The best way to start a day of sightseeing around London is to grab breakfast and a freshly brewed coffee at Hej Café. A café tucked away between the streets of Bermondsey, Hej offers the best breakfast options, from apple, brie and rocket Panini to a sweet pastry. It’s the perfect café to spend all day in working on your computer or studying. We didn’t have much time to stay because our first stop of the day was Buckingham palace to watch the changing of the guards and we were already running a little late. The three of us grabbed our breakfast and coffee, and headed to the tube.
|(So many choices at Hej cafe)|
Every day at 11:30am the guards change posts in front of Buckingham palace, a ceremony dating back to the early 17th century. During the changing of the guards, also known as the guard mounting, one regiment takes over from another. The guards march down the Mall, the long road from Wellington Barracks to Buckingham palace, around the Queen Victoria Memorial and through the gates of the palace. Once in the courtyard, the guards perform a series of marches and relieve the old guards of their duty. We were lucky to get up to the front row and watch the guards march past. I recommend getting there early, especially on the weekend because it is quiet the tourist attraction filled with a lot of people and selfie sticks.
|(Guards marching around Queen Victoria Memorial)|
|(Guards Buckingham Palace courtyard)|
After the guards took their new posts and the old guards marched back, we walked towards St. James’s Park where we stopped at the picturesque bridge to view the London eye and Wellington Barracks. The beautiful park feels like an escape from the busy streets of London and ideal for a Sunday morning stroll. Leaving the park we made our way towards Piccadilly Square but were stopped by over a hundred luxury cars driving through London to promote the beginning of Modball Rally. The Modball rally is an international road rally with a different route each year taking place on public roads. The drivers show off their cars and the many personalized modifications they have made. This year’s race started in London and made its way to Paris, Lyon, Monaco, Barcelona and ending the 2000 miles in Valencia, Spain.
|(View from bridge in St. James's Park towards Wellington barracks on the left and London Eye on the right)|
|(Looking up the Mall towards Buckingham palace)|
|(Modball rally car)|
|(My favorite Modball rally car I saw...I love BMW)|
Food is always on the itinerary when I travel so E took us to Kingly court for a delicious pizza at Pizza Pilgrims. Kingly court is a great spot to have lunch while sitting in the courtyard surrounded by shops, cafes and restaurants. Each of us devoured our pizza because they looked unbelievably good. Along with my pizza I enjoyed a refreshing can of Coca-Cola. Hands down the soda tastes better in Europe than in the states, mainly due to the fact that there is real sugar used and not high fructose corn syrup. For dessert I stopped at the Moosh café across from Pizza Pilgrims to order a caramel iced coffee with almond milk, the perfect energy boost!
|(Some of the best pizza!)|
|(European Coca-Cola - the best)|
|(Walking around, not sure where exactly I took this)|
|(Dancers at Leicester Square)|
|(Man at Trafalgar Square)|
|(Whitehall road from Trafalgar Square to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben)|
|(Left: Westminster Abbey; Right: Big Ben)|
You can see beautiful views of London Eye, the Parliament building and Big Ben from the Westminster Bridge that crosses the river Thames. Although we wanted to go up the London Eye, it was quite expensive and we had seen stunning views of London from the Shard the night before (read post here). Instead we enjoyed the view from the ground, taking a break in the grassy area just below the London Eye.
|(The Parliament building, Big Ben and Westminster bridge)|
Our tour of London was coming to an end. We finished the walk back to E’s apartment by passing through South Bank, past a used book market to a skate park and ending back at Tower Bridge. There we were greeted by a large cruise ship passing under Tower Bridge, a remarkable achievement by the ship’s captain because the two towers of the bridge are not far apart and to maneuver a ship that large took skill.
|(Left: London Eye; Right: Tower Bridge)|
|(Used book Market on the South Bank)|
|(View north from the south bank)|
|(Cruise ship on the Thames River)|
Every neighborhood we walked through had its own atmosphere and energy that made it memorable, I can’t say I have a favorite part of London but I do have a favorite new memory – walking around London with my two best friends (as chessy as that sounds) =o)
x the Adventurer