That’s right folks…we’re baaaack!
And for the first time in ‘Where In the World is Erin’ history, we are traveling CHILD-FREE. Our lucky little girls (Delilah, 4, and Camille, 2) are spending three weeks being spoiled by their grandparents in Sydney while Brett and I visit the following places – London (where I am teaching three newborn posing workshops); Luzern, Switzerland; Venice, Italy; and Prague, Czech Republic. Apart from London, all places we have always wanted to go and not yet had the chance to visit. So excited!
After a supremely ridiculously long trip (took the girls to Sydney, then came back west to Abu Dhabi, and then up to London…about 40 hours all up), we FINALLY made it to London. We’d been awake for two days and arrived at the crack of dawn on a Monday morning. And as any good traveller knows, the key to avoiding jet lag is to STAY AWAKE that whole first day, no matter how torturous it might be. And boy, was it tortuous. We were like walking zombies.
Since we respond best to food motivation, we decided to shower and immediately head out in the drizzle for a meal at an absolutely fabulous Chelsea restaurant called Medlar. The meal was just what we needed…beautifully delicious British cooking that hit the spot after a very long few days of plane food. Since we were so tired, we didn’t take any pictures with the big camera that first day, but did manage to snap this iPhone pic of our exhausted faces shortly after lunch.
Thrilled to be here at last!
The next day , armed with a full night’s sleep, we headed out to Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens. I studied abroad in London ten years ago and called South Kensington my home for one term…it was so great to be back in my old stomping grounds once again! It was a gloriously beautiful morning, and we spent it touring the palace and wandering through the gardens and High Street, Kensington.
For lunch, we had a special surprise. By sheer dumb luck (and most likely due to a very last-minute cancellation), I managed to snag a reservation at Gordon Ramsay’s Chelsea restaurant. Since this is no easy task (the next available reservation for lunch or dinner was two months from now!), we decided to go ALL OUT and order his seven course degustation menu. I can honestly say that this was one of the better life decisions either of us have ever made. Hands down, the BEST (and probably most expensive) meal I have ever and will ever eat. Perfect doesn’t even begin to describe it. It was glorious, and one of the highlights of our trip. Yay, food! J
That afternoon, we headed out to the famous Harrod’s department store to check it all out. In typical Harrod’s fashion, it was completely over the top, insanely high-priced, and altogether fabulous. The absolute highlight of the entire store is the toy department (or world, as they call it). Honestly anything you could ever in a million years imagine as a child is sold at Harrod’s toy department. Want a toy range rover that goes 30km/hr? You can buy one at Harrod’s for 40,000 GBP. How about a stunning replica of Belle’s dress in Beauty and the Beast? A bargain at only 350 GBP! Futuristic remote control airplanes? Strange and enormous lego sets? The list goes on.
And then…gloriousness. Perhaps the single greatest discovery I have ever made at a store was made in Harrod’s this fateful day. That’s right, this is what you think it is…I found Dumbledore’s wand. DUMBLEDORE’S WAND. I about died!! And wanted it immediately. But since I did not have a fortune to pay for it, I had to settle for this photo (which mortified Brett so much that it took some convincing for him even to take it…haha). Fabulous!
The next morning, we were off to the Tower of London. Now despite the fact that I had visited London in high school, and lived there for months in college, I had never once visited the Tower of London. And in a way, I’m quite glad this was my first time! I would have had very little interest in the history back then. But Brett and I were massive fans of the TV series ‘The Tudors’ (the story of King Henry VIII and his many wives) a few years ago, and it was nothing short of thrilling seeing all of the places that these people lived and died. We stood right at the spot where Anne Boelyn was beheaded, strolled through the royal living quarters, and even checked out King Henry’s armour. We also marvelled at the crown jewels (the main attraction for the Tower of London) as they are clearly some of the most amazing works of royal art anywhere in the world.
That afternoon, we wandered over to St. Paul’s cathedral, but elected to admire the outside, rather than paying the absolute fortune they charge you to go in! It is clearly an incredibly impressive building.
The next morning, we headed out for a full day of wandering. We started with Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in the morning. What a stunningly gorgeous place this is! In the distance, we could see the London Eye, which despite my repeated requests, Brett would not go anywhere near (he is terrified of heights). Someday, I’ll get there!
We found ourselves with *just* enough time to walk over to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, so we headed through the stunningly beautiful Hyde Park to get there. The flowers were in bloom and the entire park smelled just heavenly. As we grew closer to the palace, it became clear that there was just no way we were getting anywhere near that palace gate. It was absolutely packed!! It’s only April now, so I cringe to think of what it might be like in the summer at the height of travel season. It must be chaos! In any case, we snuck around the side and enjoyed the view (and music!) from afar. The flag was up, which told us the Queen was in, and likely finishing up her three day ‘work week’. Clearly she lives a rough life 😉
After this, we were off to lunch at Heston Blumenthal (our culinary idol)’s Hyde Park restaurant. For some reason, we were given one of the best tables in the house, with a panoramic view of Hyde Park on one side, and the entire glass walled kitchen on the other. As Brett is a very talented cook, he loved being able to peek into the kitchen and see them work their magic. In typical Heston style, we ate all manner of strange things, such as frog legs porridge, spiced pigeon, and pineapple tipsy cake…all of which was AMAZING. Perfect last London meal.
Armed with full stomachs, we strolled over to one of my favourite London spots, Trafalgar Square. We briefly visited the National Gallery, but then decided to end our London visit by just chillaxing in the beautiful sunshine and admiring the views from the square. A perfect finish to a fabulous four days.
Next stop, Switzerland!