London has a vast number of bars and pubs catering to all tastes. Our Flightie Catlin shares his experience trying various different pubs in the city and the stories behind them.
Although I could probably write a novel length piece about my recent trip to London, I will keep it short and specific about one aspect of our trip. It ties in nicely with one side of British culture – PUBS! Our friends at The Original Tours in London compiled a list of excellent local pubs, coupled with a hop on hop off tour ticket, we set out on our very own London Pub Crawl.
The stage was set; we had just completed an amazing rock and roll walking tour (thanks again Original Tours!) and we were now prepared for a refreshment.
First on the list was an amazing little pub called “Sherlock Holmes”. Named after the fictional detective known world wide, this pub was tucked away on a little street near the tourist hub of Trafalgar square.
Fun fact, the street is actually named “221b Baker Street” which is where the fictional street Holmes office was located. It was created during the festival of Britain in 1951 and where I experienced my first authentic London Ale. It was called ‘a Speckled Hen’, and I must say it was quite tasty. The rumours are half true; the ale is not served “warm” per say, but not as cold as it would be in Canada. Our group had the chance to experience some authentic British pub food – fish n chips, chicken and bacon sandwiches, and the largest Yorkshire Pudding I’ve laid eyes on.
Besides the obvious fun of a walking pub crawl involving classical British pubs, it was also a learning experience as we didn’t know exactly where we were going. We rode our hop on hop off bus to what we thought was the stop we needed near the Buckingham Palace.
During our search for our 2nd stop, we stopped into a little place hidden away beside the Buckingham palace to use the washrooms. After being informed we needed to purchase something, it really wasn’t a big deal seeing as our mission was to visit pubs and taste local drinks.
I’d like to make a note that when ordering beer in London, they like you to be specific in whether you want an Ale or a Lager. Simply ordering a beer could mean anything. I had another local Ale, but I found it was heavy and I was struggling to finish it.
With time running out, we made our way to what was going to be our final stop. I’d like to say we knew where we were going, it seemed more like we just started walking, and next thing you know we were standing in front of our initial destination, The Albert Tavern. We found a table, ordered some drinks, and had another go at some classic British pub food.
Fun fact: the national dish in Britain is actually chicken tikka masala. Who would have thought a curry dish, would be Britain national dish? What a great way to finish a long, eventful day, sitting around sharing stories, having a drink, eating some curry and bangers with mash (mashed potatoes and sausage).
All in all, the touring pub crawl was a fantastic success. One thing that was common in all the pubs we visited were the relaxed atmosphere, good food, good conversation, and a good way to wind down a day. The biggest difference from back home – is the pubs have history. Most have been around for decades, have had celebrities share a pint inside, and to this day remain nearly unchanged.
Once you visit them, you get a true understanding of how something like a pub can be deeply rooted in a country’s social structure. Our stay in London was short, but we saw a lot while we were there. I can confidently say I will be back there again one day.
Looking for more information on travelling in London? Catlin Dalrymple is an International Travel Consultant at the Flight Centre St. Albert store in Alberta and can be reached online or by calling 1-866-725-5397.