Saturday 19 July 2014

London Day 7: Trafalgar Square, London Bridge, Kensington Palace & Covent Garden

It rained the night before so the weather was a lot cooler when we set out in the morning! *whew*

We made our way to Trafalgar Square via the tube to Charing Cross Station on the Northern line (black). Follow the signboards which would lead you to Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square
Lovely weather to be exploring Trafalgar Square
Four Plinths stand at each corner of the square;
with the Fourth (left) commissioned by the Mayor of London as part of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Programme, where artists will win a chance to exhibit  sculptures that trigger public debate for a period of time. This year, it's a giant blue cockerel made by German artist Fritsch.
The National Gallery, home of some of the world's most famous art
Mum is visibly more cheerful than yesterday due to the cool weather
Selfies with my Olympus OMD
(Pardon the boy, he just woke up)
More selfies (left) and St Martin in the Fields (right)
Nelson Column, in memory of Admiral Horatio Nelson who died in the Battle of Trafalgar
Historical significance of Trafalgar Square
One of the four lions at each corner of the Nelson Column

We could see the Big Ben in the distance from where we were so we decided to walk along Whitehall Road towards it as we wanted to visit Westminster Abbey (we had forgotten to pop by two days ago when we were there).

Statues (left is the George, Duke of Clarence (1907)) & traditional buildings along Whitehall Road
Monument to The Women of World War 2,
in recognition of their contributions (left);
The Cenotaph, a war memorial for both World Wars (right)
Gate of Horse Guards
(Pity the poor horses that do nothing but stand there for possibly a good half of the day)

After a nice 20-minute stroll (we quite enjoyed it as the weather was cooler), we arrived at Westminster Abbey, the venue of the Royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine (Kate) Middleton that was watched by millions all over the world!

Westminster Abbey
Photo outside the Abbey; we did not go in because there were so many people!
View of my favourite Clock Tower from Westminster Abbey
(See the crowd of people in the field!?)

We boarded the tube on the Jubilee line at Westminster Station to London Bridge Station to visit Borough Market, a farmers market that comes highly recommended by the colleagues.

Follow the signboards to the correct exit
Borough Market
(Opening hours: Wed-Thu 10am-5pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 8am-5pm)
Sellers selling super fresh produce such as organic vegetables, fresh fruits, freshly baked pastries and bread, handmade sausages and so much more!
Natural Smoothie made fresh on the spot

The colleague recommends trying the fresh oysters from the stall near to Southwark Cathedral, Brindisa chorizo sandwich and Monmouth coffee. Mum and I didn't try them though as we were more interested in the fruit cakes, croissants, brownies and macarons! *yum* 

We loved Borough Market! To think my mum almost dissuaded me from visiting! After our stomachs were suitably filled, we walked for about 5 minutes to the nearby London Bridge.

London Bridge

London Bridge is really just an ordinary modern bridge (not the beautiful old-school Tower Bridge that people often mistakenly associate with London Bridge) because the old bridge fell down, remember? =)

We proceeded back to Shangri-La at The Shard as we had reserved a table for Afternoon Tea at the Ting Restaurant. I've heard so much about British Afternoon Tea and was excited to try it for myself.

Afternoon Tea at the Ting Restaurant
(Available Mon-Fri, 2-6.30pm and Sat-Sun, 11.30am-6.30pm)

There were 2 sets of Afternoon Tea that you can choose from: English Afternoon Tea and Asian Inspired Afternoon Tea; both served on a 3-tier serving dish (as you can see in the photo above). We decided to try both as I was curious to find out the differences between them.

Both sets have a couple of scones,
which comes with cream & strawberry jam.
The scones were not too salty and crumbles in your mouth =)
Top tier of the English Afternoon Tea:
 Chocolate Temptation (more details below),
Cappucino Cake with white chocolate glaze,
Coco, a tart with coconut, calamansi curd, ginger and pineapple
and Passion Fruit (3 layers of fruit in a glass)
Chocolate Temptation:
Rich chocolate sponge, tea-infused Ghanaian chocolate ganache, hint of raspberry and topped with a soft chocolate cream (I love chocolate so this was one of my personal favourites)
Bottom tier of the English Afternoon Tea:
Assorted sandwiches and Fresh Scottish Lobster in a Brioche Roll
Top tier of the Asian Inspired Afternoon Tea:
 Chocolate Temptation, Coco,
Cha, a matcha tea sponge with green tea cream and red beans (delicious!),
and Chinese-style Egg Custard Tart (see below)
Chinese-style Egg Custard Tart:
One of our favourites, the tart was not too sweet yet we could taste the rich flavours
Bottom tier of the Asian Inspired Afternoon Tea:
Steam Prawn Dumpling, 'Char Siew' Pork bun (East meets West), 
Rice Paper Roll with sweet potato and vegetables,
Crab Meat with cream cheese on a soft roll and Gyoza Style Dumplings

And what's afternoon tea without the tea right? We chose the White Apricot Tea, which came highly recommended by the restaurant staff.

Mum and I had many cups of White Apricot Tea as it was light and sweet *yum*

Although we like both offerings of Afternoon Tea (GBP 49 each, excluding service charge), we very much preferred the Asian Inspired Afternoon Tea! Perhaps it was because we are Asians maybe? *laughs*

I'll definitely recommend coming here for a beautiful dining experience if you're visiting London for the first time (and would love to try the afternoon tea) or if you would like to celebrate a special occasion =)

With a heavy heart (because we will truly miss our experience there) and belly (we were so full!), we left the Ting Restaurant for our next destination, Kensington Palace.

We took the tube on the District line (green) to High Street Kensington Station. When we exited, there were a crowd of policemen standing in a line and directing people. It was then that we realised that we were right in the heart of a protest for the end of war between Israel and Palestine.

Protesters outside of the Israeli Embassy in Kensington

I think it was the first that I was ever in the heart of something like this so it was definitely an eye-opener for my mum and I. However, because of the protest, it was really difficult to walk to Kensington Palace as the road was blocked and there were Police officers standing everywhere. We felt both alarmed and somewhat safe at the same time. It was a weird feeling.

Anyway, we finally arrived at Kensington Palace Gardens where the residence of royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is located.

Kensington Palace Gardens
Kensington Palace
(Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 10am-6pm)
Statue of William the Third

The garden was huge! I think it will take a whole day to walk the whole place. There were fountains, a large pond with swans swimming around in it and beautiful statues decorating the park. Mum and I sat on one of the park benches to feed Baby Boy and have a leisurely chit-chat for quite a long time. Definitely a great place to go as a family in my opinion.

Anyway, we braced the crowd and proceeded back to High Street Kensington Station, where we took a tube to Covent Garden Station on the Piccadilly line (blue). The station is 15 floors below ground so we were highly advised to take the lift rather than climb the long flight of stairs up!

Queuing to take the lifts, which were large enough to carry a lot of people at once
Covent Garden Station

We visited Covent Garden Market, which was a beautiful large indoor market with street performers and many places to shop and eat. We stumbled onto a Michael Kors outlet and bought a few bags! =)

As it was getting late, we didn't manage to buy the best croissant in London (or at least according to my colleague) from Le Pain Quotidien or eat freshly made gelato from Gelatorino (bummer). We did manage to eat our dinner at Belgo (I had made a reservation online a few days prior) which was famous for roast meat and mussels according to the colleagues.

(Opening hours: Mon-Thu, 12pm-11pm)
Enjoying our meal underground while the baby was sleeping
(the friendly waiter helped to carry the stroller down)
Fish and Chips for me
Roast Chicken for mum and I
(Highly recommend this as it was really tasty)

Everything was going well until halfway through our meal, Baby Boy started crying hysterically! For some reason, he did not like being in a dark underground room with extremely loud music playing in the background! No matter how I tried to console him, he couldn't stop crying! =S

In the end, Mum had to carry him out of the restaurant while I finished my food quickly and paid for the meal. Not a suitable place to bring young kids (especially babies) *sigh*

We walked to Leicester Square Station and took the tube back to Hammersmith. If you had more time than we did, you might want to visit Chinatown between Leicester Square and Picadilly Circus for authentic Asian dishes and other interesting shopping.

Continue to >> London Day 8: Cambridge
<< Back to London Day 6: Windsor Castle & Buckingham Palace


Download our London Itinerary 2014 Printable
Read my London Train Travel Tips if it's your first time travelling by train in London,
Visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on London, UK 
as well as other travel itinerariesMany thanks to my friends, who had contributed many of the recommendations included in our London Itinerary 2014.

You can also follow my travel adventures on Instagram via the hashtag #madpsychmumtravels! =)


Disclosure: Complimentary afternoon tea at the TING Restaurant was received from Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd. for the purposes of this blog feature. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are my own.
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