We’re back on the road, so to speak — time to dust off the ol’ blog!
A lot has happened since I last wrote: we spent a month between Cambodia and Thailand; we celebrated my brother’s wedding in Seattle; and we spent time with family in both Colorado and Michigan. In August, I stayed stateside and road-tripped from Oregon to New York while Jeff explored Africa (!) for several weeks. [Note: several of our friends took my lack of blogging + our separate travel adventures to mean that there was “trouble in paradise”…not so! Mostly, I needed a break from international travel and Jeff was anxious to press on to Africa. So we parted ways for about five weeks.]
In early September, we celebrated our friends’ wedding in New Jersey followed by 10 days of relaxation and more family time in upstate New York. And now we’re both across the pond for the final segment of our world tour: Europe!
Suffice it to say that I have been a bit negligent with Key to the West. Sometimes it’s challenging to strike a balance between BEING in all the amazing places we’ve been fortunate enough to visit, and, well…writing about them. We tend to move at a pretty fast clip, so it’s easy to fall behind on the blog (we’re in Croatia as I write this, and have been here for five days already!). Moving right along:
We decided to launch our Euro-trip in London. I actually spent a semester in college
partying studying in England and have cousins in west London who were kind enough to host us, so it seemed like a logical first stop.
(By the way, if you’re in the New York area, we got insanely cheap flights from Newburgh to Heathrow via Norwegian Air. We highly recommend skipping the long lines at JFK…plus, Newburgh sells wine in sealed plastic glasses that you can sneak on the plane! Double win!)
Any-who, after a quick red eye, we arrived at my cousins’ place in Hammersmith in the early afternoon, exhausted but determined not to let jet lag get the best of us. After dropping our bags and saying a quick hi-hello to my cousin Roger, Jeff and I hopped on the Tube and headed east to Hyde Park, where we explored Kensington Gardens, Princess Diana’s Memorial Fountain, the Wellington Arch, and of course, Buckingham Palace.
After our brisk walking tour, we skipped off to meet Jeff’s new friends, Gavin and Clare, at a pub near Leicester Square called the Round House. Jeff met G&C while on safari in Botswana, and they are both the LOVELIEST. We all continued on through Covent Garden to a nearby establishment for a traditional English pub supper, making it to approximately 9:30pm before practically falling asleep into our Steak & Ale pies (jet lag!). I wish we had taken a group photo…alas, we forgot.
The following day, we went out to lunch with Roger and Vicki — our hosts — and my dear friend Laura, who had flown in from Philadelphia to spend the weekend with us. [Laura and I actually met for the first time in London, where we both studied abroad and lived together.] Roger suggested a pub nearby their place in Hammersmith called The Eagle, which turned out to be a fantastic spot.
One thing I’ve noticed since I last lived in London eight years ago is that pubs are so much fancier (or more “posh,” as they say) these days! The ones I frequented in college, though charming in their own way, were these dark, sticky-floored, stale beer-smelling establishments. Virtually every pub we visited this time around was decorated very stylishly; you could pretty much count on craft beer, a decent wine list, and a dining menu peppered with artisanal ingredients. Then again, maybe I was just hanging out at the “wrong” places when I was 20.
It also happened to be my birthday, so we began the festivities (ahem, wine) at The Eagle and pretty much continued on from there. Once evening rolled around, Laura helped me spruce up my travel “uniform” of black leggings + sweater with a pair of stilettos she brought from Philly (true friend!).
Because you can’t visit London without “going for a curry,” Jeff, Laura and I went to a delicious Indian restaurant for dinner called Zaika in Kensington. It was delicious, and the ambiance — an old bank — was very special. Highly recommend. We hit a few more bars before calling it quits, including a very cool Richard Branson spot called The Roof Gardens (the latter actually had some beautiful rooftop gardens, much to my surprise!).
On Saturday, Jeff wanted to see the London Bridge, most likely because he heard the Fergie song about it and figured it was the place to be. However, the London Bridge is not very much of a spectacle, so Laura and I took him to the Tower Bridge instead. We walked across the bridge and found a picturesque street of restaurants and bars overlooking the Thames where we — you guessed it! — had a few drinks and enjoyed people watching.
That evening, our trio met up for dinner with my cousins Daniel and Will in Brixton (in the south of the city). Though Laura and I lived in London for a few months, neither of us had ever been to the Brixton area. Daniel and Will — who are, incidentally, Roger & Vicki’s sons — showed us a fabulous time. We dined at the Brixton Village Market, which is an arcade of sorts with a variety of shops and restaurants. Once again, I’m sorry we failed to take a group photo…completely slipped my mind!
On our final day in London, Jeff and I took it fairly easy. We went on a nice jog, had our final “pub meal,” and rested up in anticipation of our 4am wake up call the next day. Second stop: Croatia!