Parents Come to Visit!

February was a stressful month. My lease was up at the end of the month, so I was trying to find a new place to live. On top of that, my contract at work suddenly ended (long story short: our entire department was deemed redundant). But seemingly luck was on my side because my parents were coming to visit as well; so with no job, I didn’t have to take the time off work to see them!

My mum and dad left Ottawa airport, boarding a plane for the first time to Europe (it only took their daughter moving to the UK for them to finally see the world πŸ˜› ). They arrived at Gatwick airport mid-morning on February 15 where I picked them up, and after lots of hugging, brought them back to my apartment. Of course after the red eye flight and the time difference they were exhausted, so we took the first day easy; but even as jam-packed as the rest of the week was, we barely made a dent in London!

DAY 1

After picking them up at the airport, we dropped their bags off at mine and went to find somewhere to eat. As it was my lunch time and pretty well their breakfast, we decided on going to The Breakfast Club in Hoxton. The Breakfast Club (yes, named after the 1985 classic film) is a London chain which offers all-day American-style breakfast, among other foods. The interior isn’t so much 80’s themed as a mishmash of random things put on display, such as a plastic flamingo standing on top of a vintage fridge. As well, I haven’t been, but apparently if you say the secret password to your server, they will lead you to a speakeasy inside the restaurant! The vibe and the food were great and I was just happy seeing my parents again after 7 months. After (br)unch, we went back to my apartment where we relaxed for the rest of the day.

The Breafast Club
The Breakfast Club in Hoxton

DAY 2

The next day was my first day as the unofficial tour guide! After breakfast, we walked down to the Tower of London, while pointing out things along the way. My parents are as big of history nerds as I am, so we had a grand old time wandering the grounds where King Henry VII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded. For lunch we had GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen), and then for dinner, after walking along the Thames, we went to the pub down the road from my apartment called the Eagle. Not only is this pub famous for being in the nursery rhyme “Pop goes the Weasel”, but the food was also incredible!

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The Tower of London

DAY 3

On their third day here, we walked up to Westminster to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye. Before our tour of the Abbey though, we stopped for a good old English fry-up at the Regency CafΓ©. Tucked away on a side street, a 10 minute walk from Big Ben, this restaurant is non-descriptive and looks like it hasn’t been updated since it first opened in 1946; however, it’s quick and delicious and a popular spot with the locals. After our bellies were full of eggs and bacon, we did an audio-guide tour of Westminster Abbey. To be honest, the tour is quite expensive (Β£20) and I would have left London happy to just see the church from the outside; but it was interesting and my parents loved it! I did love being able to see the tombs of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. After the Abbey, we walked by Trafalgar Square up to Buckingham Palace. For dinner we went to Nando’s (a Portuguese restaurant chain) and then walked up to Aldgate East to do one of the many Jack the Ripper tours. Expecting it to be cheesy, I actually loved the tour and it was really informative! We did the tour that had “Ripper-Vision” – basically a projector that aided in telling the stories. If you’re ever in London and wanting to re-trace the steps of Jack the Ripper, I highly recommend this tour: http://www.thejacktherippertour.com/tour.html
Buckingham Palace
Mum & Dad in front of Buckingham Palace

DAY 4

Trying to squeeze in as much as possible, I originally had this day packed with things to do. Instead, we ended up spending the entire day at the Imperial War Museum. My dad is a huge WWII buff, so he was basically in heaven. They also have a really good Holocaust Exhibit. By the time we left, it was pretty well dinner-time, so we walked to a local pub for some food. After dinner, we bused back home and spent the rest of the evening at the Eagle.
Imperial Wat Museum
The Imperial War Museum

Day 5

Sunday afternoon, we went to Camden Market where we met up with a couple of my friends. I wanted to show my parents Camden, not only for the eccentric atmosphere and great food, but because some of the greatest punk icons used to play and hangout there. The Clash’s old rehearsal studio was even situated in the market; it is now Cyber Dog- a giant store that sells futuristic club-wear. In the evening, my parents and I went to a pub in Islington for Sunday roast – it’s a really big thing here in England!

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Sunday Roast at the Angel in Islington

Day 6 – 8

While my parents were up in Edinburgh exploring castles, I spent these days working various temp roles.

Day 9

My parents’ last full day in London. We walked back up towards London Bridge to do the Sky Garden, while stopping for breakfast at a Wetherspoons along the way. Sky Garden is an amazing venue to go up and see the city, as well as it’s free! You just need to book at least two weeks in advance for a slot. After the Sky Garden, we took a Clipper down the Thames to Greenwich. While at Greenwich, we wandered around the Old Royal Navy College grounds, went inside the Queen’s House (built in 1616 by King James I for his wife, Anne of Denmark) and climbed to the top of the hill in Greenwich Park. Before taking the Clipper back to Westminster, we stopped for dinner at Honest Burger. As it was their last night in London, when we got home, we went back to the Eagle for some pints.

Day 10

Friday, I dropped my parents off at the airport and we said our goodbyes. I’m hoping they will come back to visit again before I leave!

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