The second half of our long weekend in London saw us taking in some distinctive neighborhoods, visiting some famous museums, and even attending a proper West End musical!
Parsons Green is a quaint neighborhood an hour by train west of central London. The main draw for us was the subsection of the neighborhood termed lovingly by real estate agents as “Munster Village,” so called because of its setting along the local main street, Munster Road. We saw pictures of Munster Village in the months leading up to our visit and we couldn’t help but see it for ourselves!
We were not disappointed. Munster Road is lined with cute shops and cafes, while all of the side streets off the main drag are dotted with historic home after historic home, all painted different colors, from baby blue to pastel yellow. This is where we truly started falling in love with the city! When we were hit with some hunger around lunchtime, we made our way to Café Plum, where we shared a chili-drenched baked potato, mango smoothie, and gingerbread cake.
It was also around this time that we started to become more comfortable with the bus system. It quickly became our preferred method of transportation, as it was relatively fast and allowed us to see more of the city as we traveled from destination to destination. We rode the bus to Kensington, where we made a quick stop at Atherstone Mews, one of the many rows of small repurposed stables scattered throughout London. The John Madejski Garden, situated in the central courtyard within the Victoria and Albert Museum, served as a calm and peaceful resting spot in the midday sun. On our way to leave this part of Kensington, a crêperie caught our eyes and lured us in for some delicious treats!
Our favorite night of the trip was spent in Covent Garden, when we stumbled upon Neal’s Yard before making our way to the Cambridge Theatre for a presentation of Matilda the Musical. We had seen Neal’s Yard in pictures, quirkily decorated in a wide variety of colors and dotted with greenery and window boxes, but weren’t sure exactly where it was. Once we found it, we decided to grab some food at Homeslice, a specialty pizzeria right in off of the courtyard. The decision to grab dinner there was purely for convenience, but it ended up being some of the best pizza we’ve ever had! We ate outside, as there was no seating available, and were greeted with a rogue hailstorm, from which we took cover under a small overhang. Matilda was the surprise of the trip, having been somewhat of an afterthought. We were both absolutely blown away by the production quality and the level of skill so many of the young actors possessed. Songs from the musical were stuck in heads for weeks.
On our last full day, we visited some more museums and explored some other parts of the city. While we both prefer modern art, we knew we couldn’t miss some of the masterpieces held within the walls of Tate Britain. After wandering for quite some time through the halls of the museum, we made our way to the dock on the Thames where a river taxi would pick us up and take us to Tate Modern. The short cruise was another interesting perspective from which to see the city, especially its myriad bridges. Now more in our element, we more slowly made our way through the galleries, taking in works by modern art greats like Picasso, Rothko, Hockney, Dali, Monet, and Pollock.
After lunch at Swan at the Globe (where Brittany indulged in her first proper fish and chips), we strolled across Millennium Bridge and grabbed a train toward Little Venice. The neighborhood is set upon the confluence of three canals, along which many houseboats are docked, some of which permanently. There are even restaurants boats scattered throughout the area! We enjoyed walking along the canals, but as the neighborhood is relatively small, we quickly set off for our next destination.
Notting Hill is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in London, with tree-lined lanes and pristine, whitewashed Victorian homes. We were in town on a Saturday, which meant the weekly antiques market along Portobello Road would be alive and kicking! The market lived up to expectations, providing us with our trip’s souvenir (an old print of the Palace of Westminster) and offering up some of the best crepes of the weekend. On our way back to our flat for the night, we took a bus that rode alongside the long edge of Hyde Park. Though we ran out of time to spend time in the park, this sufficed as a second choice.
The next morning we packed up our things and reluctantly bid farewell to the city that had hosted us so graciously for the past five days!