I want to start today’s post by wishing my folks a happy 46th wedding anniversary!
My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this past June. To mark the occasion, we decided to spend a week in my favourite city in the world — London!
Here are some highlights from our trip.
Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe from Sherlock
I’ll admit this right out of the gate — I chose the hotel we stayed at in London solely based on how close it was to Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe from Sherlock. During our May 2012 trip to London, we visited the filming location of Shaun’s neighbourhood from Shaun of the Dead. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to visit another filming location on this trip, so being close to Speedy’s (a real, operational restaurant) was a natural choice since Sherlock is a show we enjoy watching together. After snapping a few touristy photos of the facade, we went inside and ate a traditional English breakfast.
On the two previous trips I’ve taken to London, I never spent as much time as I wanted to at Tower Bridge. I rode tour buses that would drive across it a couple times and that was it. Whoop-dee-flippin’-do.
This time we did it properly.
We started from the Tower Hill tube station at the Tower of London and walked across from north to south on the foot path on the west side, finishing at the east end of the Queen’s Walk on the south bank of the Thames. It was spectacular! I took so many photos that I could make a coffee table book of just Tower Bridge!
And I loved every minute of it.
The Champagne Experience on the London Eye
After Tower Bridge, we strolled along the Queen’s Walk towards the London Eye. We’ve both been on the regular 30-minute rotation before, so we wanted to do something special this time around for our anniversary. After browsing their website, I made a reservation for a special package called the Champagne Experience.
With the Champagne Experience, you get to skip the lengthy June tourist lines (in the afternoon of June 2, it was incredibly long), and you board a capsule with a host who carries the champagne and glasses inside a large, wicker picnic basket and serves you the champagne while on board. You still have to share a capsule with other passengers who are also there for the Champagne Experience, but we didn’t mind.
During the rotation, our host asked if anyone in the capsule was celebrating anything special that day. We said it was our 10th wedding anniversary, to which our fellow passengers congratulated us and our host gave us a cork from one of the champagne bottles as a memento. After a couple glasses of champagne and numerous photos of the London skyline, we staggered out of our capsule and into the gift shop. (We truly did stagger. It was really good champagne.)
Dinner at The Shard
We really wanted to do it up right for our anniversary dinner. While I was researching different places to visit during our trip, I found out that there are six restaurants located at The Shard — the tallest building in London. We decided to make a reservation at a Chinese restaurant called Hutong on the 33rd floor.
The view was incredible. Both of them. ;)
The food selection was a little different (and pricey) than what we were used to in North America, but we enjoyed the culinary adventure. Our dessert was by far our favourite item. Look at the pretty!
Terrorist Attack at London Bridge and Borough Market
(This was not a highlight, but it was a major event that occurred during our trip.)
I woke up at about 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 4. As I reached for my phone that was sitting on the bedside table, my husband gently touched my shoulder to get my attention. He calmly told me about a terrorist attack that happened the night before on London Bridge and at Borough Market. We were in the exact same area a few days prior. I went to bed a little after 10 p.m. while my husband opted to stay up a little longer and watch an episode or two of the then newly released season of House of Cards. He told me that his phone started lighting up with messages from people back home asking if we were okay. Instead of waking me up, he decided to let me sleep and contact our friends and family to let them know we were safe.
After processing what he told me, I switched on my phone to see that I too had a barrage of concerned messages. We spent an hour or so watching the news on the BBC until nothing new was reported. We discussed whether we still wanted to do the sightseeing we had planned. To this day, I am still surprised that I wanted to continue on with the trip as if nothing had happened. I think I was still in the mindset that this was happening “over there”, so I had nothing to be scared of. We got ready and set out for another day of sightseeing.
Oddly enough, our travels that day took us past some of the barricaded roads around London Bridge. We knew we were close, but we didn’t expect to turn a corner and find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a crowd amongst a lot of TV news cameras and police vehicles. (We were walking to the Tower of London because the Tower Hill tube station had been shut down.)
Seeing it all in person was very odd to me, and the gravity of what happened still hadn’t sunk in. Even today, my brain is still far removed from it, but I think maybe that’s just how I’ve subconsciously decided to deal with it. Would I go back to London? I would, but not for another 5 to 10 years. This last trip allowed me to see everything I really wanted to see, so I think it’s time that I visit some other destinations.