Pounds to Spend + Pounds to Gain: London


"Life is a marathon, not a sprint."

Well, our marathon of summer European travels began with a sprint.

Hannah and I were advised to arrive at the train station "a few minutes" before the departure, considering the station doesn't assign trains until minutes beforehand.

Well...that was the wrong advice. We showed up at 7:30 for the 7:43 train, unaware of the fact that we had to fill out a customs form, go through border security, screen our bags, and run to the train down three sets of escalators. To be honest, I don't really remember anything after 7:30 except for jumping onto the 18th car of the train as the doors were closing. Hannah and I had seats in the third car. We stumbled down aisle by aisle, car by car, panting and laughing at the miracle we had just witnessed. Our passports served as fans for the first twenty minutes of the Chunnel once we found our seats.

Newest lesson learned: arrive at the train station at least thirty minutes beforehand.

Our adorable Dawson Place Bed & Breakfast
...But don't worry, we made it to London! And our reunion with Mel and Molly at the adorable Dawson Place Bed & Breakfast in Notting Hill was exciting as ever!
Our first stop was an adorable, French style bistro (figures) around the corner from our bed and breakfast, called Côte Brasserie. The staff was friendly, the eclectic menu wasn't too pricey, and the most adorable old Scottish man sat to the right of us and managed to tell his entire life story in one 10-minute conversation. He and Mel are dating now.

After a round of beer, we ordered ratatouille, asparagus and arugula risotto, and Mel had a delicious piece of seabass. Every dish was portioned well. The ratatouille, which I'm used to eating as a vegetable stack with tomatoes, was served like a bruschetta. The warm vegetables melted pieces of goat cheese and sat on top of arugula and one toasted slice of bread. It was heavenly. The risotto was rich, but the green summer vegetables and heaping bunch of arugula on top made it feel almost like a salad!

We had an enjoyable first meal in the city; in fact, we were wishing that we could become regulars at the place like the old Scottish man. Too bad we were only staying for 48 hours!

St. James Park

Portobello Market

Just playing the part at Buckingham Palace

A few of many other highlights include...

- A tour of the Tower of London and Crown Jewels

- A walk through St. James Park

- Bond Street stores, including the flagship Alexander McQueen

Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Duh.

- Fortnum & Mason. The specialty food store and afternoon tea paradise deserves its own post, so here it is.

- Portobello Market in Notting Hill and a fabulous breakfast at Gail's. Look out for that post as well.

- Fish and Chips at a local pub

- Lunch at The Orangery in Kensington Palace

- Dinner at J Sheekey with my beautiful friend Alexandra from London, who spent her gap year at my high school in Memphis...and whom I have not seen in three years!

- A lobster and summer vegetable salad at J Sheekey...to die for, people.

- A run-in with the Royals at Kensington Palace...we're still trying to figure out who was in each limo!

- The Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace

Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason
While the final few minutes in London provided only a small glimpse of my enjoyment in the city, I took my last 1.83 pounds to a bakery in the St. Pancras station (since we decided to arrive an hour in advance this time!). I didn't want to leave England with any cash; pounds in my wallet would unfortunately be useless. The bakery did not have any items under 2 pounds, but the sweet man behind the counter gave me his favorite pastry - an almond croissant - for my 1.83. It was so kind and left a sweet taste in my mouth of a simply wonderful weekend.
(Oh, and if you've noticed the title of the post: we spent every pound and gained a few too, considering we ate our way through the entirety of weekend. No regrets!)

Be on the lookout for some mouth-watering caramelized critiques. Cheerio, for now!