Somehow it seems that, so far, we managed to visit London without seeming to actually visit London. We arrived Monday afternoon, Tuesday we were lunching at Le Corpulent Canard outside of London in Bray, and, on Wednesday, we took a day trip to Copenhagen for lunch at Noma. We managed to squeeze in a little sightseeing, but we hadn’t spent much time yet in London. On Thursday, this would change.
We were tired from yesterday’s travel marathon. After sleeping in, we had our requisite fish and chips at a local spot and headed out into a brisk cold and partly cloudy skies. There was a lot on our day’s agenda. We’d only make a small portion of it. On our arrival in London, we purchased a seven day Oyster Card that gave us unlimited Tube travel (and bus rides, though we didn’t take the bus). We’d take full advantage of the card.
Our first stop was Trafalgar Square. Though this is the location of the British National Gallery, we bypassed the museum and headed towards the Houses of Parliament. But first, Becky had to climb up the pedestal of Nelson’s Column, along side the schoolgirls, and pose with a lion. It seems simple enough, but it is not such an easy climb to get to the lions. I suspect that there is a constant stream of tourists, injured while attempting to climb up to pose with the lions, heading to the local surgery.
Not too far away, we were outside the Neo-Gothic Houses of Parliament and the iconic London structure, Big Ben. Across the street is the largely Gothic Westminster Abbey. We paid a painful 15 GBP each to enter this UNESCO World Heritage Site. In London, many museums are free to visit, but the other sites are expensive.
Westminster Abbey, inside and out, shows the distinctively British take on the Gothic style. Perhaps most interesting are the memorials of famous Britons. Shrines and tombs for royals, military leaders and politicians are in every nook and cranny. Writers are honored in Poet’s Corner, which memorializes a Who’s Who list of authors. Handel’s tomb is notable amongst the musicians. Scientists are also memorialized in the Abbey. It seems ironic that, near Newton’s memorial, Darwin’s tomb sits in this house of worship. The whole burial thing seems to be running out of steam. There are not many recent additions to the tombs. Perhaps they are running out of space or maybe celebrity rarely comes controversy free these days.
Back outside, the sun was setting and the air was turning cold. Crossing the Thames, we next stopped at the London Eye that looks much like a gigantic bicycle wheel held in a truing stand next to the river. Once the world’s largest observation wheel, the London Eye, as a result of the worldwide giant wheel race, is now merely the third largest in the world. Soon, when the Great Beijing Wheel opens, it will be relegated to fourth position. Nevertheless, it is large, very large. Though touristy and expensive, the view of London from the wheel under the setting sun is memorable.
Back on the streets, after spying a couple more Invaders, we headed back to the room. For dinner we headed to Moro, a popular Spanish and Muslim Mediterranean restaurant located near The Zetter, our hotel. Without a reservation, we were only able to get a seat at the bar of the busy restaurant. The food was good. We particularly liked the quail, the pickled peppers, the salt cod, and the mutton. This is a restaurant worth seeking out. As a bonus, Moro served us Iberico Jamon and two plates of Pimientos de Padron. Along with a glass of Txakoli, we were transformed back to our May visit to Spain.
Dinner ended early enough that we still had time for a night search for Invaders. The Invader search has become an obsession.