Monday, April 21, 2014

In the Beginning

Eldest Daughter and I headed to London and Paris for Spring Break this year. My close friend and her family moved to London and I both missed her terribly and had also not been to London in 19 years.

In all seriousness, the best parts of this trip were the little moments: the observations Eldest Daughter and I had while seeing the cities through a different viewfinder, really catching up with my friend and her husband while walking their dog, seeing how happy their son is at university, the tulips in bloom. Their home is in Kensington, and while in the middle of it all, was far enough off of Tourist Central to recover from the frenzy of seeing Westminster Abby, the Tower of London, London Bridge, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye.

While Eldest Daughter slept in the first day, my friend and I took a tour of the five West London Sunday markets. Ruth, our Context Travel docent (I swear by Context Travel!), told us how the city grew and changed in this area, first with the arrival of the Hugonots then the Jews, thus explaining the proliferation of markets on Sundays. I wish we'd had more time at Spidalfield's Market and at the Columbia Road Flower Market. Her son, Eldest Daughter and the husband (who is also my friend) met us for lunch at the Sunday Up Market off of Brick Lane where I ate the best fish and chips ever made and they ate Ethiopian and Venezualan food. The son gave us a tour of his school.

Not far from there is Shoreditch and Boxpark, a funky area with live music and stores in shipping containers. That was fun, visually interesting. Eldest Daughter bought a gorgeous sundress. We then went to the flagship Top Shop store on Oxford Circus. Top Shop = Nordstrom Brass Plum. After helping the economy there we did the same at Miss Selfridge's. Bonus points to the husband for shopping with us. And for finding Pierre Herme, which I'll cover in another post.

Eldest Daughter and I explored Knightsbridge and Chelsea, went to the theatre (she chose Mamma Mia, which was well done except for the woman who played Donna singing off key half of the time), ate lunch in restaurants every day, and took in the sights at a leisurely pace. We found the house where The Parent Trap was filmed. We had tea at The Orangerie at Kensington Palace, the same palace where Kate, George and Will make their home.

We climbed the London Bridge and saw the exhibits there then walked along the Thames past Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and crossed back on the Millenium footbridge at the Tate Modern. We toured Westminster Abbey, built in 1245 and seemingly not given a thorough cleaning since, filled with so much history that we stayed far longer than we had planned. We saw the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. 

On our last night there we went for a drink at Oblix, on the 33rd floor of The Shard, a Renzo Piano-designed building in the London Bridge District and which has views city-wide. And then I cried myself to sleep knowing I wouldn't see our friends again until summer, when they visit the US.

Great visit. Too short.

No comments: