Today started off with some much needed rest! We slept in until 12 and didn't make it downtown till about 1:15. Our plan was to go to lunch and then head to the National Portrait Gallery.
We picked a lunch spot close to the museum that our guide book recommended named "Rules." It actually is the oldest restaurant in London and dates back all the way to 1798. It was a very posh place so we felt a little under dressed (okay, a lot) but once we got over that it was a blast. The food was AMAZING! We each had a garden salad with blended peas, lima beans, goat curd, radishes, cucumbers, and mint. One of the best salads I have ever had. For the main dish I picked their duck and I have to say it was probably one of the best duck dishes I have ever had! It had this amazing sauce with peas and panchetta (the British love their peas). Oh man, I'll have a hard time not remembering that dish from this trip. Jenn ordered smoked salmon, which was smoked and cured at the restaurant. The real star of the meal for her was the tea. We've decided that while the food is good in England, the star of English is the alcohol. We've had amazing tea, wine, and other types alcohols here. The coffee is okay... Josh knows that the best coffee is in France. :)
We had such a good time at lunch that by the time we walked out it was already 4:15 (3 hour lunch!) and we had to meet Steph at St Paul's Cathedral for the Evensong Service at 5pm, so no museum trip. We bypassed the tube and decided to walk down "The Strand" to St. Paul's instead. We stopped off a couple places at this happening street for some souvenirs. First stop "Hotel Chocolate" for some tasty souvenirs. Second stop, the Twinings Tea Shop for some loose leaf tea. What is really amazing about this tea shop is that its actually the original from 1706. It just blows my mind that I can walk into a store and buy tea from a place that has been selling it there for 305 years! Crazy. Jenn stocked up on 4 different kinds of tea that should last her for quite awhile. Let us know if you'd like to come over for authentic English tea!
St Paul's Cathedral is the most magnificent cathedral I have been in to date. I think it is probably my new favorite! The service was beautiful and the sound of the choir filled the church in a way I can't describe. It was neat to sit and receive a service in this way while looking at the majesty of the cathedral! So cool to be a part of that.
After that we headed to a pub for some drinks. The first one we tried was to full so we headed up at the Doggetts and had a drink catching up with Steph and reflecting on our day. It's been such a blessing to have great conversations with her in person, we miss her dearly! At the pub we enjoyed hard ciders (Jenn--Berry, Josh--Pear) and some gluten free "chips" aka fries.
Next we headed east to the Tower Bridge to do some photography. This was one of the photos I was really excited to take on this trip so Jenn and Steph were nice enough to indulge me. They found a restaurant close by called "The Stranda" and had some food (meat & cheese) and drinks while I spent about two hours taking photos. I was definitely in a happy place, and as you can see from the Photo above, I think I nailed it. The cool part was that I actually got to witness the bridge going up! Several people I talked to said that they hadn't seen that happen in a long time. It was awesome to witness and I felt very special to be apart of something that doesn't happen very often. I also had a chance to talk to several people that walked by as I was shooting and it was fun to meet some new people.
Finally we headed home to pack and get ready for our train to Paris tomorrow. Train leaves at 8:55 am so I better head to bed and finish packing!
Next up fun adventures around Paris!!!!