London remains one of, if not the most, favorite of all the cities we have been fortunate to visit in our travels. Because of that, it's one of the cities where we have a frame of reference for change. On this current visit we have seen some changes in London.
This beautiful city is undergoing a massive building boom. Construction cranes dot the skyline and vie for attention with the iconic buildings for which the city is known. Big Ben, sadly, is shrouded in scaffolding and totally out of view. The same with parts of Parliament. Elsewhere, looking from the eighth floor of H10 Waterloo, our current hotel, the horizon seems to be filled with buildings clad in covering as work progresses on the many projects. Let's hope the work is done quickly so this beauty can return.
Westminster Bridge is one of the most congested anywhere and that continues to be true. And the congestion, this time, is worsened by the scammers offering the three cup shell game to too many unsuspecting people hoping to make some easy money. The only ones making the money were the scammers. In the 800-plus feet of one side of the bridge eight different scammers were set up. Each attracted a relatively large number of onlookers and participants. Each group then blocked the already heavy pedestrian traffic resulting in too many people trying to walk through too small an area. Why don't the police shut them down, London? #londoncity @citypolice
It’s lovely to have a city outside the United States that you love, and that seems to love you back. London is such a city for us. On this, our ninth or tenth visit here, we’ve renewed our acquaintance, discovered new things to love, and found things we forgot we disliked.
The crowds! Our journey today took us to the Thames, to the Coca-Cola London Eye, and the areas known as Southwark and the Embankment. Our friends enjoyed their first adventure on the Eye (we’ve ridden this giant ferris-type wheel several times already) and we walked around, enjoying the Parliament and Embankment areas. To do that, we had to walk across the Westminster Bridge. What an awful crush!!! Between all the people, the buskers (there was a great bagpiper there) and the huskers trying to scam unsuspecting tourists, I had had it with crowds. It’s one thing to see a city you love, it’s another to see it with millions of your new friends!
Our new loves of the day were the Borough Market and the area close to our hotel called The Cut. Both amazing, and both for food. We had tried and failed to make it to the Borough Market on previous trips, but just never made it work. This time we enjoyed the fun, foodie atmosphere, the great vibe and some amazing food. We sampled everything there was to sample, ate some amazing Balkan food, got some yummy fudge and enjoyed the wonderful coffee at the Monmouth Coffee Company. We will be back!
Our second love was the area around our hotel, which is located at the intersection of Waterloo Road and Westminster Bridge Road, in the Southwark area. Close to us is the Old Vic theater, and right by the Old Vic (and the New Vic) is The Cut, a long road of pubs, restaurants, and great opportunities to hang out with friends. We ate at an astoundingly good Vietnamese restaurant, Union Viet – absolutely fabulous food and people. On that same stretch there were at least twenty-five other restaurants we wanted to try. An amazing neighborhood!
Tomorrow’s adventures have us traveling to the Tower of London (for our friends), shopping in the Charing Cross bookshops, and having high tea at a Soho restaurant. We’d like to get a chance to go to Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well, but that may not happen. Stay tuned!