This week we took our Baby Moon in London. Gibel’s family live in London, however when we visit we spend our time with family, we never explore what London has to offer. With a long list of what we wanted to do, we packed our car up and headed for the Big Smoke.
We awoke the following day bright and early, eager to explore. With Hoxton and Shoreditch in our sights, we hopped on the number 8 bus. Hoxton, like a lot of East London has undergone a lot of development. With young professionals moving into the area, bringing with them independent cafes, restaurants and bars, creating a quirky feel and excitement for what treats you could stumble upon. What I love about London is you can wonder down a bustling high street, turn the corner and fall upon a little piece of green, off the beaten track, which makes you feel like you could be anywhere but the hustle and bustle of the Big City. We found ourselves in such a place, Hoxton Square, where we took a pit stop at Bills for a coffee in the sun and a much needed toilet break (the pregnancy bladder has well and truly kicked in :-))
Our next task was to hunt down the famous street art Shoreditch has to offer. There was one particular piece we were on the hunt for. I was amazed at how intricate the work was, it wasn’t just graffiti all over the walls, it truly was art work for all to see out in the street for free.
Our tummys beginning to rumble, we headed off in search of another offering of Shoreditch, food markets. We discovered a bustling little market brimming with city workers on their break. The Urban Food Festival offered a whole array of street food stalls with delights from all over the world. As soon as you entered the market you were hit it the face by the scent of spices, BBQ meat and paella all at once, your mouth instantly starts to water and your tummy begins to rumble. With such an offering it was very hard to make a decision on what to eat. We decided to try the paella. £6 bought you a very generous portion of beautiful rice with chorizo and chicken. It was delicious.
After filling our boots with paella we headed on to Spitalfields Market by Liverpool Street station. This place has a real sense of the coming together of the old and new. What I love is the mix between traditional market stalls and permanent shops, bars and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, the market stalls aren’t like some where they are selling odds and ends, these stalls are more up market selling beautiful clothes, art work, jewellery and much more. The whole place has an air of elegance when your walking around it and a real buzz with people having lunch and afternoon drinks.
In the evening we headed out to meet friends in Soho, another place I have always wanted to experience. With a vast offering of bars and restaurants, it’s the place to be after work to meet friends and have a good catch up. We dashed over to Hoppers, a Sri Lankan restaurant to get our name on the waiting list before retiring to a bar for a couple of drinks and a good catch up. When our call came to confirm our table was ready we dashed back to Hoppers and took our place in the tiny restaurant. What I loved about Hoppers is that the menu came with a glossary to explain what each dish was. This made me feel I was getting real authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, and I wasn’t wrong. We ordered four small plates to share and a main course each. The food comes out as and when it is ready, you just all dig in and share. We ordered mutton rolls, hot butter devilled shrimp, goat roti, rasa and idli, sambhar, podi for small plates and lamb kothu roti and a hopper with black pork kari for mains. The food was delicious and light with a good kick to it. You don’t leave feeling stuffed as there aren’t any stodgy carbs to eat, just fresh delicious dishes. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who is in the area, just be prepared to wait for your table as you can’t book. We rounded off the night with a delectable treat at Said, a chocolate cafe. You can drink pure melted chocolate from the cup. It is a chocolate lovers heaven! You can choose from white, dark, hazelnut and milk chocolate. As well as hot chocolate they have a wonderful array of tarts and cakes to choose from, pure indulgence. I had the hazelnut hot chocolate. It wasn’t as hot as I had hoped it would be, but it was still delectable.
The following day was all about finding the best view of London. We were recommended to go to the Sky Garden, and so off we went. This place is incredible. It is free for one, but you do have to book a free ticket. However we were very lucky, we hadn’t booked a ticket but when we turned up they were letting people in without a ticket between 10:00-11:30. The Sky Garden offers a view from 155ft above the capital, you can see the whole of London and beyond. You take a lift up to the 36th floor, when the doors open you are submerged into an indoor garden, and the view just captures you.
You can head outside on to the balcony, which is covered so you aren’t blown away by a wind, or you can walk up to the different levels of the garden and see every angle of London, all the highlights, tourist spots and much more, from above.
Another wonderful part of the Sky Garden is the cafe. They have the main cafe as you walk in, but as you head higher up the garden there is another smaller cafe. Much to my surprise and delight the prices were very reasonable, £2.80 for a coffee and £3.50 for a large slice of cake. The best way to round off our morning.
By the time Friday rolled round, we were very weary, but we were determined to see everything we wanted to. After a lazy morning we jumped on the tube to the science museum. We got the tube to South Kensington and as you walk through the tube station you immediately see signs for the museums. You are guided through a long tunnel, with drop off points for each museum sign posted. The science museum was right at the end of the tunnel, which I did not love. Feeling tired and sore from all the walking we had done throughout the week, we slowly made our way there. By the time we got there I was exhausted, I have found the bigger I have got throughout my pregnancy I am getting tired much easier and I cant walk very far as my hips, back and pelvis begin to hurt. We strolled around the first floor of the museum, but I really wasn’t up for what the museum had to offer. It is huge, spread across four floors, you need a whole day to see everything properly. We really didn’t do the museum justice, thankfully it was free to enter. We headed home after exploring the 1st floor, which focused on steam power, space and transport and the basement which exhibited how household devices have changed through the ages.
It was a tiring week, but well worth it. We explored London like a local as well as a tourist, submerging ourselves in the rush and the buzz. I must say though, I was happy to make it back to the slower pace of Bristol for a rest.