Tuesday, March 13th
Our third day in London commenced with a delicious breakfast at Byward Kitchen & Bar, a gorgeous restaurant just a stone’s throw away from Tower of London and the London Bridge. It serves the best traditional British food in a relaxing setting, with modern decor on the inside and a peaceful garden setting if you want to enjoy a hearty breakfast outside. I ordered a steaming cup of English Breakfast tea and Miller’s toast, which consists of avocado, free-range scrambled eggs and goat’s cheese crumbs on toast. It was honestly delicious!
After breakfast I decided to visit one of the most beautiful bookstores I’ve ever seen: Hatchard’s bookshop at Piccadilly, one of the oldest bookstores in London. It’s a literal paradise for any book lover and also a feast for the senses, with moss-green exterior and bay windows filled with gorgeous book displays that transport you back to Victorian times. Inside, the walls are graced with hundreds of gorgeous bookshelves, and comfortable sofas invite you to sit down and relish the feast of books in front of you. There were so many books that I wanted to take home with me, but eventually I decided on a copy of Frankenstein and A Tale of Two Cities, both of which I cannot wait to read!
After this bookish endeavour, I met up with my aunt from Watford and together with my boyfriend, we decided to visit the National Gallery. This was my second time here but I was still mesmerised by all the beautiful paintings. There were moments where I couldn’t suppress my excitement, especially when I found myself face to face with some of Van Gogh’s famous works: Sunflowers, Head of a Peasant Girl, Two Crabs, Van Gogh’s Chair, A Wheat field with Cypress, Farms near Auvers and Long Grass with Butterflies. Seeing his paintings up close was such an unbelievable experience. The heavy expressive brushstrokes are absolutely fascinating and I had to stop myself from reaching out and trace them with my fingertips! I was also excited to see Caravaggio’s paintings, specifically The Supper at Emmaus and Boy Bitten By A Lizard. His paintings are quite dramatic, with almost theatrical lightnings and are truly mesmerising to see. This visit reminded me of how often we need to come to such places and allow our senses to roam free and bask in the beauty and simplicity of art; that simplicity being in the way a simple brushstroke can evoke a multitude of emotions in so many different people. From the gift shop I bought a Penguin edition of Van Gogh’s letters and a couple of postcards of his paintings, which I will cherish forever.
After a quick lunch at Pret A Manger, we went for a walk around Westminster area, until my boyfriend dragged us to the Houses of Parliament: the House of Commons and the House of Lords, where we spent some time watching current debates while also appreciating the beauty of the interior design. I was especially mesmerised by the intricate details in the House of Lords, with magnificent carvings, beautiful narrative paintings and the throne, which is the focal point of the chamber.
After saying goodbye to my aunt, we met with my sister and her husband and decided to go shopping. I thought that after my visit to Hatchard’s that morning, I wouldn’t buy any more books…but boy was I mistaken! The minute I stepped into Foyles, I knew I was in big trouble. One look at all the bookshelves and the number of floors in the shop rendered me speechless and I was practically hyperventilating the whole time I was there! I bought a total of six books plus a gorgeous tote bag:
- A Dictionary of Tolkien by David Day
- Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story by Bernadette Murphy
- Nineteen Eighty-Four- George Orwell
- Half of a Yellow Sun- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- We Should All Be Feminists- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Food- Gertrude Stein
For dinner we decided to visit Burger and Lobster, where I ordered Black Bean Burger (vegetarian option), which comes with portobello mushroom, chimichurri, relish, lettuce and pickles. It was one of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted!
Thank you for reading and I hope you’re enjoying these posts!