Just Touched Down in London Town!
A few weeks ago, some of my fellow Lausanners found a really cheap flight to London with Easy Jet for this past weekend. It was such a good deal that we couldn’t pass it up! We left on Thursday night to catch the train to the Geneva airport & board the late flight. Caroline & I had booked a hotel in Aldgate East, right in city of London. However, this meant that we had to get another train from Gatwick to our hotel, resulting in us arriving at the hotel at about two in the morning. Usually this would not be a problem & we didn’t think twice about our late arrival, at least until we got to the lobby & found that the place was deserted. At this point, Caroline may have too quickly jumped to the assumption that we were sleeping on the couches in the lobby…I admit it had been a long day. I figured we should look around for anyone that could help us & eventually ran into someone who was staying at the hotel who then generously helped us find the guard that was supposed to be on duty. In the end we had a bed that night & we didn’t have to sleep in the lobby, although Caroline was fully prepared to! Since we only had two days in London, we knew we had to get an early start. Caroline had researched an awesome breakfast spot not too far from our hotel. Although it took us a while to find it, breakfast at “Le Pain” was delicious! We had cappuccinos in cups the size of cereal bowls (which we needed after the night we had before), scrambled eggs with prosciutto, & a fresh scone with butter & jam.
After filling our bellies, we headed out to see all of the sites of London! In London there is so much to see & so many places to go, we needed to maximize our time as much as possible. I remembered taking a “hop-on, hop-off” bus tour the last time I had been in London, so I suggested that we do the same. It was the best decision we made the whole trip! Following three different routes, the bus tour hits all the major sites of London as well as all the smaller towns with live & audio tour guides. We hit all the major stops our first day: Big Ben, London Bridge, Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, & Buckingham Palace.
While in Leicester Square, we bought half-price theatre tickets at the recommendation of our bus driver, (the drivers of the tour buses are the best people to ask about anything to do with London!). After a long shot attempt at trying to get tickets to “The Book of Mormon” & failing, we settled on row 10 tickets to “Billy Elliot”. I had already seen “Billy Elliot” the last time I was in London, but it was a classic & the dancing cannot be beat! I get chills every time I watch the little boy playing Billy dance…it always makes me wish I had done more ballet when I was younger. Who knows? I could have been a star.
Before our show though, we had to grab some dinner. Now…which Brit knows food better than Jamie Oliver? That’s right, no one. So we headed to “Jamie’s Italian” in Covent Gardens. When we got there, we had to wait about ten minutes for a table. Our hunger pains were soothed though by “Jamie’s Mojito”. I don’t know what to make of this new mojito trend we started in Milan, but Jamie’s mix is the best I’ve ever had. With the freshest lime & mint, we were too preoccupied with our drinks to even notice that our table was ready. It only got better though once we sat down. We started off with an order of risotto balls, both following with a main of pasta with sides of mint peas & truffle fries to share. It was so good. The worst part of the whole night was that we had to skip dessert. I saw a molten brownie come out with caramelized popcorn on top and almost ditched Billy. I exercised some major restraint though & just asked for the bill…sigh.
After an amazing performance from Billy the night before, we got up bright & early again to make sure we got to everything on our list before we had to head back to Lausanne. One of the things on my list was a London Fog, which I had to get before we walked across London Bridge to the Tower of London. As they say, when in London…
The Tower of London holds all of the crowns jewels, along with some ancient torture chambers, which were as scary as the jewels were sparkly. I kept thinking something was going to jump out from the ancient chambers & scare me…I guess I’m just still paranoid from the scaring wars that went on last year. I missed the most perfect opportunity to finally make Caroline scream. The jewels were truly amazing though. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any pictures, but all the crowns of past monarchs & the ceremonial instruments for the coronation were held in the tower, including a gold punch bowl the size of my bathtub. It would take a lot to spike that bowl!
Our next stop on the list was Notting Hill. Although outside the city of London, our bus tour stopped in Hugh Grant’s little suburb, just in time for their famous street market! Filled with everything from antique cameras to delectable doughnuts, we could have spent hours exploring every nook & cranny. However, we had a football game to catch!
Along with organizing the flight, we had planned to meet up with some other students from Lausanne to see a British football match. The match was between Fulham (the home team) & Stoke City. The energy in the stadium was crazy. Between the chants, the flinging of insults, & the actual game, we were very entertained. I never found soccer very interesting to watch, but watching a football match in the U.K. is very different. The crowd had a crazy energy & seemed to have more love for the game than some of the players! Kind of reminds me of another country & another sport…eh?
Fulham ended up winning the match 1-0. We left the stadium & headed off to the train station as we had one last stop to hit in London…Kensington Palace & Hyde Park! After walking through the park, we reached the palace that Will, Kate, & George all call home. We couldn’t go inside of course, but by the way the gardens outside looked, I could tell it would be fairly decent inside.
Since we had crossed everything off our list & still had a few hours of the night left, we decided we should leave the park after being asked about discotecs a few times by some strangers (yikes!). We meant to go to dinner at another spot Caroline had found near our hotel, but after having eaten our fair share at the market, we weren’t very hungry. As we walked to the train station, trying to figure out how to spend our last night in London, it hit us as we passed a sign labeling the memorial – Diana. Earlier in Leicester Square, we had seen a poster for the movie “Diana”, staring Naomi Watts. What a better place to see the movie than in the city that the princess knew as home? We had ended up having popcorn for dinner (my favourite!) & headed home afterwards, having to catch a 7:50am flight the next morning home.
As soon as we got on the plane, we wished we had had one more day. There is so much to do & see in London that you’re bound to miss out on something. However, for only two days, I thought we did pretty good. If anything our British accents are better than they were before.
Just a girl sharing the baubles she loves & the bliss she experiences!