Our 3-day London Getaway was a huge success! Georges and I took an early Eurostar from Paris and arrived in London at around 10:30am (it was supposed to be 10am but our train was delayed leaving Gare du Nord but at least we weren't stuck in the tunnel).
We've both been to London before, but not together. We ruled out doing the usual "first timers" things like going to Buckingham Palace. We did think we might to go Notting Hill because we both like that part of town, but ended up spending most of our 3-days in the Southwark/South Bank area or over around Trafalgar Square (the latter on our last day, which I'll get to later).
Of course our big event was the Monty Python reunion show on Tuesday night, our second night. But in addition to that, we were celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary and Georges' upcoming milestone birthday. Now that I'm working again, it was fun for me to be the one "inviting" my wonderful husband for lunches or dinners out - we both enjoyed that!
I decided to do a post with general photos and narrative from each day, plus some supplemental in-depth posts on Shakespeare's Globe, The Shard, the Monty Python show and the river cruise we took to get there, Harrod's and the Pub tour we took on our last afternoon.
So here's a recap of our first day:
We stayed about a half-block from one of the entrances to London Bridge tube station, just near Borough Market. Our Airbnb hosts live above a pub (top floor so not DIRECTLY above), and our room had a view of THIS new iconic London building:
This was the view from just in front of the pub, but we also could see the top when we were lying in bed. We went up on The Shard at the end of our first day, so a separate post will follow about that.
We set out on walk past the Borough Market, which had pretty much shut down for the day by the time we go there. Lots of interesting places to eat and to buy food to take home.
Blackfriar's Bridge with Saint Paul's Cathedral in the background. We didn't get around to visiting St. Paul's so we'll save that for some future visit. Wasn't the weather lovely?
We were starved for lunch, our stomachs being on French time, 1 hour ahead of London time, so we parked ourselves on the terrace of the Tate Modern museum with a view of the river. Georges had beer that he said tasted like pipi de chat, and I had a cider which was actually pretty good. The lunch was ok too, and we both felt much better after eating.
After lunch we found our way to a tube station and headed to Harrod's. We wanted to visit the food halls, but outside we saw THIS crazy street performer, upside down with his head in a bucket. WTF?
Back over to "our" side of town, we passed this replica of an old ship. You can take tours, but we didn't bother.
Just around the corner from our room was the Globe Pub building which was used as Bridget Jones's apartment building in the films. It was and still is located next to a railroad overpass but NOW, oddly, the city has built a 2nd overpass on the OTHER side of it, completely wedging this historic building. We saw it from The Shard and it just looked awful, but my theory is the new track will replace the old one and they will eventually tear the old one down to "free" this poor historic building a bit. I hope no one is actually living there now, it must be dreadful.
I had visited Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in 2007 with my best friend Wendy, but Georges had never seen it, so we went in and took the tour, which we both enjoyed. (Post to follow on that.) The reproduction theatre is about 100m from the original foundations, but they couldn't build on that site because there is another listed building there from the 18th or 19th centuries.
London Bridge (not falling down) is as mundane as it gets when it comes to bridge design. But the architecture of some of the buildings behind it was quite interesting - you can just make out the top of the Gherkin, and this other oddly-shaped building that appears to still be under construction.
The remains of Winchester Palace, a bishops palace in this part of London that was once considered one of the roughest, worst places to live. In the past 20-odd years, developers have done a brilliant job of revitalizing the area and it's now one of the trendier places to live and work.
Some remnants of the "old" South Bank remain, including this museum on the site of the Clink Prison (that's why they call going to jail being thrown "in the Clink"). We didn't do the tour but you could hear recorded screams coming out of the doorway.
Finally, getting tired, we made our way to The Shard hoping to watch the sunset. Unlike the Eiffel Tower, there were no horrible lines and we were able to zip right up for the amazing views. More on that in a future post because I took far too many photos to share here.
After this, we went down and had dinner in the pub below our room, and then walked up the 4 flights of stairs to collapse in bed after a long but very enjoyable first day.