London Stories and Tips

The Zoo and the Markets

Regent Canal, Camden, London Photo, London, England

I was awake early so I got up and wrote up yesterday's travels in my journal, got a shower and figured out how the air conditioning worked (controls by the other side of the bed). I woke up G. and when we were both ready, we headed out to find breakfast. After asking at the desk where a nearby cafe might be, we were directed to Warren Street, not far away. Warren St. is parallel to Euston Road between Great Portland St. and the Warren St. tube stations and there are a few places to eat along there. We found Cafe le Midi and thought it looked fine. The owner greeted us and we went in to check out the menu board.

Wow! Cooked breakfast for only £3.50! Two eggs, two rashers of bacon, toast, tea. You can get extra sides for a small amount on top but that was fine for us for today. Sadly, though, we discovered he wasn't open on Sundays. He found working 7 days a week non stop a bit much, and I would agree there. He must run it all on his own.

It's a beautiful sunny day, a rarity for any of the many times i've been in London. I'm used to a cloud cover, if not rain. Too nice to do anything inside. We decided on the Zoo, walked back by the hotel where the bus stop is and caught the one we needed. I'd done some research before we got there on what busses were near the hotel and where they went and at the train station, when we topped up our Oyster cards, i got a bus map as well. We keep the Oyster cards to use any time we're there as they don't expire. I also lend them to friends going to London. They're so convenient! We topped them up with 10 pounds and took the busses all weekend.

We weren't sure which stop to get off for the zoo but luckily, two ladies must have figured out where we were headed and told us to get off at the stop we needed. From Albany Street, though, it was still quite a bit of a walk to the zoo entrance around the top of the "Outer Circle" road at Regent's Park. We first went in where the car park was but were directed down the road a bit further. In spite of the lovely day, the ticket queues weren't too bad and moved quickly. What a shock we got when we got to the ticket booth, though. At 20 pounds per person, it was a bit higher than I expected! Still, it goes to the animals so we paid and went it.

High prices are already proving to be the theme this weekend! We seemed to hit all the high price attractions this time around. The theatre tickets and the exhibition were pre-paid but still added to the total. Prices in London are not cheap for the most part, for food or attractions though there are lots of cheap and free things to do or places to eat. We just didn't do a lot of them!

We enjoyed the zoo though at mid day, a number of the animals we wanted to see seemed to be sleeping out of the sun or in it. The gorillas and monkeys were all active, though, and we could have watched the darling little meerkats for hours! The giraffes always fascinate me, too and the otters were fun! We had a cold drink in the large cafe for a rest and continued on. Finally, across to the other section, and eventually we'd had enough of the zoo. We exited at the north side of the zoo and thought we'd take in Camden as it was handy.

Camden is a very busy spot, especially on Saturday when all the markets are on and all the tourists come to browse along with the locals. It's an alternative scene and has a very different feel from the posher shopping areas in the West end or even the east end markets. The locals tend to be more colourful for one thing, as it's a place where the younger crowd go for club gear, tattoos, goth and punk music, and of course, the markets are filled with artisans, ethnic crafts and food, vintage shops, fruit and veg stalls. You can find pretty much anything you want if you look long enough.

We browsed the Stables and the Lock market in particular. There are several street markets as well but we didn't have the energy to hit them all. We found a restaurant called The Diner for lunch which we did enjoy though it was also a bit more pricy than usual because sides like salad or fries weren't included with sandwiches or burgers and had to be ordered separately. Doh. Good food though.

Mostly, we browsed, keeping a prudent hand on our handbags/wallets. You have to be careful in crowds like that! There were lots of interesting things to look at and we did buy a couple of items but mostly we just soaked in the atmosphere. You could spend all day in Camden on market day.

Late afternoon and we are pretty tired now with aching back and feet. We decided to get some premade sandwiches, drinks and snacks from somewhere and hit the hotel. Doctor Who is on soon and we were done with fresh air for the day. That's exactly what we did, feeling like we are getting old to be spending Saturday night in London in our hotel room but we'd walked miles today and yesterday was a long day. We really aren't into clubbing and we'd already gone to the theatre last night.

We put our feet up and relaxed. One more day in the Smoke.

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