As much as a night owl I am, I love sunrises. There’s just something magical in the time between the darkness before dawn, the blush of first light, and the sun in all its glory. I also appreciate the tranquility as most people are still in doors. Which is why I try to make the effort to catch a sunrise in whatever new place I am in. While I was in London, I decided to combine sunrise viewing with breakfast and made a reservation at Duck and Waffle just before sunrise. One good thing about winter is that sunrise is usually at a more manageable time as compared to summer!
Duck and Waffle is a 24-hour restaurant and is located on the 40th floor of the Bishopsgate in central London. Bishopsgate is one of the tallest buildings in London, which means that you get a fantastic view of the sun rising above the city’s skyline. It also means that you can while away the hours of the night with good food and drinks, if you can’t sleep. To get to the 40th floor, you take one of the two express scenic lifts that delivers you to the restaurant in less than a minute, and that is where your skyline experience starts.
Despite the early hour, it does fill up fast, therefore, it is advisable to make a reservation as soon as you can, and request for a window seat where you can see the sunrise from your table. I had a table facing East, so it was a very memorable breakfast with the sunrise for company.
I ordered the signature Duck and Waffle and while it didn’t look too impressive, the taste was definitely impressive. Crisp duck confit that was falling off the bone tender, fried duck egg, on top of a fluffy waffle, and mustard maple syrup. A little bit of the syrup went a long way and while I was not too fond of it with the egg, it was lovely with the duck and waffle.
The coffee was pretty great too
I had a wonderful experience at Duck and Waffle. The wait staff were lovely, attentive without being intrusive. The food was good, and of course, the scenery was magical. It is a little pricey, but I think it was worth the price tag.
Duck and Waffle
110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY, UK
I was 16 when I first visited England on a school trip and fell in love with it. The years have blurred the memories a lot, but I still remember the excitement of London, staying in hostels with weird furnishings, the feeling of freedom as I had a slice of pizza while walking around Covent Garden, attempting to compose a poem on London Bridge (which wasn’t quite what I envisioned it to be back then), seeing my teacher fall asleep while watching Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and of course the cute English boys in their jackets and ties, whose school we visited. Miles away from what my experience of the world had been at that point in time. Of course, that was also my first trip abroad without my parents and that could have added to that sense of exhilaration.
Which was why I was so incredibly thrilled about planning a trip back to England and also to visit the other parts of the UK. One of the places that I wanted to go back to was Stonehenge – we’d gone the last time round, but could only see the monument through the fences and I wanted an up-close experience. Also, I’ve always been fascinated by mystery surrounding the Neolithic sites and wanted to visit other sites like Avebury and Salisbury.
It’s well and good to travel on your own to these sites, but I decided that it would be more convenient to go on a day tour. Besides, I figured I’d learn more with an expert guide. In reading up on all the available tours, I came across a couple that suited my purpose, one of which was a tour of Stonehenge, Avebury, and Salisbury, led by an archaeologist. That would have been perfect, but unfortunately, that tour was not running the days I was there L I finally decided on an Avebury and Stonehenge tour that includes a stop at the West Kennet Long Barrow, a neolithic burial site that predates Stonehenge.
Absolutely no regrets choosing that tour. Avebury is a really pretty village and it was amazing being able to walk freely amongst the standing stones. The village itself is located with the stone circle, so it’s a very different feel from Stonehenge. It was also very fun using dowsing rods at the ley line in Avebury, I swear the rods really moved without me exerting any pressure! In Avebury, there is also the Red Lion Pub, supposedly the most haunted pub in a stone circle. Alas, the pub was closed for lunch for the day and I wasn’t able to have a meal with the spirits. There aren’t many options for food there, other than the pub, there’s the Circle Café, next to the Avebury Manor and Garden, where you can have a simple but delicious meal.
Sheep be chilling in the fields
the inner ditch of the Avebury Stone Circle. Stonehenge, even though it gave rise to the word “henge”, is not a proper henge as it doesn’t have an internal ditch
Map of the ley line that runs through Avebury
Lunch at the Circle Cafe
The stone that fell on the barber surgeon
The haunted Red Lion Pub
On the way to Stonehenge, we stopped at the West Kennet Long Barrow, and that was really a place I wanted to see. It’s a bit of a walk from the road but thankfully, it was a beautiful winter day when we went so it was a pleasant walk. You can go into the barrow and it was really cool setting foot in a place that has been in existence for over 5,000 years. What is equally amazing is that it’s not just a place that’s heavily protected and left to rot, but it’s part of the landscape for the people living there. While we were there, there was someone walking his dog and it was just running freely on the ridge.
West Kennet Long Barrow
West Kennet Long Barrow
From where we stopped to get to the barrow, there’s also a great view of Silbury Hill, which is the largest manmade mound in Europe, for which no one has yet been able to figure out what it was used for. For people to have spent an estimated 18 million man-hours to build this, it’s incredible that nobody now knows what its purpose was (but here are some theories). So many wonders of this world and we barely understand what they were meant to be.
When we got to Stonehenge, we thankfully got in before they closed for the day. This was definitely a different experience from my first visit. I’m glad we were the last group for the day because there wasn’t much of a crowd and it was almost peaceful walking around the stone circle. Plus, we got to see the sun set over Stonehenge and that was a majestic sight!
I enjoyed myself on the tour very much, the bus was comfortable. The pacing was just nice, despite the fact that we spent quite a bit of time on the bus, we got to spend enough time at each site to have a good feel of the place. The guide was really great and told us so much stories (like that of the barber-surgeon in Avebury – Sweeney Todd anyone?) and gave us a lot of information about the places that we went to. It was also a very small group, just 5 of us, so it was a really intimate tour. Probably because most people prefer to go the Stonehenge and Bath tour, which I’m sure is pretty amazing too, but this one suited me just fine. There was also another tour that included Stonehenge, the Cotswold and a SECRET PLACE that had many good reviews too. Would have loved to do that too!