Let me just start by saying the Minions movie, which Ari and I rented yesterday afternoon, was pretty accurate with regards to their portrayal of London. From the sky line to the Underground train operator repeating, “Please mind the gap.” And let me tell you the first time I hopped off of the train from South Kensington to Algate my gap was huge! I had to take a running start to leap off of the train! I thought I was in an Indiana Jones movie. The next few train rides I noticed were different, the gap was modest and a quick step off to the walk way. I’m not sure why my first experience was such an outlier!
London was fantastic. The architecture was beautiful, elegant; so much care and detail was put into every building. The history is rich, deep and tragic. From the hangings that took place in the center of town,the plague, the great fire and the influences of Rome and France still lingering in the churches and aroma of fresh crepes.
The people varied. There were a lot of muslims. I was surprised about that. There were also a lot of people from neighboring countries like Italy, France, Spain and Poland. I heard maybe two American accents while I was there and I was so happy to completely immerse myself in the blend of European cultures.
I’m listening to The Beatles, “And I love her” as I write this (No I did not cross Abbey Road). I am so deeply in love with Western Europe. Western Europe is the fantasy that haunts my heart and never disappoints me when I taste it, but leaves me unsatisfied always wanting more, desperately attempting to keep at harbor the last bitter sweet kiss on my lips as I drag my American *ss back to the states. Anyway, sorry for getting weird, it’s the caffeine and I am honestly obsessed with the rich bloody history, the evolved romance languages and emotionally driven art that conceived what Europe is today. Well, everyone has their thing…
On this trip we had Nick and his mother May May (1st grandchild given name). Everyday a noble trip was taken to Harrods to support England’s economy of course. What kind of tourists would we be if we didn’t give back? The flight there… fantastic. Who doesn’t want an excuse to be held hostage with your selection of movies to watch for 6 hours? Certainly not just me right?
The first day it was a bit of a struggle we tried to drug ourselves with espresso shots, cappuccinos, mochas, whatever we could to trudge through the jet lag. I must say I’m proud of myself, I made it the whole day without passing out for a snooze. We had truffle pasta at the bottom of Harrods. Our next meal was Japanese food at Sakenohana. It was the best Japanese food I have ever had. I wish I could tell you what I had but it was so different and unique and I really don’t know what 75% of it was. There was some sort of sushi that had mango on it, so good. I ordered a fantastic mix of fresh juices (I was a little tipsy on the airplane so I had to take it slow for the rest of the day). I have to say London was very nutrition forward in their selection of healthy food options and almost every restaurant had freshly squeezed juice to offer. Vegans and Vegetarians take flight!
The next day Nick took us to a few more places, Covent garden being one of them. As a garden lover I was so excited to see a true English garden! People, this was not what I found when I got to Covent garden. It was a shopping district and it was nothing but lovely. We had freshly roasted chestnuts and mulled wine. It was a great walk that offered plenty of photo worthy shots. We also went to New Bond Street and took a few more photos next to Christmas trees, themed lighting on each surrounding street, fake snow (Nick was convinced it was real snow… but he was wrong, I had to show him that it was just foam.) and surprisingly a lot of ferris wheels and carousels. That is another thing that I love about London, there is plenty of entertainment for everyone! Children had their joy with all of the carnival like set ups throughout the city with special recognition to Hyde Park’s winter wonderland, luminaries had their mecca in the pubs that Dickens and other writers notoriously visited and fashion worshipers could easily drop what could pay one year of a child’s college education in twenty minutes at the plethora of infamous designer label shops. I started a new addiction to Chanel shoes, thanks Mr. Lagerfeld.
The next day Nick had to go to his business meetings so May May and I got on the Original Bus Tour! It was awesome. We stopped at Buckingham palace and since the queen was having such fantastic sales I went crazy in her gift shop, juggling souvenirs as the young cashier kept saying “buy one get one free, go get the other color!” We went to The London Eye and saw Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey and a few London Bridges (I heard the original was sent to Arizona… random). We passed by St. Paul’s cathedral, crossed over Tower Bridge and I had this wonderful visceral euphoria as I recognized all of mankinds struggles and triumphs to build this city and keep rebuilding each time it was put to ruins by plague, fire, attempted conquest, bombings; the human spirit invigorates and inspires me.
The next day May May went home, Nick went back to his meetings and I was left to explore London on my own. I wanted to hop a train to Paris but the Eurostar’s rates were a little outrageous and I didn’t want my first trip to Paris to be a solo one. I was determined to wake up early, walk around Hyde Park, get back on the tour bus, take the boat tour and buy Christmas presents for Ari. I woke up late. So, I went to the French book store, stopped for a chicken and leek pie, mocha and went Christmas shopping. By the time that was done I had to meet Nick and his business friends up. I had to get on the train and this is when I had to take the pole vault worthy leap over the gap. I did also manage to find the best chocolate chip cookie in the world on my way. Ben’s cookies! http://www.benscookies.com/ They were so good, as a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur I give them 5 stars.
Nick’s business friends were a lot of fun and showed us a few more historical places like the old meat market and some new places like the ingeniously designed sky scrapers. The next morning it was time to pack, get all of our tax free receipts ready and rush off to Hyde Park for a stroll. Then we said goodbye to New Bond St. got back on the train and left London for The New World. I missed London but it was wonderful to see everyone back in the States again, especially my little Ari.