London Sky Garden

The Sky Garden/Sky Pod Bar in London is probably one of my favorite “sky high” bars that I’ve been to yet. It’s a little oasis in the middle of the City of London and a nice little break from the crowds and transport and business going on below.

Located in the Walkie Talkie Building (20 Fenchurch St), the Sky Garden is literally that…a public garden in the sky. It’s free to enter, so long as you book a time, and can be visited just to enjoy the gardens, or to enjoy drinks, or even to have dinner at one of the restaurants. I’ve always been only for drinks. Of course, you pay the price of having drinks in the sky, but they are delicious – and beautiful! They also have fantastic cheese and meat platters, so don’t be afraid to arrive with an appetite.

I visited for the first time with my friend Lucy back in the summer and took Sara, Hope, and Sean when Sara was in town last week. They were completely different experiences! In the summer, of course, it was still relatively light outside and you could see everything. This time, it was dark – the city was lit up and beautiful, but it made it hard for us to get pictures. I also have yet to go before the balcony closes in the evening (in my opinion it closes a bit too early, but I understand the concern!) so I feel like I haven’t gotten the full experience.

I highly recommend the Sky Garden for anyone visiting London! Now that it’s been open for a bit, it’s even possible to make a reservation the same day for some last minute plans. My goal is to go back in the daytime next time so I can actually go outside…hopefully when it is warmer as well! I promise better pictures then, but until then, here is a look at my most recent trip….

  [Aren’t the drinks just beautiful?]

    [Glaring eyes is the price you pay for trying to get the whole group in a picture]

      [A blurry (but still beautiful) through-the-window shot of Tower Bridge]

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When Friends Visit

I have a love-hate relationship with having friends come visit London. I love pretty much everything about it: reuniting my friends, showing them my favorite places in London, traveling, etc. But it really stresses me out. I think it’s all part of the wanting everyone to be having a good time always thing. Working from home, I can be around my friends, but can’t really go and do anything with them, so I kind of have to send them off on their own during the day and then meet up with them in the evening.

We also have a very, very small flat. This means that air mattress is a way to go, and I must say…it isn’t a comfy air mattress.

However, despite all of this, I am always inviting friends to come stay. We’ve developed a bit of a routine for when friends/family visit that guarantees they see more than just the touristy stuff. As I mentioned, I ship my friends off into London during the day with decent directions on how to get places and my personal recommendations. Then, when everyone is free, we go for the following:

  • Fish & Chips – We used to pick up fish and chips from Moxie’s in Clapham South and bring it home to our friends. Now that we’ve moved, our go to is Kerbisher & Malt on Abbeville Road. Craft beers + delicious fish (& scampi!) + an overload of chips = heaven on earth.IMG_0001.JPG

 

  • Our Local Pub – Sunday roast, Wednesday burger night, any day drinks – it’s the perfect opportunity to show our friends a *real* London pub.  

 

  • A Swanky Bar – There are so many that I want to try! Rooftops, sky high bars, pop ups. I usually drag my friends to something I’ve never even been to, but sometimes I go for a repeat.  

 

  • Cook at Home – Save money. Eat in pajamas. Show off our new cooking skills. Drink wine. Play Cards Against Humanity. Everyone wins on the nights when we just can’t be bothered to do anything.IMG_5193

 

  • Afternoon Tea – If we have a free weekend day, this is probably my favorite thing to do with visiting friends. It’s extremely British and so good for a girls day out!IMG_4001.JPG

 

  • Ticketed Event – There is ALWAYS something going on in London. From Cocktail Week (Marisa’s visit) to pop up experiences to musicals and plays, there are endless things to do that provide a great London experience without all of the tourist queues.IMG_0020

 

  • Weekend Away – I try to travel with every friend who visits. After all, they’re coming all the way across the ocean, so it’s worth seeing more than just London! This started when Sara visited last year after I first moved here and we went to Nice. Then, Marisa visited and we hit Marseille. We choose a cheap and relatively quick place so we can make the most of it and just go!IMG_1568

This list has changed a bit, but after Sara’s (second) visit this past week, I think this is the best of the combinations. It’s nice to have a little routine that we can tailor to each friend who visits. Next I need to figure out the perfect three day itinerary for sending my friends off to explore London on their own.

Who wants to be my next visitor?

Marisa Visits London

To say I am behind on blog posts would be a major understatement. There has been so much I have wanted to share, but I have been so busy, and THANKFULLY did not open my laptop once on holiday last week. I had taken it with me hoping to get some posts drafted, but in hindsight am so happy the laptop went untouched (I needed that!). Also, I have been suffering from major Wi-Fi issues meaning I cannot post at home.

Back when I did my posts on Marseille (and this), Marisa was in town visiting. She is the first visitor to the new house (!) which is both a great thing and a terrible thing. Great because I missed her and was so happy to have a visitor; terrible because the house was in a dreadful state of Ikea parts lingering in every corner and unpacked bags/suitcases everywhere. Plus, we don’t have a sofa bed, which is a separate problem in itself.

Marisa went up to Edinburgh for a couple of days, so thankfully she was not stuck on the camping mattress every night of the visit. Between her being gone and me having work, we really only had one full day to spend with each other in London. And we definitely made the most out of it!

A Perfect Day in London:

  • Shopping
  • Afternoon Tea (with free flowing prosecco!)
  • A scenic walk (to walk off the tea, of course)
  • A London night out

I would like to mention that we did all of the above without even an outfit change or a nap. I was still recovering from being sick so super #proud of that fact.

We started our day shopping on Brick Lane. I’m quite over the high streets, and Marisa wanted to do some vintage shopping, so it was a nice change of pace that pleased us both. We also had a (very) late breakfast at a café on Brick Lane called Fika – it is so adorable and cozy inside!

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In the afternoon, we met Hope for afternoon tea. I love trying new places for tea, but struggled to find something with availability on such short notice (I was booking on Thursday…oops). I was able to get a reservation at Conrad St. James London Hotel for their autumn-themed tea. I was skeptical, but they advertised free flowing champagne, so I was sold.

I’m so happy we went with the Conrad, because the tea was beautifully presented, they refilled our prosecco after pretty much every sip, and it was a lovely atmosphere for the three of us to catch up. The autumn-themed desserts were also to die for! My favorite thing is that it put us in the perfect position to go for a nice scenic walk afterward, to show Marisa some of the sights she did not have a chance to see during her visit.

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[I was so into the autumn themed dessert cake…the pumpkin cheesecake was to die for!]

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We walked through St. James Park all the way to Buckingham Palace, and then back through the park to Westminster so she could see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. We then walked along Embankment to evening views of the London Eye before settling into Tattershall Castle for a couple of drinks. It’s a boat turned bar in front of the London Eye that we honestly couldn’t pass up!

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[She’s a really good tourist, isn’t she?]

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We finished the night with a couple of drinks at Mabel’s in Covent Garden and then I opened up the girls to the Roadhouse experience. It’s such a funny place – not classy whatsoever – but when they have a live band on and you are with good friends there is little that is better.

I still feel bad about being such a miserable (and sick) host for Marisa’s visit, but am beyond happy she came. Now, as soon as the house is ready, I expect everyone else to visit as well!

p.s. When I say we only had one full day, I mean one full day but two nights. On Friday night, we took Marisa to our favorite fish & chips place and then showed her a (calm) night out in Clapham. Hope showed up as well and we were matching, as usual.

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[The whole matching issue – I swear we didn’t plan it!]

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[We struggle to get good photos]

London Cocktail Week

  
This week is London Cocktail Week – I had no idea that it existed until recently, but am so happy I found out about it and (obviously) decided to participate. 

Basically, you pay £10 for a wristband which gets you deals on drinks at participating bars all week, as well as a cocktail book and a free drink. They also setup Old Spitalfields Market as a “cocktail village” where a ton of different bars have stands and give out free samples.

  
A couple of friends and I visited the cocktail village on Tuesday evening. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with the setup. Various bars and/or liquor brands had stands at the market. They were making drinks, handing out recipes, and providing free samples. The majority of them were making cocktails that could be made at home, as well, which sent us all into DIY mode. I think I had every type of alcohol imaginable and was having such a great time. 

My favorite was probably the Bookers Gin Bar or Don Papa’s Rum Bar (though I am super jealous of the mini Patron bottle that Marisa’s tequila came in – and she got to keep it!).

   
   
Due to work and the head cold I am rapidly developing, I have not participated in any LCW festivities since Tuesday, but can only imagine how great it is going to be on the weekend. Maybe we will stop by again for some more deals. I’ll definitely be looking out for this next year, though, and going into it with some more planning!