Our final day in London was spent exploring the landmarks in the city and eating our way throughout different neighborhoods. The first stop was to go to the National Gallery. They were showing a Caravaggio exhibit, which is the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the influence of Caravaggio. The gallery has a free entrance and is fairly large – I spent about 2 hours in there alone trying to find all the masterpieces. They have Vermeer, Monet, Seurat, Cézanne, Rembrandt, van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”, Michelangelo’s “The Entombment”, and more. They also have a da Vinci panel and Raphael’s “The Madonna of the Pinks”, which are both must-sees.
After our morning in the gallery, we went straight to get lunch at a old school rock ramen bar called Bone Daddies. They have multiple locations but we went to their original joint in SoHo. It’s a really casual place and they were selling a special ramen called “Prince of Darkness” that was supposed to be their spiciest ramen. I can’t really eat too much spicy food and I’m glad I didn’t order that one because people were sweating. I ended up ordering their traditional Tonkotsu ramen with a soft-boiled egg and it was perfect. Their mocktails are also really good! They had one with yuzu and strawberry that was really refreshing.
Afternoon Tea Bus Tour Price: £61
You can book a table here
We decided to go to Trafalgar Square once we finished eating because we had an afternoon tea tour scheduled for the afternoon. I’ve always wanted to ride one of the iconic red double-decker buses and I found a bakery that did an “Afternoon Tea Bus Tour” around London’s sightseeing spots while serving afternoon tea! You basically get to tour around London while enjoying sandwiches, tea, and desserts. The tour lasts about an hour and half so plan accordingly. I also ended up purchasing a small booklet at the end (which you can also purchase when making reservations for an extra £5) because the designs and drawings were so adorable.
Westminster Abbey Entrance Fee: £20
You can purchase tickets online in advance here
I had wanted to visit Westminster Abbey, a church with a history spanning over 1000 years (literally) ever since I learned as a child that this was the church where the coronations were held. And for those who care about the current royal family, it is also where Prince William married Kate Middleton. There is an entrance fee to enter the church, which I was unaware of, and we decided not to join the long queue, especially since the entry fee is not exactly cheap. Photography is also not allowed in the church.
Of course, if we were at Westminster Abbey, we had to go by Big Ben to take a photo! Upon my research, I found out that climbing the tower is for UK residents only. Big Ben is located right next to the Palace of Westminster (the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords which are the two houses of the Parliament)/ I managed to salvage a photograph of Big Ben in all its glory next to the Houses of Parliament and with the ever-recognisable iconic red telephone booth. These booths are really dirty so if you plan on going inside to take a picture, just be careful of the filth.
DID YOU KNOW?
During WW2, the lights of Big Ben were dimmed so that German bombers could not use it for reference
“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.” – Peter Pan
One cannot visit London without strolling through Hyde Park and finding the Peter Pan statue. To me, the Peter Pan statue is the equivalent of the Balto statue in Central Park back in NYC. Peter Pan was always one of my favorite childhood stories and so seeing the statue was definitely on my checklist. It was a little tricky finding the statue within the park since the park was far larger than I imagined but we managed and I took a photo while the sun was beginning to set. It was totally worth the trek but I wish I did have more time to explore the park since it also had nice gardens.
Right before dinner, I wanted to cross off one more ice cream place from my list: Milk Train Cafe. I actually first learned about this cafe through an INSIDER video when they were making a soft serve ice cream on top of a cotton candy cloud. It is a pretty popular (and highly Instagrammable place) so I suggest you get there early to get in queue. Their seasonal flavor during my visit was hojicha, which is roasted green tea, so I got the hojicha and matcha swirl on a cotton candy cloud. The process is pretty slow so if you’re in a rush, you should probably skip this place. It was beautiful and delicious and I was so glad I was able to cross this place off my list!
One restaurant literally everyone I know who visited or lived in London recommended was Dishoom. British-Indian food is obviously a popular cuisine – after all, England’s national dish is the chicken tikka masala. Dishoom does not take reservations and there is a queue set up for dinnertime. It was only a 20-25 minute wait when we went so it wasn’t too bad. One of the regular diners at Dishoom highly recommended the garlic naan so we ordered that and a few chicken dishes. I also ordered a mango lassi and I am so thankful that I did because my friend ordered this spicy chicken dish where upon first bite, it wasn’t too spicy, but then a few seconds later, it really kicked in and I was almost in tears. The food really is delicious and a fantastic place to try Bombay cuisine!
Side Note: On our last night in London (when we came back from Yorkshire Dales) one of my friends and I ended our trip at Duck and Waffle. It’s open 24 hours, 7 days a week and their food was delicious. We ordered their signature duck and waffle but also their ox-cheek grilled cheese (which we thought was better than the duck and waffle). They have great drinks and it’s located in the Heron Tower so you get amazing night views.
- Neal’s Yard
- located in Covent Garden
- it’s a colorful alley and great for photos
- Columbia Road Flower Market
- only open on Sundays from 8:00-14:00
- Tsujiri (Japanese tea house): Known for matcha ice cream, shaved ice
- Said: Outpost of the oldest chocolate house in Rome
- Abbey Road Studios
- Notting Hill: Known for its pastel-colored houses
- Portobello Road Market: Located in Notting Hill