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Hello Again, London!
  • Writer's picturesbcrosby .

Camden and the Queen’s Roses

No trip to London is complete without experiencing at least one cold, rainy day. The overnight showers delivered such a day today, with the added bonus of a bone-chilling wind. We managed to beat the intermittent rain as we headed to Camden Market for our Secret Food Tour, but the cold wind meant dressing in double layers.

Camden Market is one of those iconic London sites you should visit. What began with 16 stalls selling arts and crafts in the mid 1970s has become a massive market today – in fact, the largest in London – with street food vendors, arts and crafts stalls, and independent stores. Punk rock came to London by way of Camden, bringing counter culture bands like the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and Blondie to its music venues. Amy Winehouse was a regular in Camden, calling it her home.

A note about food tours. We love booking these tours when visiting other countries/cities. It typically affords you the opportunity to experience the diversity of cultures through various local food favorites and to see the side of a city where locals live and work outside of the standard tourist areas. However, this food tour was all about Camden Market – discovering the hidden gems within it. While we didn’t get the same glimpse of the local neighborhood scene we normally do, it was a great tour nonetheless.

Our favorite samplings included the birria taco from Meat Head, a cheese pairing from the Cheese Bar, and the apple and cinnamon crumble with custard and marshmallow from Brumble Crumble.

After our tour, we made our way to Regent’s Park just in time for the clouds to clear, revealing gorgeous blue skies. We spent a lovely afternoon walking through Queen Mary’s Gardens. Opening in 1932, the gardens were named for the wife of King Henry V, and display more than 12,000 rose bushes from 85 single variety beds! In addition to the fragrant and beautiful pops of color everywhere you look, there are hundreds (possibly thousands) of different plant varieties also on vibrant display. We picked the perfect time to visit, as the garden is in full bloom during the first two weeks of June. We spent nearly two hours walking the garden trails and we could have easily stayed longer. It was one of the most relaxing ways to spend an afternoon in the midst of this bustling city.

More on that thought. Greater London has approximately 10 million residents. That doesn’t take into account the hundreds of thousands of tourists who frequent this city during its summer months. It is a city with a very loud heartbeat; constant traffic, crowds of people, restaurants, bars, theaters, retail shops, and commercial businesses everywhere you look. Yet, you can escape the constancy of the city by simply popping into one of the eight Royal Parks scattered throughout the heart of London. Formerly the royal hunting grounds, these public parks cover a total of 5,000 acres! When you are walking in the midst of one, the noise pollution from the nearby hustle and bustle of London essentially disappears and you are transported to a serene and lush landscape of nature all around you. Just as you can’t truly experience New York City without a stroll through Central Park, you must also visit at least one of the Royal Parks to truly experience London.

We ended our day exploring the shops of Covent Garden before making our way back to our hotel to pack before our flight home. While this hasn’t been our typical vacation, this trip was wonderful in so many ways. We operated at a slower pace, we didn’t feel compelled to pack our days full, and we were ok missing out on some of the “must see” sights. In return, we made just as many memories in some of our favorite European places.

The next installment of #extremeemptynesting will come this fall and will surely follow our typical vacation pace, as we venture to a different part of the world for the first time – Vietnam & Cambodia. Until then, caio and cheerio!


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