I just got back from spending a pastry-filled week in London! The weather wasn’t great, but the food and sights were awesome, and I would love to share some of my pictures and stories with you. ^_^
The first day we got to London, we left our hotel after recharging with some afternoon tea and went exploring! Our hotel was immediately across the street from Harvey Nichols, and a few blocks down from Harrods… which was a bit dangerous for our wallets 😛
In Harvey Nichols, we went straight up to the 5th floor, with is entirely food and restaurants. There is a nonperishable section, a deli, a bakery, a wine shop, bubble tea, sushi, and a couple other restaurants. I could have spent the entire week in London there and not gotten bored!
I am very excited, I got a couple cooking magazines and a million new ideas for baking that I can’t wait to try out!
After browsing at Harvey Nichols, we moved onto Harrods, which is probably the coolest and most expensive place in the entire world. 😛 As soon as we got there, we had fun riding up and down the Egyptian Escalators as a woman singing opera serenaded us.
Harrods is absolutely HUGE, and this first day we spent the most time on the bottom floor in the food sections. They really had a little of everything, from various ethnic restaurants to savory and sweet deli counters, from fresh flowers to fresh produce. Again, I could have spent the entire week there.
After searching every floor, we finally found the perfect place for our Afternoon Tea. Each of us was given a sampler of finger sandwiches, two different kinds of scones, and several small desserts. Needless to say, we brought a lot of sweets back to the hotel for midnight snacking! 😉
Our second day in London, Sunday, we set out wandering some of the side streets near our hotel. We started off at a nearby Starbucks to grab some quick caffein and sustenance to off-set the jet-lag, but quickly discovered some of the most incredible pastry shops I have ever seen. Every store we wandered into had dozens of different kinds of pastry in addition to savory options. We loved one shop so much we ended up going back there for lunch. I didn’t get a picture of the savory foods as they were on the counter, but there were literally dozens of serving trays piled high with colorful, fresh vegetables and salads. The store, Patisserie Valerie, is mostly for “take-away” and only had one table! We were lucky enough to eat there, in the cozy little shop surrounded by food. Heaven.
After a delightful lunch, we took a cab to the National Museum. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but everything from the building itself to the paintings dating back to the 1300s were incredible. Unfortunately this museum had a strict “no photography” policy… though that did not stop my dad from taking a few “secret” pictures with his phone (much to my embarrassment, then and now).
While doing some walking nearby the National Museum, we happened upon Carpo, a small store that specializes in dried fruits and chocolate. YUM. We decided to buy some fruit, and the gentleman helping us was wonderful… and by wonderful, I mean he invited us to sample EVERYTHING in the store! 😀 There was another employee who just walked around giving people samples of various chocolates. Yes, I could have stayed there too.
The next day, Monday, my mom and I started the day with massages at the hotel while my dad unfortunately had to head off to work. After some quality relaxation, we headed off to Harvey Nichols for some Sushi.
Then we wandered about Harrods looking at the most expensive clothing I will ever lay eyes on. While we were wandering about, I saw a girl about my age trying on the most adorable dress I have ever seen in my entire life. I have never seen anything like it, and I thought maybe it would be fun to try it on even if I wasn’t planning to buy an expensive sun dress. Little did I know exactly how expensive it was! I waked over to the dress on the rack, took out the price tag…and nearly passed out. The small, light weight sun dress was 2,300 pounds! That is like 3,600 dollars! :O I quickly walked away from the dress, and didn’t let my mom touch anything else in the store 😛
I didn’t take many pictures of the clothes and things we saw, but here are a few of the more exciting things.
We finished off our shopping with a stop at the Laduree at Harrods. This was one of the main things I wanted to see when I went to London, and I nearly had a nerd-attack at all the beautiful pastries. It is probably good I don’t live in London, or visit more often, otherwise I would spend all my money in that store!
I have been wanting to make this type of pastry for quite awhile, and I am so excited to have been able to taste an example from the best-of-the-best!
On Tuesday, my mom and I ended up taking a bus tour. Unfortunately, it was freezing cold once again, so we couldn’t sit on the top of the bus and we really didn’t feel like getting off at any of the stops to do more up-close sight-seeing. The pictures aren’t great quality since I was on the inside of a moving bus, but we saw some awesome things!
On the walk back from the bus stop to the hotel, we stopped at a Starbucks to warm up and use their bathroom. This is hardly exciting, but I had a major nerd moment of feeling super international and awesome. Obviously, I am American, and here I was standing in a Starbucks in London, listening to Korean music on my iPod, with Japanese Yen, American Dollars, British Pounds, and Euros in my wallet (which was a bother to search through when I needed to pay 😛 )
We also stopped at a pastry shop we had seen on Sunday on the way back to the hotel (I know, excessive, but it was vacation) They also had incredible pastries, including a cake that was like my miniature pocky cake on steroids…. and now I really want to make it!
That night, we went to see Wicked. It was incredible! I had never seen the play before, and the theatre had such a great atmosphere. One unique thing that is much different from American theatres is that there were concession stands INSIDE the theatre, and people had all kinds of drinks, candy, popcorn, and fro-yo that they were eating throughout the performance.
On Wednesday, my dad didn’t work until the afternoon so we did some sightseeing together near his workplace.
We saw the monument for the 1666 London Fire.
As well as part of a wall that dates back to when London was part of the Roman empire and even before that. I am still trying to wrap my mind around how long ago that was and how a wall like that can remain mostly in tact while surrounded by new high-rise buildings.
Any time something is going to be built, more ruins are found. The cool thing is that when ruins and remains are found, archeologists are allowed to take as long as they need to catalogue the findings before the builders are allowed to continue. We didn’t see any remains themselves, but there were signs up at future building sites showing what the archeologists were finding.
Then we went to the Tower of London! We had an excellent tour by one of the royal guards that works and lives there, nicknamed the “beef-eaters” most likely because back in the day they were better fed than most people. Then we wandered around the grounds and saw more of the Tower. It was so amazing to see everything and hear about all the history, even though I saw it when I was 7 and vaguely remember parts of it. On my dad’s side of the family, William the Conqueror is actually a great grandfather of mine. 🙂
I don’t really enjoy history, but I do like learning about the non-war parts of British history. For example, I was absolutely fascinated to be in the church where Anne Boleyn is buried, along with many, many other famous people from history who were beheaded over the years.
We also had a great view of Tower Bridge from the Tower of London.
On Thursday, we woke up early and took the train to Paris! Even though we were only in Paris for a day, I have a lot of pictures to share, so that will be in a separate post!
I hope you enjoyed my pictures! I also hope that if you are ever in London you will check out some of these awesome pastry shops!