After Barcelona we flew into London. Since London is not part of the Schengen area we had to go through customs. When asked by the customs agent why we were in London, someone in our group responded with “the food.”
“Sorry, you’re in the wrong country…” the custom agent replied. I had heard that British food sucked, apparently the locals also think so. Food is not the only reason why I travel, however, and London has a lot of things going for it besides the food. Apparently shopping is one of them– our apartment was very close to Carnaby street, one of the major shopping districts in London, and there were always tons of tourists out shopping. I’m not really interested in shopping, but London also has plenty of famous tourist attractions and museums that I was interested in seeing.
We also saw the Queen Victoria monument and Buckingham Palace. I wanted to see a Beefeater, but didn’t see any. Either they don’t come out at night, or we were in the wrong place. (I looked it up later– they’re at the Tower of London, not Buckingham Palace.)
I’m a big fan of Anthony Bourdain– I watch whatever episodes of his shows “No Reservations” and “The Layover” that I can get my hands on. In his London episode of “The Layover” one of his stops was to Bar Italia, so we had breakfast and coffee there. From there we walked through Chinatown on our way to the British Museum.
The British museum was really cool, with a really cool atrium. My favorite part of the museum was the Egyptian exhibits, complete with mummies. Probably the most famous artifact in the museum is the Rosetta Stone– it was cool to finally see it in person.
Afterwards we headed back to the Thames, this time crossing the Hungerford bridge. The view from the Hungerford bridge ended up being my favorite in London, with both the London Eye and Big Ben visible at the same time.
For the most part the food was pretty disappointing (as expected.) I ordered a plate of roast beef at one of the pubs we visited– the meat was tough and the rest of the sides were bland… the meal tasted like the food you get on an airplane. The best meal I had in London was Indian food. The funny thing is Indian food is pretty much the national food of London– even the most British looking pubs had curry or tikka masala on the menu.
There are some gastronomic delights the British do exceptionally well though. One thing I really enjoyed was scotch eggs. They’re basically soft boiled eggs, wrapped in sausage, breaded and then deep fried. If they’re done right they’re still runny on the inside, which makes for pure awesomeness when you bite into it. The other thing that I really enjoyed was Guiness (which of course I can get in the US, but it’s slightly harder to find on tap). A well poured pint of Guiness on draft is strikingly beautiful (and quite refreshing).