Thursday, June 1st, 2017
Weather: High 76/Low 57 mostly cloud
Distance: 17,014 steps, 8 miles
My plane landed at 11am and I caught the 1pm Gatwick Express to Victoria Station in London. It was a red eye flight so I needed a little pick me up and stopped at Caffe Nero for an Espresso Macchiato. The plan was to take the subway to my Air Bnb but not going to lie, once I got to the train station I was having a hard time knowing where to go. I almost gave up and took a taxi. But, I’m not a quitter and went back inside and eventually figured out where to go and took the “tube” to Waterloo station. I quickly checked in, rinsed off, and headed back out to meet up with a bike tour I had scheduled.
I was super hungry and picked up a sandwich at Pret a Manager, or Pret, those places were everywhere! I used Fat Tire for my bike tour- It was alright. The tour went all over and I’ll breeze through all the places, and include why we went there, in case you don’t know what they are (like I didn’t). We went by Kensington Palace and its gardens (Princes and Princesses lived here, like Princess Diana after her divorce), Hyde Park, Hyde Park Corner (Duke of Wellington Arch), Buckingham Palace (they fly the royal standard flag when the queen is there and the British flag when she isn’t), Green Park, St. James Park, Clarence House (Prince Charles lives there), and then we had a break at Trafalgar Square.
Of course there was a Pret there so I got a drink. When the tour continued we saw Admiral T Arch, Horse Guard Parade grounds (For all you Parks and Rec fans that is where Andy and Lord Fancy Pants flew their helicopter in Season 6 Episode 1), Big Ben, which is attached to parliament, Victoria Tower, West Minster Abby (which was built in the 13th century), and ending with Royal Albert Hall.
After the tour was over I went to Soho. I tried to go to Barrafina for Spanish tapas but when the wait was over an hour, fate stepped in and lead me to Pilgrim Pizza. I got the Napoli Salami and Sweet Peppers and a Birra Moretti beer. Spoiler alert!! This may be my favorite pizza I’ve ever had and I consider myself a pizza connoisseur. Maybe I was super hungry and will need to go back at some point to confirm but at the time, this is what I wrote, ‘The pizza was fantastic as the crust was really light and the meat and ingredients are so flavorful.’ It gets no better than that! After the best pizza ever I stopped by Amorino for gelato. I thought I was stopping by some local joint but it turned out to be a global chain. What do you know?! Super good though! I finished the day at The Old Coffee House and had a Brodie’s Jamaican stout. Two years later and I can still remember, that beer was not good..
Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Weather: High 74/Low 61 mostly cloudy and rainy
Distance: 24,311 steps, 11.7 miles
My Air Bnb host was hanging out and we had a late breakfast together; she gave me the highlights of things to do. I didn’t end up leaving until like noon but the first stop was to be a true Londoner and get fish and chips from Fishcotheque. After, I headed down to South Bank, right by the river. It was a very touristy area with food trucks, street art, and restaurants.
Next I cruised by Gabriel's Wharf and ended at the Tate museum of modern art. I’m not an artsy dude but I found myself liking the works of Piet Mondrian from the Netherlands. Shakespeare Globe was right there but didn't go in and headed toward St. Paul's cathedral before getting stuck in the rain. Apparently it rains frequently in London but no one told me, so after about 30 minutes I decided to catch one of those iconic black cabs and took it to E. Pellicci. The restaurant was established in 1900 and won Love London 2016. It was a super authentic Italian place and very friendly. It was also in the Netflix show The Innocents for anyone who has seen that.
Making my way back down Brick Lane the smells drew me into the Brick Lane Bakery where I had an apple slice and doughnut. They were both very good but the smells were better. This wandering lead me to the London Bridge and the London Tower before getting caught in the rain again.
All this sitting in the rain really made me want to grab a drink so I headed to the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese which was a pub that was rebuilt in the 1667. I walked by the royal courts of justice and got dinner at Sitar Indian. It was a restaurant that was in the Rick Steves London guide book 2014/2015 and had the Chicken Tikka Masala.
My host said that iconic London food is fish and chips and chicken marsala, I knocked both out in one day. I’m basically a local. Near by was the Covent Gardens and I got Ben's Cookies. I got the white chocolate chunk and peanut and milk chocolate cookie. They were by far the best cookies I've ever had, but I am no a cookie connoisseur. The walk continued by New Scotland Yard, Big Ben, parliament, Westminster Abby and across the Westminster bridge to see the London Eye.
Saturday, June 3rd, 2017
Weather: High 74/Low 61 mostly cloud and rainy
Today was my last day and went to The Cut for brunch and got a real English breakfast of eggs, sausage bacon, tomato and toast. It wouldn’t be a day in London without a stop at Pret, so I grabbed so snacks for my train to Paris.
Getting Around: 10/10
The city is big and spalling but I was able to walk most of it. There is a subway and those iconic black cabs and I'm sure an uber equivalent. I took a bike tour and that was easy to navigate around.
Things to do: 9/10
I wasn't in London very long but it very familiar to NYC so I would imagine that there would be more things to do than I was aware of. Even if, I still found historical sites, good food, and a bunch of pockets of different areas that would be cool to go back to and check out.
I have to rank it pretty high if I had some restaurants that I really liked. I wasn't there long enough to get a full grasp on everything but it seemed like they would have a bit of everything.
London got a 9.5, not because it did anything wrong, I was there just such a short time. I'm already wanting to plan a trip back to do it the right way. The city reminded me a lot of NYC, probably because the same people designed them! London has famous landmarks, historic places, great food and drinks, public transportation to easily get around, cultural events, free events, and more. When I went there I thought I had the best pizza of life (this has happened before and I'm always disappointed the next time) and cookies (I had them again and they weren't the same). The more I look into London, they have some of the best cocktail bars and restaurants in the world. It truly looks like you can do it all here also. But, as I said, I just was there such a short time I wasn't there to experience it all, yet.You can see where that ranks against the other places I've gone here.
My Non-Obvious London Recommendations:
What To Bring
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HELLO AND WELCOME!
I'm Jake, a dude interested in personal finance and travel creating the life I choose.
In 5 years I went from living in a basement with Craigslist roommates to paying off 90k of debt, backpacking 3 continents, getting a house for myself and 5 rental units.
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All photos on the blog are from my travels
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