March 8 to March 13, 2016
Day 1 (3/8/2016): As soon as we arrived at the train station, we went to a currency exchange booth to get some pounds. Holly Molly how ridiculous the exchange is. I went to a cash machine to take cash out. 300 Pounds for over $400, that was a bit ridiculous, but oh well, I needed the cash. We then took a cab to the Lancaster Gate Hotel where we will be staying for the remainder of the trip. This is the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in. WORST. Bare minimum amenities (which is fine because we bring our own toiletries). Two twin beds with shitty mattress. I couldn’t sleep on it but I didn’t complain until the day before I was leaving so I only got to sleep on a good mattress for one night (my mistake). We decided not to do much the day we arrive so we just walked around Notting Hill and ate dinner in the area. We went to a restaurant called Beach Blanket Babylon Notting Hill. Very weird name but inside is beautiful, but the food not so much. I ordered a steak medium temperature, it came well done and I have no idea how they cooked the steak but it definitely isn’t cooked the right way. This is a place I would go for drinks and maybe have some appetizers, but don’t eat lunch or dinner there. The ambiance is great and the service is great, but food is below average.
Day 2 (3/9/2016): Breakfast at the hotel then Hampton Court Palace day!!! So for those of you who know me well, you will know that I am obsessed with the Tudor history. Hampton Court is the one place everyone who loves the Tudor’s must go. I saw some amazing things and felt at home there. We also got to have a treat where as soon as we arrived there were actors rehearsing a scene. I immediately know what the scene was about as it is accurate to history. It was about Lady Anne Boleyn complaining to Henry VIII about Queen Katherine still mending / making his shirts. This event actually was recorded in history. I took a selfie with one of the actors then went our way to seeing the rest of the Hampton court. I enjoyed seeing all the paintings that I’ve only seen in books or online. I am so glad I can finally see them in person. For lunch we ate at a dining place in the palace, I have to say the service was horrendous but the food was not too bad. I had potato leek soup (I will always get potato leek soup if available) and chicken pot pie. With a full belly, I was able to go on and see the garden. What a sight! Breath taking. I really wished I lived there. For dinner, I can’t remember where I went to eat but I do remember it wasn’t good.
Day 3 (3/10/2016): Breakfast at the hotel, then British Museum day! So far the food was the worst and history was the best. I know the British Museum won’t disappoint. We had an English breakfast at the hotel (not too bad) then took the tube to the British Museum. So beautiful on the outside, but they make you pay for a good map, but then I found out there was a free map further into the museum (sucker!). Saw Rosetta Stone check and saw the Chinese Emperor’s seal check (why do they have it? IDK). And saw a little about the war of the roses (they should have more). It’s amazing this place stores so much! We then went out for lunch at Ippudo London. SOOOO good but still can’t compare to what I had in Tokyo. We then went back to the British Museum to finish the rest of the day. We then went to Jamie Oliver’s for dinner. It was very good but didn’t wow me.
Day 4 (3/11/2016): Breakfast at the hotel, the National Museum in the morning, Lunch, Tower of London in the afternoon and then dinner at Medieval Banquet. The National Museum is huge on the outside and inside. It is very, very beautiful and had people on the outside perform, kind of similar to our 5th avenue by central park. Finally saw some paintings! I didn’t realize the British museum had no paintings so I am glad the National Museum has paintings. Saw some key paintings from Cezanne’s self-portrait, Hans Holbein the younger’s painting of Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan (Hans Holbein painted her for Henry VIII so he can pick the next queen) I always love to see Hans Holbein the younger’s paintings because it always means I get to see a glimpse of the people in Henry VIII’s court, and Van Gogh’s sunflower painting. Again Picture to come. We then went to lunch at a spot near the Tower of London. This place is very disorganized and the food was no good, again, I forget the name, in fact, I didn’t even take pictures of it. I guess coming from the states where service is important, then going to a city where service isn’t important, I shouldn’t be too surprised. We then walked over to The Tower of London, another important place for the Tudors. We even did a free tour there with a Yeoman of the guards and all the talked about was the Tudors. Some cool pics to come! For dinner I made reservations to the Medieval Banquet, since I’ve been to the one in the states, I figured this one would be better since medieval was an English era. Boy was I wrong!!!!!! The one in London sucked big time. All they had were people doing juggling and some singing. The food was ok, not as good as the one I had in the states. I give up! No longer looking for good food in London.
Day 5 (3/12/2016): It’s really a free day but we decided to go to Harrods. You have to go to Harrods. I saw the remembrance for Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed on one of the floors. Then went and bought a few Longchamp bags (yes, stupid me, I should have bought them in Paris which would be even cheaper!) Longchamp is very cheap in Europe so if you are reading this, buy Longchamp in Paris even though it is still cheaper in London then the states. A really cool thing about Harrods is that they have a café/restaurant on each floor, so we decided to rest and have some tea before we go to the Mandarin Oriental for afternoon tea. =0) The afternoon tea at the Mandarin Oriental is delicious!!! Finally some amazing food and it is unlimited tea sandwiches (score!). Again, pictures to come. We then went to see the typical touristy things like the Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey then last stop was Chinatown of London. Chinatown of London is so different than Chinatown of NYC. They are much cleaner lol but from the one restaurant I went to, I have to say our food is still better, but that is only one restaurant in Chinatown London that I got to compare.
Conclusion: London the city is amazing and I would visit again. I just won’t put too much emphasis on food. I will go purely for the fun and the historical portion of the city. The only time I’ve had good food is when I go to high-end restaurants. Also, if you want good service, go to a high-end restaurant only because service really sucks there. The scary part is, the best food I had were Fish and Chips at the airport. =) Beer batter and all, it was sooo good! So Fish and Chips is a must in London. I’ve had a few rude experiences from some people in London but I suspect it’s just because they don’t like their job. Also at the end of this trip, one thing I forgot to do was VAT (tax refund) in Paris. I could have had everything done in one shot at Heathrow airport but I didn’t get the form signed in Paris so that was my fault. I did do the forms in the London shops so I did get some tax money back. Before you do international travel, go to the www.globalblue.com website and sign up for their card so it’s easy for the vendors to just swipe and all info is there for them. So yes, on this international trip, I’ve learned a lot and for my next international trip, I will make sure to get all my tax money back. =0)
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The Style Gourmande