5 Days in London

2 months ago, I spent several days in London for work. I’m super thankful for having the opportunity to visit the London office as well as have a little time here and there to explore parts of central London. The last time I traveled to London was in 2005, right after I graduated from college when a few of us went on a euro-trip. Here’s what I looked like back then:

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2005 (clearly not in London)

I was a little shocked when I landed in London… I expected it to be similar to when I went 10 years ago, but my age (experience?) and expectations were definitely not aligned to what I saw. It was a pleasant surprise and here are a few thoughts:

On sight-seeing… I’ve been to a number of major attractions in London, but it was a nice day and I was able to take a stroll around with one of my colleagues for part of the afternoon. After taking the Heathrow Express (wayyyy faster than the train I took 10 years ago) and dropping our stuff at the hotel, we found our way over to Kensington Palace/Kensington Gardens. Unfortunately, we didn’t’ spot any royalty. From there, we made our way to Albert Memorial where we learned a little about Prince Albert and why the memorial was there.

After that, we went to the major attractions – Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, London Eye, etc… and got a few nice shots around sunset. In wake of all of the terrorism around the globe, I can definitely see some beefed up security around these major landmarks and it was sad, but maybe a sign of the times. Increased barricades, heavily armed security and other signs that the country is being more cautious to protect its landmarks and people.

A beautiful old pub
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Walking the streets in Soho
Across from Fortum and Mason
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Carnaby Street was also very pleasant (lots of shopping too)
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Walking back to the hotel, Soho was becoming very festive

Rapha. This is probably my vice when it comes to cycling. I love the brand for both cycling and casual clothes. With the USD>GBP conversion and pricing differences, it was nearly a 25% discount on a number of items. Needless to say, I bought a thing or two. The brand is based out of London and it was nice going to both clubhouses there. It’s also impressive how popular it is at most times of the day. Definitely worth visiting if you like to cycle!

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I’m a Rapha Cycle Club member, which means free coffee daily!

National History Museum. Our team was lucky enough to have a “behind the scenes” tour of the museum, which turned into a little bit more as we were in one of the lab when a scientist with another party gave us an extra bonus on our tour.

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That sturgeon head… HUGE!
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Original specimens collected by Charles Darwin
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This egg-shaped storage is the largest indoor storage space in the world (so they claim). The concrete walls are something like 30″ thick

Food/Coffee. The food scene in the UK has exploded and luckily enough, I was able to taste a bunch of it. I wasn’t shameless enough to take photos of everything, but I will say the overall quality and diversity of cuisines was definitely my biggest surprise when visiting. First off, can’t go to the UK without a proper high tea.

Sometime that week, I was able to go to Bob Bob Ricard, this pretty fancy place that is known for two things: 1) a Champagne button – literally everyone I told that we were going to this restaurant said “oh the one w/the champagne button?” and 2) Beef Wellington. The Beef Wellington did not let me down, while it was my first, I’m sure it was one of the best.

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My last dinner was at Dishoom, an Indian restaurant, apparently a local favorite. This also didn’t disappoint… will go back if/when I’m back in the UK.

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Unlike us spoiled Bay Area folks, coffee in the UK and I presume the rest of Europe is more based around espresso drinks and not drip coffee. It was difficult finding a good drip coffee, but the coffee scene was strong in London. Lots of cute cafes and what not.

Office and getting there… One of the office locations was a pleasant 10 minute walk from the hotel and the other was about 45 minutes walking. The office at Kings Cross is in a pretty cool location, it’s a busy train/tube terminal and is bustling at most times of the day. It also has the Harry Potter train stop, which I missed :/. It’s always nice visiting other offices to see what pieces of culture stay the same and what pieces are localized. In any case, the views on the higher floors are pretty darn good as usual.

Overall, it was a quick several days, but always awesome seeing new places and having local colleagues help out with suggestions. Finally, I guess Brits have similar distaste for our current Pres.

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