Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Stefan's birthday in London

To celebrate our friend Stefan's birthday, my girlfriend Emily and I returned to London to stay with him and his fiance Jemma. I wrote a short blog post about our last visit here, which was just three-weeks ago. Jemma had planned a few surprises for Stefan for the day, including the fact that Emily and I would be visiting, had I not put my foot in it and inadvertently told him a few days before!

We headed towards the London Eye, where we boarded a Thames Clipper boat. We enjoyed a pleasant journey down the Thames towards Greenwich, spotting lots of famous landmarks on the way. When we got to Greenwich, it was just a short walk to the Emirates Air-Line cable car, which I was really excited about! It reminded me of being back in a ski-resort and this particular cable car was very similar to the Medran in Verbier, Switzerland, where we worked for five weeks, finishing earlier this year. The views of the area were great and it was quite surreal floating so high above the bustling area. 

Cable car selfie!

We were in the area during the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival, which seemed very popular, with tons of people enjoying various entertainment. It was very well organised, with lots of stewards ensuring a good flow of people, including on the DLR, which was particularly well managed. We were a bit short of time by this point, but we did get to have a quick peek at the Cutty Sark, which looks very impressive in it's permanent location, on dry land. We also all had quick and tasty street food from Greenwich Market, which I'd highly recommend.

Cutty Sark

Later in the evening we headed back out, towards Shoreditch, which we had visited by day recently. We'd visited the area previously to check out The Cornershop - an art project where the entire contents of the shop are made of felt. You can read more about that here. Our first evening destination was Happiness Forgets; a small bar in a basement in Hoxton Square. Stefan has heard about this when it kept cropping up as highly rated, when he was researching good cocktail bars in London. They have a delicious menu of fancy cocktails, that don't have a ridiculous price tag. I went for the Tokyo Collins, which mixed Beefeater Gin with Yuzu Sake, along with squeezed lemon, grapefruit and soda. It was beautifully presented and tasted delicious and refreshing! 

There was a Bill's restaurant a few doors down, which we discovered for the first time on a day trip to Brighton in July, which I wrote about here. Having had the best breakfast of my life on my last visit to a Bill's, I had high hopes for my halloumi and humous burger, with guacamole and skinny fries - and it didn't disappoint! It was top notch food, with great service and really reasonably priced too. My carnivorous friends enjoyed a half roast chicken, steak and grilled sea bream, along with various tasty trimmings and all three of them thoroughly enjoyed their meals too. All was washed down with a very tasty house white wine and some generous portions of eton mess!

Shoreditch street art at the Red Market venue

More Red Market street art in Shoreditch

On the short walk from Old Street station to the cocktail bar earlier in the evening, we had spotted a cool looking venue called Red Market. We popped in for a drink on the way home and really loved the layout and atmosphere of the place. The venue is a converted car park place, along with some marquees and stylish decor, along with some great street art on both permanent brick and temporary wooden walls. The market element is a collection of street-food stalls around the edge, offering lots of well-priced and tasty looking food, to enjoy with surprisingly good value drinks. There was plenty of seating, good music and a really relaxed atmosphere. The venue shuts at around 11pm, but it's a great place to start a big club night or end a more chilled out night like ours!

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