I’ve done a little travelling in my time. I’ve been across the globe, to places like Australia at the grand age of 12, and took a holiday to New York three years later. Which is why it surprises me that it took me 23 years to head to a place slightly closer. Over a weekend in July, I ticked off a travel bucket list box.
A friend of mine had moved to London in early June, it was perfect. I had a tour guide, I had the weekend off, and I had a head full of ideas.
I also had a four am wake up call to tend to. I flew into Stansted at half six on the Saturday, and came back to Dublin on a 10pm Sunday flight. Almost 48 hours, and more than enough time to get some of the sights I wanted to see, seen.
Where did you stay?
I bunked in with my friend Dermot, who’d moved over for work in June (thanks recession) in his new flat in Notting Hill, no less. I’m not even going to tell you how much it cost in case anyone reading has a weak heart.
What did you do?
I did so much in the two days that it wouldn’t even be possible to go through them all in detail. So, instead, a summary.
Before I’d even dropped my luggage off, we found ourselves at Buckingham Palace. I’d arrived to Victoria Station, which is only a five minute walk from the palace. We also arrived Buckingham as a ceremonial event was happening (Lizzie must have been coming home from Tesco or something) so there was procession going on. Luckily, Dermot, Suitcase and I didn’t get tangled up in it.
First shopping port of call was Harrods, which I could easily have spent the entire day in navigating through the four floors. The smells from the food courts and from the perfumery are just divine, and the food court definitely got my mouth watering. So much so, it was here in the Laudre of Harrods I sampled my first four macaroons ever- salted caramel, raspberry, strawberry dream marshmallow and red berry. The strawberry one was like biting into a bag of pure sugar (havoc for my already sensitive teeth), but the caramel offering was a dream. No doubt I’ll be found in Brown Thomas indulging myself again very soon.
On Saturday night, we headed for the West End for a showing of Wicked. To paraphrase a song from the show, and use a colloquialism from where I grew up, the show was “wicked good”. Despite knowing some of the songs, I’d never actually seen the show before, and it was great to finally see where the songs fit in, and how they mirrored The Wizard of Oz. It should also be mentioned that I didn’t sing during the show. Not once. Progress.
While Saturday’s weather was glorious 30 degree sunshine, Sunday was a little milder. It might have been better to do this the day before, but Sunday morning had us in Westminster visiting Big Ben, the Abbey, and having a spin on the London Eye. Tickets for this are £23 for an adult, and you can be queuing for up to an hour during busy periods, but it is more than worth it when you get to the top.
We also visited St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, and the restaurant where they film First Dates on Channel Four. We didn’t eat there though, in case it would give the wrong impression.
Ok so where did you eat?
We had dinner on Saturday before the show in Sugo, an Italian in Notting Hill Gate tube station. We were in a bit of a rush to make the show, but we still wanted something that would fill us. This place was more than what we were looking for- I went basic for some bolognese, he had carbonara, and both of us had a glass of house wine. It only set us back £26, and I can’t recommend it higher.
On Sunday, just before I headed back to the airport, we grabbed a quick plate in Recipease, also in Notting Hill Gate. The pasta here was incredibly fresh and tasty, but the best part was the cookery class going on in the middle of the restaurant. This looked like a fantastic idea, and would be a great laugh for hen/stag nights, first dates, or just even a Saturday night. If you’re ever in the London area you HAVE to head here, just head on the Central, District or Circle line and get off at Notting Hill Gate.