Hi!! Happy Friday!
I have no new recipe for you today. Instead, I have lots of photos from our recent trip to London. If you’ve been around for a while, you know that my husband and I spent 2 weeks in Europe in February. It was a blast, to say the least!
Today, I’m sharing the first of 3 series of my travel photo journal- LONDON. Next Friday, I’ll share my Paris photos. (<- You don’t want to miss that. Be sure to come back next Friday!) 🙂
Ok, without further ado, let’s get started.
London has been on my bucket list for very, VERY long time (before I had even had a word “bucket list” in my vocabulary). I think I was like 10 or something, when my mom’s friend went to London. Upon her return, she gave my mom a photo of her sitting in the iconic red double-decker bus. She looked super cool in that photo and I dreamed of London, that red double decker, ever since!
Besides that, all of my English textbooks were British english. I memorized words like trousers (not pants), autumn (not fall), aubergine (not eggplant). I spelled theatre (not theater), centre (not center). And according to my sister, I pronounced “can’t” in a funny way. 🙂 Plus, those textbooks were full of major London attractions, like Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, London Bridge, you name it. No wonder I wanted to go to London so badly!
We spent 5 days in London, taking in everything this beautiful, fast-paced city had to offer.
Day 1. We didn’t do much, just relaxed after a long flight to get over the jet lag.
We had a short walk in downtown near our hotel and checked out Cafe Nero, very common coffee shop chain, just like Starbucks. That caramel shortbread bar was amazing!
We had a great Lebanese breakfast at Arabica Bar & Kitchen in Borough market. Garrat had Arabica fry up (2 eggs with grilled spicy beef Sujuk, mushrooms and mini flatbreads), which was absolutely delicious. I had Za’atr Man’ousheh, scrambled eggs with mushrooms on a Lebanese flatbread, which was equally delicious, if not more. The cozy environment, friendly service and delicious food. Highly recommend this place!
After breakfast, we headed straight to famous Notting Hill district. We first walked along Portobello Road with thousands of other tourists, checking out fun antique shops in popular Portobello Road Market. Then we strolled through peaceful quiet neighborhood with pretty, colorful houses.
Before heading back to hotel, we enjoyed a late lunch and relaxed with a cup of cappuchino.
For dinner, we returned to Borough Market, which was like 5 minutes from our hotel, and walked around to find a place to eat. We settled on Fish!, and boy, was it a WINNER! Clean, modern interior, superior service and the impressive seafood menu. Both of us ordered the same whole grilled lobster with chips (aka fries). No words, just look at my face. What does it say?
After dinner, we met up with my high school friend, Sola (now talented designer living in London) for a few drinks in Piccalilli Circus. We had a great time!
A full day of sightseeing! It was a gorgeous sunny day. We started at the iconic Tower Bridge.
Then we headed to Tower of London, where we checked out Crown Jewels. OMG, those diamonds! Photography isn’t allowed inside, so you’ll have to visit yourself. The park is so nice and relaxing too, I just wanted to lay on the lawn and take a nap. But we had to keep going, so much to see!
So we hopped on the Tube (underground) to go to Big Ben and London Eye. After carefully studying the Tube map, we decided that Victoria station was the closest to where we were going. Oh, man, were we wrong! We had to walk extra 2 miles, but it wasn’t too bad. Along the way, we came across classic red phone booths and, of course, we needed to capture it. That’s my hubs, say “Hi!” 🙂
By the time we reached London Eye, it was about an hour before the sunset, which is absolutely perfect timing. Magic hour is the best hour for photography! Since we didn’t have tickets, we got into the queue, which was a bit long. Nonetheless, it went quickly and we were boarding the capsules in no time! I couldn’t have asked for more. We witnessed the most MAGICAL sunset from the 2nd highest points of London!
Absolutely breath-taking 360° view of London!
It was a great day!
How can we leave London without a little shopping? Luckily, One New Change Mall wasn’t too far from our hotel. Not only they have great selection of shops, but there are also other hidden gems. Like this stunning view of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
And roof-top view! Simply serene!
After some shopping, we went to Buckingham Palace, then walked through Hyde Park to Burlington Arcade Shopping Center. I wanted to get my macaron fix from Laduree, which is located in this extremely fancy shopping center.
From there we leisurely walked to Trafalgar Square, then headed all the way to Covent Garden, where we had a reservation for Afternoon Tea.
Since we are in London, we ought to experience authentic Afternoon Tea, right? We had Thames Foyer Afternoon Tea at Savoy, a beautiful, elegant and extraordinary place! With live piano music on the background, we enjoyed deliciously light and fluffy English scones (the best!) and dainty tea sandwiches.
For the 4th course, I had an assortment of mini pastries, while my husband enjoyed his smoked salmon with an egg on a toast (doesn’t sound much, but it looked awesome), as he had selected High Tea.
After eating for about 2 hours straight, we decided to walk back to the hotel. We, again, witnessed a stunning sunset over Thames River.
And this night view of St. Paul’s Cathedral and Southwark Bridge is just beautiful, isn’t it?
It was almost a little ritual of ours to grab a quick breakfast at Pret a Manger, a fast food chain in UK. But unlike McDonald’s, they offered natural, freshly prepared and healthy food. I was hooked on their fresh juices and smoothies!
After breakfast, we casually walked around Borough Market for like 5th time! This place is simply foodie’s dream market. You can find anything and everything from freshly baked bread to variety of cheeses, from thousands of mushroom varieties to wide selection of fresh seafood.
We sniffed the jar full of truffles and tasted a sliver. Slightly funky, but irresistibly delicious!
Our last attraction was The View from the Shard, the tallest building in London! We went in half hour before the sunset and hung around to see the night view of London one more time. It was spectacular, as expected.
That same night, we headed to Chinatown for dinner. There were literally thousands of amazing eateries side-by-side. We settled on Leong’s Legends, a Taiwanese restaurant. We got our dim sum fix and enjoyed their delicious food.
Are you still with me? Kudos for you for sticking around. I’m almost done.
There is one thing that we ate more than anything. Yes, you guessed it. Oysters! One of the nights, we had dinner at Wright Brothers Oyster and Porter House, an award-winning oyster house in Borough Market. They had the largest selection of oysters from all over. It was quite a treat!
London, we love you!
That’s it for now! Next Friday, PARIS!
Oh and one more thing. If you’re curious, we stayed at Novotel London City South. Great location, friendly service, comfortable and clean rooms!