On our second day in London, I was catching up on sleep (since I didn’t sleep on the plane and we went straight from Heathrow to exploring the city). However, Joel was well-rested and decided to go downstairs for breakfast. As I had dreams of royal processions and Beatles songs dancing through my head, Joel busted through the door of our room and yelled “THE BREAKFAST IS BETTER THAN JAMAICA!!!” and slammed the door.
When we went to Jamaica to photograph a wedding the previous year, the breakfast was awesome. We enjoyed variations of classic breakfast foods and tropical drinks in front of the bluest water we had ever seen. However, once he said it was BETTER than Jamaica, I was downstairs within 2 minutes! Prior to our trip, we had never heard of a British fry-up, but it knocks Continental Breakfasts out of the water! Two types of bacon, three types of ham, four types of sausages, fried eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, olives, cheeses, jams, jellies, cereals, toast, fruits, they had it all! Although the fry-up reminded me of Sunday breakfast while growing up, I hope to reach a point in adulthood where I can create a feast like that every morning… even if the meal is a hangover cure.
After we had one of the best meals we’ve ever enjoyed (definitely our favorite on this trip), it was time to do some more exploring around town. We had planned to meet one of my friends – DJ Allan – and his fiancée Lesley at Kings Cross/St. Pancras station for lunch, so we decided to grab a drink nearby until they arrived. To wet our whistle, we visited the GNH (Great Northern Hotel) Bar next door. The cocktails they served up were delightful (we’re not really drinkers) and the manager was super sweet! She actually was planning to backpack across America the following year and we made sure to give her fun points of interest in several states.
I DIDN’T stop eating!
Following our drinks and hospitality, we made our way to the McDonald’s across the street to jump on their free Wi-Fi and find out Allan’s location. One big problem (that we learned the hard way): you have to have a UK SIM card to use the Wi-Fi; it didn’t allow you to log on like at the airport. This meant that Joel & I spent the next 2 hours standing at the multiple entrances of Kings Cross/St. Pancras Station… which isn’t a small station! I’ve told him before, but a million apologies to Allan & Lesley for our lack of direction and Wi-Fi.
Since we couldn’t find our friends, we decided to recharge at the hotel before heading back out into the city. The tubes were still easy to navigate and if we got turned around, the locals were more than willing to assist us!
Bond. James Bond… Street
Several hours later, we visited the place every Beatles fan adds to their itinerary (outside of Liverpool): Abbey Road! I know it can be cliché and everyone that lives at the apartments next to Abbey Road Studios probably hates tourists like us holding up traffic, but we don’t regret going! There’s little nods to one of the greatest rock bands of all time all along the street – from fan graffiti to the signs telling fans not to write graffiti! We also made sure to pay tribute to our late friend Lance Tilton – whose ashes are embedded within a crack in the wall – and stand on the famous crosswalk; but we both made sure there were no cars coming. If you ever want to watch what’s going on at the intersection, check out the Abbey Road Crossing Cam!
I have a store! Cologne & Cotton!
After retracing the steps of John, Paul, George & Ringo (and finding a church to attend if we ever move to the neighborhood), we jumped on another double-decker bus and headed toward the London home of Prince William & the Duchess of Cambridge: Kensington Palace. When we stepped off the bus, we became a bit turned around, so we decided to “walk until the street ends, then turn right”. That worked for about 30 minutes until we started to get even more turned around. Luckily, we saw a bus full of people exiting, so we decided to follow them… and that led us to somewhere we never though we’d go. As we walked down the cobblestone street lined with trees and stately mansions, we realized this wasn’t an ordinary tour group, these people were en route to dinner at the French ambassador’s home! No one even noticed that we were tourists (Pro-tip: always dress to impress, even if it’s dark jeans & flats)! Although we made it to the front steps of the home and hors d’oeuvres were being passed out, we decided it wasn’t worth the possibility of getting our passports revoked, so we turned around and kept walking down the cobblestone street. However, with Joel’s ancestors being English & French, we probably could have gotten away with it!
The French ambassador’s home
The back side of Kensington Palace
Since we had been walking around for a while it was time to refuel. Next to Kensington Palace we had our second fantastic meal of the trip at Stick & Bowl. Located on the Kensington High Street, this Chinese restaurant has savory food in an intimate setting at an affordable price point. We probably ate 3 orders of shrimp toast each. If you’re ever in the Kensington part of London, make sure you stop by!
Following diner at Stick & Bowl, we started to make our way back to the tubes via Harrod’s department store, but not before stopping at Whole Foods Market for the best slices of Jamón Ibérico ham ever (even though it’s normally $400 per leg, they gave us more free samples than they should)! Fun fact: Prince Harry & his girlfriend Meghan Markle shop at that location! After Whole Foods, we grabbed sushi at a tiny restaurant located on the first floor of an office building. Honestly, London knows what they’re doing when it comes to pleasing the palate. Unfortunately, we were so busy eating that we forgot to take pictures!
Harrod’s Department Store
Even though we could have spent the evening restaurant hopping around town, we decided to make our way back to the hotel so we could get some sleep before our next destination – Paris: The City of Lights!