Friday, September 20, 2013

Field Trip: London, England

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While you read about my weekend in London, John and I will be making MORE European memories as we traverse Germany and France.  Don't worry, we'll be back in the good old US of A and happy to share more of our experiences with you very, very soon!

Everyone has been asking me how I liked London.  To be honest, both John and I were enamored with the city and both decided that if we ever got the chance, would try to live there.  Well, then I tried to put that plan into action and John told me it's "too far".  But, I'm working on him.  At the very least, I dream that if we ever win the lottery, a London "flat" will be first on our agenda!

I was explaining to my parents that London is one of those well-photographed cities (sort of like NYC, but I live there so it's harder to compare).  The fact is, I spent 72 hours on the ground there and my constant refrain was "can you believe we're really in London?!".  By the time I got on the plane to go back, I was still feeling this surreal feeling.

Because of John's work, we stayed in Shoreditch which was a great area of London for us but far from all the "touristy" things I wanted to do.   That didn't stop me - we probably walked 20 miles in 3 days, no joke.  I was a woman on a mission.  And we did get to see everything but we really didn't get to do a "deep dive" into the city the way I would have liked.  Example - we saw Buckingham Palace but I would have loved to take a tour.  Same with just about every other attraction in the city.  John did buy an authentic rugby shirt, though, so chalk one up for us!

The tube and bus systems were so easy to use that we got along completely on those - not relying at all on taxis (except to and from the airport).  Another common theme, though, was that I was frequently lost on the streets, walking the wrong way at almost every turn.  The first stop was Buckingham Palace and on the way, we wandered by this small cafe.  John could use a coffee and I chose an Italian Lemonade.  Never heard of that before but it was sour and salty and sweet and blended with crushed ice.  Absolutely incredible - ignore John's alien fingers!

Then, onto red phone booths, St. James' Park, Westminster, Parliament, and Big Ben.  By the time we had crossed the Thames, we were ready for dinner so we stopped at this place near the London Eye.  It was called All Bar One and there are a few of them around the city.  We were definitely the only tourists in there though, on a Friday night right after work ended.  It was filled with Londoners from the nearby offices.  We had a deluxe version of fish and chips, meatballs, and these chicken skewers with grilled zucchini and topped with a spicy fruity sauce.  It was delicious and just what we needed after the long walk.

We decided to keep the night going and hit up the London Eye for a ride.  We were getting our tickets (no one in line) when a worker rushed in and told us the only way we were going to be able to get on was if we ran RIGHT THEN.  Luckily, we had some energy and we sprinted up the walkway and were the last people of the night on!  Phew, that was a close one.  It was a great experience at night seeing the sites from a completely different point of view.

The next day we spent the afternoon on Brick Lane where we indulged in an Indian lunch because that's just what you do there.  It was yummy but hardly our best meal, and coincidentally also the most expensive.  We have simple tastes, what can I say?  We then took the bus into the city center and walked through Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and Chinatown. 

We stopped to eat dinner when I thought John could take no more...we found Busaba Eathai.  This is another London eatery with a few different locations but once again we were the only tourists in the place.  I loved the big communal tables and we had some delicious spring rolls to start.  Then, pad thai for me and a spicy beef dish for John.  Yes, that's what he called it.  Sorry for all you who really want to know.

Then, we tried to get back to Piccadilly Circus only to end up in the middle of SoHo with a lot of men only clubs.  We had no idea (typical clueless us) so we saw this nice club and tried to look inside.  The bouncer immediately got up in John's face and told him flat out no ladies but that he could go in!!!  In that moment, it dawned on us and we quickly did an about-face.  We always manage to find some adventure.


Our last day was spent at King's Cross (partly) to see Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter and check out the cool wizarding shop.  On our way back, we stopped at a chain called "The Pasty Shop" for a traditional English pasty.  Our favorite was the steak and stilton!  You know I want to recreate that one immediately.

We then wandered around the hotel since my car was picking me up in the late afternoon.  The town right behind the hotel (a 15-minute walk) was as pretty as a postcard.  You had to walk over a canal to get there and the canal had a number of boats docked there that sold goods out of them.  There was clothing boats, second hand boats, and my favorite, an ice cream boat!  John and I got honeycomb ice cream which was absolutely incredible.  And then, before I knew it, I was back in the USA, heading home alone.  I got home around 11 p.m., went straight to sleep, and got up for work the next morning! 

But we'll be back!  And I can't wait until we are!

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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