During our trip we stayed at Premier Inn London City (Aldgate). We wanted to stay at another Premier Inn, but there wasn’t any rooms available for our dates, but this hotel was actually quite nice. Very clean and very close to the tube as well as to some cafes. Three nights cost us £322.50. I’ve stayed in some real dumps in London for almost the same price, so I considered this good value.
As I mentioned one of the upsides was that the hotel was located very close to some really nice-looking cafes. The first one was actually the one I’ve been to a couple of years ago and I had some good memories of the food. Exmouth Coffee Company was just as I remembered and we sat down to have breakfast. The food was good and we were sitting next to the semi-open kitchen. We were almost finished when a woman in the kitchen dropped something and I felt something wet around my ankles. I started to assess the situation and the liquid turned out that she dropped a jar of some kind of liquid icing for muffins, which started to harden and turn into sugary mess all over my shoes, stockings, skirt, bag, and it was even in my hair! The woman apologized, handed me some napkins, but focused on cleaning the floor. I mean I get that shit happens, but she wasn’t nearly apologetic enough and I think that the place handled the situation very badly. The first one just focused on cleaning and then another woman came and asked if I was ok and I said that I definitely wasn’t ok as I was covered in fucking icing. She just kind of froze and didn’t say anything.
The good thing was that a) we were 5 min from our hotel and b) that I brought a second pair of shoes with me. It is very often that I travel with just one pair of shoes, but this time I had more formal pair of shoes with me for work and then trainers. So we had to go back to the hotel and I took a shower, changed clothes, and washed my bag and trainers. I also travel with minimal amount of clothes, so I only had a skirt and a pair of jeans, so I had to change into jeans. So yeah, good food, but not a great way to handle this situation.
So when we finally managed to leave the hotel for the second time, we headed towards Churchill War Rooms. I’ve been to London a few times, but I’ve never been to this museum. It’s not even that I’m a huge Churchill fan, but I’m a fan of bunkers. 🙂 So we stood in line for tickets and there was an employee saying that the wait would be 1,5 h at the very least. We did some planning before the trip, but our schedule was quite relaxed, so we figured that we have time to stand in an occasional line, so we didn’t do a lot of bookings in advance, which was a huge mistake! Apparently you need to book everything in advance!
So we stood in line and it wasn’t moving. I mean a few people gave up and left, so yeah, it moved a bit, but we decided to try to book tickets online. It was Friday and all tickets for Friday and Saturday were sold out. We managed to buy tickets for Sunday though. So we left the ticket line and headed to a nearby St. James’s Park to decide what to do next as our initial plan fell through.
The weather was amazing! It was like +24°C and people were out enjoying the sun. The grass was green and the trees in bloom. Quite the contracts from Sweden in April. 🙂
We sat down on the grass and decided to plan our weekend a bit more and to book everything we wanted to see in advance. Have I mentioned that I love free roaming within the EU? It’s the best! So we sat and booked a table for afternoon tea and tickets for Picasso exhibition at Tate Modern.
After this we decided to walk around, do some shopping as I now needed clothes (this is what I get for packing exactly the amount of clothes I need and not counting that some jerk will cover me in goo at the cafe). I actually ended up getting the trainers I’ve been looking at for some time at Axel Arigato, a silk top, and a summer dress. I wasn’t planning on buying any clothes, but the last couple of summers have been so crappy in the Nordics that I got by really well with only three summer tops, so at least I’m prepared for this summer, which luckily appears to be a major improvement compared to the previous ones.
We had early dinner or late lunch at Dishoom, which is again a restaurant I’ve been too before. We just happened to stumble upon it when we were very hungry.
The food was good and they even had a milk-free menu for my friend. But the weirdness strikes again! I’m not a native English speaker and I mostly speak English with other non-native speakers, so everybody understands and mixes words from British English and American English. E.g. vacation and holiday can be used in the same conversation and nobody bats an eye. Well, here my mistake was to ask for “the check”. The waiter was like “What’s that?” I mean come on, dude! What is this, mock a foreigner for not speaking the local dialect? Argh!
The last activity for Friday evening was attending Dreamgirls the musical. I really like musicals and they’re so fantastically well produced in London that it is almost always in plans when I visit. This time I liked the show, but sometimes it felt that to convince the audience that the main character was experiencing strong feelings it meant that she was really shouting while singing to the point that it actually hurt my ears.
In the evening I also needed to wash my skirt in a sink because the afternoon tea place we booked didn’t allow jeans, so thank you again clumsy person at Exmouth Coffee Company!
On Friday we slept in and headed for late breakfast to nearby cafe, which was decidedly not the same one as the day before. We had really nice breakfast at Dulce Cafe, which was also really close to our hotel.
It was once again a beautiful day and we kind of aimlessly wandered around the city and spent some time lying on the grass in the park. My friend bought new sneakers for her upcoming half marathon and around 3 p.m. we headed towards Brown’s Hotel for afternoon tea. My friend has actually never had afternoon tea before, so it was fun to introduce someone to this tradition.
The sandwiched were good, the scones hands down the best I’ve ever had, but unfortunately the dessert selection was not good at all. The tea was good and we also chose to start with a glass of champagne. After the “sandwich round” our server asked if we would like to have more sandwiches, but we declined because there was still plenty of food coming. But after the dessert, we actually asked them for sandwiches because we didn’t like the sweets. Partially it was because some of the flavors weren’t the ones we like (e.g. coffee flavored cake), but another reason was that some of them just weren’t that freshly baked (e.g. eclair and macaroon tasted a bit stale). But all in all a nice experience and the tea room was classy without being stuffy.
After the afternoon tea we headed to Tate Modern to make our slot for Picasso 1932 exhibition. It was highly rated even in one Finnish newspaper not even mentioning the British newspapers, so we had high hopes. It was an interesting exhibition and I learned new things about Picasso. He’s not really one of my favorite artists, but some of the paintings were great.
After the exhibition we headed to meet my friends from the university, who now live in London. We were supposed to meet at a rooftop bar called Madison, but they refused to let me in because I was wearing trainers. Admittedly a lot of the ladies were really nicely dressed compared to my very casual tourist look, but still. So we decided to head out to Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour.
I have been to Tipsy Tea at Mr. Fogg’s Residence before and this is their second spot which is focused on gin. It was full, but we got a tiny spot to hand out at and then one party failed to arrive, so we got a table, so all is well that ends well. Awesome drinks and awesome company, so the night was perfect!
On Sunday we started with breakfast at The Breakfast Club. There was a huge line and I think we had to wait closer to 40 min to get a table, but this place was recommended, so we decided to wait. Finally we sat down and made our server to take our order straight away as we were starving and we had to be at Churchill War Rooms in one hour’s time. I could swear I ordered chorizo hash, but I got huevos rancheros. My friend ordered (and got) blueberry and granola waffles. I asked about this, but was told that this is what I ordered, but at least they offered to change it and when I said that unfortunately I don’t have the time to wait, they brought a side of crushed potatoes.
This really sealed this trip as having the most weird food & drink related incidents. 😀
After breakfast we continued to Churchill War Rooms.
This time we had the tickets, so the waiting time was only about 10 min. The museum was a bunker and a centre where Winston Churchill and his inner circle directed the Second World War. There was also a huge section dedicated to Churchill’s life, which painted him a bit of a saint and didn’t mention any of his less flattering qualities. But the bunker itself was very interesting. You get an audio guide, which gives you the details on what was purpose of every room and what was the life and work in the bunker like.
After this we grabbed a quick bite at Shake Shack, then picked up our suitcases at the hotel, and headed towards Heathrow airport, which wasn’t as easy as we thought because of London Marathon was taking place on this day and some bus lines were re-routed and the tube was crowded. Luckily we reserved plenty of time and the masses were heading in the opposite direction from Heathrow, so we fit into the tube just fine with our suitcases. Once again a good reminder to reserve enough time for getting from one place to another.