"No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." - Samuel Johnson
We love London, plain and simple. There's something about the city that seems to draw us back in, and it's personally in my top 5 favorite cities I've ever visited. There's no mistaking yourself for being anywhere else in the world, and the mix between old and new is striking. On our last trip, we knocked off a few sites that had been on our list for years, and stumbled into a couple of other gems. A few of these are highlighted below...
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, rebuilt in 1667 after The Great Fire of London, is a must see for any history buff. Though the upper levels are 17th century construction, parts of the lower levels reportedly did survive the fire, and this location has served as a pub since 1538. It is widely reported that prior to the the inception of a pub on this site, the cellars belonged to a 13th-century Carmelite monastery. The list of patrons of this pub vary from list to list, but the names they all have in common are Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterson, Mark Twain, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Not too shabby.
The Cheese is now a Samuel Smith pub, so you can expect the same drinks and food that appear on all of their menus, but I never balk at a menu that has steak and ale pie or fish and chips. We dined in the bottom level right by one of the bars, and ended up making friends with the gentlemen sitting on the other side of our table. The bartender was friendly and helpful, and because we went during an off time during the week, it wasn't too crowded. We tried visiting on a previous occasion, during the week but right around 5pm, and the bar was so crowded from top to bottom that there weren't seats to be found.
We were searching for a cute tea house to procure a good cup of Earl Grey before embarking on the long walk to the Tower of London and back when we stumbled across Brigit's Bakery. The tea was delicious, and the bakery cute enough to tempt us back over that evening after our day full of ramblings.
Floral tea pots, the taste of delicious macaroons, and the scent of tea and sugar floating through the air are the first thoughts that come to mind when I reflect on our visits there. Good food, good tea, and tables full of happy patrons surrounded by the most darling decor... it's worth the visit.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London has been on our list for years, and we finally toured the impressive attraction. We arrived right around noon, and let me tell you, it was crowded! I would definitely suggest going right when they open to hopefully avoid some of the foot traffic that we encountered. We did buy our tickets online beforehand, and that made the process of entry quicker, and I would recommend that in case you do find yourself there at a busy time.
The actual grounds at the tower are lovely, and walking along the walls definitely grants you a beautiful view of both the river, old London and the Tower Bridge, along with the skyscrapers. We were really impressed with the views.
With the crowds being what they were, our first long stretch upon the wall, along with the royal jewels and the rooms along that sections of the wall were slow going. We were two dots in a long sea of people, all making their way slowly through in the line.
Admittedly, Trent and I just don't like crowds in general, and they, in fact, make me very anxious, but it was well worth it to me for us to see such a huge piece of English history and such beautiful architecture and views. Definitely don't pass this one up!
Marlin Waterloo Hotel
We've stayed in several different areas of London, and all have had their charms, but we did very much enjoy Marlin Waterloo Hotel on our last visit. The room was very nice, the view was beautiful, and the location was easy walking for us. We LOVE to just walk cities, and this hotel location gave us that luxury. Located just off the Westminster Bridge, we could easily walk in that direction to see Westminster Abbey and the like, while Waterloo Bridge put us in position to adventure into the Blackfriars and along the River Thames toward the Tower of London.
Two happy people after climbing into our rental car in London after returning from our Italy debacle! (more on that later).