From Florence, we made our way to Pisa airport, where we caught our flight to London. Gladys was to fly back with Yuanting and Kenny, but due to her company imposing a quarantine during the swine flu fiasco, she had to bring her return flight forward by two days.
Back in London, this time we were staying at a hostel in Gloucester/Kensington, just a couple of blocks west of the Royal Albert Hall. Astor Hyde Park was pretty decent, relatively clean and the rooms were sufficiently livable.
A visit to London is not complete without a visit to a local market. So Saturday we made our way south of the river to get to Borough Market. We had visited Portobello Market just before leaving for Paris but Borough Market was much better, in my opinion. Part of it is situated under a railway track and the stalls sprawl out in a pretty orderly fashion.
I could not contain my excitement after seeing all the wonderful food that was being sold at the market. From raclette being prepared on the spot to cheese and leek quiches, and fresh scones with jam. Gladys and I immediately bemoaned our error of taking breakfast before going to a market. Big mistake!
I gotta add in retrospect that seeing the cured ham being sliced was a novelty for me. However, after my time in Spain, I realized that it really wasn’t a big deal because every bar has legs of ham hanging on the wall and they slice off the meat for ham sandwiches. It took some time for me to eventually get used to smelling and looking at the cured ham all around me in bars.
Gladys and I spent a fair bit of time at a chocolate stall at the market. Dried fruits and nuts covered not only in white, dark or milk chocolate, but yogurt too. And the guys at the stall were extremely friendly too, shoving generous potions for us to sample.
Sunday in London
Sunday started off with the 9.30 am service at Holy Trinity Brompton before we made our way to Covent Garden. While there, we shopped a little bit, watched buskers… at a leisurely pace, like how Sundays are meant to be.
The buskers at Covent Garden were really great and we were thoroughly entertained by the string ensemble. I even bought their CD! The atmosphere at Covent Garden is lovely and it is one of my favorite places in London.
We headed to Oxford Street to window shop because we saw all these people with Primark bags. Almost every other person we saw on the street had come from Primark. We got there before it closed for the evening — not impressed. OK so the prices were really low but I didn’t see anything that I would wear so buying for the sake of buying would just mean a waste of money and lesser luggage space.
On we walked till we got to Hyde Park. I love parks in temperate countries where you can stroll and actually enjoy the weather, as opposed to perspiring and wanting to find air-conditioning.
That evening, we met up with Dylan and Nat, friends of mine from university. They waited for us at the Hyde Park Corner underground station and then we headed back in to Hyde Park while catching up and exchanging travel stories.
We decided to walk from Hyde Park Corner towards Knightsbridge just to pass Harrods to check out the evening lights. We kept going and going, towards South Kensington and ate dinner at The Kensington Creperie, highly recommended for authentic French crepes. Dylan and Nat wanted to check out our hostel for a bit before calling it a night and catching the last tube to Finchley, where their hostel was.