Day 7 (Monday)

  • My friend and I walked down about 190 steps in Covent Garden. Northern Line stations are “deep tube” stations” and several rely on large elevators to move passengers between the street and the platforms. There are staircases, of course, but the London Underground uses blunt messages on signs to discourages using them to go up.
  • We met our other friend for breakfast at Polo Club, a diner across from Liverpool Street station. He then set off to the airport to go back home.
  • My friend and I then took the tube to Farringdon station where we boarded a Thameslink train to Brighton, a city on the sea. (Read more about Thameslink below.)
  • Brighton is a place for resorts, attractions, and shopping. There are plenty of pedestrian streets with national and independent shops, many of them are quirky or vintage shop, and there are tons of restaurants and cafés. I got a millionaire’s shortbread from Jolliffes Coffee Shop. (I bake these, also called caramel slices, a few times a year after first having one in Australia in 2019 and I’ve sampled the Scottish and British versions at nearly every opportunity).
  • In Brighton we visited the pebble beach, had some beers at Palm Court Restaurant in Palace Pier, and checked out the Volk’s Electric Railway, apparently the oldest operating electric railway in the world and now a heritage line for tourists (although it provides a costly transportation route if you want to save walking east along the boardwalk by 1 km).
  • We rode a double decker Brighton & Hove bus uphill back to the train station, and had a beer and a snack at Grand Central. Then, we grabbed snacks and sandwiches at the M&S to-go shop at the station for the train ride back to London Bridge station.
  • From there we headed home to Covent Garden, walking over the Millennium Bridge, past St. Paul’s Cathedral, along Strand (a street name without a suffix), stopping in a pub for a pint (okay, I actually got half pints which I’m glad is a possibility at every place we went since I reduced my drinking to put off potential migraines).

Day 7 (Tuesday)

  • Tuesday, May 9, was the trip’s final day in London for my friend and I. We spent the day trainspotting.
  • First we went to Embankment station on the Northern line to see the extreme gap between the train and the platform. A Transport for London (TfL) employee is always present to watch the platform and use a paddle to signal to the driver, via CCTV, that the train is ready to leave. They also have a wireless microphone connected to the PA system and shouts “mind the gap, mind the gap”.
  • From Embankment we took the Northern line to Nine Elms, in order to check out what a brand new Underground station in London looks like. We grabbed snacks at the Sainsbury’s hypermarket next door and then hopped back on the train to disembark at Battersea Power Station. BPS is a brand new, mixed use mega re-development of a former coal power plant. There are offices, residences, and an indoor mall, nestled in some prescriptive landscaping.
  • (Between the Sainsbury’s and the station there is a pedestrian alley with a very basic but acceptable design. Let’s call this the inter-building space. I like how common they are, even if not all of them are very pretty.)
  • We boarded a Thames Clippers “Uber Boat” which is a semi-frequent transit option on the River Thames. It’s a bit slow and expensive, but it has a bar on board, it’s relaxing and you can see a lot of the city. (The “Waterbus” in Rotterdam is much faster, but the Maas and IJssel rivers are wider and have less boat traffic.)
Buns From Home café on Camden Passage in the Islington Borough of London

Almost done!

  • Next we went to Camden Passage, a pedestrian street behind Islington High Street, and encountered a controversial minor change to a roadway to slow drivers. This is also where we first tried some cinnamon rolls – including one with dulce de leche on top – at a Buns From Home location.
  • Regent’s Canal and Broadway Market were our next stops. The canal is used more as a place to live than to transport cargo. We had pints and a nutty snack at Dove Treehouse & Kitchen, a pub. I’ve been pleased at the variety of non-alcoholic beers on offer as well as the ability to get a half pint of beer anywhere.
  • On our way back to the flat in Covent Garden I got a döner box from a franchise called German Doner Kebab – and it was great. I first had döner box in Rotterdam in 2016 from a small chain (found only in large Dutch train stations) called The Döner Company.

Transportation notes

The view from the upper deck of a double decker Brighton & Hove bus in Brighton.

Thameslink is a fascinating “subnetwork” of National Rail, running 24 hours a day on certain services of its many lines. Lines run through London to the suburbs. I would probably characterize it as a long-distance regional rail. The route to Brighton is high speed, sometimes reaching speeds of 100 MPH using third-rail electrification. The trains are fully articulated, so it’s always possible to move to a different car easily.

The interior displays rotate through several screens showing train loading to advise passengers where cars are less crowded, and which of the five bathrooms, including the accessible one, are occupied.