Ashley found this great tour of Central London through one of the blogs she follow (A Cup of Jo) called Fat Tire Bike Tours. Basically, you’re lead through the city on a comfy cruiser bike by a well informed, and sometimes hilarious guide. I really can’t say enough good about them. Be sure to check out their site. They have tours in London, Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin right now. We pedaled around just about all day, with the exception of a lunch stop just north of Trafalgar Square to grab a bite to eat at a little deli. Kind of touristy, but way worth it.
I’m fairly certain of two things: breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day (which, I already suspected), and I could probably definitely live in Chelsea. Quiet brown stones, clean streets, not a whole lot of traffic but close to central London…near perfect. We had a delicious breakfast in Chelsea at Tom’s Kitchen. Adam and Diana had eaten dinner there on their last London escapade and whilst doing so, caught glimpse of the breakfast menu. Breakfast consisted of Brit and American staples, served fresh and simply with a clean presentation. I suppose when you have delicious ingredients, there isn’t much need for panache (although breakfast adornment could be interesting…pureed wild blue berry drizzle with a sprig of mint? Maybe.).
Wednesday we went to the Cotswolds, where the rich people have holiday cottages, though I think at over 700 pounds each they’re a bit better than your average cottage. We explored the ruins of a bride’s demise, had a deliciously simple lunch in a pub and then headed to Oxford. I’m not a fan of tours, as evidenced by the fact that I’m skipping the biking excursion tomorrow, but our tour guide Richard was really fun. He researched for his Oxford tour by staying in town for a week, meeting a fellow at a pub, and feasting with fellows of one of the colleges for dinner in a hall reminiscent of Hogwarts, but not the one they actually use, which I believe is at Christchurch college. I still really want to go to Oxford someday, maybe to write my dissertation, and I refuse to be discouraged that they only accept perfection. I’m determined to wear a black gown to exams and get beat with a Bible at least once in my life and it really should be Oxford. But I digress.
Well, we tracked down our train from Heathrow to Paddington Station, in downtown London. We then hired two taxis to take us to our hotel, the Royal Horseguard Hotel, an amazing, historic old building right on the Thames. Diana and I, this is Adam by-the-way, walked passed the very building, whilst traversing the earth to our engagement locale. We remarked that it was a gorgeous building, probably housing some government agency. Boy howdy were we wrong (although, in our defense, it used to house Scotland Yard)! The rooms are amazing!
Anyway, sorry for the lengthy derailment. After checking in and settled into our rooms, Alan, Ashley, Diana and I thought we’d find us a couple cappuccinos, a mocha, some crisps (in the UK, crisps=chips and chips=fries), a chocolate croissant, an amazing bottled smoothie, and an equally amazing “thickie” (which is like a smoothie, only thicker). We did so at the aptly named: Eat. We took some photos, scuttled back across the footbridge, and went to go get changed for dinner.
Dinner tonight was at an amazing Indian-fusion restaurant called The Mint Leaf. In the States, Indian food is usually an ethnic experience, but not one baring multiple stars. Sad really, because the food tonight was incredible! We had small leg of Lamb fillets, chicken fillets, a yellow chicken curry, vegetable sampler, spiced saffron potatoes, spiced black beans, spinach and mushroom “something-tasties”, basmati rice, and of course, naan. Mint/herb/fruit infused cocktails to round out the culinary cacophony. We ended with fresh mint tea and three deserts involving poached pears, coconut, and chocolate. Amazing first meal!
We meandered back to the hotel, it being only about a ten minute walk away, and realized exactly how tired we were. Alan and I finished these posts, the girls and parents having hit the hay, and we’re ready to crash too. See you tomorrow!
We arrived at SeaTac with plenty of time to spare, so we got through security and had a nice lunch at Anthony’s at the Airport: salmon burgers, salmon and chips, halibut and chips, and the rogue fillet of salmon. So good.
Our flight to Denver was semi-uneventful, with an odd, sideways-y landing the only exception.
Our flight to London, in contrast, found us in the throws of middle America thunderstorms. From about Nebraska to Illinois (don’t ask how that’s on a straight shot to England from Denver, our flight-path looked like a sine wave), we experience some of the worst turbulence any of us had. Old ladies shrieking, many atheists momentarily reconverted, the works.
Two meals, eight hours, and three movies later, we completed our hop across the pond. We cashed out some dollars into pounds and Euros, made an uneventful sidle through customs, and found our luggage, already pulled from the carousel.
And with that, we ventured on into the United Kingdom.
At the Farnsworth’s house in Anacortes- on the back porch, chatting about our quickly upcoming big Europe trip.