Surviving London – Day Six

     Good afternoon, everyone! This is Matthew, reporting from London. (I wish I had more opportunities to use that phrase!). This is the sixth installment of Beauty and the Geek: Surviving London.

     According to Val’s Fitbit app, we walked about 14 miles today, bringing our week so far to 57.64 miles – roughly 132,127 steps. Our poor feet are making sure we are aware of the toll this trip has taken on them.

     Our day started a little later than we would have liked – for which I blame my lovely wife, Valeri – but we got it back on track pretty quickly. (This is Valeri and we both were lazy bums, not just me!) As usual, the first stop was for coffee, and this morning’s venue was TAP Coffee. It was a very urban-themed facility and was a roastery as well. They used a Probat roaster like my father does at his shop, but this one was a bit newer and had some fancy electronics onboard. Shameless pitch: Go see my father at Omega Coffee Company in Laurie for fresh-roasted coffees of the highest caliber!

     We ordered two Guatemalan high-grown filter coffees, sipped on them for a bit in the shop, then went on our way. Click here for our review.

     After coffee came the best part of the day and possibly the most important point of the entire trip: Aston Martin W-One. Originally, we had planned to take a day trip to Aston Martin Headquarters in Gaydon – which is about one hour north of London – but the cost of extended transportation for that long of a trip was extreme, so we decided to forgo that and visit one of the dealerships. When you first approach the building, you are greeted with a chorus of angels and a fanfare of trumpets … or at least that is what I heard. In reality, you are presented with some of the most awe-inspiring vehicles on the planet. I’ll let the photos back me up on that claim.

     We gawked at every car for a bit – especially the Vanquish, then wandered around the Aston Lounge where the staff will work with you to design a bespoke creation from a custom color palette.

     After chatting with the attendant for a bit about Astons, James Bond and other things regarding our trip, she invited us to visit the second showroom, which contained even more Aston goodness – which even included a 1964 DB6!

     The Vanquish is devastatingly beautiful. It screams power at the top of its lungs, but in that same breathe there are the whispers of absolute elegance of sophistication. The photos don’t even begin to do it justice and there is no way to properly convey the emotion this car evokes. I know that’s weird to say, but it’s just the way it is … and to understand where I’m coming from, everyone needs to take a field trip to your nearest Aston Martin dealer – which for most of you is near St. Louis. Click here for our review.
     Okay … moving on …
     The third stop was Southbank Centre’s Book Market. Honestly, this was a bit disappointing, as there were only three tables of books out and they were all quite expensive. Valeri did enjoy looking through the masses of books, though! Click here for our review.

     On the way to the book market, we did spot a musician I thought was absolutely phenomenal. Pending her approval, I will post the video on our YouTube page and link away to it.

Update:  Charolette Campbell was kind enough to let us post this video!  Make sure you check her out on Facebook and YouTube!

     After the book market, we headed to Sky Garden, but we showed up a bit too early – alright, it might have been two hours early. We were told to go away and come back later for our trip to the top. We did as we were told and decided to take the time to appease our taste buds … and a place called Ideals lent a hand. Valeri had a Loaded Baked Potato and I had a chicken, bacon and Swiss melt. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to get a photo of the restaurant or Valeri’s dish.
     I know … I’m a terrible human. My regret knows no bounds.
     On the upside, I did snap a photo of my sandwich with The Shard in the background … because in the age of instant photo sharing and constant status updates, everyone knows the cool presentation of your food in the post is almost as important as the food itself. I assure you, the flavor matched the view.

     As you can (kind of) tell from that photo, we found a lovely little spot with a view to eat our dinner. We were overlooking the Thames with the HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge and The Shard all within view.
     After dinner, we still had time to kill, so we wandered around and stumbled across The Tower of London – which contain the Crown Jewels. We didn’t go in, as this is planned for another day … but we did get a neat panorama for you to look at.

     After a bit, we trekked back to Sky Garden, passed through airport-level security screening (for whatever reason) and began the ascent to the top. Thirty-five stories up, we could see just about all London offers the eye. The observation deck had very jumpy security staff and a sign that said, “No Selfie Sticks” – which was pretty funny. We kicked on the GoPro whilst wandering around out there. The results are absolutely stunning. Click here for our review.

     Then it was off to Westminster Abbey. We didn’t tour the facility, but we walked around the
grounds, snapping a few photos here and there.
     The Abbey was more ornate than I could have ever imagined. The masonry has so much painstaking detail … and I’m certain carving it would have driven many a man to insanity. I almost go there myself just thinking about it. (Not a very long drive … I know.) Click here for our review.

     After the Abbey, we paid a quick visit to Kensington Palace and it’s famously-associated gardens. Click here for our review.

     FOOD TIME!  We found a great little Korean place in London’s Soho District called BiBimBap and absolutely loved it! If I had my druthers, the entire place would be coming back with us Stateside … or they would support international delivery. Click here for our review.
     I think that’s where Amazon needs to focus their delivery drone efforts – delivering fancy foods to Matthew. Amazon, if you’re listening, get on that, would you?

     I am very proud of my wife for partaking of foods that were flavorful and had very different textures! If you know her, you’ll completely understand what I’m getting at here. It’s a miraculous thing to see her eat something that isn’t “plain,” and this meal proved to be quite the opposite! Everyone, be sure to give her a standing ovation when you see her next!
     We didn’t really have anything planned for after dinner, so we just meandered around Soho looking at the various high-end boutiques, which had all closed by then. Who knew London went to bed so early!? We certainly did not.
     Speaking of bed, that’s where I need to be. That being said, I’ll let you return to your regularly scheduled life. This is Matthew, signing off.

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson, 1777

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