London Calling

Remember that one time when we lived in Europe for an entire year, were approximately a one hour flight from London (one of the “greatest cities in the world“) and never went? We finally changed that last weekend.

London took a back seat this year to what we considered to be more “exotic” travel. Maybe places like KievMorocco, TurkeyPolandHungary, etc. are not considered “exotic” destinations to all of you, but they were to us. England felt too easy. Too English. What do you mean we can read every sign, understand every underground station announcement, and have pleasant conversation with our hotel concierge or restaurant server? Well, guess what? It was the BEST.

As soon as we arrived, I felt comforted. It was a strange sensation actually. I felt so at ease. We realized that this was only my second trip to a English-speaking country (the other was Ireland) and Jaro’s first in our time abroad. Also, the fact that several of our friends have lived/do live there (Chris, Julia, Kevin- I’m looking at you), and many more have visited might have something to do with it. (Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions, guys.)

As for where we stayed… the Covent Garden neighborhood was fantastic. It was so fun, energetic, and colorful. Away from the touristy open atrium of Covent Garden Market, it felt quite authentic and charming. Lots of shopping, which neither of us complained about.

As for what we did and what we saw… I’ll let the pictures (mostly) do the talking. You can click them to enlarge.

Coincidentally, we spent time with my uncle who was there for work. What lucky timing to be in the same random city on the same random day. That type of chance is one of the best things about travel. You never know who you’ll see.

We also roamed around Tate Modern, where we saw an interesting Munch exhibit. I’d recommend it for art lovers. We went to a show. And yes, that show was The Lion King. Never mind that I was unimpressed with Simba, the show itself was great and something everyone would enjoy. The costumes? Stop. I obviously cried as the curtain pulled back to “Circle of Life”.  Seriously, I don’t know what happened, I let go. But let’s move on… Of course, we shopped too. Spent a lot of time along Portobello Road and Regent & Oxford streets. The crowds there on a Saturday are unbelievable. Obviously, as seasoned shoppers, we had to check out both Selfridge and Harrods. The Harrods foodhalls are epic.

As for where we ate… you know this is one of our biggest priorities while traveling. We did it right in London. Crunched on fish n’ chips and game pie at a pub. Had great meals at bustling Jamie’s Italian, Indian hot spot Dishoom, and a hip Moroccan place called Maison Touareg. They were all recommended to us and we recommend them all to you. But the best was Jaro’s face when we saw a Chipotle the first day. That ended up being our first meal and nothing can replace the child-like sparkle in Jaro’s eye when he saw it for the first time in over 12 months.

As for where we drank… We stayed local in the CG & Leicester Square. Pints at Lamb & Flag (with Kevin, a fellow Chicago expat), The Crown and The Spice of Life were all very much enjoyed. We sipped on Pimm’s cups at Punch & Judy’s reminiscing about the first time we had them at Juliette’s rooftop in Brooklyn back in 2010. Sidenote: Things close up early around London, what gives? At 11:30 on a Friday, the pubs were all cleared out.

We had an absolutely lovely time. We’re already planning another trip and might be going at the end of October. London in the fall seems like the best time to be there. Crisp air, turning leaves, cozy pubs, hot tea and tweed. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Lots of other stuff to do until then…

xxx

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