I was only in London for two days, which really isn’t a lot. Everyone stayed an extra day, but I had to make my way back home to Vancouver! So on my last day, we set out to finish all the tourist spots! First was the Buckingham Palace. When we got there, we actually caught these men on the horses. Not exactly sure what the purpose of them were though. I believe it’s something to do with the Queen’s Life Guard.
The Buckingham Palace is the official residence and workplace of the monarchy of the UK. I actually didn’t think the palace was that impressive. After seeing the ones in France, like the Versailles Palace, the one in London really doesn’t seem as luxurious. I was imagining some fancy, magnificent building!
If you look closely, you’ll see the guards in grey. Changing of the Guard happens at 11:30 am daily, but from August to April, it occurs on alternate days. Unfortunately, on the day we were here, it was one of the days which the ceremony was not happening.
We then made our way to Winter Wonderland. Winter Wonderland is hosted at Hyde Park. It’s basically like a PNE for Vancouver, but at a greater scale. With rides, markets, an ice rink, restaurants, and many other activities. Hyde Park itself is one of the largest parks in London. It’s also a Royal Park!
They also featured a Magical Ice Kingdom, where there were ice sculptures. We found the admission a little pricey, so we skipped it. Regardless, just walking through the park is lots of fun since it’s really festive and entry to walk around is free! I would imagine that at night, the wonderland is even more amazing with the lights on.
If you continue walking through Hyde Park, you’ll end up at Kensington Palace. Do keep in mind that Hyde Park is quite big, so you’ll walk for quite some time, but it’s quite relaxing and a nice stroll. The palace was the residence of the British Royal Family beginning in the 17th century and is now the official residence in London for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and many others. Again, you need to pay for admission to visit the state rooms, but we were not too interested in it. I personally would skip this attraction if I was tight on time.
And then I came upon this window display! Love this picture just because my two favourite British icons are in it – Paddington Bear and Mr. Bean! I used to watch these two on TV as a child!
For the afternoon, we had made reservations for afternoon tea at Paramount, which is situated at the 37th level of the building. You get a 360 degree view of London. Unfortunately, we weren’t seated by the window. That sort of took away our whole experience. Afternoon tea is pretty pricey in London – much more than Vancouver in fact. Around the holidays, most of them are also fully booked, so you need to reserve well in advance! The inside is pretty fancy, sort of like a hotel restaurant setting. It’d probably be smart not to show up in your gym clothes, but it’s still relatively casual where you can wear jeans. Many people were just having a late lunch or a snack with drinks, so their menu is not just solely for afternoon tea.
Earl Grey, Sri Lanka
The afternoon tea set it pretty much set and costs £28, which includes a choice of tea. I find that pretty expensive since we can get afternoon tea for CAN$28! For my choice of tea, I chose the Earl Grey, since I was feeling something more classic. It was a really good Earl Grey, with a Ceylon tea base and a hint of citrus flavour. I found it odd how they didn’t offer me any milk or cream though. The pot is also relatively small, so you don’t get a lot in one brew. I also found it annoying how they didn’t ask if we needed more hot water. We were the ones who had to ask for it, and it took forever to come. I wouldn’t say the service was that great.
Here we have some clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Also in the back, we have some brown and white sugar cubes.
This was the bottom layer. All savouries, and also a layer I enjoyed the most. It included Smoked Salmon and White Cheese on Rye Pumpernickel, Dry Cured Ham with Piccalilli on Sour Dough, Free Range Boiled Egg with Grain Mustard, Mayonnaise & Cress on Toasted Brioche, Poached Chicken with Spring Onion Mayonnaise on Multi Gran Loaf, and Quiche of the Day. I enjoyed all of them except for the Quiche of the Day. I believe there was goat cheese in it, and it was too strong for my liking.
The middle layer were the desserts. It included a Baked Cheesecake with Rosemary Infused Blueberry, which was my favourite. It was so light and fluffy! There was also Chocolate Battenberg Cake, a Creme Brulee like dessert with caramel at the bottom, a raspberry cake, and cinnamon donuts.
At the top of the tier were warm Handmade Raisin & Plain Scones. I’m not a huge fan of scones just because I find they’re too dense. You get pretty full from this set, so I could barely finish my scones by the end of the meal.
And this was the afternoon tea set. This tray consisted of two sets.
And here was our table! It was pretty cramped though. They should’ve given us a larger table, knowing that we were here for afternoon tea. I find that their service is just lacking. You don’t really get checked up on unless you wave down your server.
But near the evening, you get a beautiful view of London. It’s a shame we weren’t seated by the window. I had to get up to take this picture. But regardless, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a must to take some time out of your busy travels to relax and have a traditional afternoon tea in London!