Exploring Europe (Part I): London, United Kingdom (Day 4)
Waking up late, we walked over to Beck’s Cafe for breakfast. I found the cafe through recommendations online. We arrived slightly after ten o’clock – perfect for some hot food. The atmosphere is quite nice – slow and peaceful – so it was a confortable way to start the day off. The portions are very generous and the English Breakfast seems to be the favourite among patrons there. We had a ham and onion omelette with lemon tea. Omelettes were fresh and had that homemade taste, and the salad was very fresh. It got busier as we ate and the cafe was practically full by the time we took our leave.
We took the bus so we could enjoy the scenery. The buildings and monuments made me feel like I walked straight into those classic novels based in London – very detailed architecture and lovely roundabouts. The view from the second level is definitely hard to beat especially as you move quickly through the city. It is nothing like Canada where everything is like a grid – the design is more complex and feels circular. A few stops later and we arrived outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
For the curious, no pictures are allowed inside the cathedral so please respect that. They have an excellent audioguide for those who are interested in learning the basics of the layout and history behind some of the monuments.
If you have time, I would recommend visiting the crypt and the Whispering Gallery. For those thinking of the climb, please note the stairs are a bit narrow and the passage is dimly lit. If you are fearful of heights but brave enough to try, I do suggest making the short climb. I am fearful of heights myself but the gallery gives off a unique mysterious feeling you do not quite feel on the main floor or in the crypt. The crypt focuses mainly on the history of the church – it dates from 600 AD! -with displays of old monuments surviving the great fires and a small chapel. The tomb of Lord Nelson and the church’s architect, Wren, are also displayed in the crypt.
Hungry from our long visit – we spent almost four hours at St. Paul’s – we went to search for the bus that would take us back to the hotel. I had originally planned to visit the Old Royal Naval College but we had tickets to Les Miserables that night and were short on time. Walking to the bus stop, we had a strange feeling – it seemed none of the traffic in the area was moving. Confused, we decided to take the Tube after seeing many bus passengers getting off in the middle of the road. Thankfully, the Tube was operating fine and we managed to get to our station without any delays.
We hopped over to Pret-A-Manger to pick up soups and salads. I had been eyeballing the franchise for a while now – this chain is everywhere in London – so we decided to give it a try. The meals were not inexpensive but I liked the fact our salad tasted decently fresh and the soup was not overloaded with sodium – at least not as much as Tim Hortons. We relaxed most of the afternoon before heading to Chinatown for a quick dinner before the theatre. Queen’s Theatre was literally right outside of the restaurant we walked into!
Les Miserables is absolutely breathtaking. I have no words to describe the amazing night I had. We sat in the upper circle in row C near the middle with a decent view. If you are in London, I would highly recommend this play.