Eurotrip 2011: London.2

Want more travel stories? Read about our three weeks in Europe here.

We had lots of things to see on our second day in London, so we got up with the sun and were out the door, walking to the train station by 8:00. We weren't alone; all of the young London professionals were on their way to the office, dressed to the 9's in their black suits, cuff links, and high heels which I could hear clicking rapidly as they overtook us. Yes, we got passed a couple times by these power-walkers. It seemed like every single person walking to and riding on the train was exactly 27 years old. Judging by the looks on their faces, I surmised that being a professional in London has a definitive expiration date. I don't know that one can maintain that pace in the long-run. For instance, I was a bit annoyed that the first train that arrived at the platform was so jam-packed that we had to wait for the second one, which had shoulder-to-shoulder standing-room only. I could not put up with that on a daily basis.

London lemmings on the left; on the platform on the right.
After taking the overground to Waterloo and then the tube to Goodge Street, our first target was the British Museum. We've had this on the top of our London To-Do List since our Mediterranean cruise last year, where it seemed like everywhere we visited (in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt), we found copies of artifacts in their museums, the originals of which were located in the British Museum. What good is a copy of the Rosetta Stone? I might as well have looked at a photo on the internet! We simply had to see the real deal.

Two things I really liked about London museums: They're often in very impressive buildings, and they're free. I think it's great to go into museums and learn some history and see rare treasures, but it's also nice to pop into a museum and not feel bad about leaving after an hour since you didn't spent $15 on the entrance fee. (Of course, all museums will gladly accept your generous donations.)

Another benefit to the free museum deal is having access to free, well-maintained bathrooms. Travelers in Europe know what a luxury this is! I'm just glad that the men in London seemed to overlook this opportunity in the British Museum's bathroom, because I fully walked into the men's room and got all the way to the (vacant) urinals before turning on my heel. I don't know what came over me! The signage must have been ambiguous.

Well, here you have it: The legitimate Rosetta Stone. Sorry for the glare, but of course it's behind glass, and everyone crowds around with their cell phones to take a photo, as you'll see below.

Our next goal was Wardour Street for shops and food, but we accidentally headed the wrong direction out of the museum for a few blocks. By the time we figured it out and wanted to get ourselves turned around, I spotted a restaurant called "Hummus Bros: Give Peas a Chance". What a great tagline for a dish that I could (and sometimes do) eat daily! Fortunately, N is also crazy about a good bowl of hummus, and so the lunch hour was declared. I was in the mood for something green (probably in response to too much pizza from the night before), so we ended up with this delicious assortment:

Even their fresh mint & ginger lemonade was heavenly.
Hummus Bros makes their signature dish distinctive by preparing a plain hummus recipe (without tons of garlic) and offering lots of extras to add in. Our hummus bowl (lower right photo above) had guacamole in the center. Genius.

All that savory food required something sweet as a balance, so as we wandered down quiet, shop-filled Wardour Street (yes, we did find it in the end), we stopped for a small dessert at Princi (based on R&M's suggestion).

Walnut brownie below; tiny savory bites above.

Wardour Street must have put me in the shopping mood, because after that we toured Carnaby Street, and finally Regent Street.

Every brand and shop imaginable can be found on these streets. I could really only window shop, since my full backpack wouldn't allow for extras. Still, one can't complain with breezing through the lovely wares at Anthropologie, no matter what one's ultimate intentions may be.

We got a bit of rain that afternoon, so we scooted into the (free) National Gallery for a quick peek. I could have spent an entire day in this incredible museum, but since we wanted to keep our pace moving, we followed MO's suggestion and focused on the Van Gogh and Monet exhibits, all of which were awe-inspiring. 

When we had our fill of museums and galleries, we walked to a few important landmarks to tick off our list: 

Big Ben

Houses of Parliament
Westminster Abbey

We wanted to see the inside of Westminster Abbey, and the cheapest way to do so, our Fat Tire tour guide had told us, was to attend an Evensong service. You didn't have to tell N twice; that's just what we did. No photos allowed inside, of course, but the structure is beautiful and ornate inside and out (as we probably all can remember from the footage of the Royal Wedding.) The all-male choir was also exceptional, especially the youthful voices.

Basking in the warm London sun while waiting for the service to begin.
The last of the afternoon sun greeted us as we left the Abbey, allowing for a pleasant walk along Victoria Embankment to see the London Eye.

Didn't ride the London Eye (too lazy).
Did pretend to make a call from a red phone booth (so touristy).

Quite near the Embankment tube stop we found Gordon's - a wine bar in an underground air raid shelter. We went down for a look around - what a unique (and somewhat claustrophobic) venue! It really was too crowded to stay, but I was happy to take some mental photos.

Night fell quickly; after a break that included a peanut butter crunch puff pastry at Chewy Junior on Villiers Street, we found that city was almost completely dark. We walked up to the Millennium Bridge to see the views.

Although the wind started to pick up, we apparently hadn't had our fill of bridges, because next we caught the tube to Tower Bridge. It was a fast detour; just long enough to walk across and get my fill of photos, because my thin leggings were protesting the effects of Hurricane Katia in London.

Our last stop before crashing for the night was meant to be Yamal Alsham - a Syrian/Lebanese place located in Imperial Wharf - one overground stop away from Clapham. That's about all we knew, based on CW's recommendation. I was ravenous by the time we arrived, since we inadvertently took a slow method of transportation, and then weren't quite sure which way to head after getting off the overground, plus the iPhone wanted to be on vacation and not tell us where in the world we were located... Anyway, that's probably why, after some very chilly wandering, we ended up with a table full of middle eastern goodness.

I'm too entrenched in my meal to even give the camera a smile.
Hunger is a non-negotiable situation for me.

In case you're wondering, the above platters included hummus awarma, stuffed vine leaves, lentil soup, grilled halloumi cheese, and a chicken skewer. We ate on the restaurant's deli side (as opposed to the indoor/outdoor dining room), and the owner offered us banana peppers while he sat and chatted with us. I do love family businesses.

That satisfying meal concluded our second day in London, which seemed even busier than our first, yet we still had another full day in the city to look forward to. Seeing the best of British royalty was on our minds, including a certain someone's wedding dress!


  1. Nate - I LOVE you even more now that I know you like hummis! And the night views are so gorgeous! What great food you guys are eating! :)

  2. Looks like a fabulous trip, but so glad you are back on island!