London!

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London!

How could I have lived this long and never visited London? Thanks to Champlain College’s commitment to juniors studying abroad, Chris chose London and we, of course, HAD to go for a visit!! So much to see and do – how to choose? We just took it one day at a time and had a blast! Stayed in Kent (about a one hour train ride away) in a small town called Edenbridge at the Hever Hotel, next to the Hever Castle. So we were daily commuters on the train to Victoria Station and then primarily “tubed” it or walked around town.

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Food highlights:

  • Hereford Road in Notting Hill – amazing menu! Appetizers we enjoyed were Roast Jerusalem Artichoke, Hazelnuts and Rocket (note to self: get some Jerusalem artichokes and roast them – divine!!) and Braised Cuttlefish in Red Wine. Main courses: Roast Pheasant with Lentils and Girolles; Braised Hare Leg with Carrots and Pickled Walnut. We passed on dessert, but I must mention a few of the options here: Sticky Date Pudding, Rice Pudding and Baked Fig, Buttermilk Pudding and Poached Quince, and Apple Crumble with Cinnamon Ice Cream! Very interesting that the chefs are preparing the food at the front door where you walk in – an open kitchen! They greet the customers as they enter! Considered by the foodies who we shared a cab with (met them at a bus stop!) to be one of the best restaurants in London!
  • Wanted to go to Cow off Portobello Road (recommended by Fodors) for Sunday Roast, but when we arrived they were all booked up. Ended up across the street at The Westbourne and loved our lunch: Pumpkin soup with sage; Grilled sardines with baby spinach and beetroot salad (they call beets “beetroot” all over the UK); Steamed mussels with “chilli”, garlic, and parsley; Roast Welsh Black Beef, with roasted potatoes, carrots, green beans, Yorkshire pudding, and horseradish cream. Marvelous!!!
  • Dinner at Chris’ favorite corner hang out in South Kensington, Builders Pub, offered some great food too: Deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce; Sweet potato and coriander “houmous”; Free range Gloucester Old Spot sausages with kale colcannon, and red onion gravy; Slow cooked Ox cheek with red wine pie; Roasted Barbary duck breast, sautéed cabbage, bacon and potatoes with red wine sauce. All delicious!!
  • Another Fodor’s recommendation that really panned out well for excellent food AND great prices (3 course prix fix menu for L18 = $30) was Arbutus on Frith Street in Soho. Our group tasted and loved: Salad of beetroot, endive, quinoa, seeds, and grains; Soup of autumn greens, lemon and nutmeg; Chicken and smoked ell terrine, with a fruit relish; Lamb shoulder pappardelle with olive oil and Parmesan; Roast rabbit, cabbage and bacon; and Grilled Cornish mullet with white beans. For dessert we enjoyed: Soft meringue with custard and pralines; Poached pears, toasted rice ice cream with amaranth popcorn; and Cold chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream.
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Cultural highlights:

  • The National Gallery – groundbreaking Leonardo da Vinci show was our goal, but sadly it opened the next day. Really enjoyed the Impressionist’s paintings in their collection.
  • The London Eye – great fun and great views of the city!
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral – along with the protests going on outside
  • Wicked! Brilliant, brilliant show! We were lucky to have scored great seats in the “stalls” for 1/2 price (L42 = $71)!
  • The Tate Modern Museum – we barely scratched the surface – you could spend weeks roaming around this vast museum which used to be a power plant. Brilliant renovation, huge rooms and installations.
  • The Tate Britain – saw a fabulous show of John Martin’s Apocalypse – he lived from 1789-1854 and painted huge monumental landscapes of biblical catastrophes and cataclysmic events. Perfect for those who are afraid of the end of the world! Amazing command of landscape elements, composition and depth of field.
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) – again vast amount of space. We focused on the show that Chris recommended on the main floor called Power of Making – a brilliant exploration of objects and arts and crafts made in completely new and unorthodox ways. The opening sculpture was a huge gorilla made up entirely of coat hangers. An innovative knitter made huge knitting needles (6′ long) and created a large cable stitch swath about 10’x20′ that used the wool from 18 sheep!
  • Harrod’s Department Store – a tourist destination for sure – and a cultural icon! We decided that at least 50% (if not more) of the customers were Saudis – many many women in head scarves with stunning make up! Enjoyed all the designer gowns and actually looked at a price tag on a pair of studded jeans – L1,300!!!
  • The Borough Marketplace – fabulous food vendors of all stripes and great food products! If I lived anywhere near, I would shop for all my food there.
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  • Betsy Tuel
    Posted at 21:30h, 18 November Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed this account of your trip and all the photos. Thanks. Mary Anne!

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