This is part two in a 4-part series from a recent trip I took to Cornwall, England, then London, Brugge, Belgium and Amsterdam, Netherlands. Click here to read that post and watch the video.
If you’re continuing without visiting that post just know that Cornwall is incredible and you should put it on your bucket list. Did that make you want to go watch the video? I promise it’s worth it.
On to London — a city I’ve never been to. It was about a 3-hour train ride from Looe, where we ended our Encounter Hiking Tour, to Paddington Station, London’s central hub. We booked an awesome Airbnb in Mayfair, on Maddox St., just off of Regent St., one of London’s busiest areas know for its high-end shopping. With some proper planning, we pre-booked tickets to the London Eye, more specifically the Champagne Experience, where you get to enjoy a glass of chilled Pommery Brut Royal champagne served by a personal guide, along with fast-track access and a 360-degree mini guide. You will also get access to the London Eye 4D Cinema Experience. This was a good way to start off the touristing because we got an amazing view of the entire city and it helped me get a lay of the land.
After the London Eye, it was time to find dinner. London is so big and there are endless options, but there are also millions of people so if you don’t have a reservation it’s not going to be as easy as you might think to just walk in and grab a table. I don’t recall the exact number of miles, but somewhere between three and four miles were walked while Carey’s dad Chuck (aka The Chuckster), played this incredible game of knowing what he didn’t want, but not what he actually wanted. When we would find a place that was available he didn’t want it. When we found a place he wanted it was a two-hour wait. The search finally ended and I’ve got to say it was well worth the wait. Dehesa, a modern Spanish-Italian tapas restaurant in Soho kinda blew our minds with the flavors and creativity. We sat on the patio which is on the corner of a busy pedestrian-only hotspot, drank a few bottles of wine, and people watched. It was a perfect way to end day one.
If you’ve already been to London, we did exactly what you’d expect — a visit to London Bridge, Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London. I convinced everyone to walk because I always think that’s the best way to see a city. We checked out The Savoy Hotel and took our first beer stop at The Oyster Shed which overlooked the London Bridge on the River Thames.
Our next stop was a tour of the Tower of London, a secure fortress, royal palace and infamous prison where the famous Crown Jewels are held. If you enjoy history this is the place for you.
It was then on to the Tower Bridge where we stopped for lunch at The Brasserie, a perfect waterside patio with direct views of the bridge. After lunch, we decided to walk across the bridge and back and as were we almost halfway the bridge opened. A British Royal Navy ship was entering which gave me the perfect opportunity to get some great footage of the bridge opening, the people building up, the ship coming through, the bridge closing, and traffic and people flowing again. It was really cool!
Dinner that evening was at Andrew Edmunds, a snug 18th-century townhouse serving modern European fare at candlelit tables. Amazing food, great wine, and just the type of experience you want to have when traveling.
I’ve been an English Premier League (EPL) fan since I was a little kid. I played soccer starting at the age of four and somewhere around age eleven or twelve, I transitioned from a striker to a goalie. An injury to our goalie led me, the biggest player, to take over and surprisingly that’s where I stayed. Well at that time Manchester United had an amazing goalie by the name of Peter Schmeichel and I would watch their games on tv. Ever since then I’ve been a Man U fan and it’s always been a goal of mine to see an EPL game in England. I’ve seen Man U play a few times in the states, but this was my chance to check this off my list. I bought tickets to the West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspurs game at London Stadium and we saw an amazing game. Tottenham took a 3-0 lead, but West Ham came storming back with two late goals to make the ending very exciting. Bucket list item accomplished.
From the game, we decided to rent bikes and ride back to the city which was about 7-miles. Carey about killed me because we took the Google Maps route instead of the scenic waterfront route. We had double-decker buses, taxi’s, local bikers going twice as fast as us all blowing by us which created a stressful ride. I blame Google, haha. We won’t make that mistake again next time, but I thought it was kinda fun. Shhh, don’t tell her!
Next up on the agenda was a Jacksonville Jaguars pre-game party at The Finery where ex-players who were there to either work the game or just watch were present. Mark Brunell, Fred Taylor, Tony Boselli and Jeff Legeman were all hanging out and mingling with the fans. Chuck happens to know some of them from living in Jacksonville so we got to take a few pictures and chat with them for a few minutes.
To end the evening we had a reservation at Patara, which serves modern Thai-cuisine and has locations around London, but also in Singapore, Bangkok, Beijing, Vienna, and Geneva. I can honestly say it was the best Thai food I’ve ever had. Each new item was as good as the last. This was the third dinner in a row where we just couldn’t believe what we were tasting.
The main reason this trip was taken during this time of year was because of the Jaguars game. Carey’s parents are season ticket holders and so this trip was planned around this event and then the Cornwall portion took shape. The Jags were underdogs, but they were showing signs of having a decent team which isn’t something they are very known for. On this day, everything went their way. The halftime score was 23-0 and the final score was 44-7. It was a total rout and the Ravens fans around us weren’t very happy. For us, it just validated the trip and was just the sendoff we had hoped for.
See Part One of this trip: The Best Off-the-Radar Hiking Trip: Cornwall England