London is a special place to us. The last time we were in London was 1998 when pregnant with our first son, we knew travel was going to be on hold for a while as family responsibilities was about to grow. Gina went to college on a semester abroad in Kensington, so she has always had a special love for London. We even honeymooned 5 days in London which was my first venture to a foreign country and loved every west end show and site. So, here we are back this very special place.
Our Hotel was the Royal Lancaster around the corner from Paddington station and in the middle/northside of Hyde Park – an exemplary hotel that caters to travelers – perfect choice Viking cruises! Quiet area centrally located on top of a tube stop, we would definitely stay here again. It did not take long for us to drop our bags and head out on an adventure – as we re-acquainted ourselves with the London subway system – first choice – some old stomping grounds of Kensington.
We made our way over to see where Gina went to school and lived over 40 years ago – very cool to hear her recant some stories of life of a student attending a international college, living in a foreign country, with little money, making new friends, taking in pubs, shows and traveling to other countries on weekends.
We took a brisk walk from South Kensington to Knightsbridge to reach the shopping district which included Harrod’s of course. Harrods is so cool but most importantly, it has a section off the shopping area dedicated to food – and a few fine restaurants to boot – our choice was the Italian restaurant – which we were seated at the chef’s station with the chefs preparing meals in front of us – entertaining and delicious! We concluded our afternoon making our way back to the hotel to get our room and prepare ourselves for the evening dinning reservation.
That evening, based upon the suggestion of our son who was in London the past December, we made reservations at the sky garden – in the downtown financial district, top floor a 38th story tower that gives awesome views of the city below. The Sky Garden is a combination of Lounge/bar/restaurant and event space with floor to ceiling windows in a multi-level space – the restaurant was nice, more informal and accommodates families – the menu had choices you would find in an American eateries. The price you do pay for is the views.
The next day, our last full day of our Trip before traveling back to home, we spent soaking our truly favorite part of London we could in a day that our legs would allow. Covent gardens, Trafalgar square, Leicester Square, and finally, Chinatown for a classic Chinese meal.
It was a misty/rainy day – but we did enjoy walking and riding the London tube. We were amazed how we were able to manage our directions. London tube with your credit card entry was awesome. But alas, we need to be back at the room for a decent time to pack, place our bags outside our room, then dress ourselves to go to an elegant dinner – for tonight, we were going to Ting, at the Chard – the glass tower near London bridge.
Again, another restaurant towering over London – at the 38th floor views of Tower bridge and all of London is spectacular – We had a window table even better. We even could see the Viking Mars ship still docked in a distance near Greenwich. Ting is actually part of a Shangri-La hotel and offers exceptional dinning. As the sun set, the lights of the city glistened, we felt the relaxing sense of what travel can be all about. We had a 5 course pre-set menu that covered all the taste senses a restaurant can offer – paired with wine, we had a meal that capped off a wonderful trip. Oh yeah, what a view from the urinal.
Our trip back home was on time and had no issues – we got up very early (4 AM) took the Viking furnished transfer bus to London/Heathrow, managed our way through check in and while it was early, we did have time in a airport lounge waiting for our gate instructions. Arrived in Miami after a 9 hour flight, passed through customs (after a long walk) and my son Matthew with Sydney picked us up to be home before 5PM… A great return to home.
Where is our next adventure? Stay tuned – as I will practice and improve this whole blogging thing – but we will post our next itinerary soon. A hint, this will require a long flight and we plan to celebrate New Years Eve with special fireworks over a world know structure many hours before anyone in US.
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