So I’m calling today day 2 in London. It was the first full day we had here. We woke up well rested and hit the busy rain slicked streets before the light of day.
We grabbed a quick bite at Starbucks, which by the way, they have a very different menu here then then we do in the states. They call oatmeal porridge, but they still have soy milk and lots of dairy free offerings so I was set. Since it was Wednesday, we kept with tradition by going to find a great vantage point to watch the sunrise and feel close to Dalton.
We took the Underground from Angel Station by our hotel to Bank Station. I have to say I do love how easy it is to figure our way around London. Even though it’s probably one of the largest cities I’ve ever visited, it has it’s transportation down. We joined the hustle and bustle of busy commuters on their way to work. Way more of a crowd than we’re used to on our normal Wednesday morning trip to Lake Weir to watch the sunrise!
We found a great spot on London Bridge to watch the sun come up over the Tower Bridge. By 8:00 it was clear the clouds were winning the battle with sun and there wasn’t going to be much of a sunrise to witness. But as always we were grateful to be together and blessed enough to partake in a sunrise. Whether we can see it or not, we can always feel it and have faith that if the sun is rising, other great things in the universe are at work.
We found a quick little café to grab a snack and then we boarded the double decker bus to do the rest of the route we ran out of time to finish the day before. We had a live tour guide on the first bus, Patrick. He was a lot of fun and very informative. We got some amazing photos and at 10am the sun finally broke through the clouds for one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. It was truly magical to watch the golden rays reflect off of Big Ben and London’s other amazing relics.
By noon we were a bit numb from sitting outside on the upper deck of the bus, and I was hangry. Lets face it, I need to be fed at least every 3 hours or I get cranky. Add cold weather to that and look out! So we got off the bus in Notting Hill and found another Starbucks.
Before you all yell at me for only going to Starbucks when I’m in London, I have to say a few things. I’m a creature of habit, I’m lactose intolerant so trying new foods are scary! (i.e. flight to London incident) We have no wifi or cell phone service here and Starbucks had it for free! Plus there are seriously about 3 Starbucks on every street here! It’s nuts! I really need to do a search of how many are in London. I’ve even started taking pictures of some of them that are in really cool looking old historic London locations.
Anyway, we got another breakfast sandwich and black coffee and defrosted a bit while we took the opportunity to plug back in. This trip has definitely opened my eyes to how addicted to being plugged in I’ve become. I’ve truly only had an iphone for 2 months and already feel helpless without it. My smart phone before this was, let’s just say not so smart, but still I’d become dependent on it. Philip and I keep going to look things up, like google maps, bus routes, restaurants in the area, times and prices of local attractions. We’re so used to having these details at our finger tips that it feels so foreign to have to do it the old fashion way. It’s nice to know we still can, but after shredding one map and having our compass send us in the wrong direction, I’ll take my iphone back please!
So now I’m happily back in our hotel room, racking up as much wifi as I can while Philip works. I’ve noticed how much everyone in London seems to be addicted to their phones as well. Everywhere advertises if they have wifi in their shops. Most aren’t free, like our hotel, and a lot run on The Cloud network, which is apparently an app to run wifi in most free UK location. I finally figured out how to download it today, so hopefully now we won’t only be limited to Starbucks wifi. We even saw wifi phone booths! Crazy! Everyone here walks around with their phones out and ear buds plugged in. It’s a strange experience being crammed on a commuter train or bus with a million ipeople. No one talks and when they’re walking, I’m surprised that more people don’t cause traffic accidents because they walk, face down into their phones. I definitely got shoulder checked a time or two when I didn’t get out of the way fast enough.
After our 3rd food break of the day we caught another bus up to Regents Park. It was one of our favorite places the last time we visited London and it was as beautiful as I remembered. We rented some bicycles and took advantage of the break in the weather and cruised around the park until we found our favorite bench. We stopped to soak up the sun and reminisce. It was my favorite part of the day. That spot will always be special to us. We took some more photos and then were on our way.
We were in search of a local pub to get some lunch and a beverage. We found Allsop Arms. They had a great lunch special with drinks so we stopped in for another break before pressing on to grab the double decker tour bus again. We took this route all the way to Westminster and got some amazing sunset photos while contemplating if we wanted to do the London Eye. After deciding I might be too claustrophobic to be enclosed in a slowly moving glass coffin suspended 443 feet above the Thames, we opted to take a historic river cruise instead.
The cruise was awesome. It was right at sunset and it offered stunning views from the water that you’d miss through any other form of transportation. We sipped coffee to stay warm and kissed under the bridges. We hoped off at the Tower of London and took a scenic walk around the grounds. We ended up wandering over to St. Katherine’s Docks. Apparently it’s a well kept gem right in the middle of London. There were cute shops and cafes mixed in with amazing yachts and old fishing boats. We crossed a narrow foot bridge and stumbled upon The Dickens Inn! As in Charles Dickens! So of course I wanted to check it out. His grandson transformed the 18th century wooden warehouse into a lively pub and inn. It’s so charming and there are quotes from Dickens’ work carved into the exposed wood beams. We absolutely loved it.
After our drinks with Dickens we ventured home, braving the tube at rush hour. That was a tourist mistake for sure. I’ve never been so claustrophobically terrified! I should have done the Eye. It would have seemed like we were in MSG compared to the tube! I was so scared that with the amount of people funneling into the train that we were going to get shoved straight through the other side! Half way through the ride home I was just praying we’d be able to get out when we did stop! Being packed like a sardine on a hot speeding bullet full of people under ground is kind of terrifying!
Somehow I made it off that death sleigh with my wits intact, but I decided I needed some retail therapy to help wipe that unpleasantness from my memory, so we hit up the Islington Shopping Center! An hour later we finally made it back to our hotel room.
So let’s see, here’s a quick recap of a few things I learned about London today:
- You need wifi or data on your phone to make traveling around the city easier.
- You need to get out of people’s way when they’re walking to work, they walk really fast and even tiny girls half your height can somehow power walk right past you like you’re standing still.
- Lots of people run and ride bikes everywhere. Get out of their way! They don’t pause for tourists stopping to take photos.
- Londoners order beer with sparkling water in it! Who knew? Can someone tell me why? Are they alcoholic equivalents to vampires or something? Not too much booze before sundown?
- You can rent bicycles at the park, but you aren’t supposed to ride them in the park, where it’s nice and calm and safe. No they’re rather you take your life in your hands on the crazy London streets! We rode in the park and played the ‘merica card on that one.
- Also I feel I should warn you, there seems to be no maximum occupant limit on the tube! As long as you don’t actually get caught in the door when it’s closing it’s acceptable!
But all in all, we are loving our London adventure! I can’t wait to see what fun we get into tomorrow. So far we have Tower of London and the London Book Festival on the agenda!