I had no idea what to expect from London except for dark skies, cool British accents, and Harry Potter.
Obviously, Steve and I must do the Tour for Muggles. Along the tour, we will [explore Harry Potter movie locations, uncover the places that inspired J.K. Rowling, and hear about the weird and wonderful behind-the-scenes stories]. I am SO excited.
We arrive extra early to the meeting point for the tour and decide to grab a coffee. Steve and I walk a bit, hoping to pass a coffee shop, and stumble upon this little place called My Tea and Coffee Shop. Perfect! We walk in and it’s the tiniest, most adorable little place. There are only three tables and still, it feels so cramped. The gentleman behind the counter is charming and sweet. When Steve orders two coffees, he asks how we’d like them. Apparently, no one drinks regular coffee here, so we get two lattes.
You also can’t just order a beer. Steve tries to order a beer at another bar and the bartender asks Steve, “Would you like an ale or a beer?” Steve shrugs his shoulders when he tells me what happened. “I don’t know the difference.”
The gentleman continues to be jovial and patient as we try to decide if we should get something to eat, too. Sausage and egg roll sounds good. A few people get up from a table and we snag it, right by the window. The man walks out to deliver our lattes. My gosh, are they creamy and delicious. I look around the tiny nook of a place. There’s a sign on the wall: “No wifi. Talk to each other.” I love this place.
Soon, the man brings out our sandwich. No frills. Doesn’t look like anything special. Just sausage and scrambled egg on a roll. They seem to do a lot of “rolls” in London. (It’s basically a sandwich, just on a roll.) Steve and I go bite for bite on the sandwich. Each bite is better than the last. Only three ingredients but they all taste so good together!
We leave and quickly spot our tour guide – she has wild red hair, red lips, and a long Gryffindor scarf. I love her already. AND her name is Ellie Lovegood. Seriously. The only thing I don’t like is how big the group is. There’s 12 of us. And it’s all outside so sometimes it’s hard to hear. But Ellie is wonderful and bubbly and clearly loves Harry Potter.
First we walk through the Borough Market. I had read about this place and was hoping to spend some time here. We walk through the massive outdoor market, stopping a few times at places where scenes were shot not only for HP, but Bridget Jones and Sherlock Holmes, as well. This market is gorgeous. Steve and I will definitely come back.
Another thing we must do in London, obviously, is eat Fish & Chips. So when the Muggle Tour ends, we’re hell bent on finding a pub that serves them. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?
We walk around the adorable area with all these tiny, winding streets. Sometimes you can’t tell if a street is just for walking or if a car will tear around the corner at any moment. Throw in the fact that everyone is driving on the left side of the street, and you have one careful, paranoid me, looking both ways at least three times before I walk anywhere. There just seems to be so many bars. How are we supposed to choose? Especially after we nailed it this morning at the coffee shop. Lunch needs to live up to breakfast.
Steve keeps making comments about how well everyone is dressed. It’s weird because I’ve been thinking the exact opposite. Most of the shoes I see women wearing are chunky with thick, flat soles that remind me of the 90’s. We walk by a woman and Steve says, “I love that dress.” I catch a glimpse and actually make a face. Really? I think that’s awful.
We finally walk up to a restaurant and check out the menu on the outside. I don’t know. It seems a little… touristy? Like an Applebee’s or something generic. We find another cool looking place and check out the menu. OK this is a different restaurant but has the same exact menu as the last place. Absolutely not. Let’s keep looking.
Steve is getting hungrier and more impatient by the minute. “Can we just pick somewhere?” But now I can’t just walk into a place willy-nilly. We stumbled upon magic at My Tea and Coffee Shop. Now I’m feeling some sort of pressure to get it right. But, I’m also feeling extraordinarily hungry.
We passed by this place a couple times. It looks cute. Mr. Fogg’s Tavern. We check the menu outside. I barely give Steve two seconds to look before I say yes and walk in the front door. I saw small bites, I saw sausage, and I saw Fish & Chips. This is the place.
This bar embodies exactly what I think a London bar would look like. Wooden tables and bar stools, dead animals hanging from the ceiling, and British flags everywhere. … OK, maybe not what I would have said in my perfect description of a London bar, but now that I’m in it, it feels like it is. The bar has no seats, so we sit at a table. No one approaches the table, so we walk back up to the bar. (I realize now that someone would have eventually approached us; they just take their time in Europe. Us Americans are go go go.)
The British bartender is very friendly as he takes our food and drink order. I know I should order a beer in a place like this, but I more and more just don’t enjoy beer anymore. I like to taste it or sample it, but drink a full one? Ugh, it makes me feel so bloated. There used to be an appeal for drinking a cold beer on a hot day in the sun, but even that is fading. Gimme a cold glass of wine. That sounds marvelous.
I order a glass of red. I’m disappointed, but I knew I would be. Steve’s beer is very tasty. We take the bartender’s recommendation – Steve always asks for the bartender’s recommendation – of a sausage appetizer; then we get a mini fish & chips and some other bite. It’s the perfect little sampler. The fish & chips are perfectly flaky and crisp, and the sausage has an amazing honey mustard flavor. Mr. Fogg’s Tavern does not disappoint. It’s situated on the corner of one of these quaint but busy streets, and we sit at a window, watching life go by. It’s a perfect London afternoon.
It was supposed to rain a couple of days, and definitely be cloudy, but the week just gets nicer and sunnier as it goes on. On our last day we come back to the Borough for our warmest, sunniest day. We walk around the entire place, scoping out what we should eat. My only complaint is that most places have too big portion sizes. We just want to taste everything! After walking around for a bit, we settle on a little stand selling Scotch eggs. I’ve never seen a scotch egg before. It’s a perfect soft-boiled egg surrounded by a layer of juicy sausage, surrounded by a thin, crispy crust. Yum! Where Chelsea Market was my favorite place in New York City, the Borough Market is my favorite place in London. We continue to walk around, browsing stands, people watching. We stop at a nice wine store and get two glasses to go – Rose for me and Pinot Noir for Steve. Both are excellent. THIS is how Steve and I vacation. This is the life. The smells, the sun, the locals, and just walking amongst it all. We love this. Cheers.