Welcome to the fourth and final post in my wrap up of my (not so) recent trip to London – you can check out the incidents of day three, what I got up to in day two or take a look a day one. It’s took me far to long to get to the point of talking about the final day of a four day trip but here we are, it’s the home stretch now!
And we started the day off extremely strongly – with breakfast at Dishoom. I’m pretty sure I saw the rec on Twitter at some point, as one of the unexpected perks of following A LOT of London-based publishing people is that you see a lot of yummy-looking food which become instant London restaurant recs! It’s also quite possible I Googled too… because I’m thorough like that. Anyways, the point is, before we got to London I knew I wanted to try Dishoom for breakfast/brunch to see if it lived up to the hype. Reader, it did. Not only did it live up to the hype, it far exceeded it and, in fact, I fully intend to try to work another Dishoom breakfast trip into any London itinerary in the future. It was just that good.
Based on the idea of the old Irani cafés opened by Zoroastrian immigrants in Bombay, Dishoom have a few branches spread out across London and one in Edinburgh. We popped in to the Covent Garden café and were immediately greeted by the most warm and friendly atmosphere and enticing smells of eggs and bacon and (most mouthwatering) freshly baking naan. The kitchen area is semi-open so from my vantage point at a very cute little table I could see the cook kneading out the dough and slapping it into the tandoor oven. The waiter very quickly brought over coffee which was perfect whilst we were waiting and an absolutely gorgeous blend. I ordered the bacon naan and Liz ordered the akuri, both of which were ah-may-zing! The naan was… words do not do it justice, my friends. Basically a freshly baked naan was filled with smoked streaky bacon, chilli tomato jam, cream cheese and herbs. It sounds like an exaggeration but I would go back to London for that bacon naan alone – I kid you not. If you want to torture yourself by longingly looking at their food they have Twitter and Instagram. Because I’m an idiot, I didn’t take a photo of my own meal, but Liz did of hers so, here, here’s the proof of how lovely it was:
With our stomachs full and very happy, we decided it would be a shame not to take advantage of the rather lovely weather we seemed to be graced with, just as we were on our final day in the capital! We headed off for an amble along to Trafalgar Square because I erroneously thought I’d never been – then I remembered (That’s So Raven, vision-style) that I remembered a photo being taken of me (unwillingly) near the fountain during a sixth form trip. So I had been… I’d just forgotten about it. And I’d say that mostly sums up the experience of Trafalgar Square. It’s such an iconic place but kind of… just a square…? Unless there’s an event happening there or it acts as the backdrop to a scene in a film, it’s literally just an admittedly grand-looking square. Maybe I don’t get it. Maybe I’m spoilt because London is fairly accessible to me so it doesn’t have quite the ‘wow’ factor that it probably would if I’d had to fly a long-haul flight to get there in the first place. The point is… it’s fine, I snapped the requisite photos of the National Gallery and Nelson’s Column with its bronze four-lion guard and then we plumped for heading through Admiralty Arch and walking down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. As we weren’t in any particular hurry, and the weather was nice, we ambled somewhat… or as much as I can amble given that my default walking speed is probably classified as “brisk”. FYI, this might just be personal preference but I find the likes of Admiralty Arch and the simple walk along The Mall to be much more satisfying than staring at the actual Palace itself. I’m aware that I’m probably in the minority there but, like I said before, I have a strange relationship with the tourist sites of London because they’re so prevalent in popular culture and media that, even if I haven’t seen them for myself, I feel like I’ve seen them so the reality is just a confirmation of what I thought rather than anything mind-blowing.
But obviously I stopped for the cursory stare and camera-point at Buckingham Palace, because it’s obligatory, I think. I also highly amused myself by discovering what happens when you try to do a panorama shot and cars creep into shot – you end up with some weird dimension-bending looking photos and I kind of love them more than the typical shot of the Palace! Yes, it’s stunning and it’s huge. At any given time in London, it’s weird to think how much history you’re just standing amongst, it sort of makes you realise your own insignificance, and also that all the pomp and circumstance of the monarchy is just something we buy into and have created over the years. Like I said – I have a strange relationship with the monuments and such. So I took the requisite photos and I ambled back over the road to head the opposite way down The Mall. As we were skirting it anyway we decided to wander into St James’ Park and walk along the lake a little bit. There was absolutely no sign of Aziraphale and Crowley feeding the ducks there, unfortunately. There were a lot of ducks though, and geese, and squirrels, all of which were showing off for the many (many) tourists’ cameras. Show offs. We finished up our little walking tour by heading through Horse Guards’ Parade and taking a left down Whitehall to end up coming full-circle back at Trafalgar Square.
Although I had been to Trafalgar Square previously, I’d never managed to have enough time to explore the National Gallery so that’s what we settled on doing next. The collection of art they have is, simply put, overwhelming. Sure, they might not be the gallery with the most paintings ever but their collection provides a pretty all-encompassing journey through art history over the centuries. It was nice to have the time and opportunity to do something like this, and despite visiting London many times before, the museums are something I have sorely neglected due to time constraints. I need to change that, and this was the first step, I suppose. Personally, my highlight in the entire gallery was (probably predictably) a J.M.W. Turner painting, Ulysses deriding Polyphemus. Turns out I’m a sucker for Turner. Disappointingly, less so Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, I just don’t understand the hype and found it underwhelming to be honest. But hey, how about that Turner, huh?
After that we had nothing left on the agenda but returning to the Travelodge to pick up our things from left luggage and then heading straight to Euston (via Starbucks for food!) and our train home.
Can you believe it took me this long to recap a 4-day trip to London? No, I can’t believe it did either, but as a parting sentiment let me just say – I really do love London with all my heart and, I’m quickly coming to realise, I haven’t even scratched the surface with it. I may have seen quite a few West End shows and “done” some of the tourist spots, but I’ve never truly explored it in quite enough detail as I would like, especially its many, many eateries. Something to think about and plan for a future trip, I’m sure!