London…Day 7, Notting Hill

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Portobello Road has become an epicenter for the devastatingly cool residents of West London.—Olivia Petter, Vogue Travel

Most of our last day was spent in Notting Hill. It was Saturday, so it was the Portobello Street Market, billed as one of the best street markets in the entire universe.

We arrived in Notting Hill and had breakfast at Lowry and Baker on Portobello Street. This is a small cafe and coffee shop and it was a great start and convenient for our day in Notting Hill. My love for avocado on toast, topped with a poached egg began here.

Of course, five of us separated into three groups.  The son-in-law was way out of his element here so after a short stroll among the throng in the street, he took his little daughter and escaped to a park somewhere. My wife and daughter did what they do best, shopped and pondered and talked about what they were pondering about buying. I headed down the street taking pictures, found some delicious street food, and listened to really good street musicians.

Miraculously, we found each other and headed to find some food since it was midday and we were hungry.  We settled on a nice Greek restaurant, Santorini. We had Greek appetizers and all of them were delightful.  This was very good food.

We were not done eating for the day.  We strolled over to Ottolenghi and purchased some pastries and chocolate desserts.  We grabbed some carry-out pizza and we ate our purchases in Holland Park to let our granddaughter have her exercise whilst we savored a very good pizza, some red wine and of course the Ottolenghi desserts.  Let me tell you, we definitely ended on a high note.

We caught the bus back to Kings Cross.  The next morning we said good-bye to our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter.  And said farewell to a good week in London.

My wife and I caught the train to Paris.  Cheerio.

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Inside Lowry and Baker

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This is now my favorite breakfast dish.

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This could be why my son-in-law searched for a more serene environment.

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One of the devastatingly cool residents of West London.

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A booth at the Portobello Street market in Notting Hill.IMG_2592 2

A street musician wailing on his guitar.

 

Art seen on the buildings near Portobello Street.

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Very good Greek food here.

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Ottolenghi in Notting Hill, the granddaughter wasn’t too impressed but all of the adults were.

 

London…Day 5, A day with Diana, Victoria, Albert, and Rory

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Goodbye England’s Rose, may you ever grow in our hearts.—Elton John

It his hard for me to think of London or England without thinking about Princess Diana.  I never kept up with the royals, but Diana was different.  I really admired her and the good things she brought to humanity. Most of this day was about Diana.

We got a late start to our day, we were traveling with a 15-month old.  Need I say more.  However she was really good, the entire trip.  Today started with a walk to Caravan for breakfast.  It was a cool morning, but we were able to eat outside by the large shallow fountain. We had scones and coffee.  All were delicious.

We rode the bus to Harrod’s.  Due to my officinophobia, I declined to participate.  Yes, this is a true condition, a fear of shopping, and it explains a lot of my psyche. So I did not darken the doors of Harrod’s.  Instead I took my granddaughter and headed for the natural history museum.

We met up for lunch at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  We dined in the garden cafe.  I had read where if you eat in one of the museums of London, the V and A is the best.  I didn’t eat at any of the other museums, so I have nothing to compare it with, but the garden cafe was very enjoyable and the food was delicious.  There were many choices here and it was difficult to decide.

The rest of the day was devoted to Diana.  We walked over to Kensington Palace.  Rory and I stayed outside and played around the huge pond and watched the ducks and geese.  My wife and daughter explored the Princess Diana clothing exhibit.  We all went through the beautiful Princess Diana white garden.  They took Rory over to the Princess Diana playground and I had a relaxing glass of white wine at the courtyard outside the palace.

Our son-in-law met us at the playground and after a while we headed back to the King’s Cross area to have our supper at Iberia Restaurant. This is a restaurant that specializes in Georgian food… so I had a Russian dish, my first bowl of borscht.  I love beets and I can’t believe I never have eaten borscht.  This was very good.

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The perfect borscht is what life should be, but never is.—Aleksandar Hemon

We shared a Georgian specialty of flat bread stuffed with cheese.  This was so good.

There are so many international restaurants on Caledonian Road in the Kings Cross area of London. If all the world leaders would just walk up and down this road together sharing meals, the Miss America contestants would not have to worry about solving the world peace problem.

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Harrod’s

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Museum of Natural History

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Kensington Palace

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White Garden at Kensington Palace

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Carousel in Hyde Park near Kensington Palace

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Iberia on Caledonian Road in Kings Cross.

 

Cambridge, Day 4…My Favorite

 

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I wish relationships were as easy as math and physics.—A Cambridge Student

My favorite day on our trip to London was the day spent in Cambridge.  If London was a committed relationship, then Cambridge was the fling you couldn’t get out of your mind.

It was one day to just get lost in the history and meander through the narrow stone streets.  To imagine the likes of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Francis Bacon, Niels Bohr, James Clerk Maxwell, William Wordsworth roaming these same streets in their days was pretty cool.  My wife and I were looking for the legendary sticky Chelsea Buns at Fitzbillies.  I have no idea what the aforementioned brainiacs would be looking for, but I do know the subatomic particles in these pastries were beyond their discovery.

We rode the train from King’s Cross to Cambridge on another rainy day.  My son-in-law was scheduled for classes most of the day.  It was a very pleasant train ride north to Cambridge that took about 45 minutes.

The rain let up as soon as we left the train station for our walk into the old town.  The rest of our time in Cambridge was overcast with only a few periods of light drizzle.

My wife and I split a full English breakfast at Fitzbillies, called the Full Fitzbillies, and topped it off with some Chelsea buns…wow!!!

While my wife and daughter went shopping, I took our granddaughter and meandered through the streets of the town hoping to soak up some left over intelligence that some very smart people didn’t need and may have left behind.

I took a lot of pictures in those two hours while pushing a sleeping child in a stroller.

I was fortunate enough to go to Evensong at the King’s College Chapel. The chapel, a rather minimalist description for such a grand building, was completed in 1515.  Evensong has been sung consistently for over 500 years.  If you get a chance to witness this service, by all means take that opportunity.

Since it wasn’t the service for an 15-month old girl, my family allowed me to go and they relieved me of babysitting duties.

After Evensong, I met them for Thai food at Mai Thai.  It was a very good end to the day.  We rode the train back to London.

I don’t seem to be any more intelligent, however my taste buds received a Ph.D.

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Chelsea buns in the window of Fitzbillies.

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A tower of macaroons in the window of Fitzbillies.

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Bicycles seem to be the mode of transportation in Cambridge.

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Well, you asked, this is punting.

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King’s College Chapel

 

London, Day 3

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The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

This quote summed up our day 3 in London.

We woke up to an overcast, grey day with constant drizzle.  If you are to experience life in London, it is only fitting that you deal with rainy days.  We packed our rain gear and headed out.

We rode the bus to The City in a steady rain, one of those rainy days that I have always read about in describing London weather.  Up to this point, we experienced wonderful, sunny days.

We disembarked, trying to dodge the rain and quickly ducked into Joe’s Kitchen. We had a light breakfast of croissants with jelly and coffee and tea.  It tasted so good and it got us out of the rain for a bit.

We puttered around The City for the rest of the morning and saw some amazing architecture.  We were meeting my son-in law for lunch at the Salvation Army headquarters. This was quite the surprise.  The Cafe 101 on the lower ground floor has delicious food, served in cafeteria-style, with many choices…all of it looked very tasty.  I think this is a nice little secret in London, the prices are very reasonable also.

We spent most of the afternoon at St. Paul’s, since it was warm and dry.  I just love being  in magnificent old cathedrals, places where I can drift back hundreds of years in the past, and at the same time, stay in the present. St. Paul’s was no exception.

After a thorough wandering around, we left my wife in the nave with our granddaughter who was sleeping at the time.  Since my wife doesn’t like heights or navigating narrow stairwells with numerous tourists, she volunteered to stay below while my daughter and I headed up to the dome for a view of London.

The stoppage of the rain coincided with our exit out onto the perch outside the dome.  The view of the city was incredible in spite of the heavy overcast.

We proceeded out of St. Paul’s to the Tower of London but got there a little too late, so we headed down to sit and gaze at the Tower Bridge and wait for the son-in-law to get out of his class for the day.  My wife and I took our granddaughter back on the bus to our flat in King’s Cross and called it a day.

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A nice dry table on a rainy day started with croissants and jelly at Joe’s Kitchen.

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Oh that British humor.

 

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St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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The view from the dome of St. Paul’s is breathtaking even on an overcast day.

Some amazing architecture in The City.

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The Tower Bridge

 

 

London, Day 2…Chelsea

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But for now, it’s just another Chelsea Monday—Marillion

Day two in London just happened to be a Monday.  I wrote a blog about the tube ride out to Chelsea.  If you want, you can read about it here.

We stumbled out of the tube station and made our way outside to a glorious Chelsea Monday.  We found Bluebird on Kings Road. We grabbed a table in the courtyard.  I had riggotoni, my wife dined on eggs Florentine, my daughter had fish and chips, and my son-in-law enjoyed his chicken sandwich.  All of our dishes were really good.

After our meal, we went on a long walk along the Thames and found the entrance to Ranelagh Gardens.  We wanted to let our granddaughter run off some energy so she would take a nap.

We headed back to Chelsea for some gelato at Venchi.  This was a really good idea.

While the rest of the party went shopping, I headed out to find The Cross Keys, once a hangout of The Rolling Stones.  It’s located in a quaint neighborhood with wonderful architecture.  I enjoyed the walk through this part of Chelsea.  I had a half pint at the tavern and thought about my love of music that began in those sixties that included the Stones.  I snapped myself back to the twenty-first century and headed back to meet my family for supper.

One of the most enigmatic experiences we had in London involved our decision to eat at Pizza Express on Kings Road.  We walked past this place three or four times, intrigued by the entrance with statues and courtyard, however we were put off by the name.  In the US, an eatery by the above name would not be associated with fine Italian dining.  Well let me tell you, the old saying about being all in the name, did not apply here. This was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten.  My wife and I shared a Margherita Pizza.

After our tube ride out to Chelsea, we decided to ride a double-decker bus back to our flat in King’s Cross to prepare for Day 3.

 

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Bluebird courtyard.

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Walking along the Thames.

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Inside Venchi there are many colorfully wrapped candies.

 

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Me and Mick are going to head to London and jam with The Stones—Jeff Spicoli

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Inside The Cross Keys

IMG_1932.JPGRed door near The Cross Keys

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I walked by these houses looking for The Cross Keys.

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Tavern on Kings Road in Chelsea.

 

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I love the name of this women’s athletic wear boutique.

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Entrance to Pizza Express.

 

London, Day 1

 

The man who can dominate a London dinner table can dominate the world—Oscar Wilde

If the above quote is accurate, then there is a great future in store for my 18-month old granddaughter. Not only did she dominate the dinner tables, she dominated the entire week.

We traveled to London last summer as a little party of five.  My daughter, her husband, my wife and I and the aforementioned future president, queen, emperor, or dictator.

After a much later arrival to Heathrow than we anticipated, we found our flat in Kings Cross and headed to Islington for a very-English meal of fish and chips and mushy peas.  We dined at The Angel.  It was a very good start to the trip.  But we were so exhausted. This was it for the night.  We went to bed before dark.

Our first full day began with a tube ride to Buckingham Palace to see the queen…well, her quaint residence anyway.

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The front gates of Buckingham Palace was as close as we got.

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Obligatory photo of granddaughter, begging for an audience.

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This became our mantra in London and pretty much for the rest of our living days.

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We found The Phoenix Victoria for a traditional Sunday afternoon dinner.

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I see why it is traditional.  The Phoenix served a great Sunday dinner.

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The patio of The Phoenix.

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The London Eye, as seen on our walk along the Thames River.

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Westminster Abbey.

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Trafalgar Square.

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This is the smartest tourist tip.  It’s not just the accent that makes them seem smart.

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My first English tea at the Caffe’ Concerto.  Why didn’t that tradition start in America?

Stay tuned for day 2.