London Calling

One of the reasons we chose Paris as it is a great, central jumping off point to explore Europe. Pretty soon after our arrival to France we were already off to another country. Jolly Old England.

Just a quick stop at Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station

Since we would be away for the kids’ birthdays, we offered each of them the chance to choose a place to spend their day. The Big Kid chose London! Nowhere near a chore for us, we were very happy to make the trip over on the Eurostar train. What a pleasure. Quick, convenient and so much easier than flying. We need to figure out trains in North America like they have in Europe.

London is always a rush. First of all, haven’t you heard? Boris Johnson has declared Covid over in London! Hurrah! (Fact check: I think he said we need to learn to live with Covid and that technically its not over, but that doesn’t read as well.) The day we arrived the mask mandates and vaccine passes were eliminated. We still prefer to wear masks but wow, its amazing to be out and see so many maskless faces.

After checking into our hotel, the Little Kid was absolutely floored when they bumped straight into their favourite actor from their favourite TV show. Hannah Waddingham, Rebecca from Ted Lasso, was absolutely gracious and lovely when the Kid said “hello”. She even got teary eyed when the Kid explained that Rebecca was their favourite (and not the expected Keely). A little while later, the Kid almost imploded when they spotted another one of their favourite comedians and authors, David Walliams (Little Britain) just outside the Hotel. What a day! Guess which city is now their new fave?

The Kid and Hannah

We took advantage of the fleeting sunny skies and took a walk to Buckingham Palace – poor Liz wasn’t there, she was convalescing from ye olde Covid at Windsor Castle. Sadly nor were any of her bear-skinned Beefeaters. Just some normal looking cops with automatic weapons. So much for Pomp and Ceremony.

Heading back to the hotel amid much “my feet hurt” and ”I’m tired”, we made a little detour to Savile Row to see the famous Apple Records offices, now home to Abercrombie & Fitch. After devouring Get Back on Disney+, Mom and Dad were happy to see the site of The Beatles last concert, even though the kids were pissed that the walk was taking longer than planned.

For dinner, we were booked at one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants, NOPI. I’m a BIG fan of Ottolenghi’s many cookbooks and was excited to visit this bustling and sparkly London restaurant. The food was great, tried a lovely wine from Georgia (the country not the state) and I even got completely wigged out in the bathroom which is a mini hall of mirrors and I couldn’t find my way out. If you go – please check out that bathroom and let me know I’m not losing it. Thanks, you’re great.

Day 2 in London was POURING RAIN. Oh, and the Tube was closed due to a strike. Fun. We managed to get a black cab and ventured out to see The Tower of London. With the traffic, we managed to make the trip in about 45 minutes, only twice as long as usual. Our cabbie was a fantastic wealth of knowledge – as London Cabbies are known to be. He gave us all sorts of intel on the rigorous testing process these people must pass to get their license. Incredible. They need to know every street, every landmark, every hotel (big and small). They need to know multiple routes to anywhere. All memorized. You’ll never see a GPS in a black cab. AND these folks are their own boss. They have to buy their cabs on their own at a cool £75,000. Monsieur Le Cabbie also gave us the best tip ever, with the incredible traffic jam in the city, he suggested we take the City Cruise along the Thames back to Westminster which was a total WIN! The moral of this story is – when in London skip the Uber and take a Black Cab.

In the cold rain, The Tower of London was a bit of a bust. So we decided to do the SPEED TOUR. Luckily, between the weather and the Tube strike, we were able to walk straight in to see The Crown Jewels. Another little wander around the White Tower and then off we went to hop the boat and back to the hotel. The Crown Jewels are impressive, but pretty fucking weird in 2022. Knowing most of the jewels were the plunder of war and colonialism AND such an ostentatious public display of unreasonable wealth seems pretty tone deaf in our awakening culture. Since when have the monarchy been ”with the times”, I guess.

Yeah, no, for sure, no.

We booked to visit The British Museum the following day. I just couldn’t shake the thought that we were going to see a bunch of stolen loot. After seeing the Haida and Nisga’a Totem Poles from Northern BC, I definitely had the creeps viewing all these wonderful and amazing treasures that were plundered. One thing is definitely true, the Colonial British were more than just robbers, they were fucking hoarders!

The Big Kid chose London because she wanted to see the show Six. A modern re-telling of Henry VIII’s 6 wives and their stories. Brilliant. She loved it, we loved it. It was a fun night out. We were in a theatre seeing live music and performance and it was fantastic!

Our last night in London we had dinner at the buzzy and delicious La Petite Maison. Great food, great restaurant, quick seating – so eat fast! My former boss introduced me to LPM years ago and its still the same busy place with great Southern French food. But really, eat fast. The Maitre ’D came to let me know what we needed to chop chop with the veal chop as he needed the table back tout de suite. Bien sûr, Monsieur.

Before hopping the Eurostar back to Paris, the sun managed to make an appearance in time for our departure. So my Monsieur and I took a walk through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens with a stop at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain – unique and pretty like she was – and at the Albert Memorial – grand and splashy like he was?

You can call me Al

And just like that, 3 days in London done and dusted. Our first side trip from Paris was in the books (and now on my blog) and we are getting our travel legs back. We managed to do the trip with 3 small carry- ons and one bigger suitcase (to carry all the London shopping back to Paris as well as our quickly-becoming-redundant Covid safety kit).

On the train, I was happy to hear the Little Kid say ”I can’t wait to get home to my own bed.” They were talking about their Paris bed. I’ll take that as a small win 🙂

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