On our third day in London, we had arranged to meet up with my dear friends Niki and Simon for a full day of exploring. Even though they live in London, they were game for spending a touristy day with us.
We met up in front of Dennis Sever’s House on 18 Folgate Street. Unfortunately no photography (or talking!) is allowed inside, so you will have to imagine it yourself. Dennis Severs is an immersive visit into early 18th Century. You are visiting the Jervis household but even though you can sense that they are around, you always seem to miss them as you move around the 10 rooms. This was my second time visiting the house and I must say that the first time was more impressive, but if you haven’t been yet, you should definitely go!
Feeling a bit hungry, we grabbed some donuts from the nearby Old Spitafields Market before hopping on a double decker bus. From the looks of things, donuts are the in thing now.
We felt like having some Indian food, so Brick Lane it was. Niki and Simon thought it was way too early for lunch but we were hungry!
After lunch, we hopped on another bus and made our way nearer to the Tate which we were planning to pop into. We walked along some pretty streets along the way.
We then spotted St. Paul’s Cathedral. As they were opening for a service it was free to go in, so we went to explore it for a bit. It’s magnificent and much bigger than I expected! I would love to attend a Choral Evensong there next time.
The Tate Modern is only a short walk away from St. Paul’s. The museum is huge and there are quite a few free exhibits you can see. In Finland we have a Museum Card which after purchase gives you free access to almost all museums in the country. For the Tate you can become a member and get free access to all their exhibits that way. Not a very good deal in my opinion as there are so many museums in London to visit and I wouldn’t want to tie myself to one!
We had some fun looking at the art on display and picking one from each room which we would display in our own home. Modern art is so strange that sometimes it was a tough choice even though there were tens of artworks in one room!
My favourite installation was by Yinka Shonibare – British Library (2014). It’s a room full of books (over 6,000 of them!) which obviously any bookworm will love but there’s more to it. Names of people who have made significant contributions to British culture and history are printed in gold leaf on the spines of 2,700 books. Most of the names are of first- or second-generation immigrants. The work invites you to reflect on territory and place, cultural identity, displacement and refuge.
If you are visiting the Tate, don’t forget to go up to the viewing level on the top floor of the building. You will get excellent views of St Paul’s and the London skyline from there!
Also, access to the viewing level is free.
I had obtained us tickets for the Sky Garden months before our visit, so we walked there next. It’s free to go up but you have to get tickets online in advance and they go fast! If I had been smarter about it, I would have got us tickets to see the sunset but I only realized this too late and those time slots were long gone.
Sky Garden is quite an impressive building designed in 2004 by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly. The garden inside is by the landscape architecture practice Gillespies. I personally am a fan of the building but I was not impressed by the garden. First of all it was extremely cold inside and we had to keep our jackets on. Second, there was a strong smell of mould in many places, so perhaps something has gone wrong? The plants were lovely but somehow constrained. We had some drinks but the space didn’t invite you to linger.
The views were great but all in all I was expecting much more from the Sky Garden. If you have lots of time to kill in London, then do go, otherwise I say skip it and admire the building from afar!
At this point it was sadly time to say goodbye to Niki and Simon. Even though they live in London, I’m happy that we meet up quite often as they pop over to Finland yearly. ❤ After our goodbyes, my son and I navigated to Kings Cross Station and Platform 9¾. You can find it next to the Harry Potter shop. It’s easy to find as there is a huge queue in front. We enjoyed watching people taking photos and posing with the trolley. But as the queue was long and we were tired we didn’t join in this time.
Son needed food at this stage, so we picked up some KFC from outside the station and made our way to the Travelodge. What a whirlwind of a day! What is your favourite attraction in London?