I know I have covered off on this London favourite of mine before, but when I first started thinking of the list and the things I would miss, #1 with a bullet was wasting a Saturday at Borough Market and then wandering up the Southbank (as in the south bank of the Thames). Here's a perfect London day, ready made for locals and tourists.
You start out by taking the tube to London Bridge station and pop out right at the end of London Bridge. Wander up on to the Bridge, which is nothing much to look at, but the view of the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the Monument is worth taking in. Wander back down and then under the bridge to find the hustle and bustle of the wonderous Borough Market.
Borough Market is London’s oldest food market. It was established on the south bank of the Thames when the Romans built the first London Bridge. It has occupied its present site for 250 years...today you can think of it as a farmer's market with a European and gourmet spin. If you're with me, I'll drag you to all my favourite vendors to fill out my shopping list: artisan bread from local bakers, mushroom pate (gotta get this first - before the sell out), English cheese (taste a few to find your favourite), almond stuffed green olives and iberico ham (serrano). Taste along the way. I especially recommend the brownies.
Your trip MUST INCLUDE drip coffee from Monmouth Coffee (heaven) and plan on eating lunch from one of the many vendors. I prefer the free range chicken wrap stuffed with greens and herb mayonnaise. It's the juiciest most mouth-watering chicken I've ever tasted. I know several folks who prefer the venison burgers, or the roasted potatoes with raclette cheese, or the lamb gyros. There's also fresh shucked oysters for those who swing that way and in the winter there is always mulled wine. Selections made, make your way over to the courtyard of the Southwark cathedral and sit with the many other happy market eaters to enjoy your choices.
God. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
When you've had your fill and you arms are laden with packages for later, begin wandering up Southbank towards Waterloo. Along the way you'll pass a model of the Golden Hind, the Globe Theater, the Millennium bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, the Tate Modern, Oxo Tower and eventually make your way to the National Theater and the BFI Southbank. You'll pass the used book sales stands, street performers, kids in the skate park, (legal) graffiti artists working, and on a sunny day, people sitting out along the Thames having a beer (join them!). I once caught a string quartet in one of the oversized foot traffic tunnels. The acoustics were amazing. If you can deal with the crowds around the London Eye, you can get a magnificent view of Big Ben and Parliament across the river.
Cut in to Waterloo station, hop on the Tube and make your way home. When Erin was living with me we would head to Borough in the late morning, have our coffee and lunch and load up with supplies. Dinner that night would be a carpet picnic from Borough, wine, and cheesy movies. That was pretty much the best thing ever.
I'm a cheap date.
So now, that I am loved up and glowing thinking about the things I love most I don't know that I can bring myself to whinge on about the things I don't like in London. I can't leave this on a sour note. I'll complain tomorrow instead...