European Food Trip, Part I: London

Lat month Richard and I took some time off to go on a food tour of Europe. I'm going to be be sharing recaps of each city as well as photos from a trip in this series. 

The trip started early in the morning, London time, on a Wednesday. We had just arrived, bleary eyed from our red-eye flight across the pond. I can never sleep on planes and Richard isn't much better at it. But as torturous as that feeling of no sleep and time zone change is, there's something so exhilarating about the disorientation of being plunked down in the middle of a new city, in a different country, and running purely on adrenaline. 

I had been to London once before in college and this was the first time for Richard. We got to our hotel easily though public transportation and then we collapsed and took a nap before refreshing and heading out for a meal. We were staying right by Big Ben and the neighborhood had all of the charm that you'd want a British neighborhood to have. We didn't have any restaurants on our list that we had to go to, more just things in particular that we wanted to eat - everything from steak and ale pie, to fish and chips, and Indian food. I'm happy to report, we successfully checked everything off our list. Here's a recap of some of the highlights:

Our first meal...a Ploughman's Platter and two pints 

Our first meal...a Ploughman's Platter and two pints 

Chips = French Fries, Crisps = Potato Chips 

Chips = French Fries, Crisps = Potato Chips 

There was an old English pub attached to our hotel and next door, a fancy gin bar with giant, kelly green leather sofas and comfortable plaid chairs that felt so right. The gin and tonic was fantastic, a brand that I had never heard of (and I am embarrassed to say that I forgot) and tonic water that was so good, I could have been so happy drinking it on it's own. 

We also saw all of things one must see when visiting London, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, and Harrod's, to name a few. It's a beautiful city and one that is so easy to navigate around. The Brits are so charming too with their formal manner. We were in a coffee shop and someone needed to get by. Instead of muttering excuse me or something to that effect, he looked Richard in the eye, and I remember this so distinctly, in the most friendly way, said, "May I trouble you to move so that I may pass by you?" It was such a simple and politely interactive exchange. Mental note to self: interact more with people, even if just for a moment. 

A cup of English Breakfast tea at High Tea

A cup of English Breakfast tea at High Tea

The aftermath of High Tea

The aftermath of High Tea

We also did high tea, which was very memorable. We sipped our black tea (English breakfast tea, naturally) out of blue flower patterned fine china while dainty rectangular tea sandwiches, mini stones and clotted cream, and more desserts that two people could ever eat were paraded by us. It was so relaxing to linger over tea and treats for two hours. 

Ham hock pie

Ham hock pie

THE gin and tonic 

THE gin and tonic 

The atmosphere at London, come 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon is a lively one and this atmosphere continues into well into the night. There, you're allowed to just take your drink and stand outside a pub so it just looks like the city is engulfed in one giant party. It's loud in a way that makes you feel like you're part of the fun, even if you're just walking by. 

A crowd of people enjoying an outdoor pint. 

A crowd of people enjoying an outdoor pint. 

London was great and it was the perfect first stop. Lively, easy to navigate around and just plain fun. My favorite bite was the ham hock pie (pictured above). We bought it at Harrod's and ate it right outside the building on a bench. It was a chilly and dreary day and the warmth of the pie was perfection. We stop back in London at the end of our trip, just for evening before flying home. After a couple of days in the city, we boarded the Eurostar and headed to our next city, Brussels.