London II

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Friday

So much walking went down on Friday. We walked from Kennsington –> Knightsbridge –> Buckingham Palace –> Westminster –> Covent Garden –> British Museum –> Finally back down to the London eye to take a little ride. Rest assured we took the tube back to the hotel.

Started the day off at Muriel’s Kitchen in South Kensington where I got a croissant with sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella. Please note this is a very food oriented trip but I am sure you may have caught on. After breakfast we headed towards Buckingham Palace. Much to our surprise, it wasn’t very busy in that area. This is a great reason to visit in the winter when not many tourists go visit. The palace was nice but there wasn’t much to see. I think it’s best if you go for the changing of the guards otherwise I’d say you can skip the palace.

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St. James Park

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Horse Guards

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Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden

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Coffee Break!

 

London Eye This ride was a lovely graduation present I got from one of my family members. He said the best time to go on the London Eye was at night, he was absolutely correct. The view from up top was breath taking. I highly recommend this ride at night.londoneye1

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Saturday

At this point of our trip I had a full blown cold. I was determined to not let this stop me as we only had a few days left. It also didn’t help that it was a typical British day, overcast and drizzling. Even though I was sick it was time for some shopping on Oxford street. Our first stop was breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. Surprise! I got a warm croissant with Wiltshire ham and gruyère cheese. I also got a delicious steeper with lemon, ginger, and fresh mint. It was so soothing to my very irritated throat. I loved the steeper so much I’ve been making it at home. Tony ordered a Belgian waffle with fresh berries and a dark chocolate sauce with a macchiato coffee. I stared longingly at his waffle, it was just so good.

Oxford street I actually didn’t take that many pictures here. There were a lot of hustle and bustle so I didn’t want to be that tourists who stops in the middle of everyone’s path to take 50 pictures. This is definitely the place to go if you want to shop due to it having many stores at different price points. If you are on a budget, like we were, you can definelty skip the shopping since London is very pricey. If you do want to shop it’s best to buy from British brands since they are more expensive here in the U.S.

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Busy Oxford St

Camden Market was a complete fail. We walked there from the British Museum and at this point we were both quite hungry. On top of that my dayquil was wearing off so you can say we both got a little agitated with the wave of people that hit us. You could barely make your way down the sidewalk it was so busy. We decided to just hop on the tube and head back to our hotel. Tony wanted some fish and chips so we ended up at Bayswater Arms pub right next to the underground station. The best part was that the actual building has been around for 100 years. There is just so much history in this city.

Sunday

I honestly don’t know how I came up with all these places to eat but Fleet River Bakery has by far some of the best eggs I have ever had. They were light fluffy perfection. One thing I will admit is that I am not fond of British bacon…it’s basically ham. Sorry guys, streaky bacon definitely wins.

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Fleet River Bakery

From here we were ready to start our walk around the Southbank. We got off at Tower Hill so we could  start by the Tower of London. It hadn’t really crossed our minds to actually go into the Tower, not sure why. Oh well, next time then! The whole trip I really wanted to go check out the Borough market being that I heard it had great food. Of course I failed to realize the fact that they are closed on Sunday’s. With a heavy heart onward we marched. After wandering more along the bank we got caught in a tourist trap. We ended up going into the Clink Prison (London’s oldest prison). I’d say you can skip this little tourist trap. For dinner we wanted to do as the Londoner’s do which is the traditional Sunday roast.It comprises of your choice of meat, gravy, vegetables, roasty potatoes, and yorkshire pudding. Roast, which was located in the Borough Market had great reviews online so we made it our destination. It was definitely a splurge for us but we said “Well why not?” After an excellent 3 course meal we were left wondering why people back home kept telling us the food in England terrible. Don’t know where they were eating since we were continuously served delicious food.

 

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Tower Bridge

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The Shard

Monday

Upon Tony’s request we actually went back to Grangers & Co for our last breakfast in London. He couldn’t leave without getting those ever so fluffy ricotta hotcakes. It was a bittersweet day. I can say that we were both very happy we were able to go on this trip. After breakfast we walked back to the hotel, made sure we had everything, then we were off to catch the tube so we could make it on time to the train. Customs/security was a breeze at Gatwick which left us with time to kill. We decided to find a place to grab some lunch before our lengthy flight. Low and behold, much to Tony’s delight, we found a Nando’s. One final goodbye to our lovely trip that left is with such fond memories. I am sure we will see you again London.

London Adventures

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Before I graduated last year in December I knew I wanted to go on a trip before I started job hunting. I love to travel but as most of us know it of course takes some saving up and sometimes we can’t seem to clear time from our busy schedules. Now that both of us are not in school, Tony and I figured it would be a great time to plan a fun adventure together.  Not only was this going to be our first time in Europe but our first just the two of us vacation. Now, ever since the Spice Girls came into my life in the 90’s I was hit with a slight obsession with England. London has been my absolute dream destination, I didn’t even care that we’d be going in the middle of winter.

So that was that (well, after a lot of research on expedia) we booked our trip and we were going to London for a week! Our hotel was located just north of Hyde Park in an area called Bayswater. We found the location to be ideal with lots of things to do around. Tony and I decided that we weren’t going to do any tours or have an itinerary for the trip. We jotted down what we wanted to see and figured it out each day. With the help of a map of the city as well as a map of tube system we ventured off. It was great because we literally walked everywhere which really enabled us to get the most out of this incredible city. Tony and I absolutely loved London, we can’t wait to go back some day.

Here are a few highlights from our trip…

Tuesday

After an overnight flight we arrived at the Gatwick airport Tuesday at around 12:30 pm. From there we hit the ground running, quite literally because we had to catch our train into the city. I highly recommend getting an oyster card if you plan on using public transport it made getting around the city a breeze.  Upon a cheap eats recommendation by many we went to Pret a Manger for dinner. That was the first and last time we went to Pret as I then spent the night throwing up haha. What a way to start the trip!

Wednesday

We started the day off in the best way possible with breakfast at Granger & Co in Notting Hill. This place was absolutely amazing. I ordered ricotta hotcakes with bannanas and honey syrup with a fresh mint tea. Tony got corn fritters with bacon, tomatos, and spinach with a cappuccino (his personal favorite). Both dishes were excellent but those hotcakes left Tony dreaming of them the rest of the trip.

Hyde Park Since we were walking distance from Hyde park  it became our morning routine to take a stroll through it. Hyde park is one of London’s largest parks covering over 350 acres. We only got to see a fraction of this park as at the time we didn’t realize how big it was. The best part, for me at least, was that by the north west entrance there was a small cafe that had coffee with the most delectable french croissants I’ve had. Did  I mention I had A LOT of croissants with coffee on this trip? Although the trees were bare it was such a lovely park. I can only imagine what it’s like in full bloom.

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Kensington Palace

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Museums After leaving Hyde park we walked around Kennsington trying to find the Natural History and Science museums. We actually loved not knowing where we were going because we would go down side roads filled with lovely architecture and little shops. Tony and I were both completely enamored with the architecture. The walk was filled with “Wow, how lovely is that building? Can you imagine living here?” We ended up spending the whole day at the two museums. A lot of the museums in London are free so it’s a great option when on a budget. By the time we were done with both museums it was time for dinner. We headed back to our hotel to see what we could find around the area. As soon as I saw Nando’s pop up on google maps, it was a done deal, we were off for a “cheeky Nando’s” as the Brits say. Nando’s is a casual restaurant that serves South African peri-peri style chicken. It offers quality food at an affordable price. You will see later on we became slightly obsessed with this place.

Thursday

Kew Gardens Originally we wanted to take a day trip to a neighboring city such as Brighton or Bath. Not wanting to be bothered with booking train tickets we opted to go to Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens is a UNESCO world heritage site that was founded in 1840 and it houses the worlds largest collection of living plants. My favorite part was seeing the Japanese style garden as well as the pagoda. Sadly, the temperate house (commissioned in 1859!) was closed for renovation. Since we spent the whole day here we grabbed a late lunch inside the park at the Orangery. We got back to our hotel to hang out before finding some dinner. I was so tired from walking all day that when it came to dinner we opted for Nando’s again. Oh geez, two nights in a row, how adventurous of us.

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Japanese Gardens

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I love daffodils, they were everywhere.

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 Stay tuned for part II…

Exploring vegan food…

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Tony surprised me this weekend and took me to a vegan restaurant for dinner. I had been curious about going to a vegan place for a while now. We tried going to one that was by our house but unfortunately it was permanently closed. I always had a preconceived notion that vegan food would be bland in taste. I mean without that flavor punch of delicious fats and oils you’d get from animal products, can it really be that good?
Tony found this little gem through Google maps, it had a 4.9 rating so he figured it be a good choice. When we got to The New Vegan it was a quaint little cafe off the beaten path of the busy Atlantic Avenue in Delray. I admit I was skeptical of the menu when I first saw it. There were just so many food combinations that I’d never had. Flax seed, quinoa flour, kale, dehydrated, raw, is what I was seeing. I said to myself, this is totally going to be tasteless. Boy was I was wrong, I was very wrong.
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