After a quick 5 days in New York we said goodbye to the Big Apple and took an over night flight to London on BA. Arriving early in the morning we got through customs and immigration relatively fast and then hopped in an iconic black cab to go to the city. Um we forgot to factor in peak hour traffic. Cab fare was £80 and took nearly an hour and a half. All the grass and trees were so green, even heading in to the city there was a lot of green.

We checked in to the conveniently located Marylebone Hotel( part of the Doyle Collection) which is located close to Oxford Street. I really liked the hotel apart from the lighting in the bathrooms. I call it a man’s hotel as it is suited to those who don’t need to apply make up or shave their legs. But lighting aside it is a comfortable and fantastic hotel. After checking in and freshening up, we decided to hit the asphalt to let R get his bearings again and to start sightseeing/shopping. Looking at a map does not give you any indication of how far things really are. For example I thought Buckingham Palace was going to be a long way from our hotel when in fact we were able to walk there in 10 minutes.

Our first trek found us heading to the luxury heaven that is New Bond Street-Old Bond street and around. After a quick reconnoiter R tells me we can walk to Buckingham Palace, did I want to go now. My answer: Is Elizabeth Windsor the Queen? So we walked along Piccadilly past The Ritz then through Green Park(yes it was very green) we get to the other side and there are some road blocks and lots of people milling about. Hmmm something is happening. We hear brass instruments start playing and then we see the bobbing brass and bearskin helmets as the Changing of the Guard finishes and they march off down Horse Guards Parade.

Changing of the Guard

After watching the soldiers march out we took a stroll down Oxford street and browsed the shops.

On Thursday we decided to explore the area around our hotel. We also had an invitation to the official launch of the Coast London flagship store on Oxford Street. I was very lucky to get invites to this. Coast were having a competition for the evening gala opening alas it was only for residents of the UK. So I sent them an email explaining we would be there at the same time and they entered me in the competition anyway. Didn’t win for the evening, but they put our names down for the day time opening. So I threw on my Coast dress, put some make up on and off we went. Red carpet, champagne and pretty frocks. What more can you ask for.

After the opening we needed some lunch. We stumbled across Wigmore Hall Restaurant and Bar located in the lower ground floor of Wigmore Hall in Wigmore Street just behind Oxford Street. Originally built as a recital hall by the Bechstein piano company Wigmore Hall still maintains a solid reputation of great performances. And not only do the great performances happen on stage but the restaurant is fantastic too. Taking advantage of a three course lunch deal for £20 we had a delicious meal.

Friday we got dressed up and headed for lunch at Claridges (see seperate post) with an afternoon of window shopping around Oxford Street, New and Old Bond Street, Piccadilly, and Regent Street. We also bought some theatre tickets for Sunday night to go see Rock of Ages. Friday afternoon we got changed and walked over to Westminster to see the houses of Parliament, Elizabeth Tower/Big Ben, which we got to hear chime. On the way we “stumbled” across the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square. We had a quick look in the NG and as with the Met in NYC we were blown away by the amazing collections hanging on the walls. You could spend 2 days wandering around the gallery.

Nelson’s Column and Trafalgar Square
Nelson’s Column The Fourth PlinthPowerless Structures Fig 101 by Elmgreen and Dragset and Trafalgar Square
Me and a lion, Trafalgar Square
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Saturday saw us take the tube from Baker Street (yes the one that Sherlock Holmes “lived” in) around to Tower Hill. We walked over to The Tower of London and had a look and saw the iconic London Bridge.

Tower of London
London Bridge definitely not falling down

We then walked to St Paul’s Cathedral, which unfortunately was closed for an ordination of Deacons. St Paul’s was MASSIVE, I know it is now dwarfed by skyscrapers but it is still an amazing building, quite took my breath away.

St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral
Me at St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral from 1 New Change

Then we wandered over to 1 New Change for lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen (see seperate post). We decided to walk back to the hotel along the Thames Embankment to Westminster and from there back to the hotel. We passed Millenium Bridge, Tate Modern, saw the London Eye and enjoyed the walk along the river. Thank goodness I wore flat shoes

Millenium Bridge, Tate Modern
Long the Embankment The Shard in the background
Along the Embankment looking toward Westminster

Past Westminster we saw Scotland Yard, walked past the Royal Academy of Engineering then in to St James’ Park where we saw SQUIRRELS!!! Yay so cute, I was even quick enough to trick one and touch it. I was quite jealous when R came back from his trip to London several years ago and said he had seen and touched one. There were so many of them and so many different types of birds in and around St James’ Park Lake, it was quite remarkable that so much wildlife was in the middle of the city.. St James’ Park was very nice to stroll through and it got us back to Buckingham Palace and then to the hotel. Huge walk, at least we walked off lunch. After a bit of a rest we went down to the bar and then for dinner at Le Relais de Venise-L’Entrecote (see separate post).

Squirrels St James’ Park
The St James’ Park Lake
St James’ Park Lake looking towards Buckingham Palace

After a busy Saturday we spent most of Sunday window shopping, had lunch atGordon Ramsay’s Maze and relaxed before going to the theatre to see Rock of Ages. Great show, and they had some technical difficulties at the start of part 2 but worked it in to the show and made light of it, true professionalism. The theatre was the Shaftesbury Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue and was a little walk from the hotel. I still have to see the cinematic adaptation of Rock of Ages.

Stage for Rock of Ages
Inside the Shaftesbury Theatre

Monday was a little drizzly when we headed out. The mission was to have lunch at Nobu and find Berkeley Square. Call me sentimental but I am a huge Dame Vera Lynn fan. My Nan got me hooked and I really wanted to get of photo of me in Berkeley Square for her. Nobu is just along from Berkeley Square so we got to kill two birds with one stone. R had been in 2008 so he wanted me to go there with him. We arrived early and got our orders and soon after the business lunch brigade started coming in. So many finance conversations going on around us.

Tempura Prawns Nobu London
Sushi and Sashimi Nobu London
Yakitori Nobu London
Interior Nobu London

After lunch R went back to the hotel and I had a wander around, stumbled upon the centre of hip during the 1960’s, Carnaby Street, got to go try some pretty frocks on, visited the Faberge Boutique, Asprey, Wartski Jewellers, Garrard and walked past the glorious windows of Graff, Moussaieff, Leviev, Solange Azagury-Partridge, and a few other high end jewellery stores. Then it was back to the hotel for a rest before heading out for dinner with some watch friends of R’s at Tamarind (see other post).

Carnaby Street

Tuesday saw us packing again ready for our flight to Zurich. We decided to book a car through the hotel which was a good idea as it was only £60 and there was a bit of traffic on our way out to the airport. The weirdest part of being in London was dusk. Not something we are used to here in Australia, but having light at 10pm was quite strange in a good way.

Pop back to see Around The World Part III: Zurich.