So this is for all of you potterheads out there! I am an avid Harry Potter fan and this was my absolute must-go destination on this trip. Word of advice: book three months in advance to secure your date. These tickets sell out fast and if you don’t act quickly, you will lose them and you might have to pay double to amount with a tour group. If you realize that your tickets have sold out, don’t fret. I can help you and give you tips on getting the best deal.
Tip #1: If you see that your dates are sold out, don’t scramble and start looking for tour bus + ticket combinations. Those can set you back around £50 per person and it’s really not worth it.
Tip #2: Be flexible! Don’t have a single day when you MUST go to Harry Potter Studios. (If you do, there’s still a chance you can get those tickets). It’s much easier to get tickets if you are able to move your schedule around to fit it in.
Tip #3: Check in daily for tickets on the official website. That is where you’re going to get the best price. Tickets that aren’t sold by the tour websites are put back on sale 6 days before the visit date around 01:00 GMT . I was actually able to snag tickets during my layover in Iceland (06:00 GMT) which was exactly 6 days before the day the ticket specified.
I hope these tip help you get those tickets and you enjoy the magical world of Harry Potter!
Liz Café is my favourite place to have breakfast in London. It located in Shepherd’s Bush, which was near where we were staying in White City. If you end up visiting Westfield London, it is only at 10 minute walk away.
It is a quaint little rustic shop with a few tables and very friendly service. Much like many café, you order at the counter and the server will bring it to your seat. The breakfasts are relatively inexpensive as far as London food goes so it is great if you are travelling on a budget. Liz Café features salads, pastries, breads, sandwiches, and full breakfasts to choose from.
We decided to get an eggs benedict and a full english (with a cup of tea of course). The eggs benedict was incredible. The eggs were perfectly poached so it had this gorgeous runny yolk. The was salty and smokey, adding another layer of flavour to the dish as it sat on a crispy english muffin. And finally, the star of the show: the hollandaise. It had a beautiful consistency and glossy finish like how all hollandaise should be. The flavours were beautifully balanced and the acidity cut through the richness of the eggs and butter. The eggs benedict was topped off with with pepper though I do wish it had some chives to add an “oomph”. Vegetarians, fear not! They also have eggs florentine which substitutes the ham for spinach. Both of these options are £7.25. 8/10
A full english is my choice breakfast for most mornings. It’s delicious and you only really need two pans to make. Overall, the full english was lovely and delicious. The baked beans had great flavour though it was a little runny for me. Something that wasn’t runny were the eggs. Unfortunately, they were over (I like mine sunny side) but I wasn’t about to waste food. I’ll tell you what, they were actually tasty though I still prefer a gorgeous runny yolk. I’m not a fan of bacon so I got an extra sausage which were juicy and packed with flavour. The bread was nicely toasted and I will never complain about mushrooms. The full english is priced at £7.95. 7/10
Our fifth day in London was also sort of a walking around and exploring day. We actually started at the British Museum, which was just gorgeous and so interesting to walk through. The British Museum is the oldest public museum in the world and it did not disappoint.
To me (please remember that I am no architect), it reminds me of an ancient Greek temple and it is beautiful. When you walk in for the first time, you have no idea what’s coming. Holy is the interior stunning. The Great Court the massive center of the museum and has a huge column in the middle that has stairs going up and around either side. The roof has hundreds of glass triangles that allowed natural light in whilst creating a magnificent pattern above.
The most interesting artifacts to me were the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian mummies. We spent around an hour to an hour-and-a-half here. If you are also interested in Asian, Middle-Eastern, or European artifacts, you might want to plan more time here.
We walked down to Covent Garden and then Leicester Square and Chinatown. There were many Stoke City fans rallying to support the game that night (but Manchester United all the way, if you follow football) so it was probably much more lively than usual. Covent Garden is a luxury shopping and entertainment hub that has a gorgeous two-story shopping “centre” though it’s not really a centre. It is laid out as a rectangle with shops and restaurants lined along the sides. There is also a market next door where you can discover hand-made trinkets and artwork from local vendors.
Leicester Square is the most crowded place in London. It is a huge tourist hotspot with street artists drawing crowds you have to squeeze by to get across. This is a cultural hub filled with entertainment like cinemas and theatres, restaurants, clubs, bars, shopping, casinos and luxury hotels. A lot of people say its a tourist trap but I think there is so much to see here and I love the vibrant vibe I get here.
By the time we left the Leicester Square it we were feeling peckish so we headed to the Soho and Carnaby area to pick up some Bao and visit (for the third time this week) Bread Ahead Bakery.
Bao Soho Food Guide available here.
Bread Ahead Food Guide available here.
We headed south down Regent Street and past Piccadilly Circus to Trafalgar Square where the National Gallery is. Of course, like every other place in London, Trafalgar Square was beautiful and there was so much life there. People bustling around taking photos and drinking coffee. Street artists performing their heart out and drawing massive crowds. We ended up sitting in Pret a Manger, one of the largest coffee shop chains in the UK. We sat by the window in the Pret a Manger and enjoyed our view of the Equestrian Statue of Charles I and the Admiralty Arch which is the beginning of the Mall (the famous street that leads to Buckingham Palace)
Just a side note: Let me tell you that all three of the major coffee shop chains in London (Pret a Manger, Costa Coffee, and Caffe Nero) are great. They are far superior in quality than Canadian coffee shop chains. From the decor to the coffee to the food and to the service, everything is top-notch.
After our coffee break, we walked down the Mall to the most famous palace in the world: Buckingham Palace. The view of the palace as you are strolling down the Mall is a sight to behold. The gold angel on top of the statue glimmering in the sunlight as it stands tall and proud in the front and centre with the Buckingham Palace and its gates behind it in all its glory. There isn’t much to do here other than take some pictures and marvel at the grandiosity of the royal administrative house.
Our next stop sadly no longer exists but I think it’s really cool because I am a huge fan of films (especially action ones). Kingsman is a spy film set in London and they use a tailor shop “Kingsmen” to cover for the secret organization. All of the weapons are hidden in the suits or accessories and they actually had a display window for the Kingsmen shop. You couldn’t go in but it was amazing to look and fangirl at.
After a long day, we decided to walk back up Regent Street to see what the heart of London is like after it gets dark. Piccadilly was of course, still flooded with tourists taking the famous electronic adverts and Leicester Square was bustling with people catching West End Shows or out for a pint with their friends. We ended up at Carnaby again (this time for dinner) and I’m so glad that we did. Carnaby had these beautiful lights above their pedestrian walkways and provided excellent lighting for photos. It seemed like no matter what time of day it is or what day of the week, this area will always be crowded and lively.
Carnaby may attract many during the daytime with its shops and services, in the evenings it is all about food, wine, and beer. Having a good time with friends and family. Every single restaurant in this area and in Mayfair is so beautifully decorated and seems like an upscale place. I recommend visiting this area (even come back) to experience and taste some of the food they have to offer.
Let’s get something straight. Indian food is delicious and the Indian food in London is not different. Dishoom has some of the best I’ve ever had. I will however, add a disclaimer: I’ve never been to India so I have never experienced the food there. But Dishoom was… wow. Not only is the food incredible, but the design of the restaurant was beautiful, much like the majority of the restaurants in London.
It was like stepping into an Irani cafe in 1960s Bombay. The walls and the pillars were lined with mirrors which contrasted the dark mahogany. I remember portraits and other forms of Bombay art lining the walls and down the stairs.
We decided to dine at Dishoom on Mother’s Day in the UK which meant that every restaurant had a huge queue and this was no different. We queued outside for two hours and I don’t regret a second of it. There was a lady handing out free glasses of chai whilst we waited. Once you get inside the restaurant, they take you downstairs to the bar so you can order drinks whilst you wait to be seated.
We ended up sitting by a window so we can watch the Londoners and tourists go by as we enjoyed our meal. The menu a simple sheet with food on one side and drinks on the other.
For our appetizer, we ordered the chilli chicken which was a small plate of sticky and sweet chicken. It was garlic-y and ginger-y and it comes with a wedge of lemon to add some acidity to the dish.
There were three chutneys to enjoy with your meal and I don’t know what they were but, they were delicious. Some were sweet and some were tangy which added another level of flavour when paired with a dish. This is priced at £6.20.
The next dish was from the grills section of the menu and it is the dish that everyone says you have to eat when you go to London: Chicken Tikka. Something that I love about grilled Indian meats is the charring. It adds bitterness to the flavour profile and enhances all of the lovely spices used. 8/10
The black bowl of red curry is the Chicken Ruby, the highlight of our lunch. It was this tomato-based (makhani sauce) that had cardomom, coriander, and cumin notes to the flavour. The chicken was tender and just pulled apart. Whilst it was amazing paired with fragrant basmati rice, there is nothing that can compare with the Chicken Ruby with garlic naan. 10/10
Now, I’ve had a lot of garlic naan in my life but none of them hold a candle to this one. Like I said, I have a soft spot for food that is nicely charred and this naan is no exception. The bread had crispy edges and a soft centre creating a dynamic of texture. The garlic was so aromatic and the coriander flakes added freshness to help cut through off of the intense flavour. 9/10
The Chicken Ruby is priced at £10.90 and the garlic naan is priced at £3.50.
It’s also important to know that Dishoom also known to have an incredible breakfast although we never got the chance to try it. But Dishoom is a place with great ambiance, service, and food. This place is a must when you visit London. The best thing is that there are several locations across London so you don’t have to go out of your way to eat here. But as I said, this is some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had.
Learn more about Dishoom here.
After stepping off of the Eurostar train from London and into Schiphol Airport, we took our free shuttle to Corendon Village Hotel by Schiphol Airport. I know many people decide to stay in Amsterdam out of convenience but because we would also be travelling outside of the city, we stayed by the Airport which also has a train station within it.
I loved our hotel. It is a four-star hotel at the price of a three-star. We were there early April and it was around $110 CAD a night. Yes, it is outside of Amsterdam but with the amenities and services it offers, we didn’t mind at all. There are frequent complimentary shuttles to the airport and back which made getting around really easy. To get to Amsterdam Centraal, you can just take the train from Schiphol straight there. There is also a shuttle that takes you to the museum district in Amsterdam for €7,50 return trip. Just make sure you check the schedule so you don’t miss the last bus. You can find the shuttle information here.
Corendon Village Hotel had a pretty good fitness room and spa so you don’t miss out on your fitness regime whilst you are on holiday. One of the things that I struggle with is finding time to watch films that I look forward to that have just released in cinemas. As a avid film lover, I have to watch movies that I am really interested in within the first week but finding time to do that whilst I am on holiday is difficult. This hotel has a cinema downstairs and I’m not saying it plays movies that have already been released on DVD. I got to watch Shazam the day it was release in cinemas in my hotel and that was amazing.
Our room was in a different building than the lobby but it was easily accessible and no trouble at all for us. Everything in our room was clean and modern with functionality. We had a large fully-stocked kitchenette and a living area separate from the bedroom unlike many hotels in Europe where everything is usually cramped into one room. It allowed us space to stretch, relax, and lay out our luggage wherever we please.
More information about Corendon Village Hotel here.
Since we only had about half a day left, we decided to go to the Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in the world. We had already purchased the combination ticket which included a return bus ticket and admission into the garden. We took the free shuttle from the hotel to Schiphol Airport and then took the 858 bus to the Keukenhof. The combination ticket is €27,50 and more information about visiting Keukenhof can be found here.
The garden was massive and you can follow the winding roads to discover beautifully arranged flowers and attractions. This is the ideal place to pretend to be a princess walking around your palace gardens. There no just way to describe the elegance of the flowers so I’ve created a gallery below so you can see for yourself.
Let’s talk about Bread Ahead Bakery. If you have read my Borough Market Food Guide, you’ll know that I have already mentioned them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it now: they have the best doughnuts in the world. I’m not exaggerating. I still dream about these doughnuts and I purchased five within three days. They are clouds of happiness that you bite into. Read more about these doughnuts here.
The rest of Bread Ahead is not as heavenly as their doughnuts but its pretty close. There is a large selection of freshly made pastries and sandwiches available for your enjoyment. They not only taste delicious, but they look amazing. The breads were displayed in baskets and the sandwiches and baked goods were arranged beautifully on cake stands.
What I decided to get the mozzarella and pesto sandwich. It featured basil pesto, fresh tomato and rocket, mozzarella, and a ham/prosciutto type meat on a ciabatta bun. The ingredients were high quality which complimented the exceptional bun. Something that I love about London is that you don’t get that dry mozzarella. You always get fresh mozzarella that has a buttery texture and has such a delicate flavour whilst still maintaining the signature “squeakiness” that mozzarella should have. 8/10
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to taste anything else because I was picking up a snack after a previous food stop. But Bread Ahead Bakery is a must when you are visiting London. You can’t miss it. The windows are decorated with doughnuts and cinnamon rolls (the Bread Ahead signatures) so you can’t resist stopping and admiring their art.
Bao is a modern restaurant in the heart of Soho that serves small Taiwanese dishes. The restaurant was intimate and clean featuring both bar seating and table seating. There is was a small queue outside of the restaurant and it only took around ten minutes for us to be seated. The menu was small and you order is like a Chinese dim sum restaurant, you write the quantity next the the dish you want.
The Bao menu includes “Xiao Chi” which translates to “little eats”, “bao”, and “sides”. You are also able to purchase Bao tote bags and t-shirts if you like collecting restaurant souvenirs, this is available to you.
The first thing we ordered the beef soup and braised daikon from the “Xiao Chi” section. At first glance, it looked okay. It was a small bowl of dark liquid with a few rectangles of veg floating in it.
I’m going to be honest, it was not very good. The beef soup had no beef in it, so that was a little disappointing. Taiwanese beef soup has beef 99% of the time so I expected at least a bite of meat. Not only that, the soup was incredibly salty. However, there was a nice beef flavour, I won’t deny that but there was just too much salt. Not only that, the daikon didn’t really add any flavour so it wasn’t really that interesting to eat. There is so much you can do with daikon and unlocking the flavour is something that was lacking in this particular dish. I wouldn’t really recommend this soup to anyone and to be frank, you’re better off saving 3.5 quid. I would rate this particular dish a 3/10.
The next dish was the Taiwanese Fried Chicken with Hot Sauce from the “Xiao Chi” section. I was still hopeful after the beef soup because this place has such high reviews and it was good. The coating on the outside was crispy and the chicken was tender on the inside. What stood out for me was actually the hot sauce. I usually don’t have sauce with my Taiwanese fried chicken because it is already aromatic and bursting with flavour. The dish Bao served was not as flavourful as the fried chicken you would get in Taiwan but it’s close. The hot sauce made up for the lack of aromatic flavour and brought in a bit of spiciness to lift the dish. This was a huge step up from the first “Xiao Chi” and got me excited to try more.
The Taiwanese fried chicken is priced at £6.5 which is steep for the small amount of chicken on the plate. I would honestly recommend that unless you desperately want to try Taiwanese fried chicken, don’t go for this. It is lovely and tastes good but I don’t think its worth the price point and it doesn’t hold up to authentic Taiwanese fried chicken. But hey, it’s London. Everything is a bit more expensive and this restaurant is in Soho so I guess I can’t be too harsh. 5/10
Next were the Baos. The first was the Fried Chicken Bao which featured the same fried chicken from the dish before. It was dressed with kimchi, coriander, and Sichuan mayo. I liked this more than the Xiao Chi version because there were different textures and elements that elevated the experience. The sesame steamed bun was fluffy and moist providing an extra chew to the bao. The kimchi brought in acidity to balance and cut through the richness of the mayo. It is priced at £5.5 and I would give it the same rating: 5.5/10
The second was the Classic Bao and it had braised pork, peanut powder, fermented veg, and coriander. This wasn’t very memorable to me. I remember liking the peanut powder because of the fragrance and liking the bao because it was softer than the previous but that is about it. Since I can’t remember much about this dish, I unfortunately cannot give it a rating but I can tell you that it is priced at £5.25.
Bao Soho was okay for a quick bite but definitely not enough for a full meal. If you would like to pop by for a quick snack I might recommend it but personally, I just don’t think that it is worth the price point. As a Taiwanese person, the flavours don’t really meet the expectations that I had. But more importantly to me, London is one of the most “foodie” cities and there are so many daBut if you would like to try some Taiwanese food and you are not able to plan a holiday in Taiwan, coming here for a taste of the cuisine won’t do any harm. I would suggest trying out the Baos and having a swig of Taiwanese beer whilst you’re here.
For all of Bao London’s locations, visit their website here.
Our fourth day in London was a pretty laid back because it was our day to walk around and explore London. We started on Oxford street, where roamed some high-street shops. We found another huge Primark so we spent some more time browsing the multi-level store (this becomes a trend during out trip in Europe). A lot of Oxford street was under construction at the time so there were a lot of trucks and workers on the road and that led to a lack of images.
One image that I do have is South Molten Street just off of Oxford Street and Bond Station. It’s a beautiful pedestrian road that leads from Oxford Street to Brook Street. The Mayfair area is gorgeous and has stunning architecture where every building is different and designed perfectly for their brand.
Despite the fact that each shop is unique, they all work together and there is a sense on unity down the boulevard. This is not something commonly seen in North America. When you look at these buildings it leaves you a sense of awe and you never want to leave.
From South Molton Street we ended up on Brook Street about a block from Claridge’s, a luxury hotel in the heart of Mayfair. It is one of the two prestigious afternoon teas in London that are on everyone’s afternoon tea bucket lists. This was the most amazing experience and the service was stellar. They treat you like you are the most important person in the world.
My Claridge’s afternoon tea experience is available in the London Food Guide and linked here. I definitely recommend that you check it out and hopefully, you’ll be inspired to go yourself.
We emerged from Claridge’s absolutely stuffed and we decided to walk off everything that we ate down Regent Street. It is just like Oxford Street in the sense that it is also a major shopping boulevard. The difference is that Regent Street has more upscale brands and the buildings look the same down the street all the way to Piccadilly Circus. The buildings all look the same when you look at the upper levels but this time, the shop-fronts are different. The tops of the buildings connect down the boulevard so it looks beautiful but there are still distinguishable difference in the shop-fronts.
Right beside Regent Street is Carnaby, a pedestrian street that offers tons of dining and shops. Much like South Molton Street, all of the buildings are different but work together so well. All of the roads are brick-paved and well maintained so it’s easy to walk on. There is a beautiful sparkly, glitter, and shimmery Carnaby/British flag sign and it is so eye-catching. Mayfair is so busy and full of people which I normally don’t like but it just adds to the whole experience of London.
After a long day of walking, shopping, and exploring, we headed to the Prince Edward Theatre in Soho for a West End production of Aladdin. The theater was absolutely stunning (no surprise) and had Aladdin decorations everywhere. LED screens, actual gold lamps, banners. Everywhere. Upon entry, there are bars available upstairs so you can have a drink whilst you wait for seating to begin.
The show itself was spectacular as expected. Entertaining, colourful, and great for both adults and children. I highly recommend you go see any West End Show. Just experience it.
Today was our first wandering day and it was so much fun. You aren’t stuck to a schedule and you can truly enjoy the city.
An absolute must-do in London is afternoon tea and there is a plethora of options at different budgets. After a bunch of research and saving up money, we decided on Claridge’s London, a five-star hotel in Mayfair. Mayfair is an upscale area to the east of Hyde Park full of high-end restaurants, shops, and hotels. It is within walking distance of Oxford Street, a boulevard lined with high-street shops.
Claridge’s is located on Brook Street and the nearest tube station is Bond Street which hosts the Central line so it is easily accessible to anyone taking the tube. The afternoon tea is in a restaurant called The Foyer and Reading Room which is in your direct line of sight as you walk into the lobby. We booked our time three months in advance, and if you’re looking to have afternoon tea here, I recommend that you do the same. The earliest you can make a reservation is 90-days but don’t delay. Two months before our trip I was checking the reservations and they were all booked.
There is no dress code being enforced unlike other luxury afternoon teas, but smart casual is recommended and that is what everyone will be wearing.
The Foyer had a white coffered ceiling and gold mirrors that lined the walls, reflecting light everywhere. Attached to the ceiling like a chandelier is a shining glass sculpture, immediately drawing your attention. A host greeted us at the entry-way and lead us to our table. There was live pianist and violinist playing dulcet melodies and the harmonic notes just floated through the room. The servers donned with sophisticated white jackets and bow ties.
The afternoon tea menu was presented to us as a dainty little hardcover book that included not just the food and tea selection, but interesting little backstories and facts about Claridge’s and afternoon tea. The menu also had adorable professional-looking doodles of their teacups and teapots. The tea selection had a variety of teas and described the history and the notes of each specific blend.
Our server was lovely and explained all of the options for drinks (other than tea, of course). The options included are a Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée Brut, Laurent-Perrier Rosé, and for anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol but classily drinking out a wine glass, jus de raisin pétillant. I went for the champagne and my mom went for the non-alcoholic grape juice.
The first tea I chose was Claridge’s Blend as it was recommended by our server. It was like an English Breakfast but malty-er. I tend to take black teas with milk because I think it rounds out all of the flavours. Even though it was suggested that I drink it black, I enjoyed it with a splash of milk. On the table, there was a small metal box that contained sugar cubes, sweetener, and brown sugar for the teas.
The first of the courses was the sandwiches which included: smoked salmon, coronation chicken, egg mayonnaise, cucumber, ham, and the chef’s seasonal’s savoury. Anything that you particularly enjoy you can get more of free of charge. We really liked the cucumber, the seasonal savoury, egg mayonaisse, and the smoked salmon so order an extra of each sandwich. It was delicious but a huge mistake because we were too full to finish our pastries. So think twice before ordering more sandwiches or scones.
The next course was the scones and there were two flavours that were presented to us: raisin and plain. They were served with Cornish clotted cream and Marco Polo gelée. Marco Polo gelée is a jelly created by the gourmet french tea company Mariage Frères. This gelée is exquisite and unlike anything I’ve tasted. It is fruit pectin and a tea infusion sweetened with cane sugar, cooked over a bain-marie. It tastes of fragrant tea without the bitterness when paired with clotted cream, is heavenly. It is available to purchase in Selfridges London or Covent Garden OR if you are stopping in Paris, there are various stores spread across the city. You can find locations here.
Before we had our scones I decided to choose a different tea. This time I chose Rare Earl Grey. Earl grey is my favourite tea and this one had a strong bergamot flavour with a hint of citrus. I enjoyed this tea more than the Claridge’s Blend, probably because I’m biased to earl grey. The scones were served warm and were so buttery and fluffy. This was my favourite part of the afternoon tea as the scone, cream, and gelée worked together harmoniously to create bursts of rich and smooth flavour.
The last course was the most exciting one: the pastries. I’m going to be honest, I can’t remember all of the flavours but I’ll do my best to describe it. It featured four desserts: Hazelnut Paris-Brest, a chocolate-y hazelnut-y cake, a macaron (if I remember correctly, it was passion fruit), and a tartelette with meringue (I think it was of the citrus variety. The hazelnut Paris-brest stood out to me the most. The choux pastry had a lovely crunch in contrast to the creaminess of the praline. The sides were decorated with hazelnuts that added a different texture and an extra nutty flavour.
The chocolate-y cake thing was so smooth and the textures also worked really well together. However, it was a little sweet for my taste but it had an intense, chocolate flavour. It was indulgent and a good portion for something so rich.
At this point, we were way too full to finish the other two pastries so we actually got them packed to go. But the desserts themselves were also quite good. The macaron was like a classic French macaron, hard outer shell and gooey on the inside. It was as sweet as I expected it to be, much like a classic macaron. There was a tartness in the filling to offset the sweetness of the shell.
The tartelette had a crisp, thin, and buttery base with a citrus filling. It was topped with a torched meringue and a decorative piece. The colours were unified and worked well together. This was second pick for me because I have a soft spot for tartelettes and pies. The pastry base was delicious and it is something London in general does so well. The dessert was balanced, delightful, and an overall great end to the evening.
The scones were so good that we had to take some back to our flat. Our server brought us our leftover pastries and extra scones in an elegant box with a couple of chocolate mints.
This was an incredible experience that I would love to do again. The service was incredible and the food was high-quality. The atmosphere of the Foyer was grand and elegant. It made us feel like we were posh Londoners. Was it expensive? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely. This is my place of choice when it comes to a celebratory event or even just to spurge on something nice for yourself. This is probably the favourite thing I did in London and I hope you choose to experience it as well. I rate afternoon tea at the Foyer and Reading Room at Claridge’s London a 10/10.
On day three, we got up bright and early to head to the St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral was massive, and was even more grand than Westminster Abbey. The architecture is stunning and it is my favourite structure in London, maybe even Europe. The intricacies in the stone could make me stand there forever, memorizing every detail. Inside the cathedral makes you feel tiny, my heart felt like it was being pulled down into the black and white tile floor (But in a good way). The statues are beautiful and each tells you another story. When you look up at the dome you can see the stunning painting of columns stretching up to the top. The spandrels under the dome had mosaics of the prophets but they weren’t just any mosaics. They sparkled up they and highlighted the other monochrome paintings.
You could walk up a WHOLE LOT of stairs (my legs were still sore from the stairs of The Monument) to the three levels of the dome: The Whispering Gallery (257 steps), Stone Gallery (376 steps), and the Golden Gallery (528 steps). The Golden Gallery offered a panoramic view of London which was obviously stunning.
After our visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral, you walked across the Millennium bridge. From the bridge, you can get an excellent photograph of the Cathedral. The Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian bridge takes you across the River Thames from the Cathedral to the Tate Modern.
View of St. Paul’s Cathedral from Millennium Bridge
From the Millennium Bridge we found our way to London Bridge City. It is the area that has a lot of business skyscrapers and city hall. The City Hall is an interesting building that to me, looks like a cross between a rolled up armadillo and a wood bug. You can visit inside the building on weekdays but we decided not to. The reason we visited London Bridge City is the view of the Thames. In my opinion, this is where you can get the best photo of Tower Bridge
There is a walkway down the Thames and you can get pictures of different city views like the Walkie-Talkie building, the Gherkin, and of course the Tower Bridge. If you try to sit on the ledge, someone might tell you to get down so take your photo fast. We actually took the walkway to a stairway that takes you onto the bridge. My word, was it crowded. Many people pushing past each-other and an extremely long queue to go into the Tower Bridge museum (which we opted not to visit). On the other side of the bridge is the Tower of London a historical castle that doubles as a museum.
The Tower of London is one of my favourite museums because every aspect is interesting, from stories of executions, torture, and missing children. If you are interested in more morbid or medieval stuff, I think you would also have a good time there. My mom enjoyed the torture devices and the execution sites less than I did. If you are like my mom, fear not, there is till something in the Tower of London for you.
The Tower of London is also the home to the Crown Jewels, some of which are still in use by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in ceremonies. They are gorgeous pieces of art that are just mesmerizing to look at. The Crown Jewels include tiaras, spoons, plate, swords, orbs and a whole bunch of other sparkly items. There will definitely be a queue when you go because of security checks and the sheer number of people who visit this exhibit so plan around 45-60 minutes just for the Crown Jewels.
I would recommend that you plan 2-3 hours for the Tower of London, depending on how fast you walk and read.
The Tower Pier is near the Tower of London and you can take a number of Thames cruises to get some excellent photos of the riverside. We decided to take the Thames River Boat Cruise from Tower pier to Westminster pier and back again. There are four stops total for the cruise, Westminster pier, London Eye pier, Tower pier, and Greenwich pier. You have to option of going on the deck (if you want photos, I would recommend) but it is ridiculously cold out there so make sure you bundle up. For the majority of the cruise, it was a relaxing hour as we sat inside and ate our Bread Ahead Doughnuts (which are the best doughnuts ever. Full review available here.)
London Bridge City
Coca-Cola London Eye/London Eye Pier
As we disembarked the vessel we were starting to get hungry so our last stop of the day was dinner and Emilia’s Crafted Pasta who makes fresh pasta in-house and delicious sauces that match the noodle shape. Emilia’s Crafted Pasta is available in the London Food Guide here.