It was our first full day in London and we agreed to sleep in a bit so we could all be well-rested and make it through without being grumpy bitches needing a nap. So, when we finally stumbled outside close to noon we fortunately had a better understanding of where we were. Even more fortunately, we had a map of the London Underground.
We grabbed a quick breakfast and we were off to Central London. Our first stop was London Bridge, followed by a stroll through the shops at Christmas by the River, a churro and cider break, and then Tower Bridge.
Being the Harry Potter nerd that I am, I had to see Millennium Bridge next. Probably for the rest of my life, every time I watch Half Blood Prince I will let everyone in the vicinity know that I’ve been there! We walked along the Thames to get there, passing through several alleys and dodging several people in Santa suits – apparently SantaCon is an international event.
We crossed over the Millennium Bridge headed towards the St. Paul Cathedral, which you can see in the background of the picture above, just behind that amazingly smug smirk on my face. We didn’t make it inside because we wanted to reach Waterloo station before dark – I know, we missed out and I promise I’ll make it next time I’m in London.
We were on our way to the Vaults, located underneath Waterloo station the Vaults are a seemingly hidden gem off of Leake Street. There’s two parts of it, the exhibit and the graffiti tunnel. The exhibit you actually have to purchase tickets in advance and there are certain hours you can go in – but the graffiti tunnel is open to anyone and is just how it sounds, a tunnel covered from top to bottom in graffiti.
The tunnel was first used by Banksy for an art display in 2008, though none of his original pieces are there now. It’s an ever changing ‘oasis of beautiful art’ and even during our short visit there were artists working hard on their canvas.
The sun had set while we were leisurely strolling through the tunnel, admiring the work, and when we emerged on the other side we were greeted by a well-lit profile of the London Eye. We were able to follow the glow back towards the river, straight to Big Ben – or what we could see of Big Ben rather. Thanks to the scaffolding completely covering the structure, it was more of just an outline than the monument itself.
On our way back to our flat we stopped at a pub for dinner, it was a whimsical place on Leake Street and I really wish I could remember the name. If you’ve been to a pub near Waterloo with a treehouse, a giant, sparkly crescent moon, and a staircase that leads straight into the wall and can tell me the name, please do! You need a reservation to eat there, and I wasn’t fortunate enough to know that at the time.
Saturday night we were finally awake enough to enjoy a night out. Pretty much everyone we’ve talked to up until this point had suggested we go to Shoreditch for the night. So, after downing a bottle of wine and some seltzers we were off. Our first (and only) double decker bus ride of the weekend dropped us off and we started walking with absolutely no aim or direction.
We kept walking until we saw The Red Church bar and for some reason we decided it would be the perfect place to start. As it turned out, it was also the perfect place to end because once we sat down, we never left.
Our bartender was Irish and the cute guy sitting next to me was British – it was really all just a blur of accents and beers until we woke up the next morning hungover and so grateful for the cute Brit who let us use his phone to call an Uber home. (thanks, Max ;p)
It was another not-so-early morning for the three of us, we were scrambling to wake up, pack up and clean up before we had to check out at 11, and then we were off to spend our last night in London in our very own Wizard Chamber..