I was rather pleased to read some of the comments on my last post, which suggested that I put aside my efforts at containing excitement and let my enthusiasm for London bubble over.
Readers, it may be bubbling.
|Just off Trafalgar Square|
I love England. I have never lived there outside of infancy, and appreciate that visiting somewhere, even if for extended intervals, is not the same as living and working there. Nonetheless - I love it. I love London particularly. Our approach to Gatwick Airport on Sunday afternoon, over oh-so-green fields, saw me leaning over Mr Bite to peer out the window in glee.
Moving through passport control on my British passport, and then onto a train to London Bridge, saw me smile even more widely, despite the cold and rainy weather. We timed our visit to coincide with England's wettest autumn in 30 years, and some parts of the country received 6 months worth of rainfall in 24 hours. A wet 12'C was certainly a shock after the sunshine of Spain and Portugal, but it wasn't enough to dampen our enthusiasm.
|Canary Wharf by day|
Our London accommodation, another apartment (the smallest to date, given London being London!), was at Canary Wharf. We picked the location primarily because the apartment was there, but it proved to be a wonderful place to stay.
|After sleeping in a loft in Madrid, we got to sleep in a magical trundle bed in London|
The high rise office buildings were offset by the wharfs and docks, there were great transport connections, and underneath the tube and Docklands Light Rail stations was a sprawling shopping complex with just about everything you could possibly need or want.
|Looking out from Canary Wharf at night|
|Itsu snacks...note the chocolate coated edamame beans!|
There were cafes and restaurants and supermarkets galore, including lots and lots of coffee shops, where I could place my order in English and know what I was ordering; multiple frozen yoghurt shops; multiple vegetarian-friendly cafes and restaurants; and multiple Asian-inspired shops, including Itsu, with its wonderful range of snack foods and a great vegetarian-friendly main menu.
|More Itsu snacks...|
There was also a Marks and Spencer's food hall, which is possibly my first English food love. They have the most wonderful salads and wraps and fruit and I could eat them almost endlessly without getting bored.
|Sorry about the photo quality...edamame bean salad with chilli and coriander dressing|
|Figs (Turkish rather than British, I must admit...), plums, apples...|
To top everything off, there was a Waitrose supermarket of Amazingness.
I hyperventilated in Waitrose.
|So many new-to-me products!|
|And plain, tart frozen yoghurt that one could take home!|
|And lookee the wasabi chocolate!|
|Raw vegan chocolate truffles!|
|And raw vegan chocolate bites!|
|And vegan flax crackers of wonderful flavours!|
Mr Bite decided, sensibly, to leave me at the shops whilst I toured and giggled inwardly and took photos and bought so much food (details will have to come in a separate post). He went to our apartment to read up on results from the Western Australian Football League grand final, which his (and thus my) team won for the second year in a row. All in all, therefore, it was a great afternoon for us both :-)
We ate at home that first night, drawing on some of the food purchased earlier in the afternoon - a Waitrose cheese and onion pastie for Mr Bite, a Marks and Spencer's 'nutty grain and vegetable salad' for me (quinoa with lentils and almonds and vegetables, plus a soy and ginger dressing), and asparagus and carrot for us both.
The next day, I managed to shift my focus away from food and onto the city as a whole. It is, of course, a wonderful city.
We spent some time in the City area of London, which includes Chancery Lane and the Inns of Court. These are featured in the 16th century books of C. J. Sansom, which I read and loved over the last year. It was rather fun walking the streets he refers to, and history drips from every corner.
We also went up Monument, on the edge of the City, which was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666. It has 311 spiral steps to the top, and good views from the top.
Good views were also to be found from the new Emirates Air Line cable car, which crosses the River Thames.
|Cable cars as seen from below...|
This is actually the third cable car we have done on this trip (!), but we were very glad we did it. It beat the Madrid and Porto ones in length and views and even in price, as if you have a London Oyster (travel) card it costs only slightly more than a standard ride on the tube.
|...and in the air.|
London also saw us visit the Wellcome Trust Collection, a small, free museum of medical history and curiosities, and the Churchill War Rooms, part of the London Imperial War Museum. I am not usually very enthused by war museums, but would wholeheartedly recommend the Churchill one. The War Rooms were the headquarters for WWII operations and are located underneath the government and prime ministerial buildings in Westminster. They are set up as they were then and provided a great insight into WWII.
As Mr Bite had never been (I don't know how), we did an additional, brief museum stop at the Science Museum. It is far too big to see in brief, but entertained us for an hour and whetted Mr B's interest for a proper visit in the future. To our amusement, a heat imaging camera also provided confirmation that my hands are dead with regard to circulation. They radiated no heat whatsoever.
|Note the person with blue hands...|
Our final day in London was spent as a day trip to Rye, in East Sussex, to see my grandparents. It is an incredibly quaint town, and one that is so quintessentially English it sometimes doesn't feel real.
We are now in York and I see my posts becoming more and more belated as our last week of holiday and honeymoon stretches ahead of us. I plan to spend the next week soaking up every minute of this country, and hopefully not too much of its rain!
Do you have a country or city that you love above all else?