10 June 2011

A Trip to London Town

Yesterday, I took a celebratory end-of-year trip to London.  London really is one of my favorite cities and it was great to be able to spend some time there, walking around, shopping, eating and generally enjoying the atmosphere of being in a big city once again!

No picture can do this view justice, it's simply too beautiful.

The day started out with an early wake up call of seven am.  Annoying, but it gave me enough time not to have to rush through getting ready to take the bus down to the train station.  If there is anything I hate in the morning, it's having to do things quickly.  It simply puts me in a bad mood for the rest of the day and I cannot shake the feeling that I'm forgetting something or not getting anything done.  Luckily, I had no problem getting to the train station on time and finding my train.

Since nothing can go that smoothly, my train was delayed for nearly an hour.  Although this impacted my plans slightly, I tried to be good natured and once in London immediately set out to my first stop: National Gallery, Trafalgar Square.

Pretty good image for the English weather as well!  Sunny with rain clouds

Outraged that they would charge a pound for a map (though admission is free...) I decided to walk around just seeing whatever came into my path.  Sometimes I really wish I had the patience to really look long and hard at paintings, but I rarely do.  As a kid I hated museums because everyone (parents, school groups, etc) always went through them so slowly and I would get bored.  Even just walking through them at a slow pace can satisfy my art "craving", though I am starting to find that I can take a bit longer on some paintings.  I think they might call that growing up.  Scary stuff.

Once my stomach starting growling, I decided it was time to head out for lunch and I knew exactly where I was going to go: Le Pain Quotidien.  One of my favorite restaurants (cafes?), they have a completely different menu for their London restaurants than for their New York locations.  On my way, however, I got diverted by this store:

Sushi and Bento?  I'm interested!

Inside there was an array of pre-packaged bento boxes and individual sushi rolls.  I think the idea was to choose a variety for your lunch, but since I already had plans I got an individual role to tide me over.

Tofu Roll with tomato, tofu, cucumber and white rice for 75p

Definitely not the best vegetable roll I've ever had, but it was still good and helped prepare me for the walk to lunch.  I love the idea of being able to buy individual rolls though, I wish they had something like this in New York! (or maybe they do and I just don't know, definite possibility...anyone know?)

Le Pain was absolutely lovely and while buzzing with lunchtime activity, was not overcrowded and I got a seat right away at the long communal table.  Overwhelmed by hunger and a new menu (with much fewer vegetarian options and hardly any vegan selections), I quickly decided on a soy latte and the roasted vegetable salad.

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese

Side of bread, I ate this as dessert with some of their awesome spreads!

Soy Latte (they had free wifi so I had my itouch out for a bit)

Fortified I was ready to tackle the next task at hand: Shopping.  Arguably the most important one as well!  I knew immediately that I needed to head over to Selfridges to walk through the shoe galleries and stop by Pierre Herme.  

Side view of Selfridges, hands down my favorite department store in London

I got a box of macarons, but I had to have one right away!  The lemon one was amazing

I also got some lovely chocolates, which I will share in a later post chronicling my purchases yesterday.  Still not ready to stop shopping I took the tube to covent garden to do some shopping.  Despite walking in and out of a lot of stores (some more expensive than others!) I only bought one thing: a pair of navy blue shorts with a boat pattern from Jack Wills.

Deciding I needed a rest, I stopped by Marks and Spencers for a small afternoon snack.

A bowl of grapes, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, yum!

I really wish they had food shops like Marks and Spencer's in the States.  If I was to see a fruit cup in New York I would never think to buy it, but in England they look good about 80% of the time (I say 80% because whenever I see the fruit cups in Sainsbury I think like I do in America, yuck).  Of course, the sandwiches they have are so English, loaded with mayo and meat...not something I'd care to see anymore of!

Gorgeous view!

I took a walk across the thames just before heading to dinner.  Such a gorgeous view, the gray-ness from earlier in the day had even cleared up, leaving the sky a brilliant blue with big fluffy clouds.  Perfect end to the day.

Dinner was Wagamama, the ubiquitous English chain restaurant, serving asian inspired dishes.  Starving once again I quickly scanned over the menu choosing the yasai itame, and immediately wondering if I should have chosen something different.

Yasai Itame, a coconut based soup with rice noodles, bean sprouts, mushrooms, tofu, bok choi and onions.

Despite my initial hesitation that I made the proper meal choice, this was hands down one of the best dishes I have ever eaten at Wagamama.  The soup was flavorful and though it had a bit of a kick to it, the spice-yness didn't overwhelm the dish.  I was also impressed by the amount of vegetables in it, sometimes when ordering these soups you end up getting mostly noodles, which I always find to be terribly disappointing.

After dinner it was time to catch my train back home.  Of course, I couldn't leave without one last look over London...

Ultimately, it was a great day.  Busy, but surprisingly relaxing at the same time.  I still have quite a few picture to share of what I actually got yesterday, I ended up with quite a few heavy bags!  Looking forward to a relaxing evening tonight though, I'm still exhausted from my exam.

Un Bacione,


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