I am writing stateside, following an incredible trip to the United Kingdom earlier this month. From the city, to the sea, to the country, I explored some of the most incredible areas in England and am super excited to share!
Much to the dismay of my neighborhood trick-or-treaters, I flew out to England on Halloween night, arriving at London Heathrow on Wednesday morning. My dad and I flew out together to share the first part of the trip before he traveled up to Scotland for a conference and I ventured to meet my best friend at her home in London. When we arrived, we picked up our rental car and headed straight to Brighton. I use the term straight here lightly, as the trip was full of seemingly unnecessary roundabouts and the drive itself was no less than treacherous. As often as other countries give the US a bad reputation, let me tell you, we have completely nailed urban planning and driving laws. I digress. But in retrospect, our potentially ill-advised plan to drive from London to Brighton and onward to Bath turned out to be relatively harmless, despite a few shed tears (from me) and grey hairs (from my dad). That said, you won’t see me taking the wheel in a country that requires driving on the opposite side of the road anytime soon.
When we arrived in Brighton, it was a beautiful day, complete with a crisp autumn sea breeze and streaming sunshine. Once we settled into our hotel, we immediately headed to find the best fish and chips in the area. After three convincing recommendations from the locals, we decided on the unassuming seaside Regency Restaurant and each ordered a plate of proper fish and chips. It was outstanding to say the least. Following, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the shore and exploring the quaint downtown area. For dinner, we enjoyed fresh seafood and bubbles at Riddle & Finns Champagne and Oyster Bar. It was the perfect end to our first day.
The next morning, after a crisp run along the shore, we enjoyed a proper English Breakfast (black pudding and all!) and fought the impending jet lag before hitting the road to our next destination, Stonehenge. Heading into the countryside meant lots of driving snafus, so yet again, I had to brace myself for my dad’s lack of spacial awareness on the road, but we made it in one piece. Stonehenge was incredible, and I suppose it being a wonder of the world, shouldn’t make that surprising, but alas, it was.
We then drove up to Bath, and unfortunately by the time we arrived, the sun had already set (curse you northern countries!) so we had to explore by night. Despite this little hiccup, Bath was also a beautiful town with great architecture and interesting shops. The cobblestones do get a bit tough with heels though! I finished the day with my new obsession, Dinner Date -- A trashy reality TV show on Britain’s iTV. Who knew the UK produced such binge-worthy garbage television?
The next morning, my father and I went our separate ways, as I headed out to London to meet my bestie. She met me on the platform at Paddington Station and we walked over to the Soho neighborhood of London where we shopped before our reservation at Sketch, a chic tea room, often frequented by the crème de la crème... and with good reason. With free flowing tea, and pastries and tea sandwiches that the Queen would approve of, this Michelin-starred tea party is something out of a dream. Despite a few comical mishaps regarding etiquette (don’t ask how we handled the egg soldiers and caviar course), it was a delight of a time and I hope to go back for the champagne tea during my next visit.
After we recovered from our food comas, we headed out for a late Indian dinner in the Shoreditch area, the hipster haven of London. We arrived at Dishoom, an Indian restaurant that boasts multi-hour long waits; however, the staff keeps the waiting clientele happy with sips of cocktails and warm chai lattes. Once we were in, we indulged in the most amazing Indian fare and carefully crafted cocktails. It was a surprise we were able to complete our plates after the afternoon tea, but the food was too delicious to pass up. We headed home that evening with full tummies and happy hearts.
The next morning, we enjoyed brunch at The Pear Tree with Australian-style fare that was certainly up to par with my favorite brunch places in the States. After enjoying an amazing avocado and poached egg toast, we headed out to Westminster to begin our walking tour. Starting at Big Ben (sadly obscured by loads of scaffolding), we crossed the bridge and walked along the Thames strolling through Borough Market and finally back over Tower Bridge to enjoy some beers and ciders at The Dickens Inn, a hidden cozy waterfront pub for locals. Fairly exhausted from our day of walking, we headed home for some R&R before we went out on the town that evening. Once we were back in commission, we enjoyed artisan cocktails at Cahoots, a train-station-themed speakeasy nestled in the quaint Soho neighborhood before calling it a night fairly early (it had been a DAY).
The next morning, we mozied over to Notting Hill where we indulged in a traditional English Roast, (which is essentially English brunch meets Thanksgiving) at The Mall Tavern. We shared a whole chicken complete with all of the fixin's, including the most delightful Yorkshire Puddings (if you know, you know). After loosening the belt a few notches, we wandered through the neighborhood toward Kensington Palace and walked through Hyde Park, which is absolutely stunning this time of year. We ended our afternoon in shoe heaven at Harrods, as we marveled over the gorgeous footwear and the posh shoppers (who could actually afford the inventory). One day I tell you!
We spent our last evening enjoying a meal at home, watching the celebratory fireworks in honor of Guy Fawkes Day, and an episode of Blue Planet (apparently it’s a national craze and I have to admit it was pretty cool).
The next morning, it was back to the States for me! While I was sad to say goodbye to my bestie and this amazing country, it was an amazing trip and I look forward to returning very soon! Until my next adventure….
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