A visa run. That was the main instigator for this short mid-week vacation since I had to leave the European Union and come back after the February 10th start date of my Spanish residence visa. I had unwittingly arrived five days before the start date, and I needed a passport stamp showing entry into the EU after February 10 in order to receive a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE, or foreigner’s identity card). Happily, London-Stansted was only a two-hour direct flight away from Galicia via Ryan Air, so on the days Andrea was free, we were walking through through the Big Smoke.
Both of us had previously been to London a few times in our lifetimes, but both of us saw many things for our first time.
Below is a list of the things we saw or did.
- Took Stamsted Express to Liverpool Street and checked into apartment.
- Had dinner at the Cinnamon Kitchen Indian restaurant. It was delicious. London is famous for having excellent Indian cuisine due to having a substantial Indian population.
- Enjoyed a beer just a bar close to the apartment, across the street from a crudely named place called Dirty Dicks.
- Had breakfast at a local coffee place where the cashier’s recognized Andrea’s Spanish accent as they were from Spain themselves. They generously gave us free coffee.
- Walked up the 311 steps at the Monument. At the top there were 360-degree views of London.
- Walked along the Queen’s Walk, seeing the Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, the Borough Market, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, the London Eye, Elizabeth Tower where the Big Ben clock is, and the Houses of Parliament.
- Went to Buckingham Palace and gawked at the robot-like guards outside.
- Walked through St. James Park over to afternoon tea at the Drawing Room in Duke’s Hotel. Afternoon tea in England is more than sipping an herbal drink. It is usually held in an elegant room with pastries, scones, little sandwiches, and jam. We ordered two a traditional afternoon tea for the each of us, but agreed afterwards that one between the two of us would have been better. The food is deceptively filling despite their small sizes!
- Walked by Leicester Square and then went to Harrod’s, one of Europe’s largest department stores. It has several floors of luxury goods.
- Had a beer at a quintissential English pub on Sloane’s Street.
- Had a light dinner at an authentic Indian restaurant neer our apartment.
- Went to Covent Garden. There was an Apple Store there so we wandered in.
- Walked to Leicester Square and Picadilly Circus.
- Near Picadilly Circus was an MG dealership! Andrea was the one to notice it; if she hadn’t, I would have totally missed it. (Weeks later, the MG Owner’s Club of Northern California even published a photo of Andrea inside the store in their monthly newsletter.)
- Wandered through the aisles of Primark–an Irish retailer of fast fashion. Despite their ultra low prices, they featured branded gear from Disney, American sports teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and New England Patriots, and other famous marques.
- Went to another Apple Store and then to one of the only four remaining Microsoft retailers in the world. (The others are in Redmond, Washington; New York City; and Sydney, Australia. They closed the rest of them during the pandemic.) This was the first Microsoft Store I’ve been to that had a lot of customers inside.
- Saw many high-end luxury cars near Hyde Park.
- Went to Camden Town to have fish and chips at Poppies.
- Went back to Liverpool Street to pick up our luggage stored at the apartment, and then took the Stamsted Express back to the airport.
It was moderately windy at times, but otherwise it was a really good trip. We were lucky with the weather considering the day after we left, Storm Eunice battered England with winds up to 122 miles per hour and tragically killed several people.