A very short stay in London
Pictured above: London and The Thames as viewed from an upper floor of the Tate Modern.
Continuing the story of my short trip to the UK last November (I know this is way overdue but just wait, I have more), I wanted to make London its own post because I did do some fun, touristy things. I left Birmingham on a Virgin Express train late on a Saturday afternoon with plans to make my way to an Airbnb in the Hammersmith neighborhood of London. It was pretty late when I arrived and I had some trouble finding the place so I was tired and annoyed when I reached it and the instructions leading to it were not that great, to be honest. I have a good sense of direction and can follow maps well but I got so turned around and was annoyed. Once I checked in and dropped my stuff, I headed to a nearby pub called The Distillery for food and beer. There was some misunderstanding with seating there, and long story short, I got to eat sitting down but there was a worry that I was going to have to stand at first. I enjoyed several beers here and a burger. I was so hungry and had had a long day of dragging my stuff around and I think jet lag was starting to wear me down. And I gave myself some grace regarding that because I’d been traveling since November 2 and it was the 24th.
After dinner, I went back to my Airbnb with plans to let myself sleep in, and then head to the Tate Modern, walk to Covent Garden for a late lunch, and then head to the theatre for The Lion King! I’d bought a ticket upon my arrival in London, laying in bed actually, for the matinee show and I was really excited to see it since Karlie, Zoe, and others on my trip had raved about the stage musical version.
I was riding the Tube toward the Tate when I realized I’d arrive a bit earlier than it opened and that I was about to pass the transfer station to take the train line that went straight to St. John’s Wood, the station that is closest to the famous pedestrian crossing featured on the cover of the Beatles’ album, Abbey Road. I thought for about 5 seconds and jumped off at the transfer station. I have visited London 3 other times, but had only been to Abbey Road once, in 2003, so I really wanted to go back. I am really glad that I did! I didn’t walk the zebra crossing, but I took photos of the sign, didn’t really remember the neighborhood that much at all (surprising considering my creepy memory, but maybe the ‘hood has changed a lot?), and then browsed and shopped the Abbey Road studios store. I loved seeing all of the other Beatles fans walking and taking photos and enjoying their own pilgrimage to the neighborhood. It is one thing to be amongst tourists somewhere all in the same space like the Eiffel Tower, or all enjoying a view somewhere after a hard hike (ahem, Grouse Grind) it is a slightly difference experience to visit something like Abbey Road and see other people doing the same, where you’re appreciating it for a different reason that is not immediately apparent.
After Abbey Road, I hopped back on the Tube to go to the Tate Modern, which was free! I didn’t know that when I planned to go. I enjoy contemporary and modern art and I don’t think I’d ever been to that particular gallery before, it is HUGE and the space is pretty unique because it was an old industrial building. I really enjoy repurposed spaces like that and I took photos of some of the artwork that spoke to me or that I found FASCINATING (like a sculpture of cooked couscous!). I really enjoyed my visits because the Tate had some thought-provoking and really unique installations while I was there. I can’t even elaborate but just think that when you've got the opportunity to go there or any contemporary art museum, go. The more you grow, the more it grows on you.
After the Tate, I headed across the Thames in the direction of Covent Garden to eat some lunch before The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. I wandered only for a little bit before stopping at Grays & Feather because it had bubbles, small plates, was very close to the theatre, and did not look busy. But I walked in at the perfect time because it quickly filled up! I really enjoyed my wine here and the meal I ordered, I had a salad and a small cheese and charcuterie plate as well as a glass of sparkling rose. I was able to quickly dine and get to the theatre early to find my seat.
I obviously did not take photos during the performance, but it was amazing! Well worth the hype and the price and all of the rave reviews I’d heard were true. I enjoyed every minute of the performance. If you have a chance to experience a stage production of The Lion King, I highly recommend going!
After the Lion King, I didn’t want to head straight back to my airbnb because it was early (but pitch black already) and I had always wanted to go to The American Bar at The Savoy for a cocktail. I knew it would be pricey, but I walked toward the Savoy, was seated at my own cozy table for two and treated with impeccable service. I ordered one cocktail here, and their menu has since changed but I enjoyed the drink and the snacks that were brought for me to munch on while I enjoyed my drink. You will not be disappointed if you go here. it isn’t my typical crowd, but it was something I’ve always wanted to do while in London and since I was finally an adult with disposable income and a short visit to expensive London, I felt okay dropping more than I normally would on one cocktail. I left and decided to wander the streets back toward my airbnb and that I would stop along the way for food when I got tired. Wow was that kind of a bad decision! I ended up wandering some very desolate streets because it was cold and most people were holiday shopping or doing holiday activities like the German themed fair, etc. I also just didn’t pick the best route.
I ended up walking through Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, and by Buckingham Palace. It was a really great walk for sightseeing just not for food. I eventually had to whip out my phone to head in the general direction of restaurants and stumbled upon a very simple and quiet German restaurant where I ordered a Riesling, a salad, and some type of fall style spaetzle. It was all tasty but I can’t remember the name of the restaurant and to be honest, there are probably much more unique places in London to eat so it is just as well that I can’t remember.
Finally, I walked back to my Airbnb and CRASHED because I was leaving on a noon flight the next day out of Gatwick. I had plans to wake up and go for a run (I’m glad that I did) and then have a leisurely morning getting coffee and a pastry in the neighborhood before taking the Tube to Victoria station to take the express to Gatwick. All in all, I’m so happy that I could make the entire trip. The focus was definitely Birmingham and the wedding and visiting with old friend’s, but I was happy to spend a day and a half in London as well.