This is a recap of the second half of our London trip! If you want to read about days 1-3, click here.
I’ve said this before, but learning to travel with anyone has its learning curves! Nate and I have gone on several international trips together, and they just keep getting better and better. We’re learning one another’s travel styles, how to plan our days, and how much stuff we can safely pack into each day.
This trip was so wonderful. I think part of that was due to how we planned it:
We picked (1) activity per day, and left the rest free.
What the what? This felt kind of crazy to me! I was worried we’d have too much free time and waste it. (I’m definitely more of a “traveler” than “vacationer,” meaning I don’t do resorts/cruises/sit-on-the-beach-and-relax type of trips.) But you now what? 1 activity a day was perfect for Europe!
We had a little bit of structure in our days, but we also had the freedom to randomly hop on the tube and go to a cocktail bar we had just discovered.
Day 4: Sunday
^ Sunday roast! This is a thing in London, apparently? We went to Guinea Grill, a centuries-old restaurant in Mayfair that specializes in grass-fed Scotch beef. Their story is pretty fascinating! The building has been on site since 1423, and the main customers were farm laborores. But when the bubonic plague hit London un 1665 and then the Great Fire hit in 1666, the wealthy people of London starting moving west, crowding out the farm laborers.
In the early 1900s, Guinea Grill started offering exceptional Scotch beef to all the tourists heading to London. There was no menu, but customers could put a mark on the steak with how much they wanted. Before long, this was where film stars and celebrities and all the Who’s-Who of London wanted to eat.
^ Sunday roast!
^ We got one plate of roast and one steak and kidney pie and shared both plates. It was all so good!
^ We walked along Oxford Street to get to Hyde Park. All the Sunday shoppers were out! This street was packed.
^ The Marble Arch, which used to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace before it was relocated.
^ The weather on our trip was lovely! Except for the rain on Saturday, we got 60’s and sunny for most of the trip. It was a beautiful day to walk through Hyde Park.
Nate wanted to watch a soccer game, so he found a pub while I went out and did some shopping.
We snagged a table at Roti Chai for dinner. This was, sadly, the most disappointing meal of our trip. It all tasted like cheapy takeout food, some of it was served cold, and nothing was all that flavorful. I was kind of surprised by this, because I found out about it on this Condé Nast Traveler article, which usually has good recommendations.
When we were walking out, I went downstairs to use the restroom. There’s an entire separate dining room down there with a different menu! Oops.
Maybe that’s where we were supposed to dine?
^ Live and learn. Maybe I need to give Roti Chai another chance next time and dine downstairs.
^ Ice cream scoops to finish off Sunday night!
Day 5: Monday
^ The happiest Monday! Coffee + pastries at Notes, one of the coffee shops I enjoyed most when I was in London in 2015 .
^ We took our coffee to go and walked to our next destination: the Churchill War Rooms.
^ This museum was fascinating!! It’s not free like the other London museums, but it’s very well done and pretty quick to walk through. It took us about an hour. Definitely worth the ticket cost!
You get to walk through the Cabinet War Rooms, the underground bunker where Churchill and the British government led the Second World War from 1939-1946.
^ You get your own personal listening device, and you can walk through at your own pace.
^ This is the teeny tiny kitchen where Churchill’s chef would prepare his meals. For some reason, I was under the impression that Churchill lived down in this bunker for several weeks…but it was 6 years!!
^ Hitting up another darling Fuller’s pub near Borough Market! I can’t remember the exact name of this one, but it was absolutely beautiful.
^ Cheers! I love drinking beer with you. 🙂
^ We wandered around Borough Market for a few hours. This is one of the oldest public markets in London, dating back to the 12th century.
We grabbed some little bites while we walked around, then eventually grabbed some lunch.
^ Fudge from Whirld! They had so many fun flavors, like maple, chai, cinnamon, clotted cream, toffee… I got little pieces of a bunch of flavors, and then…
…they all tasted the exact same. Haha!
^ We walked into a booth that sells Spanish food and asked for some ham! The sweet woman at the counter let us taste pieces from three different ham legs, all raised in different regions and climates. They tasted completely different!
We got a few oz. and snacked on it in the shop. Totally took me back to our honeymoon to Spain last year!
^ Pad Thai from a little Thai booth. The line was crazy long, and everything was being made to-order in authentic woks, but this pad Thai was no good! It had hardly any flavor or spice at all.
^ Borough Market is a quick walk to Tate Modern. This is one of the free London Museums, so we enjoyed walking around for a while and looking at modern art.
^ We had tickets to see a show on Monday night, so we grabbed dinner beforehand at Duck and Rice, a Chinese restaurant that my friend Shveta recommended. It’s a sister restaurant to the famous Duck and Waffle, that restaurant with the crazy view! (I have it on my list for my next trip to London.)
^ We were dining in a hurry, so we just rattled off a bunch of things to our server and asked him to see if the kitchen could have them out kind of quickly. The next thing I knew, I looked down at our table and we had enough food to feed 6 people.
^ Book of Mormon on Monday night! *Insert all the crying-laughing emojis here.*
^ This was my first time seeing a musical in London. Someone mentioned to me that it’s a very casual environment, and she was right! Going to a theater in the United States is a whole event. People get so dressed up to see Broadway shows in NYC.
But this teeny Prince of Wales theater was very casual, and folks were dressed like they were going to see a movie. I dig it! I’m from Austin, and I like casual.
^ You know, just drinking beer outside on the street. I will never get over how fun this is! In London, you can order a beer in a pub and then take it outside, stand on the sidewalk, and drink it there.
^ Late night ice cream at Gelupo, which was easily the best gelato we tasted on the trip.
^ Heading home. Monday was so much fun!
Day 6: Tuesday
^ Nate slept in a bit on Tuesday, so I brought my kindle downstairs to breakfast and read while I dined solo. The breakfast room at our hotel overlooks a courtyard garden, and it was bright, sunny day! Such a happy start to my day.
^ We started the day at Buckingham Palace. I’m definitely not super into the royals or British history, but I did want to at least walk by the palace and say that I’d seen it. 😉
^ Back on the tube! Whenever we ride public transportation, Nate and I each put in our AirPods and listen to separate podcasts. (Haha….this is what happens when two introverts get married. We both need a moment of alone time every now and then, and when we travel together for a week, “alone time” means listening to a podcast on the train.)
^ We went to Ottolenghi for lunch! Sooo many of y’all messaged me on instagram and told me I had to eat here!
^ I own Plenty, his first cookbook, and I’ve made several recipes from it. But friends…this food just blew me away! It was wonderful!
He manages to use fresh veggies and meat and create healthy, balanced, flavorful meals that leave you completely satisfied.
^ We finished the meal and I told Nate, “that’s probably how I should eat every day.” Ha! I just felt so, so good from that meal.
^ We stopped in a pub afterward, and they had Christmas decorations up! So I had to order a porter, of course.
^ More wandering, walking, shopping, and pubs! We found this little one, and it’s a true neighborhood pub.
^ They even had a local cat! I think this might have been Nate’s favorite moment of the trip. 😉
^ I mean, what a life?!
^ This was my favorite pub of the journey. It’s not trendy or pretty, but it’s friendly. The owner, a 40-something woman, seemed to know all of her customers by name. She busily scurried around the pub, checking in on some, teasing others, keeping everything tidy. I just liked the energy in this place.
^ Lyle’s for a coffee break! This is technically a restaurant, but they have a great coffee program. We sat at the bar and rested our legs while we enjoyed a pour over and a cappuccino.
^ Boxpark is right across the street from Lyle. This is a park made of shipping containers. Each container is rented by a different restaurant or retail business; there are about 40 businesses represented, but the entire complex has a tiny footprint.
We need something like this in Austin.
^ I wanted a donut, so I grabbed one from Dumdums, one of the shops at Boxpark. Right after I paid, I noticed a sign that said, “baked donuts, never fried.” WHO DOES THAT? If I want a healthy pastry, I’ll eat a freaking bran muffin.
I ate a bite and threw the rest away. This wasn’t a good donut.
^ The next stop was wonderful, though! Worship Street Whistling Shop is a candlelit basement cocktail bar with mismatched vintage furniture, brick walls, and exceptional drinks.
^ I already want to go back! The gin list was vast, the cocktails were fun and creative (mine had earl grey and biscoff-infused gin!), and the ambiance was so cozy for date night.
^ And finally, the last meal of the trip was at the famous St. John. My friends: this place lived up to every bit of hype.
Fergus Henderson founded St. John in 1994. This was one of the first restaurants in the world to use nose-to-tail eating. It’s trendy and eco-friendly to use the entire animal now, but in the 1990s, no one was doing it! Fergus wrote Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking in 1999 as a gentler and kinder approach to eating meat.
^ Obviously, the menu is always rotating. But this Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad is one of the only items that’s consistently on the menu.
I’m going to make a bold statement:
This was the best thing I’ve eaten in the last 12 months. Now, obviously, food at a restaurant is about more than just taste. Other factors, like mood, dining partner, lighting, service, hunger level, and wine can change my opinion of the food. I think that everything lined up perfectly on this night, creating the perfect palate for this bone marrow and toasty bread. I get shivers just thinking about this dish! I can’t wait to eat it again someday.
^ We ate, ate, ate, ate, and ate some more. I was uncomfortably full at the end, but I really wanted to taste dessert! We ordered three desserts (rice pudding, cake with butterscotch sauce, and eclairs) and tasted nibbles of them.
This was the perfect meal to wrap up the trip!
^ One more stop for coffee at Over Under, our local London coffee shop. We grabbed some coffee then took the train to Heathrow on Wednesday morning for our flight back to Austin.
^ I snacked on some of those leftover eclairs from St. John while I waited to board the plane.
And then, after an easy 10 hour flight, we were back home and getting ready to go to ACL fest! (Psst: read my ACL recap here.)
I’m so happy you stopped by today! Looking for more travel recaps? Click here to see every travel post I’ve ever written.
Have a wonderful weekend!