There's just so much to share on my travels, that I decided to break up my weekly updates for the rest of this trip into more manageable chunks, for you to read and for me to blog about. I was suuuper frustrated last week when I had to rewrite my post for what felt like a hundred times, due to all of my pictures. Anyways, here we go with this week's post!
Last I left you, I was in London having a ball, so let's just get right to the pictures!
Day 3 in London (Wednesday, 4/3)
- Sights: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Lacock, Bath
- Eats: St. George's Tavern, Bistrotheque
When we arrived in London, we didn't have a single thing planned except for this day trip outside of London. It was great, because we didn't need to consult a map or guidebook that day and we knew that weren't going to get lost!
First on the tour was Windsor Castle! Here is a picture of just a portion of the spectacular outside walls. It's impossible to get a good picture of the entire outside because it is seriously enormous!
Apparently, the queen was in residence while we were touring. Exciting! It's a good thing they prohibit pictures of the inside because that would be at least another post on its own. Here's another one of the guards, who were still wearing their winter coats. Can you spot Little Miss?
Next stop was Stonehenge. It was super, super cold and windy. Even the tour guide was pretty impressed how bitterly cold it was, in his words in fact. It didn't stop me from spending my time making the slow walk around a seriously impressive ancient relic. Those tiny colored dots on the left are people, and the tinier white dots to the right in the distance are sheep scattered on the grass. I wish I could have ran up and touched the stones. Bad Diane!
Next was the village of Lacock where we stopped for lunch. It took forever for us to get our food from St. George's (I got Beef Wellington), so we had just a bit of time to wander the streets. They've done lots of filming there for period pieces (including a couple of the Pride and Prejudice movies) and most famously Harry Potter. Very cute little town!
Our last stop of the day was in Bath. Notice the soot and all of the different stove pipes on the buildings. Classic Bath architecture.
And of course, Bath is named for its baths. Here's one!
Here is the fountain in the aptly named Fountain Room. I skipped the bathwater tasting, thankyouverymuch.
Instead, we roamed the streets and ate a Chocolate Praline cookie from Ben's Cookies. I know it looks like a turd sitting on a cookie, but when you smell the buttery goodness, it's easy to forget! Besides, it was in its little paper sleeve anyways. :)
The beautiful little bridge modeled after the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. It certainly looks Vecchio (= old) from this angle! The other side was much nicer looking. :)
When we got back from the tour, it was pretty late but I thought we should try to have dinner in the Shoreditch neighborhood that my friend was really excited about exploring. I had read an article about a few restaurants in that area, including one called Bistrotheque. First off, the neighborhood didn't look super hipstery like she was expecting when we got off the tube. In fact, it looked pretty scary! Then, we got to the street where it was located and it looked like this...
I was about to have a moment of panic, when we saw a guy talking on his cellphone head inside a building that had slightly more lights around it. There was no address, no sign, and it resembled the back of a garage, but he headed in and met a girl. They went into the public bathroom that was located in the hallway, so we just stared at each other. There was one other door that was locked, so we were stumped. Near the bathroom door, there was a staircase that looked like it headed up, so she went up. I hung back, convinced that we were in some sort of factory after hours! On the second floor, she finally heard restaurant noises, so we knew that we were in the right place! Yay!
Totally hidden (literally) gem! I was feeling heavy from lunchtime, so I had a Parmesan polenta with courgette (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), and parsnip chips on top.
Dessert was a treacle tart with clotted cream. It totally reminded me of pecan pie. :) We were actually hoping for something like a treacle sponge, but it was pretty good nonetheless.
Our other dessert (yes I just said that!) was an apricot crumble with warm custard. My friend was in the midst of pouring it on during this picture. Tart and tasty!
Day 4 (Thursday, 4/4)
- Sights: London Eye, St. Paul's Cathedral, The Globe Theater, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, London Bridge
- Eats: Fortnum & Mason
One of the most recognizable sights of the London skyline has to be the London Eye. We actually stayed on this side of the Thames, so if wasn't too far away.
It actually started to snow this day, so we were told that the visibility would be poor and we wouldn't see anything. Wrong! We could see all the sights, even though it looks gray in this picture.
Next we went to The Globe Theater, where we thought we could buy a London Pass. Unfortunately, we couldn't buy it from that ticket office, so we walked across the Millennium bridge (a pedestrian only bridge!) to a tourist office.
It was pretty late in the day, so we actually didn't buy the pass. We realized that we weren't going to enter enough museums to make it worth our buck. Instead, we bought passes to climb the dome and see the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral. No pictures inside here either.
Coincidentally, I read aloud to my friend all of the famous people who had been married and had funerals here. Afterwards, there was a sentence about how Margaret Thatcher would have her funeral there, when she died. I always admire and respect women in politics and other fields dominated by men, and she was a great example of leadership and breaking the mold.
When we reached the top of St. Paul's it was ridiculously windy! My friend was tuckered out from all of the stairs up, but it was so cold that we headed down almost immediately! There was a guy who was terrified of looking down and was clinging to the walls of the dome, with his back to the view, almost like a baby monkey clings to its mom. Of course, I took more pictures. ;)
Next, we headed back over the bridge to The Globe, where I went on the tour. It wasn't too long, but my friend preferred to sit in the cafe of the Tate Modern next door. It's an open air theater, so that meant a tour with my coat and hat on!
Next, we took a bus down the river a bit to the Tower Bridge (saving our feet with a day pass!) and strolled to the other end.
We ended up at the famous Tower of London, and it was ridiculously huge! Just walking up to it was awe-inspiring. I wish there was a moat around it now, but it would most definitely cause a safety hazard.
Then, we caught the same bus back to London Bridge. Definitely a letdown after Tower Bridge, which I had already been warned about. This is seriously the most exciting part of the bridge.
Then we headed to Fortnum & Mason for tea. Look at how beautiful the candy display is on the bottom floor!
We had the last reservation time of the night at 7 pm, so we were in a half empty salon. I was super hungry from only snacking throughout the day on my fruit and nuts. The tea service with fancy tea sandwiches, scones, and cakes on the tiered platters were a minimum of 40 € (~$60) per person so we decided to eat a la carte. I was a little disappointed, but the Shepherd's Pie I ordered was going to be 14 € (~$21) on its own.
My friend ordered tea, which came with a slice of cake from the trolley for 10€ (~$15), but she still wanted the mini cakes. I decided that even though the tea would most likely be great, I couldn't order a $15 cup! After we ordered, she asked the waiter how other people had the tiered platters, and he said that it was from the tea services. Our faces must have looked so disappointed because he said that we could substitute our two cake slices for one plate of mini cakes and a tiered platter of scones. We aren't fans of dry scones, and I hadn't yet committed to a cup of tea, so it took us a minute to decide. What a waste of a minute! It was absolutely beautiful and delicious!
The tea service above was gorgeous! We drank so much that I didn't get to sleep until nearly 5 am. Crazy!
And the waiter's suggestion for having both the cakes and the scones was so right on. It was like a fluffy biscuit inside actually. And we got to keep the amazing raspberry jam and lemon curd. I could eat that curd straight out of the jar!
Day 5 (Friday, 4/5)
- Sights: Abbey Road, Portobello Road in Notting Hill
- Eats: Jacket potatoes, Street crepes, Wafflemeister, Beigel Bake, Pizza East
We decided to take it easy this day, being our last full day, and spend it shopping and eating! But first, I convinced my friend to let me take a picture at Abbey Road. Little Miss got in on the action too!
An added bonus was stopping at the Baker tube station, which had tiles of all sizes and colors of Sherlock Holmes! I didn't get a chance to see the Sherlock Holmes museum, but it's on my list for next time.
Then we went on a shopping trip to Portobello Road. I found a cute Tin Tin tin advertisement for Orangina that I bought for my man. He loves Tin Tin, and my favorite drink is definitely Orangina. Perfect souvenir!
We were famished, and the Indian restaurant where we were going to eat was closed. So we headed back to the market so my friend could get a few scarves as presents and we could scavenge for food. Also, I had it on my list to buy some gloves because my fingers were absolutely freezing! More on that later...
Our first food stop was a small cart near the flea market section of Portobello Road where they sell vintage goods, clothing, and fabric. I had never heard of jacket potatoes, but I was guessing and hoping they would be good. I had dragged my friend down the street, passing on a few places that were either super touristy or overcrowded already, so I was crossing my fingers.
I ordered the Quorn and Chicken, a specialty mix for me when I told the guy what I felt like eating. It was amazing!!!
I had never eaten quorn before, and this guy told me about how he grows it in his garden, organically and it is super fresh! The chicken was amazing, marinated in yogurt and fresh herbs from his garden. Delish! Seriously stop by this cart, you won't be disappointed!
Next up was a strawberries and cream crepe, which my friend had been craving. It was a bit burned, but I knew that we would be having tons of crepes later on in Paris!
Then, my friend had been wanting a waffle from Wafflemeister. We split a couple of the regular liege waffles, one with cinnamon and one without. I preferred the one with only sugar. I'm looking forward to the Belgian waffles even more now!
My friend needed to buy some special UK products for her sisters, so we went back to Oxford Circus. She wanted to head home to drop off our stuff, but I knew that if we headed home, we would end up staying.
I convinced her stay out by carrying her stuff, so off we headed to a neighborhood that my friend was really excited to visit: Shoreditch! First, we went to a place that I learned about called Beigel Bake, that made salted beef bagels.
I'm a bagel purist. The idea of using bagels as bread used to drive me crazy! Obviously, I feel differently now, and this sandwich would absolutely change anybody else's mind too. The beef was soooo good, and since my friend isn't a fan of mustard, I ended up eating extra. Yum!
It was a little disappointing for us because we didn't find two of the places that we were looking for, a bakery that she wanted to visit and a place that we wanted to try for dinner. In the end, we settled on eating at another place on our list, Pizza East. It had such a cool vibe and the decor was awesome!
We decided to share a beef lasagna and an eggplant pizza. The lasagna was good, but the pizza was amazing. I wish we would have ordered two instead! At the end of the night, I couldn't eat my last slice, so I boxed it up to go. I forgot it as we we leaving with our huge amount of stuff from Portobello and Oxford Circus. Somewhere out there, a London rat is having a delicious slice of pizza...
Finally, we called it a night and headed home to pack.
Goodbye to London (Saturday, 4/6)
All we had time for was finishing up some laundry, packing, and eating a croissant with our lovely hosts.
Then, we rushed off to the train station for our train to Paris!