London has a huge amount of culture and history to offer. In addition there are wax figures, Ferris wheels and palaces. Let's forget all this and concentrate on the really important things like restaurants, bars and streetfood markets. In between we visit some sights that are mostly not part of any bus or guided tours - a real quality feature. For five days we explore the known and the new, discover the hidden, eat and drink our way through the capital and take pictures.
For Daniel (Instagram) this was the fourth stay in London, for Michelle (Instagram) the first trip to the United Kingdom ever.
Our flight BA977 starts on Thursday before Easter at 11:15 am in Hannover and we land at 11:55 am local time in Heathrow. The temperature is about 20° Celsius and will rise to 24° Celsius in the afternoon. The forecast for the next days is similarly warm and sunny.
This time during our short vacation we are accommodated in the centrally located "Chamberlain Hotel" (Affiliate-Link). The hotel belongs to the Fullers chain which is one of the oldest pubs and hotel operators in London. At check-in, we receive a free upgrade to a room with its own roof terrace (room 504). Nice!
View from our roof terrace of the Chamberlain Hotel - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
What are we supposed to do with this new day? Daniel looks like a Yeti in his face, the beard care was a little bit left behind during the last days, so reason enough for a visit at the R.W. Wolf Barbershop near Monument. For Daniel, this men's wellness program has been an integral part of every stay since his first visit to London in 2016. For almost 60€ hair and beard are cut, the face is treated with hot towels, unpleasant hairs on the ear are scorched and the arms are massaged. Not quite cheap, but worth every pound.
Chamberlains Fishrestaurant and Leadenhall Market
In the evening our culinary discovery tour starts at the "Chamberlains Fish Restaurant" in the old Leadenhall Market. In a fantastic atmosphere of the old market hall we enjoy Irish oysters, a pasta gratin with lobster meat and a fish pie. The Chamberlain fish restaurant puts great emphasis on absolutely fresh produce and you can taste it, the oysters are out of the water for a maximum of two days - a cheer for such a fast supply chain.
Dinner in "Chamberlains Fishrestaurant" at Leadenhall Market - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
In the cozy alleys of the Leadenhall Market the recordings for Harry Potter in the Winkelgasse were taken. After dinner we were more interested in local beers and cider in the pub "The Lamb Tavern" on the opposite side. Today is the last working day before Good Friday, the English stream from the surrounding offices into the pubs. Around us people laugh, tell stories, exaggerate, flirt and drink. Life is raging all around. Why don't we have this culture to meet our colleagues for a beer after work? Probably because German beers taste boring compared to the English ones.
Beer and cider in the pub "The Lamb Tavern" in the Leadenhall Market - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
For us there is a very clear reason why one should visit the Hyde Park: Greedy, friendly squirrels.
Squirrels in Hyde Park - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
With a walnut in the lens hood of the wide-angle lens, the small gnawers can be lured very close to the camera. Or on the lap or on the hand. On this day Daniel can feel like a real Disney princess. The attempt to attract a green parrot with a nut works and the little feathered guy lands on Daniel's hand. Unfortunately nobody saw him except Daniel himself. Damn it.
Skeptical squirrel in Hyde Park - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
Very close to Hyde Park, at its eastern end at "Park Lane" there is a cute little café - the "ELAN Café". The guest can expect delicious and artfully created pastries, cakes or fresh sandwiches. In addition, unusual drinks and compositions of tea and coffee are served. We eat a saffron doughnut and an extremely beautifully arranged Strawberry Cheesecake. Never before has such a small piece of cake brought so much joy to us. We also drink an iced tea from the French Press that reminds us of a mojito.
Small cakes in the "Elan Café" - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
Camden Market / Streetfood / The Elephants Head
Record shops, hipsters, street food, colourful house facades. Admittedly, with our visit to the Camden market we have broken a little with the promised freedom from tourists. This part of town is full of tourists. Why were we here anyway?
View from the window of one of the Camden Market halls - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
Quite simply: The architecture of the old market halls is a dream for every photographer and in order to relax from it, the visitor is offered a wide range of culinary street food.
Markthalle auf dem Camden Market - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
Besides, a lot of garbage is sold on this market, you have to say that quite clearly. Cheap goods from China, pseudo-paintings from London, which in reality are printed in masses in Taiwan, all kinds of plastic garbage, which some call a souvenir. Nevertheless, in the back streets we discover quiet and somewhat remote record shops and small artists' studios. It's best to go where no one else is.
Indian flair in the "Namasté" shop at Camden Market - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
At lunchtime, locals, workers and tourists alike gather in the pubs, just as we stopped for a beer in the "Elephants Head".
Nach dem Besuch des Camden Markets auf ein Bier im "Elephants Head" - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
Sky Garden is an artificially landscaped and roofed garden at the top of a skyscraper in the City of London district, between Monument and Leadenhall.
Those who want to enjoy the view should best plan their stay in such a way that one can watch the sunset from up here. With a little luck there will also be live music. You can enter the Sky-Garden as a pure visitor, but then you will have to wait outside in line, or you can book a table online in the "Sky Pod Bar" or the restaurant "Darwin Brasserie". Then you can pass the queue right on time for your reservation and drive up to the 35th floor.
View from the Sky Pod Bar up to the Sky Garden (The picture is from my London trip in 2016) - Nikon D7000, Nikkor 18-105mm ED 3.5-5.6 G AS-F VR
Personally, I liked the drinks in the "Sky Pod Bar" better in the past, but the cheese platter is still excellent and maybe only the view from the shard is more magnificent. Officially, there is a dress code that forbids sports shoes, for example, but apparently this is no longer controlled, which is rather harmful for the overall atmosphere.
Covent Garden / Neil's Yard / St. John Bakery
Another market that captivates with its culinary and creative offerings: Covent Garden Market. There is too much hustle and bustle here today and the offers of the individual markets are always the same somehow. So we go froleave Covent Garden Market in northern direction to the quarter called "Neal's Yard".
An alley in Neal's Yard - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
We discover the small quarter with its colourful house fronts and strengthen ourselves with fresh sandwiches and doughnuts from the somewhat hidden bakery "St. John". A great, down-to-earth shop with a large selection of fresh snacks. "Do you have any coffee?" asks Daniel, the salesman says, "Sure, filter coffee for a pound. No Grande Tall Blonde Americano Hipster coffee like everywhere else. A great conversation followed as we watched our sandwiches get made. And let's face it, filter coffee goes great with a simple ham and mustard sandwich anyway. Besides, you don't feel completely stupid when you pronounce the name of the coffee.
House fronts in Neal's Yard - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
Also in the surrounding streets from "Covent Garden" to "Neal's Yard" there are always interesting corners or buildings with magnificent floral decorations.
Flower glory at a pub near "Covent Garden" - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
God's own junkyard Walthamstow / Mothers ruins Gin
Our Uberdriver turns through an open, rusty steel gate into a backyard. The scene looks like from a film, right and left of the road old, partly crumbling brick buildings. So we imagine a place where gang wars are fought. But behind the next corner it gets friendlier: People sit in front of colorful house walls, stand in front of a hot dog stand, seem relaxed and enjoy the warm midday sun. Our driver says he's never been here before. After we got out, he says to us that he would take a break and eat a hot dog. He likes the place.
We are in the district Walthamstow, the home of the "Blitz-Factory", a manufacturer of neon advertisements. Also located here is a place called "God's own junkyard", a huge collection of neon ads. What sounds strange at first turns out to be an insider tip. We enter a hangar, through whose door countless billboards in thousands of colors light up.
It becomes clear to us why neon neon signs have enjoyed such popularity in the past and still do today: The colours, the flashing, the flickering, all this makes us simply happy, especially in the face of this plenty. People love it colourful, we combine colours with happiness and become curious to discover new things. No bad conditions to sell a product through such advertising.
God's own junkyard: electric neon signs as far as the eye can see - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
We discover not only advertising, but also art and poetry. On one wall hangs an over-the-top Valium drug packaging. In small, black lettering on it the inscription "Don't keep in the reach of adults", on the front the word "Pleasure" shines in pink neon lettering.
Daniel in the neon sign paradise - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
This place feels like a mixture of the video game series "Fallout", red light milieu, South American attitude to life and a museum. It is quite imaginable that this place will gain in popularity in the next few years and that the admission might not be free any more.
One hangar further down the alley we visit the gin bar "Mother's Ruin". In front of the colorful former industrial building we drink a sweet "Old Tom's Gin" with strong orange notes and tonic water. Life is good.
A visit to the gin bar "Mother's Ruin" - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
Instead of taking the Uber back to the city center, we walk from Walthamstow to Clapton subway station. From here our Oyster-Travelcard of zones 1 and 2 is valid again for the tube. On the way back there we experience what "multi-cultural" means here: We smell spices from shops we have never smelled before, see impressive displays of tropical fruits, hear a gibberish of all imaginable languages and see how all these cultures live in harmony with each other. It can be so easy when everyone lets the other live the way they want.
Saturday night we're going to London's North. We visit the cocktail bar "Nightjar". We enjoy creative cocktail creations and listen to live music from the 50s in an ambience reminiscent of the prohibition period. In the dim light we share the "Yorkshire Punch" - a cocktail for two, served in a steaming copper owl. A pleasure for eyes and mouth alike.
Original English breakfast on the terrace
What would a stay in England be without the real British breakfast with sausages, porridge, egg, bacon and beans in tomato sauce? Right - that would be terrible. We would have missed something.
Now that we could enjoy the room with roof terrace in the "Chamberlain Hotel" (Affiliate-Link) for free, we booked a breakfast in our room, more precisely on the table of our roof terrace.
Breakfast on our roof terrace of the Chamberlain Hotel - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
In the warmth of the just rising sun we enjoy breakfast, on the street "Minories" we hear pedestrians talking, in the distance we hear sirens and construction site noises, but nothing disturbs us up here. This is how the city sounds - and we are very close. Thereupon a sip of hot coffee.
Typical British: breakfast with sausage porridge and beans in tomato sauce - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
Columbia Road Flower Market / Oyster Boy / Clutch
There is a daily street sale of plants and flowers on Columbia Road. Dealers set up their shelves and vans, and a jungle feeling breaks out in the streets lined with sandstone buildings. Unfortunately, we were not aware that the market was officially closing at 14:00 and the first dealers were starting to dismantle their stands. Nevertheless, we were lucky, even shortly before 17:00 o'clock there were still some salesmen active and we could get a last, if only for a short time, get insight into the "Columbia Road Flower Market".
Columbia Road Flower Market traders pack their stands - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
Nearby, only a few corners away, there is another interesting place where visitors to the flower market can stop after a successful market day. At Ezra St, London E2 7RH, the "Oyster Boy" has a tiny stall. Here guests can buy oysters and eat them sitting on the sidewalk in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. If you don't like oysters, you'll also find a café, an antique dealer and many opportunities to talk to locals. Unfortunately too bad for us: The "Oyster Boy" had already sold all the oysters that day.
Culinary offer in the "Ezra Road - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
In the lack of oysters, we needed an alternative. And sometimes a plan B becomes a real surprise. On the way to the "Columbia Road Flower Market" we passed the chicken restaurant "Clutch". Yellow facade, a kind of zebra pattern on the side wall, green turf outside. The shop looked interesting. Like a mixture of Africa and South America and not at all like KFC or a similar chain. More importantly, the store was well attended and that's usually a good sign. So let's get there. We did not meet any tourists here, but the tastiest breaded chicken of our life.
At "Clutch": chicken fillet strips in a lime parmesan casing and baked chicken legs in soya garlic sauce - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
Sometimes you are lucky in misfortune, the food was absolutely delicious - we were glad to have considered this as plan B.
St. Dunstan in the East
Who would have guessed that we could find an old and partly overgrown church ruin in a metropolis of millions like London?
The small green oasis "St. Dunstan in the East" is located between "Idol Lane" and "St. Dunstans Hill". The great fire of London and the Second World War have damaged the church, so that today only parts remain.
Michelle looks through one of the windows of the church ruin St. Dunstan in the East - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
The remains are partially covered with trees and a small garden has been created inside the old aisle. The place is somehow enchanted, so close to the city, but so far away from it at the same time. A great spot for photos and a little rest from the city hassle.
Archway in the ruins of the church "St. Dunstan in the East" - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
Gails Bakery is a good place to occasionally cut down on hotel breakfast. Located directly at South Kensington Station, the small bakery is the ideal place to start the day. From here you can walk to the Museum District and Hyde Park. Guests can expect a variety of baked goods and good coffee or tea.
Plenty of choice for our breakfast at "Gail's Bakery" in South Kensington - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
We've never seen a cemetery this big with so many old gravestones. Stone angel figures, overgrown stone crosses and majestic trees wherever you look.
Gravestones as far as the eye can see: Highgate Cemetery - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
Some tombstones tell sad stories and the engraved birth and death dates make us think of worse times. This may all sound a little depressing, but as we make these discoveries, we walk through a spring-like forest landscape with thriving flora and fauna. Doesn't sound so bad anymore, huh?
Highgate Cemetery: A place of peace and idyll - Nikon D500, Walimex Pro 8 mm f1:3,5
If you want to visit the cemetery "Highgate Cemetery" and thus the grave of Karl Marx, you have to pay 4 pounds entrance fee. Oh what irony. Bad capitalism.
Borough Market and Applebees Fish Restaurant
The "Borough Market" is one of the most beautiful markets when it comes to tasting various culinary specialities. Don't miss the oyster stand and the empanadas! But also the fruit stands and truffle vendors are worth a visit.
From the terrace of the "Applebee Fishrestaurant" you can watch the colourful life of the market - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
At the western end of the "Borough Market" you will also find the "Applebees Fish Restaurant". So if you haven't found enough treats at the market yet and you like fish and seafood, you should stop by here. If the weather is fine, you can sit outside and watch the colourful crowds.
Fish platter in Applebees Fishrestaurant - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
Teatime at the Reddoor Café in Greenwich
Greenwich has quite a lot to offer: The prime meridian runs through the "Greenwich Observatory", where thousands of tourists daily look at a line on the ground and take stupid photos. Furthermore, the district with the parks around the "Queen's House", the clipper "Cutty Sark", the "Maritime Museum" and the artists on the "Greenwich Market" are impressive.
Greenwich Park with Queens House and Cannary Wharf in the background - Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
Those who need a little rest after all the walks through Greenwich can take refuge in a small alley in the "Reddoor Café". Nowhere else can you enjoy "Tea Time" as much as here, with fresh tea (or coffee), some scones and clotted cream with strawberry jam.
Teatime at the "Reddoor Café" in Greenwich - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
The "Reddoor Café" is located in the immediate proximity of the "Greenwich Market", which we can recommend especially for those interested in arts and crafts. For example, we bought two drawings of animals from a local artist to decorate our bathroom.
The narrow lane in front of "Reddoor Café" leads to Greenwich Market - iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
What photographic equipment did we have with us?
Below you will find affiliate links to the equipment we use:
All the links in this text are Amazon Affiliate Links, and by clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a percentage of your subsequent Amazon purchases. However, this circumstance does not influence the background of my product recommendation. This product recommendation is independent, honest and sincere.
Bei allen genannten Links handelt es sich um Amazon-Affiliate-Links. Durch einen Klick auf einen Affiliate-Link werde ich prozentual an Euren darauf folgenden Amazon-Einkäufen beteiligt. Dieser Umstand beeinflusst aber nicht die Hintergründe meiner Produktempfehlung. Diese Produktempfehlung erfolgt unabhängig, ehrlich und aufrichtig.