St Albans – Christmas in London
This week, we travel technically to a place which is not part of London anymore. But St Albans is still less than half an hour away from St Pancras and mere minutes from the M25 and M1. It also very close to Luton Airport – one of London’s airports. I’m pretty sure that it won’t take long for London to have integrated St Albans within its borders completely.
This commuter town is known for its famous cathedral, its lovely bars, restaurants and shopping area. It also still has some Roman walls around the city, and it is surrounded by lush green spots.
St Albans Christmas Market
We arrived in St Albans on a Sunday in December. We simply took the train from St Pancras, which runs about every 15 minutes in the weekend. St Albans’ train station is located not too far from the city centre, and we quickly found ourselves in the shopping street.
Here, we also found a shopping mall and the 15th Century clock tower. This is where the festive atmosphere really started, as there was a music group playing Christmas songs right underneath the clock tower.
Soon enough we found ourselves in the cathedral’s garden where the Christmas market was set up. St Albans has over 1000 years of market history, so to have a Christmas market every year is only a logical next step. The 2016 market runs from Thursday 24th November until Sunday 18th December (so hurry if you still want to make a visit!).
We learned that there are 60 market stalls scattered around the garden. They sell all kinds, from Christmas trinkets, to food and drinks and from jewelry to scented candles. In a tent in the middle of the grounds there was a singer singing Christmas songs, and inviting everyone in to warm up.
After we walked all around the Christmas market, our curiosity was peeked and we went to have a look inside the cathedral. The official name of this impressive building is The Cathedral and Abbey Church of Saint Alban. As the name suggests, it used to be an abbey until around the 16th century. It then became a cathedral in 1877. The interior is relatively sober, but the stained glass is quite impressive.
After all that Christmas shopping and sightseeing it was high time for lunch. As the decent four expats we are, my friends and I decided to go for a proper Sunday roast.
We already noticed pub The Peahen on our way to the market. The building itself dominates the street with its lovely style, and we learned quickly enough that this used to be a hotel a few hundred years ago.
We had a great Sunday roast here (a stuffed pork belly roast is what I had in case you were wondering), and it may be clear that the pub itself has high Instagram value!
Then it was already time for us to make our return to London. We all agreed that St Albans is definitely worth a visit. Very much so if you are looking for a combination of history, green spaces and authentic pubs and restaurants. And all of that within half an hour from Central London.
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