Saturday, August 21, 2010


The final stop! We must say we had eyes on home at this point and as a result didn’t do too much research on London before arriving. Thankfully our friends Jed & Becky and Meri provided us with some great advice. Additionally, we met up with our friends Christian and Lorna for drinks our first night and got some good advice from them too.

Again, perhaps we were distracted by the impending end of the trip, but for the first time we forgot to bring our camera to someplace we wished we had it and therefore have no pictures from our first day. We met up with Christian and Lorna outside the Embankment tube station and headed to one of the riverboat bars on the Thames.

As we’ve mentioned previously, we met Christian while traveling in Panama several years ago and some of his travel stories were the earliest inspiration for this trip. So it was great to share our experiences with them and compare notes on places we’ve all been. For example, Christian and Lorna met on the Routeburn Trail, a trail in New Zealand that Leslie and I hiked (or tramped) on this trip.

It was great to catch up with Christian and to meet Lorna. They were off to Norway for a short holiday themselves, so this was our only chance to see them unfortunately.

On day two, we hit the big tourist attractions. We took the train from our tiny hotel to the Westminster stop. We had seen Parliament and Big Ben from a distance the day before, but on this day we had some time to walk around see the area properly. Despite the fact that this area is an obvious tourist attraction, it was great to see these iconic landmarks that have such a deep history.

We wandered up and down the street on Westminster for a couple of hours before crossing the Jubilee Bridges and walking along the Thames to the Tate Museum of Modern Art. The museum was very cool, especially in that it was teeming with young artists honing their skills.

From there we headed to the Globe Theatre right next door. We toyed with the idea of catching matinee of Merry Wives of Windsor, but we would have missed the first half of the play and so we decided against it. But I had to promise Leslie I would go to the Shakespeare Festival in Boulder next summer.

From there we kept walking along the Thames to the London Bridge area. This is where things get really touristy with attractions like the “London Bridge Experience” and various “dungeon experiences” on every block. That is really not our sort of thing, so we quickly moved on to check out the Tower Bridge and to the Borough Market.

If there is one thing you should have learned form our blog, it is that Leslie loves markets. And the Borough Market was no exception, so I’ll let her describe it.

The Borough market is obviously different than most markets we had been to around the world. It has really fancy foods in a super clean environment (not like almost getting fish entails splattered on you in the markets in Cambodia if you’re too close and not careful!). But it had just delicious looking foods, seafood and produce straight from the producers or growers. It is pretty pricey though so it is good we don’t live near here as we would be broke shopping there all the time!

As we were now well into afternoon, we started to punctuate our various tourist sights with a stop for a half pint a local pubs. Much of the world loves lagers and I love ales, so it was nice to finally get a good cask-conditioned ale. One of the pubs we visited was The Rake, recommended by Jed. It was funny to see so many Colorado beers available, but I had to try some of England’s harder to find offerings such as the Whisky cask aged Harviestoun Ola Dubh.

We eventually started to wander home for the night having covered a lot of ground on foot that day.

The following day we went to explore some of the neighborhoods. We started by heading to Hampstead Village and then into Hampstead Heath, a great park where we could get a bit of nature.

After that we jumped back on the train and headed to Camden. This area is known for being a hip neighborhood … I think this was probably at one point a really cool area, but now feels more like a giant Urban Outfitters store.

Once again back on the train, we made our way to Soho. This is a beautiful neighborhood and, once again, we stopped a few pubs along the way.

We walked down towards Leicester Square and on to Piccadilly Circus, which is very Times Square-like in that it is dominated by chain stores and attractions such as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Again, this type of thing isn’t really our style, so we hopped on the train and headed back towards our hotel in Earl’s Court.

Back in Earl’s Court we found one more pub and grabbed a few pies. Our favorite is probably the sweet potato, goat cheese and spinach.

Now we are sitting at Heathrow awaiting our final flight of the trip. It’s hard to believe it is coming to an end, but we have had an amazing year and are happy to be seeing our friends and family again soon... and also maybe to get a new pair of shoes.

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