Now that I’ve been home for a few days, I suppose I can write a post about my last day in London. Then the trip really will be over, won’t it? I’m home already anyway, so I guess it IS over, but I can always come back to these posts to re-live it. 🙂
I was so pleased to wake up the morning of my final full day to see the sun shining brightly again! I really did hit the jackpot with the weather on this trip for the most part. Yes, Wednesday was rainy in the afternoon and Sunday was fairly dreary all day (not much rain though), but other than that, I got plenty of sunshine and warm temps. Made me all the more glad to have a hotel with good AC! But I digress. I didn’t have a lot planned for my last day, but I did have one last trip to Sky Garden on the agenda. When I planned this trip, I booked both the early dinner I had the day I arrived (which was as much about trying the restaurant as it was enjoying the views) and this visit, hoping that I would get nice weather and a chance to use the viewing terrace on at least one of them. As I said above, Wednesday was rainy, so that was a bust in terms of views, but today proved to be perfect. So glad it worked out!
I did have to get one thing out of the way before I could start my Tuesday – COVID testing. As the US still currently requires a negative test to get back into the country via plane, I planned ahead and brought a test with me. Be aware that you can’t just do a self-test and call it good though – you have to either have that self-test proctored by someone online or you have to go to a testing facility. The test I brought included the online proctor, so I did that with an app on my iPad and it worked without issue. The testing process is the same as any other self-test, but the proctor had to watch me the whole time as well as validate some stuff along the way. In the end, I passed with flying colors with a nice negative result, so I could enjoy my last day knowing I’d be able to fly home the next day. Whew!
With the nice weather and my need to get my steps in, I had a nice, sunshine-y walk to Sky Garden, stopping for a few photos along the way. It’s an easy walk to get there from my hotel and the crowds along the way weren’t too bad either. Hope you enjoy a few of the sights as much as I did!
It was right around this point that, in reviewing my ticket on my phone (as a reminder, tickets to the Sky Garden are free, but they guarantee entry for a specific time), I had a small moment of panic because I noticed it said that photo ID would be required for entry. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t tend to take my passport out with me so I don’t risk losing it (I’d rather leave it wherever I’m staying), so I had no photo ID to show. I was afraid that, on this most perfect of weather days, I wouldn’t be able to go in. Noooooo! But, dear reader, I took solace in the fact that I had just visited a few days earlier for that early dinner and did NOT need to show an ID that time. Also, like any good traveler, I keep a PHOTO of my passport handy (this proved very useful for my friend Shaun when he lost his passport on a UK trip and the photo of it made getting a replacement that much easier), so I pulled that up on my phone and hoped for the best. While waiting in the (short) line to get into Sky Garden, I heard an employee mention photo IDs to other visitors a couple of times, which made me a little more nervous, but when I got to the front of the line, I showed my ticket and the photo of my passport and the employee didn’t bat an eye. I was in! Well, once I hopped on the elevator to the 35th floor, that is.
There’s not much to say about Sky Garden that I haven’t already said, since this was my third visit there. But I was so excited to see that the viewing terrace was indeed open, so I knew I’d get some great pictures in the bright sun. To be fair, the viewing terrace is only on one side and it was somewhat crowded, but that was to be expected. You do have to take photos through a glass barrier, but I think they still came out great! I’ll let you judge for yourself though. 🙂
Being so close to Tower Bridge, naturally I had to walk over for a few more photos from the ground. If you think I’d ever get sick of taking pictures of it (or several other sights around London), you’d be wrong. Part of the great energy I get from this city comes from seeing things like this, so I’ll always make time to visit them. Of course, I must admit that the view was enhanced with a particularly delicious ice cream cone as well. 🙂
With a sunny Sky Garden visit and my favorite London view both crossed off my list, I caught the tube back towards Charing Cross as I thought I’d finally stop in to pay Sherlock Holmes a visit. The pub, that is! After snapping a picture of it on my first day and then trying (and failing) to have a meal there with Steve on Sunday, I decided to go for a third-time’s-the-charm approach and try again (hey, it worked with Sky Garden). I was just there for a drink this time and, being midday on a Tuesday, it wasn’t overly crowded, so I was met with success – hurrah! It’s a perfectly good pub, though the £10 I had to pay for my drink was more than a little steep (the same drink at Retro Bar is only £6!). But hey, it’s only money right? In any case, I was mostly there to kill time before meeting my friend Sophie for lunch, so as I enjoyed my cold beverage, I was in touch with her to coordinate our arrival at our lunch spot, which was The Ambrose Café, inside Heal’s Furniture (seemed a random lunch location, but Sophie just discovered it recently and suggested it).
With the weather still so pleasant, I opted to walk the ~20 minutes to Heal’s, trying to time my arrival to coincide with Sophie’s. I did a pretty good job as I only had to wait a few minutes for her. It was so good to see her again! You may remember that I first met Sophie in 2005 when I stayed at her house on my first trip with Ruth Ann and we’ve been friends ever since. She and her family moved further outside London a few years ago though, making it harder to connect so easily when I visit London, so we usually count on Doctor Who conventions to bring us together (which is the last place we’d seen each other, at Gallifrey One in 2018). We spent an excellent couple of hours catching up on each others’ lives, families, and goings-on – what could be better?? We even made sure we got a photo together, courtesy of someone in the restaurant. I know I’ll see her again later this year (hello, Doctor Who conventions), so we won’t have to wait another four years to reconnect. 🙂
After a nice walk to Euston Station, we parted ways, with Sophie heading for home and me heading to Camden Market. Why there, you may ask? Well, dear reader, I went there to do something I’ve never done before – watch some Doctor Who being filmed! Now, before the Who fans who read this blog get excited, I have to say that I was unsuccessful in my quest. There had been quite a bit of filming here the previous day, but I was in Glastonbury, so couldn’t make it. I figured I wouldn’t have a second chance, but then I heard more filming was happening, so I decided to go for it (it wasn’t that far away from Heal’s anyway and took just a few stops on the tube to get there from Euston). Alas, when I got there, there was no filming to be found. Oh well! The silver lining is that I’d never been there before, so I walked around a bit and took some pictures. The whole area had a very hippie/punk vibe and there were all sorts of random shops around, so I may make a return visit someday.
And that put a bow on my time in London! Well, just about. I tend to always get back early to wherever I’m staying on my last night in London so I can pack up and relax without needing to worry about scrambling to pull my stuff together in the morning. And that was especially important this time because I had to wake up at 5 AM to ensure I’d be on my way to Heathrow by 6 AM (even earlier than I had to get up for Monday’s day trip!). Thankfully, all went to plan – early(ish) to bed, early to rise, and at Heathrow by just about 7 AM. And that’s all he wrote for this UK trip!
Okay, I did take a few pictures on my travel day, too.
My flight home was pleasant and uneventful and I once again enjoyed the company of a few movies to pass the time. Shockingly, I also dozed for about an hour, but got no real sleep. That worked out fine because it was only just after noon when we landed in Minneapolis, so I needed to be awake anyway. It felt a little weird landing back home so early in the day (as opposed to 3-4 PM), but I actually really liked it as I had plenty of time to get home, unpack, do laundry, and relax before I started getting sleepy in the early evening. I managed to stay awake until about 9 PM and was only up a little earlier than normal the next morning, though that continued to get better as my internal clock reset over the next couple of days.
So, what’s next? Scott and I have an international trip planned for about five months from now, but I don’t have any other big trips booked at the moment. I know I’d already been to Mexico before London, but this was my first BIG international trip since the pandemic started. I have to say I felt very safe, even if masks weren’t in heavy use by others. I didn’t mind wearing mine on the plane, at the airport, or while riding the tube and I’d like to think it contributed to my negative test result. I hope the world continues to get better and that us travelers won’t have to worry about COVID (or other illnesses) quite as much in the future. Time will tell though – it always does.