last minute trip to London in October of last year!

We had a lovely time and it was a nice little holiday. Here are some pics and things we did there! By some, I mean a lot. I take too many photos haha. There is a mix of photos from my phone and camera, I’m sure you’ll be able to tell which is which.

Once we landed in London, we dropped our bags off at our hotel which was in Acton Town. Acton is about half an hour from London, and getting a hotel here saved us quite a bit of money. Travel to and from was easy, we had purchased the London Pass and with it came £50 of Underground entry per person. (Which I 100% recommend, by the way) The way the pass works is you get X amount per day, and once you hit that threshold, the rest of your train rides are free.

Acton was a half hour away from London, but it wasn’t much of a deal to ride a train a little longer if we saved a ton on the hotel. Our hotel was The Kings Head. It wasn’t the fanciest hotel we’ve ever been at, but it was super comfortable and had a lovely shower. The food in the pub was even good, which surprised me. We stayed here the entire duration of our trip!

Photo from Booking.com as I forgot to take a photo of our hotel for some reason. I was probably angry, sweaty, and tired when we first got there lol.

Photo from Booking.com as I forgot to take a photo of our hotel for some reason. I was probably angry, sweaty, and tired when we first got there lol.

Jonathon booked the hotel for a day early so we could shower and freshen up as soon as we landed. As soon as we did that, we popped in for some breakfast/brunch crepes at a cute little shop right down the street from our hotel called Mr. Bake Me. The crepes were delicious and much needed after a long flight.

After breakfast, we took a train towards central London to pick up our London Pass and wandered around a bit over there. We were fairly exhausted from the flights, so we took it super easy.

We took another train to Trafalgar Square and hung out for a bit..watching people draw and play instruments for the crowds and chased pigeons. We walked towards Big Ben and passed the Horse Guards and decided it was time to go back to the hotel and rest. We ended up eating dinner at the hotel and it was quite good. I had a pasta dish and baked camembert as an app.

After much needed sleep, we woke up bright and early and made our way to The Wolseley for breakfast and tea.

It was a lovely place, the tea, coffee, and food was delicious, even though mine didn’t photograph quite as nicely as it tasted. We left with very full bellies, excited for the day ahead.

We decided that our next stop was to be Buckingham Palace. As we were walking up, we heard loud music playing and people were everywhere. We’d accidentally shown up at the changing of the guard, which was fine by me. It was drizzly and crowded, but very cool to experience.

After we pushed through crowds, our next stop was Westminster Abbey photos weren’t allowed inside, so I might have snuck a few in areas that weren’t allowed. Once we got out of the worship area, we were ok for photos, so I got a few of the grounds.

We spent quite a while in Westminster Abbey…the audio guides were quite interesting and I’m always here for religious art and history. Once we left, we walked over to the Churchill War Rooms. Even with our London Pass tickets, I think we waited an hour to get in. Maybe a little longer. The bunker/museum was really interesting and I learned a lot more about Churchill than I ever learned in school, and WWII was probably my favourite to study in History. He was a stubborn bastard of a man lol. We spent over an hour in here. There was a lot to see and read and it was all super interesting.

After we left the war rooms, we headed over to Soho Square for some dinner. We had found a place called Six Storeys that was supposed to have a live jazz band that evening and booked a table. When we got there, they had a Christmas party going on (In October…) and weren’t having Jazz that evening. We were upset, but decided to stay for dinner. Food was good..I had a veggie burger but I don’t think it was nicely plated because I didn’t photograph it haha.

The next morning, made our way towards the Tower of London. Jonathon found a spot called Byward Kitchen & Bar that served a vegetarian English Breakfast. The restaurant area was lovely. Giant windows going all the way to the ceiling and it was surrounded by plants. Perfect scenery for breakfast.

The breakfast spot was right beside the Tower of London, so we only had to walk a few steps to get to our next destination. Almost every place we went to on our trip came with free entry because of the London pass, so we skipped all the lines and walked right into the fortress.

We spent quite a few hours here, actually. There was so much to see, so there are a ton of photos in this next gallery. Admission came with everything, so we were able to see the Tower as a fortress, palace, and prison.

We tried to go to every spot we could. We began with the tower’s mint, and went around the perimeter, starting with St. Thomas’ Tower and following the self guided tour. The Battlements, the Armory, The Bloody Tower and where they tortured prisoner… I almost got my phone snagged at the crown jewels because why am I not allowed to take photos of pretty jewelry? lol

We spent the most time in the White Tower, Britain’s most famous Castle. There was a gorgeous view of Tower Bridge from the top floor and the building was filled with really cool pieces of history.

Before we left, we had to visit the Tower Ravens, the guardians of the Tower. It is said that the kingdom and the Tower of London will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. There are seven ravens at the Tower today — the required six, plus one to spare. They get a special treat sometimes of biscuits soaked in blood. Yum.

Next stop, Tower Bridge. We took an elevator to the very top and it gave us a gorgeous view of London. The floor is made of glass, so we were able to see busy London below.

Once we finished up top, we took a walk down to the Engine rooms to see the authentic machinery that once lifted the bridge’s 1000 tonne bascule.

We were a little tired, but not ready to call it a day yet, so we took a long walk to the underground and made our way over to the Beefeater Gin Distillery. I’m not someone that likes or enjoys Alcohol, but it’s very cool to see the things that each country is know for. It started in Ireland with Guinness (which I didn’t like), and we had Champagne in Champagne, France. So, it’s become sort of a tradition on accident.

The Beefeater Gin Distillery in London produces approximately 2.3 million nine-litre cases a year from the one small distillery in London, with less than 10 employees. Beefeater Gin remains hand crafted to a recipe that hasn’t changed since the 1800s.

The tour is self guided and we were able to wander through the rooms reading about Alcohol, and specifically Gin was like through the years. We got to see, smell, and feel the ingredients that are use to produce the Gin and then we were led into the back to see where they distill everything.

Afterwards, we were given a Gin and Tonic made with the Iconic Beefeater gin, and as polite as I tried to be, I may have made a face when sipping it and tried to hide the fact that I didn’t drink any more than half a sip haha. As much as I don’t like Gin, I was a big fan of their branding.

By now, we were starving, so we made our way to the Borough Market, one of the largest and oldest markets in London….dating back at least until the 12th Century. Unfortunately, we got there right at close, so I didn’t get a chance to take many photos, but it was a neat little marketplace.

We originally were going to go to this pasta place beside the Market. It was one of those that doesn’t accept reservations and you just have to wait in a massive line to hope to get in before food runs out…we thought we would be good since we got there 30 minutes before open, but the line was wrapped around and around the block! So, we went to the next spot serving vegetarian meals on the list, Fish! J had fish and chips, obv, and I had some sort of eggplant parmesan, which was the special of the day. Not bad!

Our last spot for the evening was The Shard, a 95 story skyscraper with a gorgeous 360 degree view of London. We timed it so we would get there right before sunset, so we caught it in daylight and in the gorgeous glow of sunset.

The agenda for this day was to see Kew Gardens. We popped in to Antipodea for a delicious breakfast in the most cozy setting. I love being surrounded by plants.

I had blueberry pancakes with caramelized banana and Crème fraîche and J had chorizo folded eggs on housemade sourdough.

We walked a few blocks to the gardens entrance and made our way inside. I could have spent a week here! Every single thing was just so gorgeous. I took way too many photos, so I hope you enjoy.

The Palm house was the first building we went to..it is an indoor rainforest and has tropical plants from the most threatened environments of the world. “Rainforest plants cover only 2% of the world’s surface but make up 50% of species – vital to sustaining life on earth. Kew scientists rely on the Palm House collection for research into medicine and sustainable cropping. “

The Palm house was the first glass house build at this scale and was built in 1844.

After we spent quite a while in the Palm house, we opened the door to the nice, cool, dry air and walked over to an even warmer climate in the Waterlily House.

This house was built in 1852 and was designed specifically to showcase the giant Amazon waterlily. The use fish and dye the water black with a harmless food dye to prevent algae growth. Plus, I think the black water is prettier..tbh. ~aesthetic~

We left the WaterLily House and walked over to the Princess of Wales Conservatory. This building hosts 10 temperature controlled climate zones providing fascinating ecosystems for our enjoyment—from dry tropics to super dense, steamy zones

We wandered around the gardens for a while, stopping for snacks, viewed the Hive art installation, and walked atop the treetops , 18 meters (60ft) up, to view the gardens from above.

The last stop on our Kew tour was the Temperate House. The Temperate house houses 1,500 species of plants (about 10,000 individual plants) from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands. These plants need to stay above 10c to survive. Despite being the foundation of much life on Earth, many of these plants are under threat. Kew and its partners are working to rescue these rare or extinct plants.

What a gorgeous place to visit. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re ever in London.

Popped back to London for dinner! We ended up going to Rosa’s Thai Cafe because of the amount of vegetarian options they had on the menu. The place was small and crowded, but we got in and were served very quickly They have a cookbook for vegetarian Thai food and I bought it on amazon before I even tried the food. Spoiler alert, the food was amazing. They accidentally sent out the wrong item for me, so I just got to try more food haha.

After we were stuffed with amazing Thai, we walked down the road for some Gelato at Amorino. They serve gelato in a rose formation. Super delicious, but I’m always down for ice cream.

As we ate our gelato, we walked over to Piccadilly Circus to see the screens and performers. Some kids were jumping over each other to pumpy music and another guy was playing the flaming bagpipes.

For our next day, we started off bright and early with breakfast at Apero in South Kensington. The restaurant was nestled in the The Ampersand Hotel. I had avocado toast with feta and poached eggs and J had coffee, smoked salmon and eggs.

We made our way to the Natural History Museum. Such a gorgeous building with the most spectacular entryway. Many of the exhibits were outdated and the taxidermy was some of the original (and very hilariously bad), but it was still a lovely visit. We wandered about for a while.

We took a mighty long walk to Kensington Gardens because I’d always had wanted to see the Peter Pan statue. On our way back from the statue, we noticed a ton of birds flying about and realize they were wild parakeets? No one is really sure how they got there. It’s been said they escaped while filming The African Queen in 1951, or were released in the Great Storm of 1987….It’s rumored that Jimi Hendrix set free a breeding pair on Carnaby Street in the 1960s..or the birds just escaped a pet shop in the 70s. Who knows. It’s a wild experience for all of them to just flock to you and sit on you. (and chew your fingers and hair lol)

After we hung out with the birds and few brave squirrels, we walked towards Kensington Palace and ended up hanging out with some very calm swans.