We recently published our London Summer Bucket List, to help us celebrate our remaining time living in London. What we didn’t mention are the logistics to completing such a bucket list.
We have fourteen weeks left in London. Removing most weekdays (when work schedules limit the ability to sightsee) and the weekends when one or both of us is out of town, we have eight weekends remaining to see and do everything. On our bucket list are seventeen restaurants, four cocktail bars, several walking tours, outdoor movies, etc.
You get the picture. Our blissfully blank calendar is now jam-packed.
We decided to get the bucket list party started by taking a walking tour hosted by the organization London Walks. We have been hearing about London Walks for years. One of our first dog sitters spent her week in London going on a tour every day. The topics and locations are diverse, the tour guides are amazing, and with 10+ tours per day to choose from, there is something for everyone.
On a dreary Sunday morning we arrived at the meeting point with over thirty other walkers. The topics of the tour, the Mayflower and Brunel’s Tunnel, are fairly specific, so the big turnout was a surprise to us. This tour takes place south of the river, in the Bermondsey neighborhood, which we haven’t explored much so we were looking forward to seeing some new corners of our fair city.
Fortunately, our guide, Tim, lives in the neighborhood and is an encyclopedia of knowledge. Given the specificity of the walking tour topics, we didn’t cover a ton of area over the course of two hours. Instead, we probably walked just over a mile, stopping regularly to hear stories of famous local doctors, royal trysts and the insanity that was old-time London when thousands of ships came into the docks every day.
The official topics of the Mayflower and the famous engineer Marc Brunel were just a small part of the tour. We saw the actual pub, called The Mayflower, from which the eponymous ship left to eventually land in Plymouth, Massachusetts, back in 1620. Yes the pub is still there, and looks fantastic given its age.
Brunel, engineer du jour, was the guy who figured out how to make underwater tunnels, designing London’s first tunnel under the River Thames. The techniques he developed are still used today, even though the Brunel tunnel was never used for its original purpose. Today the tunnel is for trains, but our tour ended in the shaft that was the path into the tunnel back in the 1840s.
Only in London will you find the home dock of one of the world’s most famous ships and the entrance to the world’s first underwater tunnel within sight of each other.
I enjoyed learning about Princess Margaret, the Queen’s only sibling, who kept insisting on dating non-royals (a crime back in the day), and would meet her various lovers in the Bermondsey area because it was the only place she wasn’t hounded by press. We also passed by the longest street in London – Rotherhithe Street, which is reminiscent to the style of buildings 100+ years ago.
Side note: after our tour ended, we visited one of the seventeen bucket list restaurants, also in Bermondsey. Jose is home to traditional tapas, including one of the most delicious chorizo dishes ever (it was not beautiful, so we’re sparing you the photo). This fried goat cheese with honey drizzle was rich and bright and was not too sweet. Goat cheese and honey are a match made in food heaven.
We are well on our way with the bucket list, though today will be spent trying to nail down some plans on our more popular items that require bookings, tickets or reservations. In the meantime, I’m now hoping to do a few more London Walks this summer, hopefully one focusing on The Beatles and one on Harry Potter movie locations. Oh, and maybe one on Dickens. And Shakespeare!