01 – The Second Honeymoon
02 – Conquering Medieval Stairs
03 – Urinating in Brussels
04 – On to Paris
05 – Seeing Louvre
06 – A Police Story
07 – The Sun King’s Blingy Home
08 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky
09 – Hangin’ with Our Royal Neighbors
10 – Sending Ourselves to the Tower
11 – Raining on the Parade
12 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky Again
Our plan of the day was to escape from the investment bankers that surrounded us, to stroll through the royal neighborhood nearby.
The United Kingdom (still) had a queen. Hmm. What an odd concept! King and queens seemed like such a thing of fairy tales and history textbooks, but for some countries in the world they were still real people! Life must be harder for the little Disney-loving girls in these countries who realized that princesses were actual people, yet they could never become one.
That’s me watching my better half braving those stairs at the Charing Cross underground station
Trafalgar Square, built to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar, where Admiral Horatio Nelson kicked Napoleon’s ass by wiping out his naval forces for good
Left: Vendome Column from Place Vendome, erected because Napoleon won
Right: Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square, erected because Napoleon lost
You know you’re the shit when people commemorate both your victories and losses
Lion guarding Nelson’s Column
Note: slipping off the lion which you climb is prohibited
Next to Trafalgar Square, we found a Caffe Nero and had our breakfast. I had a lot of trouble ordering my chocolate croissant: the label was in French, which I couldn’t pronounce but knew it meant “chocolate bread”. I tried to pronounce it, which obviously didn’t go well, and then I said chocolate bread. The barista was confused as hell. Then I pointed and she was like, what, you want chocolate croissant? Should’ve just stuck with my American English words.
Breakfast at Caffe Nero
First thing on our real agenda was to watch the changing of Queen’s Life Guard at Horse Guard Parade. Due to some running events that blocked off many streets in the city, the guard changing was cancelled. Bummer. We just snapped some pictures of the guards and left.
A guard with a sword on a horse is like a girl in a mini skirt at a car show – no real purpose except to pose for the camera.
Oh and what trip to London doesn’t include a picture of the Palace of Westminster?
Selfie with Big Ben… or should we be factually correct and call it the Elizabeth Tower?
As we took the selfie above, two girls approached asking us to take their picture with Big Ben with their iPhones. My first reaction was that if they were f**king scammy pickpockets again I’d swear to throw one of them over the bridge into Thames. When I warmed up to the idea that they were genuine tourist like us, my thoughts turned to what f**king idiots couldn’t take a selfie with her own iPhone? Oh excuse my inner angry New Yorker. I obliged happily.
Elizabeth Tower / Big Ben wasn’t very tall, but we stood rather close to it so it was hard for the camera’s 4:3 photo setting to capture both the girls and the top of the tower. I took the pain to position them several
feet meters further onto the bridge, and to kneel down in order to get a good angle. Did my job with what I thought was worthy of an amateur postcard, and handed the phone back. The girls offered to return the favor, which I thought was unnecessary but hey, we could use a non-selfie from this trip. So I handed her my phone. And this resulted…
… f**king idiots couldn’t even take a standard photo properly…
Lesson learned on this trip was that we had no luck with bridges. Moving on…
Westminster Abbey, the old church that people know as where “so and so got married.”
Fun fact: coronations over the past 1,000 years had taken place here
Statue of Queen Victoria, in front of Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, a relatively modest building
The gate inspired our future home designs
The most kick we got out of Buckingham Palace was the mass of people peeking into its mostly empty front yard, as if a show was gonna take place
After walking by Buckingham Palace briefly, we headed to the Royal Mews. It’s basically Her Majesty’s really elaborate garage.
Royal Mews entrance
Royal carriage-pulling horse
One of the many royal carriages
One of the many royal automobiles. What a shame they put a mere Jaguar on display when RRs and Bentleys flooded the Mayfair streets just two blocks away
The high-tech royal carriage (with components designed by race car companies) pretending to be another wooden coach
The Gold State Coach, an art museum on wheels
It’d be my recommendation that the Queen takes this vehicle when invited to dinner at Chateau Versailles
After the royal palace and the royal palace garage, we were ready to drink some royal tea at a royal-approved hotel. Our reservation was at the Goring, supposedly the only establishment to have ever received a royal warrant in the hospitality services category. Exactly what that means, I have no clue. It did sound important, though.
Awesome hotel if you like to hangout with wealthy 80-year-old ladies
The Goring lobby
Sheep at the Goring Lounge
Beautiful wallpaper, wall trims, and color choices that may be just a bit on the old-fashioned side for my grandma. The royal beasts were proof that we chose the right place to hangout.
Food tower and tea. Not sure why our two orders came with just a single food item of each kind.
Half of the Lounge were Asian tourists, and we did what Asian tourists do: Instagramming everything, edible or not!
This golden ball was a really interesting dessert, basically an explosion of sweet jelly in your mouth. I wouldn’t call it incredibly tasty, but the sensation was so fascinating that I had ask for a second.
Hong ate the dessert that our waitress said was the Queen’s favorite. Her taste bud did not agree with the Queen’s
The Goring bathroom
Once again, we were not too complimentary of the food at this afternoon tea. The decor was also not to our liking. However, the experience was a good one as we pretended to be upper class and enjoyed the luxury of a royal warrant establishment. We ended up having such a leisure time and killed more than two hours there, eating sandwiches and sipping tea.
Taking a break from all the British royal stuff, we headed to the other side of Westminster Bridge and hopped on the London Eye. When we bought the tickets online, we paid quite a premium for both flexible time entry and for line-cutting privileges. Turned out to be a good call because it was the middle of a long weekend and the
line queue was akin to Disneyland. How can someone with royal desserts in the tummy wait in a long line under the sun?
More selfie in the sky. London was a great city for bird’s eye views
After the Ferris wheel ride, we headed to the fun part of town. Starting with Picadilly Circus, we ended up in Chinatown.
We ended up having dinner at a Malaysian restaurant called Rasa Sayang.
Here’s the funny thing. The British people supposedly sucked at cooking – there’s no shortage of jokes on that, and we had first-hand experience with the afternoon tea. Yet the Brits conquered and colonized a lot of places that made really good food. As a result, the food scene in London had quite a bit of diverse, authentic cuisines that were delicious, such as last night’s Indian and tonight’s Malaysian restaurants.
This carrot cake was supposedly better than what we had in Singapore
Nasi something or other
After dinner we had more tea… boba, that is.