Sunday, June 25, 2017

Checking items off the list

Wednesday the 14th was my last full day in London where I was able to choose what I wanted to do. I would be coming back to the city a couple mores time, but with a group of high school students and a preset, busy schedule.

I was able to book tickets to the Sky Garden, at the top of the 20 Fenchurch St building, commonly referred to as the "Walkie-Talkie"
The one in the center
The Sky Garden is free to visit, but you do have to book in advance and you are given an hour window to stay up there although nobody was checking that you left within that time frame. Apparently allowing the space to the public was how the building was able to be constructed where it was, but there have been a lot of bad reviews about how restrictive the rules are to get in and how the gardens themselves are not that impressive (see here and here)

 Cat joined me at the base of the building and we were able to enter in pretty quickly. I thought the place was quite nice, and we enjoyed the best views of the city I have seen so far. There was also a cafe stand where we picked up some coffee and I had a slice of cake.

Had to watch out for this guy trying to break in

 Looking to the west was quite sad, though, as I'm sure you have all heard about the apartment fire that occurred in London, and we could still see the smoking building even 12 hours after it had started.

Next we had a bit more of a tragedy tour, as Cat asked me what else I wanted to do with my last day in the city and I said I wanted to go back to Borough Market because there had been an olive oil stand I checked out on my first visit there and had told myself I would come back before I left to pick up the chili oil. It was also the first day that the market was open after the terrible events two weeks prior, so we figured we would go and spend some money at the stands in support. 

To get there we had to cross London Bridge, which had a heartbreaking memorial to hero Ignacio Echeverría who tried to stop the attackers by hitting them with his skateboard after seeing them stabbing a woman. There were several notes in Spanish by, I'm assuming, his friends telling people about the type of man he was.

Further down I came across this Invader piece, which I'm not entirely sure how long it has been there but it felt especially poignant on that day.

I bought my bottle of oil, then we had some ciders from The Cider House stand. I had mine mixed with ginger beer.

Next we tried the salted caramel and honeycomb doughnut from the Bread Ahead Bakery School stand, which was incredible! I was kicking myself for getting a meh slice of cake at the Sky Garden and being too full to really enjoy more than a bite of the doughnut because it was sooo good. Seriously, if you ever find yourself in Borough Market, get one of their doughnuts!

photo by Cat

Next, we traveled to Mayfair area of London, to check out Sketch - one of the most Instagrammed restaurants in the city. Nicola and Vikki had been there previously and said we had to go and check out the toilets.

Luckily it was late afternoon but prior to the end of the work day, so the place was not too busy and we didn't need a reservation. We had a drink in the Parlour, as an excuse to be able to have a look around. It was pricier than what I would normally pay for just an ok cocktail, but we said we will have to go back another time to try the pastries since they looked pretty tasty. After our drinks, we asked for the loos and were told to go through the Gallery dining room to find them.
photo courtesy of Cat
photo courtesy of Cat
photo courtesy of Cat
The Gallery features 239 new, original pieces by British artist David Shrigley.

The waitress from the Parlour said it was a bit weird to be known for their toilets, but she did encourage us to go see them, and they were all that we hoped. The staircase leading up to them had candles on the side of each step, creating the best smelling bathroom I'd ever entered. From outside the pods, it felt like you had entered a strange spaceship. Each pod contained a single toilet and felt a little like a classy porta-potty while inside.
photo courtesy of Cat

Sinks are shared outside the pods.

From there we took the Tube to Leicester Square and popped into the Lego Store where we had fun checking out the large, London themed Lego sculptures.
photo courtesy of Cat

photo courtesy of Cat
After our Lego fun, we walked to Gordon's Wine Bar, which is located next to Charing Cross and Embankment underground stations, where Tom joined us when he got off work.
Gordon's is London's oldest wine bar, established in 1890. They try to maintain the original decor and the majority of the bar is underground in old cellars lit by candlelight. You can hear and feel as trains from the Tube pass by, which just adds to the atmosphere. It was too dark to really get any good photos, though.
We shared some wine and a cheese board, then made our way to Mr Fogg's Residence in Mayfair. The bar is run by the same people as Cahoots (which I wrote about yesterday). The employees are also in character here and the place is decorated to look like the home of Phileas Fogg from Around the World in 80 Days. In the bathrooms they have the audio book of the novel playing through speakers. 

Alas, our time there was brief because they had to run off to photograph a concert and I had to pack up all my things in preparation for leaving London. But they helped me have a wonderful last day.

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