Saturday, May 13, 2017

London Vacacay Outing 8: Borough Market, Sky Garden, and Hyde Park!

Our final outing of the holiday was a three-parter: Borough Market, Sky Garden, and Hyde Park. TL;DR: Borough Market is GREAT, Sky Garden is worth visiting, and Hyde park is neither great nor worth visiting.

Borough Market

The walk to Borough Market took us down by the Thames again, and introduced us to some interesting graffiti. This one wasn't even all that close to The Globe Theatre, but was pretty great all the same.

The original dude!
The market itself is perplexing and wonderful, and has been so for about 1,000 years. We wandered up and down the rows, looking at all the wares. And there were SO MANY WARES to see! There were several different chocolates, cheeses, and almost otherworldly delectables that we were sorely tempted to try, but we were saving our appetites for a delicious lunch at a restaurant along the Thames. The only things we actually purchased were fresh fruit and veggie smoothies, and we regretted that restraint later.

Tasty, tasty smoothie!

After leaving the market behind and making our way to the Thames, we were extremely surprised to find that every restaurant we went to had at least an hour wait. By that time, we were pretty hungry, so we wound up eating at a nice place, but not on the banks of the river. We should've gone back to the market. Oh well... On to Sky Garden!

Sky Garden

Sky Garden is located at 20 Fenchurch Street, and is worth visiting for several reasons. First and foremost, the views. I've already mentioned that we're fans of getting up high and seeing the London layout from above. Sky Garden is great for that.

"I think I see my Dad!" - Cameron, Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Secondly, you have to make a reservation or at least buy a ticket to get in. A lot of people complain about this. I, on the other hand, was all too happy to comply, as it limited the number of people up there at any one time.

Third, the venue itself is very pleasant. Situated on the 34th through 37th stories, it's surrounded by glass, letting in lots of natural lighting. There's a small garden in the middle, set up in such a way that it looks like it's cascading down a hillside. There is plenty of seating and lots of refreshment as well.

Could this be the FINAL SELFIE?!

Hyde Park

Hyde Park, on the other hand, was nothing short of dreadful, for a lot of terrible reasons. It was so dreadful, in fact, that we didn't bother to take any pictures (shocking, I know). As such, I can offer no proof of what I'm about to say (write) other than your faith in the veracity of my word.

The weather was simply gorgeous, the culmination of a week where Mother Nature seemed to be encouraging everyone in London to get outside. Seeing as how it was Saturday, they ALL OBEYED AND WENT TO HYDE PARK. Alright, I'll admit that was an exaggeration. However, the sentiment is true -- it was VERY crowded, which was astounding since Hyde Park is large, consisting of about 350 acres. For scale, you can fit about 266 football fields in that area.

The first problem was that several of the greens were cordoned off for... reasons. They looked fine to me, but I'm sure the park officials were justified in forcing everyone to wander the same small number of paths and lounge on the same small number of greens.

The second problem was that every type of non-motorized transportation imaginable was also competing for space and passage on the larger paths. We had to dodge bicyclists, skateboarders, roller bladers, even a unicyclist. Add to that the park officials in various forms of motorized transport, not all of which were small, and pedestrians had to be alert at all times.

Third, and by far the worst, was the bathroom situation. To begin with, there are only a handful that are open and operational. Because so many of the paths were closed off, these few were all difficult to locate and get to. As you can imagine, they all had persistent lines. All of that would have been bearable, had we not been denied entry because we didn't have EXACT CHANGE FOR THE USAGE FEE. That's right, friends: if you wanna pee or poo in Hyde Park, be sure and bring 20 pence per usage per person. The first one at which we stopped claimed there was a free public bathroom "down that path" (indicated by the vaguest of hand waves). We managed to find three bathrooms, none of which were of the "free" sort.

Strangely, our quest for the accessible bathroom actually did take us through most of the park, so we got to see quite a bit of it. However, since we've traveled to Minsk, which has ridiculously fantastic parks in the middle of the city, and have enjoyed lots of trips to other scenic and picturesque places (including Kew Gardens on this trip), we were left thoroughly unimpressed. Tack on to this a busride back to the flat that was slower than if we'd walked (again, because people were flooding into the theatre district and bringing traffic to a standstill), and the last stop on Outing 8 was a complete bust.

Dinner that night, on the other hand, was lovely! (Finally, more pictures!)

The Pig And Goose

Of course, our last fine meal of the trip would be taken at a place whose name matches the pattern "The [foo] And [bar]." It's hard NOT to go to a place in London that matches that pattern.

The George pub, with The Pig And Goose restaurant upstairs
Before we go inside, I want to show you one last remarkable gothic building. This one was directly across the street from The George. Feast your eyes upon The Royal Courts of Justice!

The Royal Courts of Justice
We didn't loiter around the entrance, just in case someone got the wrong idea about me wanting to be a barrister or something.

Our dinner at The Pig and Goose was a fitting finale to the trip. We had a good dark red wine, enjoyed traditional English fare, and topped it off with delicious dessert!

So full, we had to split it!
It was an amazing eight days. It felt like we did SO much and yet only scratched the surface of what London had to offer, much less the country, and Scotland, and Ireland. Our hope is to return again someday to do a more far-ranging tour. In the meantime, I hope that these entries have entertained you at least, and perhaps even encouraged you to make a trip to London for yourself. You won't be sorry! :-D

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