a little trip to london

When we left Spain near the end of April, we didn't come to the US straight away.  We flew to England and first spent a few weeks housesitting, and then a week with friends we met in Madrid (but who had recently moved back to a small town outside of London).  In between our first housesit in Southend-on-Sea and our second sit in Bristol, we had a night and two days to spare.  While we originally wanted to explore somewhere like Cambridge or Canterbury that we hadn't visited together before, all public transport options go through London anyway, and with our cumbersome load of baggage, combined with our unyielding love of the world's greatest city...I think you can guess where we ended up.  

Every time we've visited London, for one reason or another, we've ended up staying in a different part of the city.  This time we picked an Airbnb in walking distance to the Victoria Coach Station as we were planning to take a National Express bus from Southend-on-Sea into London (specifically, Victoria station) and then walk about 10 minutes to drop off our luggage.  Well, we missed our bus that morning, and the individual we'd been housesitting for kindly helped us 'chase' the bus all the way into London...unfortunately, we never really caught up to it, but we did get to hang out with him as he drove us into the city...and now hopefully we've learned our lesson!  SHOW UP EARLY.  Bus, planes, trains, etc. - they mostly leave on time, and will indeed leave without you!!

So, a stressful start to the weekend, but nonetheless, London!  Our Airbnb was nothing special and was probably (okay, definitely!) the most bare-bones place we've stayed in the city, but it did the trick.  The neighborhood, though, was pretty nice.  We realized that we'd never really explored Chelsea, which was right on our doorstep, and pretty much too good to be true.  We walked around Christchurch Street, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea Manor Street, and Elm Place, and lucky for us we even got to see some wisteria in bloom here and there!  

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We ate lunch at Koshari Street, an Egyptian cafe with a tasty and filling vegan option (we were visiting in April, when I was still eating very strictly vegan - read why here).  Every trip we've taken to London has included at least a quick trip to Kensington Palace, where the Sunken Gardens were especially beautiful this go around, and the gift shop was stocked full of Harry and Meghan Royal Wedding regalia. 

The weather seemed to be threatening rain at any moment, so we spent most of the remainder of the afternoon in the Natural History Museum.  We might claim to have "seen it all" in London, but we've mostly skipped the museums that it feels like are fairly similar in most big cities (science museums, natural history museums, zoos, etc.).  However, many of London's museums are free, so we joined the crowds (it was a Saturday...) and saw what we could before the Natural History Museum closed for the day.  

One reason we love London is the availability and quality of food from all around the world, and when it came to selecting places to eat for this trip, Mexican was at the top of the list.  Lupita Mexican Restaurant is across the street from Kensington Palace so I kept one eye on the window throughout our meal, just in case Harry and Meghan popped out for...who knows (who cares?!).  But I was there to see it!  Unfortunately, I thought the food was rather underwhelming, but I can really only speak for the vegan option...

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On Sunday we ate breakfast at Veggie Pret and appreciated the 'classic' sights such as Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, phone booths, double decker buses, and Union Jacks.  We also stopped in to the London Transport Museum.  It seems to be a common practice in many museums in the UK to allow free entry for an entire year with the purchase of  a standard ticket.  We previously visited London in May of 2017, and kept our tickets around 'just in case!' and sure enough, we pulled them out to enjoy the special exhibit featuring female artists who have worked for London Transport over the past century (or so).  We finished off our day with lunch at Sagar, an Indian restaurant just around the corner from the Transport Museum.  Both Veggie Pret and Sagar are places we'd eaten at on prior trips to London and while I'd recommend the food at either (they're both completely vegetarian, with vegan options), the service we had at Sagar this time was disappointing.

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After lunch, we gathered our (many) bags, rumbled along the streets and sidewalks, and took the bus to Bristol, where we spent the week with a couple of really sweet labs.  

I have to say, this was my fifth trip to London, and I still have a lengthy list of things I'd like to see, do, and eat in the city...Sky Garden, the Bank of England Museum, Cookies and Scream, The View from the Shard, the V & A Museum of Childhood, the Wallace Collection...I could go on.  Markets, museums, parks, not to mention easy access to a gorgeous country (plus a limitless continent, Europe!), it's impossible to run out of things to do in London.  So, until next time...I can't wait (and I hope to have at least a glimpse of sunshine, whenever that time is)!