European Romance: London

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 1 MM1 Westminster

Here we are in sunny London.

That’s right, you heard correctly! Sunny! Who’d have guessed it? We check in to our High Street Kensington hotel, courtesy of our friends at Creative Holidays (thanks, guys!) and head out to explore the Big Smoke.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 2 MM2 The Churchill Arms

Round the corner, we find this. Yes, under all those flowers is a pub! Quite a famous pub in fact – The Churchill Arms was a favourite of Winston Churchill’s grandparents hence the name. There’s more about this little London gem in our review of the Churchill Arms here.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 3 MM3 The Thames and the London Eye

After a good night’s sleep at the Copthorne Tara Hotel, we head to the South Bank and the London Eye. Thanks once again to our chums at Creative Holidays, we have a Fast Track ticket, which lets us skip the queues. So good are these tickets, it’s as if we’ve travelled through time – we even get on the first capsule as they fire up this 135 metre (443′) Ferris wheel.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 4 MM4 The London Eye pod

The views from around London are astounding from up here. We’re blessed with another clear day too, so we can see almost all the way to the Chilterns in the north.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 5 HR5 London Eye

The view up the Thames and over Westminster Palace is breathtaking.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 6 HR2 phonebox

Back on terra firma, we wander around the city. Mrs Romance snaps this pic of some good old-fashioned telephone boxes (do people still use these?) as we head further east towards Tower Bridge and…

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 7 MM5 The Shard

 ...the Shard. Currently the tallest building – not just in London – but in Western Europe, the Shard stands at a looming 308 metres (1,012′).

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 8 MM6 Shadow of the Shard

Once again, our fast track tickets (thank you, Creative Holidays!) flash in the eyes of the friendly staff and we’re whisked off up the 72 stories to the top. The building is pleasantly quiet, so unlike our experience at the Empire State Building in New York, we enjoy the serenity of our altitude.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 9 HR6 The Shard

It really is an amazing view from up here. There are three levels you can explore in the Shard. Here Mrs Romance is peering down from the mid level. Lovely, ay? And the view’s not bad either… awww!

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 10.1 AB1 inside the Shard

This is the main viewing area and the ‘lowest’ point in the Shard’s 360 experience.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 10 MM7 London from the Shard

And then there’s the top level, which is kind of open air. We’re at the crown of the building where the shards of glass give this structure its unique shape. The glass doesn’t meet all the way round or at the top, so it is technically open air. The views are just amazing though.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 11 MM8 Tower Bridge & Mrs R

Back down on the ground, we head to Tower Bridge and the famous Shad Thames alleyways with their stone causeways across the Gothic streets. And yes, it’s still sunny!

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 12 HR7 Tower Bridge

Two iconic London structures – Tower Bridge and the St Mary Axe – or the Ghurkin as it’s better known.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 13 MM9 Tower Bridge is very pretty

Tower Bridge really has to be the prettiest bridge in the whole city. It certainly hides its grisly past well, though that past becomes more obvious when we get to the other side of the Thames and there waiting for us is the Tower of London.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 14 MM10 St James Park

We make our way to St James’ Park – my favourite London park – and make our way along its leafy paths to nowhere in particular.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 15 HR4 deck chairs in St James Park

In the summer, you can find these deckchairs scattered around the lawns of St James’ Park. It’d be the perfect place for a picnic, wouldn’t it? That’s if you like picnics, of course.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 16 MM11 St James Park squirrel

The squirrel-to-human ratio in St James’ Park is virtually equal. These cute little critters are everywhere – especially as the summer starts its chilly descent into autumn.

Mrs Romance is thrilled thrilled by this close encounter with a posh rat in this pub courtyard!

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 17 MM12 Horse Guards Parade, London

We find ourselves at the Horse Guards Parade Ground near 10 Downing Street and the other side of the park to Buckingham Palace. Don’t you just love these ‘I’ll take a picture of you taking a picture of me taking a picture of you…’ the question is, who’s really being photographed? Hmmm.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 18 HR3 London flower stall

Mrs Romance feeds her addiction once more as we stumble across another flower stall.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 19 MM13 St Paul's from the Shard

And so we come to St Paul’s Cathedral. I’ve always wanted to go inside here and I’m quite excited to be doing so. This is a view of St Paul’s from the Shard, by the way. We haven’t suddenly grown very tall!

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 20 MM14 St Paul's Cathedral

There has been a church dedicated to St Paul here since 604AD. This latest incarnation was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren in the late C17th.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 21 MM15 Inside St Paul's Cathedral

 Thanks once again to Creative Holidays, we step inside this amazing building and collect our iPods and headsets from the counter. In the main part of the cathedral, we stare up at the famous domed ceiling while the choirs practise at the alter.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 22 MM16 St Paul's crypt & Lord Nelson's tomb

Down in the crypt – Europe’s largest, by the way – we find Lord Horatio Nelson’s tomb. He was a boyhood hero of mine and it’s quite awe-inspiring to be here.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 23MM18 Stairs in St Paul

There are 530 steps up to the top of St Paul’s. That’s a lot of stairs – just ask my butt! It’s well worth the climb though. 100%.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 24 MM17 fisheye view from Golden Gallery St Pauls

There are three galleries in St Paul’s. This is from the top gallery that looks out from the top of the dome. This is called the Golden Gallery. Mrs Romance is in her element here.

St Paul’s is not as high as the Shard or the London Eye, but I think this is the best view. Perhaps it because it’s truly open-air. Or perhaps it’s because you feel so much a part of the city from here. This was the tallest building in London until the mid 1960s, and you can feel that authenticity from a really old, tall building you miss from other bigger, newer ones.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 24.1 ironic pic of Mrs R at St Pauls

I can’t help myself as we leave St Paul’s to completely incriminate Mrs Romance. But you’re taking a photograph too, I hear you say. That’s not important though, is it?

This evening we head out to a few bars with some friends we haven’t seen for a long time. It’s great to see them, but it’s also sad. We have to say goodbye to London in the morning and head east.

Mr & Mrs Romance - European Romance London - 25 MM19 The Gate pub

We meet my sister and go to a pub nearby for lunch before heading east to see Mum and Dad. This is a great pub that’s been taken over in the last few years. Here’s our review of The Gate you might like to read.

The drive east is a fun one. I haven’t seen my sister for about two years, so it’s great to catch up. The next and final part of our trip is already in the making as we reach our parents’ house in Essex. It’s almost time to relax at last.

Mum! Can I have a cup of tea, please?

 Images by Mr and Mrs Romance via Instagram: @MrAndMrsRomance, @HairRomance and of course @AngryBastard!

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