It's been a while since I've been to Europe, so I decided I was going to explore some new cities that I've never been to before! The first destination on my list was London. I had a great group of travelers with me - my sister Michelle, my mother, and my Aunt Michelle also tagged along! We departed on May 13th and arrived bright and early Saturday morning at Heathrow airport. After waiting for my Aunt (whose flight was sadly delayed), we set off to our Airbnb which was located just off Gloucester Road in Kensington. This was my very first experience staying in an Airbnb, so was a little nervous, but ended up loving it! The apartment was spacious, contemporary, and in an amazing central location with quick and easy access to the tube.
So we cleaned ourselves up, put on our walking shoes, and hit the big city! We first visited the National Portrait Gallery where we met up with our friend Robin Moore, and saw the current Vogue 100: A Century of Style exhibit which was fantastic. The show had over 280 prints from the Conde Nast archive. There were prints all the way from the first edition of the magazine to the most current shots of HRH Princess Kate's most recent photographs. What a fun time! After the gallery, we walked through Trafalgar Square, through Picadilly and Oxford Circus', enjoyed a pint at a pub, and finally headed to dinner in SoHo where we met up with another friend Quinn Sher at a trendy Indian spot called Dishoon. My favorite dishes were the vegetable biryani, chicken ruby, and garlic naan. After dinner, we went to our friend Hal Lee's housewarming party in Earl's Court and then went out to an 80's club called Maggies!
My jet lag really hit me the next morning and I had a very difficult time waking up, but, my mother dragged me out of bed and we were off to to see the Tower of London! The Tower is a historic castle on the River Thames and was built in 1078 by William the Conqueror. The most fascinating thing about the Tower, besides the history, are the Crown Jewels! I had such a blast learning about where all of the diamonds, rubies, and sapphires came from. Also, I didn't know, at least 6 raven birds are to be kept at the Tower at all times because of the belief that if they are not there, the kingdom will fall. These birds were massive...literally the size of an infant, and apparently get fed gourmet meat and can live until they are 40 years old. After the Tower, we walked to the river and saw the beautiful Tower Bridge and then strolled a little further down to a pub and enjoyed some traditional fish and chips and a pint of local lager. After enjoying our lunch, we walked to St. Paul's Cathedral, where Princess Diana was married. They were holding a mass there, so it was a beautiful experience. We then walked across the Millennium Bridge and visited the Tate Modern Museum. After the Tate, we got a little bit lost, but figured it out and took a bus (which reminded me of Harry Potter) to east London's Shoreditch neighborhood, met up with Michelle and friends for dinner at Blues Kitchen, and enjoyed southern BBQ food and a gospel choir!
Monday morning, we woke up bright and early, rented bicycles, and rode around Hyde Park. I was in love with the English landscaping, flowers, Princess Diana's memorial, and Kensington Palace! Very shortly after, we met up with Michelle again, walked around Kensington Palace and waved to the Queen, hauled down to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the London Eye, and then went to High Tea at the Ham Yard Hotel. After High Tea we did some amazing shopping at Fortnum and Mason, Top Shop, and Harrod's. After shopping, I rushed back to get dressed for dinner. Michelle very generously treated me as her guest to a client dinner at the amazing Michelin starred restaurant Marcus, where we were treated to a 4 course meal paired with wine and champagne. I couldn't have picked a better way to end my time in London than a fabulous sister dinner!
Tuesday morning we jetted off to Amsterdam! Stay tuned for details about that in my next post!