After the past three incredibly full days of walking, the only way we could move today was by bike. We hired a Barclays bikeshare bike (aka Boris bike) and Brynn and Colin took their bikes out. The bike share experience was our smoothest yet – easy to find and return bikes, and all were in good shape.
Colin took us on the scenic route to the flower market on Columbia street, which is held every Sunday. We arrived as they were closing and the vendors were keen to sell off their remaining flowers. The burliest men were calling out deals – “Fiver for clematis, was a ten now a fiver”. It was quite an experience.
We stopped at the Royal Oak for deep fried Gherkin, and at a pie shop for some traditional pie. The pie was quintessentially English – served with mushy peas, mashed potatoes and green liquor.
With full bellies we meandered through the city to the tower bridge. The London marathon was today and was just winding down. There were very few runners left, and the roads had not been reopened yet. It was the perfect time to cross the tower bridge and be able to stand in the middle without traffic. The bridge is really stunning.
We stopped at city hall and listened to a band performing there. Architecturally we prefer the egg to the pickle.
The Westminster Bridge was also empty when we crossed, allowing us to gawk at Big Ben, the Parliament and the gas lamps at our leisure. The parliament is quite something. We were searching for the right word to describe it – striking, or something like that.
We rode by Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace and checked a couple more things off the list – well timed for when they were changing the guard. Bike-by tourism.
Darren had been itching to check out Exhibition Street – a recently completed experimental street where all markings have been removed to create a shared street. All modes of transport – walking, biking, cars, busses – share the space and navigate at slow speeds. The end lined with commercial worked well, as people walked freely, but other parts less so.
We completed our loop of London by riding through the Kensington area and into Hyde park. We checked out the Serpentine gallery and the attached restaurant by Zaha Hadid.
We had an awesome feast at the flat – cheese, crackers and an epic salad. Perfect end to an amazing visit with our friends!