Can you believe it? Nearly 160+ countries around the world in the past 12 years and I still have no real posts on London!
And I think that’s because to even start writing a post about London is to try to do my home city of NYC justice in a single blogpost. Is there a point when there’s already so much written about it? The last thing you need here is a travel guide to London.
City of London
But I guess the best I can do is that instead of writing what YOU would want to know, is write what a monsooner would do in London. With 3 days here, we tried to take it easy and let London come to us instead of trying to cram it all in. Staying in the FiDi equivalent of London, we settled at COVE Cannon Street in the very central City of London neighborhood.
I enjoyed this spot particularly for the unique cafe vibes located inside numerous ornate churches; nearest to us was Host Cafe housed in an active Gothic Church, and where you can enjoy your coffee even amongst the pews:
…or The Wren Coffee in a 17th century church with stained glass windows:
After your coffee, take half an hour exploring the majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral, seat of the Bishop of London (costs 18 GBP/adult for entry):
If you’re into Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code series, walk through the Temple Bar Gate, which served as City of London’s ceremonial gateway since the 1600s and now as the entrance to Paternoster Square.
A few blocks over would be the Temple Church itself, built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century and made even more contemporarily famous by Dan Brown.
In the other direction, you can find the more modern “the walkie-talkie” skyscraper (for its shape) aka Sky Garden, where our group would first meet together to celebrate the night before our road trip. It is also London’s tallest rooftop bar:
If you love rooftops in this area, don’t miss Sabine either:
And for those of you who won’t mind splurging for a museum in the City of London, look no further than the Tower of London at 30GBP per person for admission, home to centuries of of gore, torture, scandal, and other medieval trauma, as well as the Crown Jewels and the Yeoman Warders, also known as the Beefeaters.
If you want to go further back in time, visit the London Mithraeum, which houses the archeological remains of a temple dedicated to Roman god Mithras. It’s located in Bloomberg’s 3.2-acre complex.
For anyone into the stuff from Atlast Obscura, they recommend a walk to Memorial to Self-Sacrifice nearby, a unique public monument in Postman’s Park that commemorates ordinary folks who died saving the lives of others and who might otherwise have been forgotten:
Across the Thames
Venturing from the Tower of London across the iconic Tower Bridge, stop to appreciate the panoramic views of London from its walkways.
If you’re keen on eating the obscure, there’s a local M.Manze Bermondsey pie shop serving London’s unique eel pies:
Closer to the southern edge of the River Thames, admire the 87-floor glass skyscraper The Shard, unique for its jagged peak.
In the vicinity to The Shard’s west, look for the Crossbones Graveyard & Garden of Remembrance, a burial ground for London’s more unfortunate.
A few blocks north and you’ll be in the buzz of Borough Market, an immense fresh produce market under the railway lines.
London Bridge is just a few steps away and ain’t falling down anytime soon:
But if you weave around towards Shakespeare’s Globe…
…the Millennium Bridge is my favorite as it connects the Tate Modern (formerly a 19th century power station) …
…back to St. Paul’s Cathedral across the Thames:
Heading west towards the home of British royalty, you can get a bird’s eye view of all of it from the London Eye ferris wheel. And the legendary Big Ben is right across the river:
And next door is Westminster Abbey, host to daily services and every English and British coronation since 1066.
Walk across Saint James Park from there . . .
. . . and you’ll reach Buckingham Palace, where her majesty and royal highness still resides:
Head back towards the center from here to Trafalgar Square….
…and Piccadilly Circus, the “Times Square” broadway musical area of London:
If you’re continuing on back to City of London by foot from Trafalgar Square, venture through Covent Garden, the shopping and entertainment hub in London’s West End.
No visit to London would be complete without a stroll through the British Museum:
Thanks to our veteran monsooner and local Londoner Nishant, he recommended us on a bespoke private tour of his favorite spots at the museum. All permanent exhibits are free. Exhibits can cost 15GBP-20GBP per person.
The Rosetta Stone (Room 4):
Ramesses The Great (Room 4):
The Parthenon Gallery (Room 18):
Statue of Tara:
Fans of Harry Potter need not waste a moment to visit Platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross Station:
For a magnificent sunset over London, venture even more north to the celebrity studded area of Primrose Hill:
Make it a picnic here:
Dining – The Clove Club
32nd best restaurant in the world? 2 Michelin Stars? Welcome to The Clove Club, renowned for Isaac McHale’s cutting-edge and innovative take on British cuisine specializing in especially underused ingredients.
We opted for the 8 course tasting menu.
Hot Smoked Wiltshire TROUT
ALMOND MILK & WATERCRESS
(with a Spoonful of Petrossian Caviar)
Raw Orkney SCALLOP
HAZELNUT, CLEMENTINE & TRUFFLE
White ASPARAGUS Royale
GINGER, WALNUT, DUCK ham & Arbois wine sauce
MOUSSERONS, PEAS & Velvet CRAB
Slow Roast Herdwick LAMB
Gentleman’s RELISH & Atlantic WAKAME
Grilled HABANERO Granita
LOQUAT KERNEL Mousse, POPCORN & AMARANTH
Not exactly the most affordable pre-trip bonding activity, but we definitely bonded over great food.
I’d also recommend walking south from Shoreditch down Brick Lane for the atmosphere of numerous South Asian businesses competing for your attention and patronage:
At the last minute I was also able to snag a reservation at BRAT, #78 in the world with 1 michelin star:
And that’s it! London in a nutshell, monsoon-style. I hope we did it justice for 72 hours. And if you complain we missed so-and-so, my rebuttal reply would be, did you get to SKUNA?
Yes, that’s a hot tub you can kick back in along the canals of Canary Wharf (max 7 people per boat). You can also do BBQ here if you bring your own meat (max 9 people per boat)
And did you have as many unexpected reunions like we did?
And thank you Michael and Briar for hosting us on my first night in London, especially in the hallowed neighborhood of Angel! You invited to host us last month while we ran into each other in Baghdad, and of course we’ll follow through in kind.
“Only in London?” Pshh, “this is a monsoon.”
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- At time of posting in London, it was 12 °C - Humidity: 64% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: rainy one minute, sunny the next