Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#CheerioRaffs

Last week I talked about travel tips and then did a little recap of the first part of our 2016 Eurotrip, and then promptly had house guests for three nights and forgot to blog about the rest of our trip. Oops. Here I am. ANYWAY!

After leaving Paris, we took the high-speed train to London and voila! Less than 3 hours later we had arrived and my terrible British accent was out in full force, much to Rami's utter delight.



Once again, we turned to our trusty Starwood points, and stayed at the W Hotel. I had absolutely no idea when I booked it, but the W is actually smack in the middle of Leicester Square, Chinatown, and the West End (where all the Broadway shows are), and most everything we wanted to see or do was SO close by. We walked everywhere! I will say that Leicester Square can be compared somewhat to Times Square - it is PACKED with people at all times of the day and night and can be a little overwhelming, but in my opinion, it makes up for that by its convenience, and our room was very big and luxurious.

The thing I wanted to do most in London? HIGH TEA. I am obsessed with the idea of afternoon tea and as someone who doesn't drink coffee but loves tea, this was my #1 request. The first tea we took (HA I AM SO BRITISH) was something I had read about literally 10 years ago - "Pret-a-port-tea" at The Berkeley Hotel, where all the little pastries and cakes are shaped like purses and shoes and accessories and are based on the latest runway fashions from haute couture designers! 




We also had an amazing tea on the last day of 2016 at Sketch London. Sketch kept appearing on everyone's lists of their favorite things to do while in London so I was curious - and when I investigated, I knew we had to go. I don't even know how to describe it - avant guard? Whimsical? Slightly insane? It was so cool and colorful and beautiful inside. While we drank our tea, a full on GOSPEL CHOIR came out of nowhere and performed Christmas carols. The bathroom stalls were futuristic pods and the ceiling had rainbow lights and there was a whole room that looked like a forest and I just loved everything. 




The weather while we were in Europe was really nice - we totally lucked out - it was cold but not rainy, and we had warm jackets so it wasn't bad at all. The day we went to the Tower of London, however, was foggy and freezing and windy, and of course that was the day we waited outside in line for an hour to see the Crown Jewels! (Thank you husband for fetching the hot chocolate so I did not freeze to death.)




I also highly recommend the Churchill War Rooms - I love history museums and we really enjoyed going into the building that housed a secret World War 2 bunker. It was a little claustrophobic but we managed to have fun anyway.




If you know us, you know we love theater - despite my BEST ATTEMPTS, we were unable to get Harry Potter show tickets which was mildly devastating to say the least. Instead, we bought tickets in advance to see School of Rock on New Years Eve - we didn't know what to expect but were pleasantly surprised - and actually, while wandering around, we realized that a singer from NYC who we really like was also in London for a 10-night show, so we saw Christina Bianco perform one night as well! 


Other fun things that I recommend: as tourists, we did our due diligence and saw Big Ben, the London Eye, and Westminster Abbey. We took a very cool London Rock Music Tour, where we were driven all around the city in a comfy bus and got to see apartments and buildings that have a place in rock & roll history - Rami loooooved it. 



We visited Harrah's for some shopping and a little nosh. (When I die, sprinkle my ashes in that Food Hall. It was the most amazing ridiculous thing I have ever seen in my entire life.)




London is also known for their amazing Mediterranean food right now - the best restaurants in the genre are NOPI by Ottolenghi (of Plenty and Jerusalem cookbook fame) and a new place called Palomar. We went to both and enjoyed both but I'd give the edge to Palomar, actually. 


All in all, we were there for 10 days and had a really awesome time. I am already thinking about where we can go next and use more of our Starwood points - Tokyo? Barcelona? Thailand? THE WORLD IS HUGE AND I WANT TO SEE ALL OF IT!!! 

PS. You can see more pictures from our trip on Instagram - #bonjourraffs for Paris pictures and #cheerioraffs for London pictures. I like coming up with a hashtag for each trip. I'm also the go-to for coming up with clever wedding hashtags. Is this my legacy?

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