19 Oct 2012

First Full Day in London

Our first full day in London and we decide to go hard on the sight seeing despite the gloomy wet weather that day. On the agenda Borough Markets, London Bridge, Tate Modern and St Paul’s Cathedral.

From Earl’s Court we had to jump two lines before we could reach Borough station. From memory I believe we got lost in the process, we caught a train heading in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go …. twice! Once we arrived at the markets the weather got worse. It was miserable, cold, windy and the rain increased. It was only 11am and a lot of the shops had only started cooking food at this point. So we thought we’d walk to the London Bridge to kill some time.

Borough Markets is on one side of the station and London Bridge is located on the other side of the station, pretty much across the road, just behind the office buildings. We didn’t bother crossing or climbing the bridge, I blame the cold weather as a factor. We took some snaps and then headed back to Borough Markets.

Upon our return the place still felt like it was setting up with vendors still cooking meals. The markets were running 7 days a week during our stay because of the Para Olympics.

The place in general isn’t very big. Most of the stalls there sold produce or food and the location of the market itself is very unique. It kind of felt secluded under a bridge but they had all these tables and chairs in random spots set up. The variety of food is amazing. You can have some good British food, delicious desserts, spicy curry, various (and smelly) cheeses, freshly squeezed juices, pimps and ciders. We noticed people did their groceries here arriving early to get in on the fresh produce before the masses arrived.

 Brownie tower

 Salted beef with pickles

 Freshly squeezed juices

After we stuffed our faces we headed over to Tate Modern Museum . If you walk along the side of the church you will see foot paths that take you towards Bankside which is a walkway along the river. Here you can stop by more restaurants and cafes if the food from Borough Markets didn’t fill you up. Actually walking towards Bankside there are also many restaurants to tempt you. Along the way you will walk past Shakespeare’s Globe and then finally reach the Tate Modern museum.

The building itself is a bit of an eye sore but that’s art right? Entry to the museum is free however there are exhibitions that require an entry fee. You can also hire audio guides so you know what you’re looking at. The floor guide / map is not free as I learned after I took one without paying. Technically they ask for a donation but I didn’t see the sign until I was leaving. The museum is filled with lots of modern art pieces (hence the name), and after a while everything seems like they’re blending into each other. I guess I don’t find broken bicycles spray painted black, art? There is free wifi within the building so you can google map your next stop if you don’t have a map, check in on Facebook or Instagram a new picture while you’re there.

After walking aimlessly through Tate Modern we walked back out to Bankside and crossed the Millennium Bridge to get to the other side of the river.
View of the Millennium Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral

About 100m on the other side you’ve reached St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s actually quiet an impressive church building. What appeals to me is the height of the church which still holds services everyday. To enter there is a fee however if you’re there for worship its free. We didn’t go in. We did take lots of photos outside the church and joined the locals who sat by the stairs to enjoy their lunch.

By this stage we were over sight seeing and needed to do some retail therapy. We headed back to the shopping district of Oxford Circus and did our bit for the UK economy. Unfortunately most stores at this stage were stocking winter fashion and I really wanted to buy clothing I could wear in the next few weeks.

At 6:30pm we were meeting our lovely friends again for dinner. We headed to this famous burger joint called Meat Liquor. OH MY GOD … they were unbelievably tasty, mind blowing burgers! My mouth salivates just thinking about those burgers. The dinner seating opens from 6pm by 6:30pm there is a queue of people waiting to be seated - the place does not take booking. They do bring out trays of complimentary food (appetisers) regularly to the waiting patrons just to get your appetite wet for what’s in store.

After 45 minutes waiting in the queue we were finally in .. the door! They have this smart herding process where they let you in, bring you to the bar and get you drinking cocktails (or non alcoholic beverages) for another 10-20 minutes before you are seated at a table. The alcohol drinks are on the generous side not measuring the alcohol portion in the cocktails they create.

Generous mijito's

The venue inside isn’t very big and probably adds to the queue time. The lighting inside is very dim and the room emulates this red light glow. Not sure whether its to create lighting or impact your subconscious mind, but I found it very odd.

We all ordered burgers, I had the cheese burger, Ian had the swiss and we also ordered a side of fries and onion rings to share. What I do recall was not being asked by the waiter how you would like your meat cooked. The reason why is they have already mastered cooking their patties for a perfectly delicious burger. I think what adds to the experience is the size of their burgers. They are proportional enough for you to finish and be satisfied. What makes you contemplate for a second serving is the taste. The onion rings were also mind blowing! Obviously it’s the batter that they use to coat the rings that sets it apart. At the time I was convinced they use tempura batter but I don’t know if that was the mojitos taste buds talking.

Photos don't do these bad boy's justice

After dinner we head over to The Social. Every Thursday they host hip hop karaoke. It’s a night where randoms can come up and sing to the crowd their favourite hip hop song. The party starts at 9:30pm, 5P per person entry fee and get your name on the guest list to avoid disappointment. You were aloud to get up as an individual or if you’re a little on the shy side sing as a group. There is an MC who mediates the concept and there is a no “boo-ing” , “disrespecting” or banging on the walls?? rules everyone must adhere to.

The funniest moment for me was after a male and female duo finished their performance the MC says “I’ve never seen someone hold a microphone so well before” cause they barely did any singing.

For me it was a cool and funny experience seeing people from various cultures, career background and ages get up in front of a crowd full of people and sing (usually out of tune) a fast pace hip hop song. Someone needs to bring the concept back ti Sydney if it's not already being done.
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