Quintessential London - The Graduation Adventure Day 4
Sunday, May 25th
Jet lag is affecting us in different ways. I'm up until midnight. Wide awake. Elias hears the rooster crow at 4am. We ultimately sleep hard when the time (quickly or eventually) comes, but one of us is spending time being wide awake while the other one is happily snoozing. This is kind of hilarious for me as I'm usually the early bird in any trip. Nope. Not with Elias. He also mocks me for my love of staying in bed for forever after I wake up. Mean.
The one thing I've learned so far about London is you figure out what you're going to do based on the weather. I mean, I guess you kind of do that anyway on a trip, but for reals this time. On Friday, we got hit with a bout of rain. No big deal, really. It was more annoying more than anything. But it did get me thinking. With a limited time to work with, we needed to budget how we attacked our trip. To the Weather Channel App!!
Unfortunately, the weather in London seems a little meh around this time of the year. Or at least while we're visiting. Which meant we have to be creative. Yesterday, we knew we were planning indoor things. Today, the weather looked magnificent. Which meant we would spend as much time as humanly possibly outside. Along with everyone else in London.
We got up early (again) and made our way to the Tube for outdoor adventures. The nice part of getting up early is the Tube is plenty open. By the end of the day, that was an entirely different story. Our first stop - Westminster.
Westminster was chosen because we could knock off a bunch of highlights in one go. As we walked up the steps from the Underground to the outside world today, this was the view of London you want to see. "Look, Kids!! Big Ben. Parliament." They were all there. Then, you look in the other direction and there's The London Eye (which Elias keeps saying he doesn't want to ride on...I know it's a lot to spend, but it would be cool!!). This is the moment I think I've been waiting for since we made it here. Not that the rest of what we've seen isn't "London." Just...THIS is the London in my mind.
We walked down the street a bit more to find Westminster Abbey. Being a 100% non-religious person, I am fine not paying to go into a church. Even though it is the one where William and Kate got married. Don't care. I was able to marvel at some of the statues on the outside of the Abbey. I don't know why, but this one of a gargoyle (dragon??) is my favorite picture so far of the trip.
As we walked in the area, we noticed people were setting up for a race. Having completed not one, but TWO Shamrock Shuffle 8K's, I'm well versed on what's going on in an instance like this (yes, I'll pause for a moment while you roll your eyes at that comment). We walked by one of the signs showing the runners would be at the 9K mark. Which begged the question...what's going on here??
Turns out, the race hadn't even started yet. The London 10,000 Meter race is sponsored by the London Marathon people. The 10K starts at The Mall and races around through the Westminster area we were walking though. As we walked up through the Horse Guards, 10 Downing Street and St James Park, we started hearing the sounds of the race. Our ultimate goal was to get to Buckingham Palace, which was the goal of the racers as well. We made it to Buckingham Palace just as they were calling out the first of the finishers. Well, allegedly. I don't know how long it should take for people to finish, but I heard on the overhead speaker of a 42 minute finisher. I'm going to assume that's a good number until someone tells me otherwise. Considering I finished my second 8K in 1:09 (a personal best, btw), 42 minutes is a record-holder in my book.
Buckingham Palace was the goal because this was the only day we would be able to watch the Changing of the Guards. Monday, well...we were going to use Monday as a taking it easy kind of day. Tuesday, we head to Cardiff. Thursday, we won't be back in time. So today was The Day. But we were on a time crunch. Our Sunday Roast reservations were at 12:30p and were not really close to where we currently were. So we wanted those guards to change rather quickly.
We arrived and elbowed our way to the front of the gate. And waited until 11:30am. When...nothing happened. What?? Seriously?? Come on!! The guard just stood there like a dummy. Then we all stood there like a dummy. Finally Elias and I decided to take off. Which probably made us look even more like dummies as I'm sure the guards waited for us to leave in order to change. I'm sure they were pointing and laughing at us too. Jerks. But we had to leave. We had a Sunday Roast to get to.
The night before we left on this adventure, I met up with some friends for drinks and food. While I was telling tales of our impending journey, One of the women said something to the effect of, "Do you have anything planned that isn't food related??" Yes, but those excursions aren't as much fun as the food ones.
I'd never heard of a Sunday Roast before. I read it in passing in an article or a blog post or something. So armed with Google (and probably a glass of wine), I went in search for Sunday Roast. One article said this is the most eaten out meal in the city. It's the kind of food you'd eat at home and that no one quite makes like your mom. Roasted Meats, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, veg. All of the gravies and trimmings around come with the roast. As I looked around for the best places to go, one seemed like a good fit. And it was ways from where we'd been hanging around. We went to the Pig and the Butcher in Islington.
We'd misjudged the time spent on the Tube ride (again) and ended up being five or so minutes late. The staff were super courteous about it, so...appreciated. When the guy who sat us at the table let us know that he'd need to turn the table at 245p, I told him we'd be gone long before that time. Honestly, I'd love to hear that from any restaurant. You're here until this time. It makes the world an easier place to live. At least in my mind. Your belief may be waaaaaay different.
And now, let's just go into the food porn, shall we??
The starter was the biggest wildcard. It was a Blood Sausage and pig's head) Salmagundi. It's basically a salad (we have some greens!!) with black pudding, a pig's head something and various meat chunks (traditionally from the day before, but most definitely not from this place) all mixed together. Now I will say, this was the one dish I didn't expect we'd try. But Elias wanted to try Blood Sausage. So, let's try Blood Sausage. And the dish...amazing. It was a meat-eater's salad. And Elias scooped up the chunks of Blood Sausage like a pro.
After the starter came the roasts. Elias had a sirloin. I had a pork shoulder. The waitress sold it when she said it was shredded and included cracklings. There were great gravies with both dishes and we sopped up everything.
The last course was dessert. We didn't have to have dessert. It wasn't necessary. But they had sticky toffee pudding. And Elias needed to try this one. Right?? It came with a scoop of ice cream. Well...we thought it was ice cream, but it was definitely not. Which we noticed as we put a scoop of it by itself in our mouths. Ummm...not ice cream. I think it was custard of some sort. If you put a small amount with your spoonful of the pudding, it was lovely.
We pretty much rolled out of the restaurant. Such a good choice. And we have now learned Elias is a fan of the nose to tail food movement.
It was a beautiful day. There was one thing we needed to do. Go visit the Tower of London. Now, I think this was needed because I had such a great memory of going here 17 years ago when I came here for the first time. So I drug Elias along on my hunt for a memory. Unfortunately, trying to recreate past experiences don't always work like you want them to.
First up, the Tower of London is amazingly expensive. £40 for the two of us to get in. In my basic conversion math, we just spent $80 to get in the gates. Ok...not that big of a deal, I guess. Though it was 3p, which meant we didn't have a ton of time to to hang out. As long as we could take a tour with the Beefeaters, we'd be fine. The Beefeaters were my favorite part of the tower last time.
We walked in the gates to see probably 50 people huddled around one of the Beefeaters for a tour. Why?? It was the end of the day. It was a sunny and warm day. Everyone was outside. There was one more guide, but there was no guarantee the number of people in the tour would be less. So we headed out on our own.
Ultimately, I don't entirely know what we saw. King Edward's home. Several towers. Nothing I can really pinpoint. We looked at going in to the Crown Jewels. But the line was a minimum of 35 minutes to get in. And the queue snaked down a different street, it was so long.
I think we spent maybe two hours here. A little less. I was kind of disappointed considering the price we paid. However, we are also quite exhausted. Three days of heavy traveling will take its toll on the human body. There are two days coming up that should be more calm. This will help us recover after these last three days. And I still enjoyed the time we spent there. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad we went. I just wish either we had more time or there were fewer people.
Speaking of exhausted, we went back to the room. We talked about going shopping, but we needed a break. Just hanging out in our room was perfect. We found a channel playing Jurassic Park: Lost World (not my first choice, but it was something) followed by Empire Strikes Back. Yes!!
During Empire, Elias announced he was hungry. He has wanted to hit a pub since we arrived. The ones around here seem ok. But neither of us had any gumption to leave the Paddington neighborhood. That's how we ended up at the Pride of Paddington.
Located across the street from the Paddington Tube Stop, the Pride of Paddington is super touristy. All I really wanted was a scotch egg or a sausage roll. Neither were there. Meh. But I did get a pint of cider. Elias ended up with beer. Here's what I didn't expect...he was carded. Apparently the rest of Europe is more liberal with the drink than in the UK. He is legal to drink, but they did need to card him. Good to know. Let's see how we do in Wales.
When we made it home, the decision was made to sleep in on Monday. We didn't have any grand plans and needed time to rest and relax. We still have a long way to go and don't want to be burned out early on. Plus, we had shopping to do. And no one can be tired while shopping. Ever.
5/25 - 22,700 steps. 10 miles.