Saturday, June 27, 2009

Food Lovers Paradise!

I have come to the realization after two days that if I lived in London, I would weight about 400lbs. and an alcoholic! London is a food lovers dream! Yesterday I took the tube into the City of London to meet Tylor for lunch (the tube is nothing special) and we went to this place called the Bouword Market (sp?) which is what the Calgary Farmers Market aspires to be but never will be. This place was AMAZING and I have the most to die for grilled cheese sandwich. There was kiosk after kiosk fresh food. And the cheese. . .omg - the cheeses! Yesterday Tylor and I went to Waitrose to pick up a few little last minute things for his bbq and once again I was in a food lovers heaven! I swear I am the only person who goes on holidays to scope out the grocery stores. At Waitrose, the people working in the store were wearing suits and pumps. When I asked for something, she told me where it was and then asked if I wanted her to take me there - is that service of what! As well, the market on Portobello Road (Tylor lives in a mews off it of) was eye candy! The produce over here is phenomenal! I have never seen anything like it in Canada. Getting back to the market, it was packed - for those of you who live in Calgary, imagine Calgary Stampede crowds on the streets. You could buy just about any kind of fresh food that you wanted. Then to top it all off, today we went to Whole Foods (yep - I am a nerd!) I just wandered around the store wondering how much groceries I can bring back with me! I was in food heaven there!

On Friday night I met up with Tylor and a couple of his mates from work and we went to a place called Smiths on Smithfield which is in the meat packing district, or just off of. It really reminded me of NYC. Then we went to a restaurant called Vinometro for a lovely late dinner (ie - we weren't seated until 10pm) What amazes me about London is that you are able to drink in the street. So while we were waiting to get into the restaurant, we ordered a bottle of wine, sent one of the guys off to buy some crisps (chips) and we stood on the road drinking our wine!

Yesterday was the housewarming BBQ (the reason why I came over here). Tylor had procurred himself a bbq ($30 & made in China). While he put it together, I spent a bunch of time prepping for his event. Him and I spent the better part of the day cooking and cooking and more cooking - he belongs to the same group as me - OverProviders Annonymous! We had more food than you could shake a stick at! Just as his guests were to arrive at 5pm and about the time he was going to start the charcoal for the bbq, the clouds opened up and pissed down us for about an hour. So needless to say we had a few issues getting the bbq going and didn't get any food served up until after 8pm - but damn was it ever good!!!! He had about 20 people over (including a bunch of Canadians) and a most enjoyable evening was had (probably b/c A LOT of wine was drunk!)

I am trying to stay on some semblence of my training program so when I hauled my ass out of bed this morning at 11:15am, I went for a run. It was only moderately painful. One thing I noticed about here though is the absence of people out running or walking their dogs. I think people thought that I was strange running down their street. In the end though it felt great (and will help with all of the food and wine I have consumed!) We went to Harrod's today as there annual sale started yesterday. It truly is a store of excess. I found this lovely Valentino purse that I just LOVED but I was too scared to even look at the price tag. I am guessing it was about $8k based on some of the bags around it. The one thing I noticed about Harrod's is how inflated some of their prices area. I think a lot of people shop there so they can get a Harrod's bag (which is so not my thing). Tylor did manage to pick up some knives that he has been looking for on sale. We wandered around Kensington a bit more and have now come home.

I haven't exactly been doing the touristy thing. I haven't seen any real notible attractions yet, other than St. Paul's Cathedral but I was too late to go on the tour when I got there. Oh, I have been taking the tube and I did ride on a double-decker bus today. Tomorrow I am heading up to Newcastle on the train to visit a couple of friends and back to London on Tuesday where I am going to get together with my friend Karen for supper. Wednesday my plan is to go to Trafalgar Square for Canada Day. I am hoping b/w all of this and when I leave that I can get a bit of shopping in - although I do find it rather overwelming! I have though found 1 pair of shoes I want - yes - only one!

Friday, June 26, 2009

London Calling

As my cousin Kelsey says, my travel lately seems to random. . . and it is. I decided a couple of weeks ago to come across the pond for a vist - in fact, I was invited to a housewarming/bbq and thought "what the hell - you only live once". So after searching for a flight and being reunited with my VISA, I booked my trip over here (on Saturday) and now I am here. I will do my best to update this as my week goes on, as I am sure I will have a story or two to tell. . .

If you are a follower of my blog, you will know that this princess does not do long-haul economy - or at least not yet. After looking at flights, I decided that I couldn't make this my first economy trip across the pond, so I used a few of my points and managed to get a business class flight on Lufthansa via Frankfurt to London. Now not wanting to sound like a snob (but I am sure I will), I can honestly say that they still do not compare to Air Canada's Executive First (although I have been told that Lufthansa First Class is amazing). A few of it's shortcomings include the fact that their seat does not lay down completely flat, which makes sleeping a little uncomfortable. (I know - quit whining - it is still better than economy) If you are in the inside seat and your seat mate is sleeping, you have to crawl over them if you need to get up. The service isn't as attentive. It was good but not great. I asked an attendent for some snacks and she looked at me like I had four heads. On both BA and AC, they have snacks in the galley that you can go and help yourself to, Lufthansa didn't have this. I know it is minor, but when you haven't eaten in 6 hours and you are hungry, you kinda want something. In the end I got a glass of apple juice, a piece of chocolate and some type of snack mix. Overall, it was a good flight. I would not recommend a mid-day flight across the pond though - it just messes with your body. You leave at 1pm, which is really 8pm local time and you arrive at 6:35am - your body just isn't ready to sleep - unless you take 2 Gravol and drink 3 glasses of wine (which I did - but my sleep still wasn't great!). I am thinking the night flight that gets you in mid-day is the better way to go.

Looking back on a previous post, I sitll stand by my claim that Heathrow is a dump. This time I got to go to Terminal 1, which is in need a good renovation! Now I have to admit something - I brought Alberta Beef into England. Yes I did. Did I declare it. No. Why? Because no one asked. Although I did have a minor scare. When my bags came off the baggage claim, they both had a sticker on them indicating that they were HOT. I thought - "oh shit". I seriously considered taking those tags off of my bags but there were all of these customs people standing around the baggage claim and I thought that if I did that, they would for sure be on to me. So I picked up my bags and started to exit the baggage claim area, when suddenly a customs officer stopped me (my heart started to beat a little quicker - I thought that they knew that I had beef on me b/c of my stickers). Actually it turned out I was going out the wrong exit! That is also when I realized that my bags were tagged HOT because my connection time in Frankfurt was 1 hour. So now Tylor has some nice steaks sitting in his freezer!

Speaking of which, there are some things that never surprise me when it comes to Tylor - like getting all of the details correct! I did as I was told - took the Heathrow Express from the airport to Paddington Station (I so love public transit!!!) and then grabbed a cab from there to go to his house (one of those cool black taxis like SuperNanny is always in!). I gave my driver the address and told him where we were going (as per my email from Tylor - which had his address listed twice). Needless to say, Tylor was wrong. One would think that he would know that name of his street - but he doesn't! In his defense, he has only been here for a couple of weeks and his been gone for most it. So after driving around and stopping to ask someone where Dunsford Mews was and after consulting a map, we both figured "to hell with it" - let's try this Dunsworth Mews, as it seemed to fit the description of where I was to go. I told my driver, if the gate code works, then I guess this is the right address (and it was). Was I surprised that Tylor had given me the wrong name - no - not at all. In the end, it was the right place and he has a great place in a little mews off the road.

So what did I do on my first day. . .would love to say that I met the Queen but I didn't - that is tomorrow! LOL! Actually I had a nap (trying to manage the whole jet lag thing) and then decided to check out the neighborhood (Tylor lives in Nottingham Hill just off of Portobellow Rd). When I walked off of his street, I hit mecca - right there was a SHOE store! OMG! And they were having a SALE! Now you are probably thinking I went nuts - I did -but only in my head. I just looked, I didn't buy anything! I know - hard to believe! I wandered around the 'hood for most of the afternoon and came home around 6ish and just hung out (Tylor was in Barcelona). By about 9pm I decided to give into my fatigue and went to bed. Not 5 minutes after I did that did Tylor come home and wanted to go and eat. So I got up, got dressed again (see there are benefits of not washing your face at night :)) and we went out to some great little Italian restaurant a few blocks away. I was shocked at how busy it was so late a night and how late people eat. I keep reminding myself, that I am just the little Canadian bumpkin! :)

So today, once I get my butt in gear, the plan is to go and get a SIM card so I can use the phone, go for a run (I am trying to stay on my training plan) and go and wander about Central London. I think we have lunch and drinks planned - or at least that was the plan last night. Oh, and there is this store that I saw on our way to dinner, that had the best dress that I want to stop at! Yes, the shopping here is amazing!