I am not a heavy beer drinker. Yet, one of my most enjoyable experiences in London involved a visit to a neighborhood pub.
With only 48 hours in London, I had to make the most of my time there. I was hoping to squeeze in seeing the city’s celebrated architecture (the Tower Bridge is remarkable) and exploring neighborhoods where people live and play. Not an easy task, but possible if you get up early, stay up late and wear comfortable shoes throughout the day.
I already had a plan for the major sites, and the other part was made easy by a fellow city travel blogger – and Londoner – Duncan of Urban Travel Blog. He happened to be in town at the same time as me, and invited me to join him at a friend’s birthday party in the Crystal Palace neighborhood.
This was my chance to see a residential area in South London – and take one of the longest subway rides on the trip. Despite running late, and then having to climb some steep hills and ask for directions, I managed to reach the Grape & Grain pub while the party was in full swing. Before long, I joined the conversation and found myself… trying a pint of local beer.
Seeing the large selection of ales on tap, I wasn’t quite sure what to get. Thankfully, the owner was helpful and made a good recommendation. Even though I’m a very slow beer drinker and could in no way keep up with the veterans, I was glad to be a part of the English pub culture, if only for one night.
I enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere, fun décor (beer labels arranged to look like a wallpaper border) and the overall welcoming feeling. The patrons seemed to be people from various walks of life, likely area residents who stopped by the place to socialize, have a bite or even sit alone and read a magazine.
I wished that I could stay longer, but the trains were not running anymore and I had to hurry to catch the last bus to the hotel. After saying my good-byes, I headed to the nearby bus station and hopped on an N71 back to Central London. The pub outing may have ended, but my London sightseeing continued that night – from the second floor of the red double decker.
Have you been to a pub in England (or any other country)? How was your experience? Share in the comments box.