Olympics, home away from home... there are so many things associated with this fantastic country. We arrived a week before the games were to begin in London, and well it was peace and quiet for that time. We immediately got off the plane, and headed for Bayswater Road for some serious chinese food - bbq pork, duck...
We rented a flat for two weeks, situated near the tube stations of Gloucester Road and South Kensington. It had three bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room, and two toilets. Very accommodating for the four of us and Uncle Calvin and Michael who were joining us a few days after we had arrived. I was super excited that we could all be together and spend some time being immersed in the British culture.
We weren't tourists really... seeing as mum was home and we had been used to going grocery shopping, living and cooking in a flat, and just used to the hustle and bustle of the city. Much shopping was done, and we checked out the Borough Market which was filled with exotic and deliciously smelling foods. Bakers, Rotisseries, vegetable vendors... there was much to see at this market. Be sure to check it out if you're in the town!
We saw one broadway, War Horse, and it was very well presented. The mechanics of the horses were simply breath-taking (though if you don't know what the book or the movie is like, you might be more taken away by the story if you didn't as those who have seen or read War Horse, it can be slow.) The show was just off Drury Lane.
I got to experience the night life finally and the pubs as I am now of age (legal age is 18 in the UK) and boy was it a fun time! Pub for lunch, beer for lunch, Pimm's o'clock every day. It was such a great experience. The clubs can be quite flashy (at the door £20 was a great price as some were over £45) but very unique inside. We went for pre drinks at Revolutions - a chain bar that had many locations all over the city. Cover was free (ladies night) and drinks were really reasonable. They had neat cocktails to choose from but the bar tenders didn't really know what they were doing most of the time. There's a dance floor too and plenty of booth space. Funky Buddha was the club we were going to afterward and the drinks were quite pricy (ordering a bottle of champagne was the easiest way to go.) Music that evening was hip hop/rap/r&b but all from the 90's. It was a lot of fun being out for once in London as I was never old enough to do so.
We had many dinners... and I mean EVERY NIGHT. It was either us cooking or going out to very nice restaurants. My favourite evening was going to Fat Duck by THE Heston Blumenthal. And oh my goodness, I literally died and went to heaven - it was such a treat to be dining there with the family, Michael and Uncle Calvin. Some of the dishes were just WOW to witness and to taste (lucky for you I took many photos.) We also got to experience dining at Jack's Place which we had gone to on our first night and planned for our last night too in London. Delicious scampi, lamb chops were so juicy and the lobster thermador was nothing like I had ever tasted. The cream sauce, with mushrooms and the taste of lobster was a great combination.
We also got to dine at Khan's, famous indian restaurant after the Olympic Torch Relay Concert (Which was an all day event featuring artists: The Wanted, Dizzee Rascal, Eliza Doolittle, and of course Rizzle Kicks.) The curries weren't crazy spicy but delectably hot and the mango lassi was the best I had ever tasted before. We also went out to Chez Bruce which was a french restaurant in Wandsworth near Jack's Place which is in Battersea, and the courses were simple but done to perfection. Another quaint place to eat at was Sally Clarke's restaurant, Clarke's, where contemporary American food was made by the chef herself.
Cooking at home, we would make more lamb chops (there's just something about the lamb in the UK you gotta try) and salads and of course strawberries with cream for dessert. We had many friends over to join us and our meals over a nice few bottles of wine... we would use the disposable barbecues too to our advantage. Breakfasts consisted of fry-ups: eggs, bacon, sausages... you name it!
We also went to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter studios in Watford, which was AMAZING!! If you're a huge Harry Potter fan you will fall in love with it all. Guides say that it will take about 3 hours to get through the entire exhibit but it took us 4 hours!! It was that great - the Knight Bus, the flying car, the models of all the houses and the sets, the sets themselves, costumes, and of course the Hogwarts Castle. Breathtaking, mind blowing, like WOW factor. It was jaw dropping and I definitely had some goosebumps happening. Be sure to go check out the studios - you will have the time of your life. PS there IS butter beer... so yum. My sister was quite happy as it was her "birthday week" and we had celebrated lots already but the fact that she got to go to the studios - she thought it was the best time ever.
Looking back on the trip now, London was by far the best part. I would do anything to rewind and go back to the beginning. The food, the many teas (at the Landmark London Hotel and the Berkeley), Harrods, Selfridge's, Carnaby street, Oxford Circus, partying across from Raffles (a club)... it was just a brilliant time.
Cannot wait to go back again in a couple years (hopefully) and do it all over again. I want to thank everyone who was a part of the trip - I hope you had as much fun as I did!