highclere castle postcard view
city trips

London: of craft stores, stately homes and an English summer – part II

Day one in London was reserved for our little shopping tour and a nice walk from our hotel near Waterloo station to Fitzrovia and Soho. Sadly, we didn’t find the time to explore the Marylebone area. Our feet were too tired and we needed a good night’s rest for the second day of our London trip.

Day 2 – a visit to the countryside, Sushi and the Great British Bake Off

breakfast with camera
Our hotel was close to Waterloo station and to this amazing old Firestation that is now a restaurant. We had breakfast there every morning. They make fantastic coffee.

The first night in an unfamiliar bed is always a bit restless. So what we needed at the begining of day 2 of our journey was a good breakfast and some coffee! Close to our hotel was the Fire Station Waterloo, a former Fire Station that now serves as a bar & restaurant. The atmosphere in there is stunning because they kept the open structure (heigh ceiling and floor length windows at the front) and a few items that remind the visitor of the former use of the building.

The breakfast menu is small but offers a bit of everything – from avocado toast to a full English breakfast. And their coffee is amazing! A very mild taste but definitely strong enough to wake you up. Make sure you get there early for breakfast as it might get a bit crowded later on. We had our breakfast between 8:30 – 9:30am and it was super relaxing.

After this successful start of our day, we headed over to Paddington station to fill our picnic basket and to take the train to Newbury, Berkshire.

highclere castle postcard view
Highclere Castle – also known of course as the place where Downton Abbey was filmed. It’s situated up on a hill surrounded by a huge park.

Our train ride took us to Highclere Castle – many of you will know this castle as ‚Downton Abbey‘. It was used throughout all six series as part of the indoor and outdoor set for the most successful British television series ever. Like so many castles and manor houses, it is open to the public during the summer months. Tickets sell fast (we booked ours in March 2016 for August 31st 2016) because it is of course a very famous house by now. So if you are a fan and plan to go there I’d advise you to have a look at the website and mark the day they start selling tickets for the next season.

You can either get a ticket for the park only – that’s already worth it because it spans 5000 acres – for the castle and gardens or castle/gardens/egyptian exhibition. We had tickets that allowed us to stroll through the seemingly endless gardens and explore the castle itself (a must for huge Downton Abbey fans such as my friend and I).

We had our little walk around the park in perfect, summery weather and a small picnic before we entered the castle.

meadow highclere castle
The best place to have a picnic – the wildflower meadow below the castle.

Inside the castle, photography is strictly forbidden so I cannot share any pictures with you here. But I can assure you, it feels great to walk through the rooms they used for filming. And you are allowed to walk down the majestic staircase from the first floor gallery into the main entrance hall.

Sadly it rained after we had finished our tour of the house, so we decided to take an earlier train back to London for a relaxed evening after a busy day of out of town travelling.

London greeted us with a few clouds but luckily it did not rain there. What a perfect English summer so far!

We bought some delicious sushi from Wasabi sushi&bento and headed back to the hotel for a quiet evening in front of the telly with one of our favourite UK shows: „The Great British Bake Off“. You do not have to spend the night in a noisy pub or club while travelling. Sometimes all you need is some good food, the company of a good friend and a funny tv show about competitive baking to end a perfect day.

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