Our first long (Bank Holiday) weekend was spent in London....with lots of crowds.....
Scott waiting for our train to arrive with our bags packed.
We left Saturday morning and took the train from our town (of course we missed our train initially because we were on the wrong side of the tracks and probably running a little too late due to a stop for a cup of coffee!) down to London. Once we arrived in London, we easily got straight on to the Tube and headed to the Mayfair neighborhood to check into our hotel to drop off our bags. Then, it was off to find this stylish cheese shop and cafe I had read about recently -La Fromagerie - for a late lunch.
This store and tasting cafe did not disappoint! Oh the cheese. We could smell it from blocks away.....it was glorious. This store has the most amazing "cheese room" in it behind glass doors. They only allow a few patrons at a time in there. It was beautiful. The restaurant has a small set of farm-like tables with benches squeezed in the back of the store - their "tasting cafe", and so we ate our lunch back there. We ordered the cheese plate of the day and also the charcuterie plate with some recommended red wine for our meal.
Our delicious lunch....
And for dessert, we had this delicious rendition of carrot cake.
I will try to replicate the recipe for that carrot cake! It had a scrumptious layer of orange glaze on top of it and then had a creamy filling with a bit of orange zest in the middle. YUM.
In order to burn the many calories that we inhaled all weekend long, we walked all over town to various events. On Sunday, we walked towards Buckingham Palace to see the celebration London was having in honor of the hand over of the Olympic Torch from Beijing to London. A very nice English woman overheard us asking someone about where to get tickets and she gave us two tickets to the party in front of the palace, so we braved the lines and the crowd, and attended the celebration for a while.
Our tickets to gain entry into the London 2012 celebration - it was clearly shown everywhere that this event was sponsored by Visa.
There were big screens set up all around the area to show the closing ceremonies live from Beijing.
The celebration also included an afternoon of British pop star performances and a lot of rallying for excitement towards 2012. It made us pretty excited at the idea of Chicago being a host for the Olympics in 2016 (hopefully we'll be living there!).
As we left, I turned around and took this photo. It is difficult to see how many people are in the crowd - but it was pretty neat to see 50,000 people standing in front of the Palace all waving UK flags in the air.
That afternoon, we walked to the British Museum but both decided after about an hour inside the museum that we would need at least a full day to explore the contents of it. We look forward to returning to museum to learn more about the historical contents inside.
Scott in front of the British Museum
This morning (Monday) we decided to brave the crowds again and headed to the Notting Hill Carnival. A recent article we just saw online tonight said there were over 850,000 carnival-goers there today. It was crowded! It is Europe's largest street festival with massive crowds, Caribbean music and steel drums, colorful floats, and street vendors selling Caribbean food.
The crowds going into the Notting Hill Carnival. Notice how all of the first stories of these houses are boarded up - it appeared that every business covered their store fronts with boards so nothing would happen while the carnival was taking place.
The food vendors all seemed to have Jerk Chicken grilling - last year more than 5 tons were consumed!
The smoke from the barbecuing permeated the air....
Scott trying the Jerk Chicken and the corn on the cob. Both were pretty tasty.
The floats and masquerade people in the parade were quite colorful.
Found this so interesting....a Brit walking around campaigning for Obama in the UK.
After the carnival, we made our way back to pick up our luggage and then catch our train back up north. This quiet little town and our quaint country hotel was a welcome change after a weekend packed with people. Tomorrow we are allegedly moving into our new house here! GOODBYE HOTEL LIFE!!!
Our beautiful hotel for tonight. We only WISH we had checked into this place before tonight! This place is so much more peaceful and elegant than our time at the Holiday Inn....