London – Day 5

A day trip to Bath was a really hard journey to follow, but we still had three days left in London to explore, sight see, and eat, of course!

My husband’s parents contributed to a 3-day London Pass as part of his birthday present, so we saved that for our last three days. I’ll make a separate post that gives details and all my thoughts on the London Pass.

As I noted in earlier posts about our London journey, there were several things that didn’t quite go as I had planned, so I was determined to make our last three days flawless (dumb mistake, y’all).

We had to pick up our London Pass and travel card in person, which was fine except that the office didn’t open until 10 am. For me, that’s already a late start! Once we picked up our stuff, which was easy and quick, I ran in a Caffe Nero because we hadn’t had breakfast and this girl needs coffee to start the day (it’s sad, actually, because if I don’t have coffee I usually end up with a headache around noon).

I thought we could take the double decker bus that is offered on the Pass, but we couldn’t ever figure out where that started or what company we were supposed to be with, so we basically just wandered all over the place all morning. I was a basket case because I hate wasting time when I’m traveling in a new place.

Finally we just took the tube to the Tower of London. I knew that this area would be a crowded part of the city, but I figured a Friday would be a little calmer. Wrong. This area was absolute chaos, especially as we walked closer to the entrance to the Tower.

Views of the Tower Bridge are really fantastic here, though, so I do recommend a stop for some photo ops; because of the great view, this is also pretty much selfie-central, so be prepared for that.

Cargo Jacket, old (similar) | Boom Boom Joggers, Stitch Fix | Striped Top, Banana Republic Factory (similar) | Sandals | Straw Crossbody Purse

We were absolutely overwhelmed when we walked in, and I couldn’t find a map anywhere. A tour with the Yeoman Warder had just started, so we decided to just jump in with the crowd and follow him – and we were both really glad we did! The information they provide is SO interesting, especially when he explained what it took to become a Yeoman Warder. (They are NOT tour guides! In fact, “Yeoman Warders must have served in the armed forces for at least 22 years, reaching the rank of warrant officer, and they must also have been awarded the long service and good conduct medal” [Tower of London Site].)

One of my recommendations if you’re planning on visiting the Tower of London is to familiarize yourself with their facilities map before visiting. I didn’t do that, and I think our experience would’ve been a bit better if I had. You live and learn, I guess!

I didn’t get a lot of pictures because it was so crowded. The building above is where the Crown Jewels are located, and I wish you could actually see how the line dips down the hill to the left. I don’t think I’ve waited in a line that long at Disney World, and to be honest, I was incredibly underwhelmed; John and I just kind of looked at each other when we walked out and said, “we waited in line for that??”

I wanted to see the torture exhibition (I know, I’m weird and kind of fascinated by the morbid side of history), but we were so over all the obnoxious people and children that we were just ready to get out of there.

It was lunchtime at this point, and next on the itinerary was to visit Borough Market. All the posts and recommendations I read about London highly encouraged visiting the markets, and it was really enjoyable to walk around and see all the food, drink, and product offerings.

And naturally my doughnut radar led us to Bread Ahead!

We grabbed four, and I’m struggling to remember the flavors. I know John got a jam-filled (I think jam/jelly doughnuts are gross) and a custard-filled. The one on the bottom left is a caramel custard with honeycomb, and I can’t remember the top right flavor.

For our actual lunches, I got fish and chips from fish! and John grabbed a bratwurst. The fish and chips were solid, but I wasn’t blown away. The doughnuts were good, but I have a MAJOR sweet tooth, and one thing I noticed in London was that the desserts aren’t as sweet as what you get in the U.S. (which is probably a good thing, but it was hard for me to really satisfy my sweet tooth). So, I have to say that we win when it comes to doughnuts. Sorry, London.

Gnawing on that honeycomb was super satisfying, though!

Because the Tower of London took so long, we were kind of limited in what we could get into at this point since a lot of the tourist sights close at 5. One thing that wasn’t on my itinerary was The View from the Shard, but since we were right there, we decided to go ahead and do it since our London Pass covered it.

I’m not usually big on attractions that take you up super high just for a view, but this was actually really nice, kind of relaxing at the top, and the views of London were pretty amazing.

Would I have gone up if we didn’t have our London Pass? For £25, probably not, but I am glad that we got the opportunity with our pass.

We didn’t have any solid plans after this because most of the attractions were closed. John had wanted to visit some pubs, so using a page about famous pubs from Rick Steves’ book, I on-the-spot put together a “pub crawl” for us!

John had mentioned how there were several old banks that had been renovated into pubs, so I took us first to The Counting House. Since it was Friday, there was definitely an after-work crowd here, but we found a small spot on the side and enjoyed a beer and a super delicious Sipsmith Sloe and lemon tonic (and if anybody knows where I can find some Sipsmith Sloe in North Carolina, please let me know…I can’t stop thinking about that drink!).

After a drink here, we hopped on the tube and went to The Blackfriar, which was probably our favorite stop of the whole day! This pub is definitely unique because of its building shape, the history, and the beautiful mosaics and designs inside. According to their website, the building is “a historic, Art Nouveau Grade II masterpiece” and was built in 1875 on a Dominican friary.

We scored a small table inside, but as you can see in the top picture, since it was a beautiful day, the outdoor courtyard was full of people enjoying a pint! I had my first Pimm’s here and definitely fell in love with it (especially because they didn’t put any cucumbers in it!).

If we were Londoners, I think this would be a place you’d find us pretty frequently!

By the time we made it to our next stop, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, the lighting wasn’t great for photos. But this pub came up in a lot of recommendations for London because there has been a pub in that location since 1538. It burned down in the Great Fire of 1666 but was rebuilt, so clearly a lot of history is at this location. Rumor is that a lot of literary figures, such as Charles Dickens, also frequented this pub (honestly, the Wikipedia page has a lot of information about how often this pub is referenced in literature and is pretty interesting!).

I continued the gin drinking here and let the bartender create something for me which was a gin and elderflower tonic. It wasn’t a Pimm’s or a Sipsmith Sloe and lemon tonic, but it was definitely a unique flavor. There are several levels to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, so walk around (and watch your head!) to get the full effect and coziness of the rooms.

Although we got started a bit late, it was still a busy day; John isn’t a night owl, but I think we were both ready for bed after our mini “pub crawl.” And while writing this, it’s still amazing that we were able to fit in so much in a week…and the recap of the week still isn’t even over. No wonder we were exhausted by the end 🙂

What are your favorite pubs in London, and if you’ve visited the Tower of London, I would love to know what your thoughts are – exciting or overrated?

 

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