A couple of friends from France came to visit us last weekend. As they had both visited London before, and done London’s most famous tourist attractions, we decided to spend Saturday walking and exploring some of our highlights of south-east London.
After a leisurely light breakfast at home, we made our first stop (and highest stop!) at the Shard. I pass the Shard nearly everyday as I walk to and from work, but as is so often the case with attractions in our backyard, I’ve never taken the time to check out the famous view from the top of the Shard, UK’s highest building (and the 4th highest in Europe). Friends visiting from abroad provided a great reason and opportunity to finally visit the viewing gallery at the Shard, and having now completed the experience, I’d recommend it at least once, even for Londoners.
Tickets cost about £26 each if reserved in advance, with add-ons such as guided commentary, yoga and champagne available.
There are 2 publicly accessible levels, with the open-air observation deck located on the 72nd floor (height of 244 metres). Light snacks and drinks are available on both levels, along with professional photo opportunities to capture the experience.
After spending 30 minutes or so, marvelling at the stunning views of London, we made the short walk across to its equally famous neighbour, Borough Market. It was around 1pm when we got there, which is pretty much peak time at Borough Market, but just the right time for a quick lunch. Not wanting to spend too much time in the crowds, we opted for the chicken / falafel wraps near the Vinopolis end of the market, before grabbing some doughnuts and juices to go for dessert.
Sipping on our fresh juices, we headed underground towards the Jubilee Line. Our next stop was to be Canary Wharf, en-route to Greenwich Park.
Having spent a lot of time in my previous life as a banker in Canary Wharf, this wasn’t exactly my idea of an attraction in London! However, Canary Wharf provides a good changeover stop for moving from the underground to the DLR, and can be an interesting stop for tourists keen on checking out the financial district of London, with its modern office skyscrapers.
Getting off at the Cutty Sark stop on the DLR, we are immediately greeted by the Cutty Sark, one of the last British tea clipper ships to be built.
Having already spent a good few hours continuously on our feet at this point, we stopped for a rest by the Thames, watching the sea birds and tourists walk by the ship.
The cold weather finally forced us to get up and continue our walk, up towards Greenwich Park. This part of Greenwich is truly, I think, one of the most beautiful parts of London, and I always ask myself why I don’t come here more often. Our walk was especially lovely on this autumn day, with golden and brown leaves scattered over the open grassy parks.
Walking past the University of Greenwich campus, the Greenwich Tourist Information Centre and Queen’s House, we finally reach Greenwich Park itself.
It’s a bit of an uphill walk from here towards the Royal Observatory which is located in the centre of the park itself. Trust me though, it is worth the walk!
We finally reach the Royal Observatory, with the Shepherd Gate Clock being the first thing we see. One of the attractions of the Royal Observatory is the Greenwich Meridian line, and though you can kind of see it through the gates surrounding the observatory, you’ll need to buy tickets if you actually want to see it up close. Tickets cost about £10 for one adult.
What we really wanted to see however, was the view from the top of Greenwich Park. Didn’t I tell you it was worth it? 😉 It’s even better on a sunny day!
All that walking had worked up a bit of an appetite in us, so it was a good thing that Greenwich Market was waiting for us at the bottom of the hill.
There’s all sorts of art, crafts and clothes on sale at the market, but we were really only interested in the food options available. I bought myself a mini vegan banana loaf, whilst my friends bought some carrot cake and churros between them.
The sun was beginning to set by now, so we decided to head back home to refresh ourselves and warm up before heading out again for dinner.
As our friends had never tried Vietnamese food before, we decided to take them to Soho for some pho. Part of the reason for heading into central on a Saturday night as well was to let our visitors check out Halloween weekend, when London’s youths head out in fancy dress, something that just doesn’t happen in Paris. 😀
Being with French folk meant that dessert was a must, so we headed over to Snowflake for some gelato to end the night – a perfectly sweet end to our day out in London. 🙂