Posted by: vlibrizzi | March 9, 2009

80 hours in London

We just arrived home from a great 3 and a half day long weekend in London. We had not yet decided where we wanted to go for C.’s first period break as of a few weeks ago, and then this London trip seemed just to fall in our laps. We found really affordable flights from Paris to London using EasyJet (a low cost European airline), and then a friend of C’s from INSEAD offered to have us stay at his apartment in London for the weekend while he was away. So, we jumped  on the great opportunities, and flew to London last Thursday night after my French class (I played hookey from class on Friday…such a rebel!)

So I broke down our trip in London below like the New York Times “36 hours in…” section, except that: 1. I am no New York Times writer and 2. We were in London for more than 36 hours. I hope this suffices though.

Thursday 

10 pm: Arrived in London, took a bus from Luton Airport (a surprise to us…over an hour away from central London), then walked to the apartment where we were staying off of Vauxhall Bridge Road in Westminister.

Friday

10 am: Breakfast coffee and muffin at Starbucks. It was not the ideal British breakfast, I realize, but there are no Starbucks in Fontainebleau, and I love my skinny vanilla lattes, so it was a necessary stop.

dsc_0152_211 am: Visit to Westminister Abbey. We really enjoyed using the auidoguides to tour the abbey’s many rooms, tombs, and hidden away corners.We liked seeing the huge organ and the altar where the British royalty are crowned, as well as the tombs of many British kings and queens. We found out that no royals can be buried in the abbey anymore because there is no more available space on the floor. So, seriously, every step you take, you’re walking atop some incredibly famous dead guy  (or girl).

 My favorite place, though, was the Poet’s Corner where there are tombs and stones for all of England’s most famous writers—from Dickens to Keates to Austen. It was an English teacher’s dream place. I could have stayed there for hours. But alas, we had more places to see…

dsc_0154_22 pm: Parliament. After grabbing a quick lunch on the street (hot dogs and a diet coke. yes, you read correctly, we had hot dogs and shared a diet coke. But we had lots to see and so little time. We were seriously on a mission), we walked past Big Ben (you can see it in the photo to the right) and went into Parliament through Westminister Hall. After reading all of the commemorative stones in the hall noting the events that happened there (from William Wallace’s sentencing to more recent addresses by the current queen), we went to view a session of the House of Commons. The MPs were not discussing anything that interesting to us (it was just a sub-committee meeting), but we stuck around for awhile to see how they conduct business here. The MPs stand to give speeches for as long as they like and then the other MPs rebut it and present their own opinions. It was a really cool thing to see, but a job that I’m not sure I’d find to be very interesting day in and day out. 

dsc_0161_24 pm: The London Eye. For our final tourist-y event of the day, we took a ride on London’s huge ferris wheel called the London Eye (see Chris posing in front of it in the photo to the right). It’s not what you would think of as a traditional ferris wheel. In fact, it moves very slowly, and instead of being held in by a thin metal bar, you ride the Eye in these large pods with a group of other people. dsc_0177In total, the trip takes about 20 minutes, and the views are amazing. You can see us in one of the pods in the Eye in the photo below posing in front of the Parliament. 

5:30 Afternoon Tea at the Ritz. It took us many emails and phone calls to reserve, but at long last, we had an amazing high tea at the Ritz. We had to get dressed up as we sat in the Palm Court, sipped on tea, and nibbled on sandwiches, scones, and pastries. It was so lovely, and so British! 🙂

8:30 pm: Drinks in Soho. From the Ritz we walked into Soho to have a drink at a trendy champagne bar called Amuse Bouche. I had a really yummy champagne mojito while C. had some Rose champagne. Later on in the evening, we got hungry again and had a quick bite to eat at a French restaurant in Soho called La Cote. 

 

Saturday

12:00 Lunch with Friends in Chelsea. We got a late start on Saturday morning (probably the result of too much “amuse” at Amuse Bouche) and began our day by walking around Chelsea. The sun was shining, people were walking around, and there were many cute markets open. After walking for a bit, we met some friends from Boston at a British gastropub for lunch called The Builder’s Arms. The food was great and the company was even better. 

3:30 A Visit to Herrod’s and a London Stroll. No trip to London would be complete without visiting the city’s largest department store, Herrod’s. It has clothing, kitchen gadgets, food halls, makeup…really anything you could imagine.

dsc_0189Then we boarded the tube and walked around another neighborhood of London where we literally stumbled upon a Librizzi family favorite London restaurant (photographed to the right). The unfortunate thing, though, about the restaurant is that since the last time the Librizzis visited London, the name of the restaurant has changed.

Then, after walking for a long time we got a bit tired and decided to give our feet a break by seeing a movie (in English!). We saw Doubt…what a great film!

8:30 Indian Dinner at Rasoi. We had an amazing Indian dinner at a small restaurant in Chelsea that was very quiet, and off-the-beaten path. We had to knock on the door to enter, and once inside, we were ushered into a semi-private room where we dined for the next three hours. The best part of the meal, besides the amazing Indian food, was the huge assortment of teas they offered. Being in London, both C. and I felt compelled to try new teas…and loved them. 

 

Sunday

dsc_0194_211 am: Breakfast overlooking the Tower Bridge. You can see C. posing in front of the Tower Bridge in the photo to the right. We had a quick breakfast/lunch of panini sandwiches and lemonade in this park and then headed over to the other side of the river to tour the famous Tower of London. 

dsc_0200_2

12:30 pm: Tower of London. Once we entered the Tower of London (in the photo to the right), we immediately took the Beefeater’s Tour (a tour of the tower given by British military servicemen who currently reside in the Tower and serve as the Queen’s personal guards). The Beefeater tour guide took us to the White Tower, the chapel, and to some of the smaller towers where many prisoners were held. Then, after the tour, we walked around the grounds on our own, visited a military arms exhibit, and then saw the best thing of all…the crown jewels! 

dsc_0202_24:00 pm. The British Museum. After visiting the tower, we hopped on the tube and visited the British Museum, a historical museum that is free to the public and holds some of the most amazing artifacts from the ancient world including numerous Egyptian mummies, statues, the Rosetta Stone (see me photographed with it in the photo to the right), and C.’s favorite, the Parthenon Rooms (see C. photographed in the rooms in the photo below) where most of the facade of the Parthenon is currently housed (much to the chagrin of the Greek government). It was an amazing museum that I wish we had more time to see (it closed at 5:30). We’ll have to return again to see the rest of the exhibits on permanent display. 

dsc_0204_27:00 pm: Dinner at Indian Restaurant #2 and British Pub. We loved our Indian dinner in London on Saturday night so much that we decided to have the same cuisine on Sunday night. Apparently, many people believe that the best Indian food in the world (outside of India, that is) can be found in London. 

Then, after our dinner, we ended our vacation by having a pint at a British pub…the way any true British vacation should end, we agreed.

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Responses

  1. I am envious of your London weekend. It looked like the weather was beautiful,and you certainly were busy. What a disappointment to see that Bella Pasta, that fabulous restaurant!, is now the Spaghetti House, and the Rosetta Stone is surrounded by glass. Nice end to semester one.


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