Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Long Weekend in London


My husband and I went to London for the long weekend! We left Thursday evening, and returned on Monday. (Air Transat)

It was our first time in the city, so I drew up a full itinerary before we left. I wanted to see everything. This is what we managed to fit in:

Day 1
Arrived about 9am, took Gatwick Express to Victoria, walked to our hotel in the steady rain
Couldn't check in, so we dropped the bags and went on our way
Walked to Buckingham Palace (witnessed the changing of the guards)
Walked along Piccadilly Circus (where we first noticed that Paul, the amazing French pastery chain, is also in London!)
Through China Town to Frith Street
Lunch at Koya - Japanese noodles and tea to warm up. We were wet and cold but awake!

After lunch we walked down Charing Cross Road (used bookshops!) then checked out the National Gallery. I really wanted to see the Arnolfini Wedding by van Eyck but it had been moved to a temporary exhibit, in the same wing, and somehow I never found it. 
Through Trafalgar Square (blue rooster?), walked down Whitehall to see Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
We took the full tour of Westminster Abbey
Walked back to the Hotel.

I was dead on my feet, my husband went out and foraged for food and wine in the neighborhood while I took a nap. Then we had a picnic in the hotel room! Treats from Paul, wine and cheese from Harvey Nichols, grub from Wagamama.

Day 2
Walked through Hyde Park to Portobello Road Market. Didn't buy anything, I just wanted to check out the scene. The weather was sunny one minute and rain showers the next.

Tube (all day pass) to Oxford Station and walked to Pitt Cue Co. for lunch. We had the pulled pork on a bun. It was delicious. Not to mention, this was the street and the restaurant from the movie, "About Time" With Rachel McAdams and Ron Weasley's brother. That movie has some whatever moments (all time travel movies do), but it will make you want to visit London.

After lunch we shopped! We hit Liberty, COS (bought two things), Salvation Army (bought one thing), Carre D'Artistes, Yellow Korner (more on that one day soon)...and that's about it. Mostly wandered around the streets people watching and window shopping.

Then we went down to Leicester Square to TKTS to see if we could score cheap tickets to Twelve Angrey Men. We aren't big theater people, and musicals are a NO! Bonus if we could get tickets to this show, since my husband was only recently telling me about the movie...but no, the play was sold out except for single seats.

We took the tube to Harrods, walked around the hood and went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

We didn't make dinner reservations, but Time Out London has a list of top restaurants that don't take reservations. We decided to Try Burger and Lobster in Harvey Nichols. Zero line up, Lobster was fantastic, the crazy cocktail was delicious.

Lobster doesn't fill you! Later that night we hopped on the tube and went back to Chinatown for some dumplings! Then hit up HK Cafe for dessert. Ducked back into the subway before midnight.

Day 3
SUNNY! Sunny and bright and beautiful! I had a bunch of plans mapped out for the day, but we reorganized and decided to hit the London Eye, walk to Tate Modern (lunch, meat pie at the Tate Cafe) and then see St Paul's.

The line up at the London Eye was extreme. I am not sure it was worth it. I mean, that's easy to say now because I got to go up. If we had skipped this attraction, I would have been bummed. London's school holiday had just begun, and it really was fabulous weather, so I think we may have experienced a longer than usual February wait time.

After the Eye we joined the crowds walking along the Thames and made our way up to Tate Modern.

Tate Modern was fantastic! I want to go back again and again. Top Shop AW14 Fashion Week runway show was happening while we were at Tate Modern. I didn't spot anyone famous but several fashion blogger types were posing and getting their photo taken.

After the museum, we walked across the millenium bridge, checked out St Paul's from the exterior, and hopped on the tube to go to the hotel. We could have stopped at Tate Britain on the way home, but the day was getting on, and we still wanted to see the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Brief rest at home, exchanged my COS sweater because I bought XS and decided S was better, then on to the V&A. The Xu Bing installation in the garden was cool, but I think it has been abused a bit by the tourists and the weather.

Decided to skip the sushi place I had picked out for a french restaurant nearby. I had the best fish of my life! It was drenched in buttery fennel, and fennel and leeks are my favorite vegetables in the world. Speaking of veggies, I feel like we barely ate any fruit and veggies the entire time. Meat and carbs. I am so glad I brought apples with me to snack on.

That was it! Our trip to London!

My first impression of the city? Why did I wait so long to visit? We LOVED London! Pricey, yes, crowds, yes (busiest place I've ever been). Polite, yummy, clean, comfortable. You can really feel at home in London. We will go back, there is so much left to see and do! 

ps. we didn't take many photos. We were too busy soaking it all in!
pps. this is the type of post I would have liked to read before the trip...so here it is, in case you are planning a weekend away!

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