December 16, 2016 – December 18, 2016
London has been at the top of my list of places to go during our time abroad. Not only is the UK home to some of my favorite movies (Harry Potter, the Holiday, Love Actually), but it’s also only a 40 minute flight from Amsterdam, and everyone speaks English! So, when my husband asked me if instead of exchanging Christmas presents this year I wanted to go on a trip to London, I said “Duh!”.
Because we started planning our trip a week before going, we ended up having to fly on a budget airline that’s reviews indicated “Flight departs/arrives on time = 50%”. Let’s just say we must have had a bad coin flip both times as we were delayed over an hour on the way there and the way back, turning a quick flight into several hours of travel time. Not to mention the fact that the airport we flew into required a train, underground, and bus ride to get to our hotel. Needless to say, next time I fly to London I will pay more attention to the logistics.
Despite missing our dinner reservations on Friday night (thanks budget airline), I really couldn’t have asked for a better vacation with my favorite travel buddy. We stayed in the Westminster area of town within walking distance to the abbey, Big Ben, and the London Eye. We bought an Oyster card to ride the public transportation on the first night, which was a necessity since the town is so spread out. Because we got in town so late on Friday, our exploring adventures didn’t start until Saturday morning.
With a Harry Potter tour! Since we didn’t manage to get tickets to The Cursed Child (although we tried every single Friday at 2pm), we thought it would be fun to explore the city and learn a little more about one of our favorite guys. We had high hopes for this tour, but our tour guide was kind of a nut and definitely a Hufflepuff. He took us to sites that you probably wouldn’t remember from the movies including the place where HP & Crew walked out of the Ministry of Magic, the Millennium Bridge that is blown up by Death Eaters, and Bridget Jones’s apartment. I’m fairly confident the last one wasn’t even in the movies. But he did ask a bunch of HP trivia, and I, being my Ravenclaw self, answered most of them correctly (with Tyler’s help) since I had just reread all 7 books this summer. In summary, although the tour may have left more to be desired, it was nevertheless a great way to get our bearings around the city.
This was our tour guide and the book that he carried around to prove that the obscure places he led us to were, in fact, in the movies.
HP 1st edition books signed by JK, HP money, and three wizards in the inspiration for Diagon Alley
The play that we didn’t go to, yet…
After the tour, we did some sightseeing, including Buckingham Palace (where the guards were dressed in gray and very far away – not like in the movies), Big Ben (who’s top half we couldn’t see due to fog), the London Eye (same fog sitch as Ben, and it apparently wasn’t even running), various pubs (including one named after Shakespeare), and several telephone booths (some of which smelled of urine). Here’s a few pictures from the sights. Although it was really foggy both days, I managed to snap a few good ones.
Hello, it’s me
10/12ths of the London Eye
Big Ben is the name of the clock, which lives in Elizabeth Tower
Obviously, Tyler’s favorite part of the trip
Buckingham Palace and guards
Hands down my favorite part of the trip was Saturday evening when we spontaneously decided to see a Broadway Show, No Man’s Land, starring Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and a guy from Game of Thrones. It was the last night of the production, so they really put their hearts into the performance, and we had second row seats to witness it. Basically the premise is that Patrick Stewart has dementia and meets Ian McKellen in a bar and they get wasted and tell stories about their youth. Something I can relate to.
The theatre was really beautiful, but unfortunately the pictures didn’t turn out very well due to being unable to use my flash and also due to the many pubs we visited throughout the day.
After the show, we went to the Cinnamon Club which was THE BEST INDIAN FOOD. Seriously. We did a seven course tasting menu and it was amazing.
Appetizers: Tandoori Norfolk free range chicken chaat in pastry shell, Devon crab and hokum berry salad on lotus root crisp, Carpaccio of home cured Shetland salmon and caramel jar muri
First starter: Kerala spiced seafood bisque flamed with brandy
Second starters: Okra filled with peanut and jaggery and green mango chutney, Pithold with chickpeas and yoghurt gnocchi, banana chili filled with fenugreek raisin and bitter gourd
First main: wild Spencer Gulf king prawns with green mango coriander sauce
Second main: Tandoori loin of Oisin red deer, black stone flower reduction
Dessert: Dark chocolate paan and caramel murk bar, carrot halwa and clove ice cream.
Whew, I can’t believe I ate all of that.
On Sunday the only thing really on our agenda was to attend a Sunday roast at a pub. The food was also delicious. We visited Platform 9 3/4 and a few more pubs then made our journey (substantially longer than the actual flight) to the airport.
Still waiting for my acceptance letter
Good thing I waited until after this trip to try my hand at being a vegetarian
All in all, it was such a great first solo trip with my husband to a city I can’t wait to get back to.
Accommodations – DoubleTree Westminster, clean, nice part of town, friendly staff
Breakfast – Regency Cafe, amazing hole in the wall with real English breakfast of beans, eggs, hash browns, and tea with milk
Dinner – Cinnamon Club, just go here
Sunday roast – Hack & Hop
Pubs – all of them