London Day Three

During our stay my friend (L) and I visited “Le Pain Quotidien” quite a few times. “Le Pain Quotidien” is an organic restaurant chain that has stores ALL over London and one of their stores was just around the corner of our B&B and so we went there to grab some of their bread first thing in the morning before heading over to Marylebone on Sunday, had dinner once (the chanterelle and chickpea soup is really good) and on Monday morning I tried their Granola Parfait in their store next to Borough Market (we had headed for Monmouth for the second time, this time it was closed because of a Bank Holiday). The Granola Parfait seemed to be really popular as I had seen a lot of people ordering it and it looked very pretty. After my first bite, I was really happy with my joice, I loved the fresh fruit on top, the joghurt and the granola that wasn’t overly sweet. My kind of breakfast treat. L and I decided that we really needed “Le Pain Quotidien” in Switzerland, since we don’t have anything like this chain that has take-away options, is well-priced and sells fresh, delicious organic food. Funnily enough, after I got home and browsed the internet for a little more information on “Le Pain Quotidien”, I found out that they already have stores in two Swiss cities, one of them being Zürich where I go to university. I will definitely give that one a go soon.

Granola Parfait

Then we took the “Thames Path” once again to walk over to the Tate Modern where we spent the rest of our morning. The temporary exposition in the basement was not so much our thing but we really liked the expositions called “Transformed Visions” and “Poetry and Dream”. After that we crossed the Millennium Bridge and had a look at St. Paul’s Cathedral and then continued to Covent Garden and Picadilly.

St. Paul’s

In the late afternoon we took the bus to Islington  because we had both never been to that area and had heard good things of it. We liked the area a lot, came across a lot of smaller lovely shops, it wasn’t crowded at all and we had one of our best meals at a restaurant called “The Elk in the Woods”. I already loved it the moment we entered. To me it looked like a classic pub with a modern twist, a lot of wood combined with fancy wallpaper (feel free to correct me if I am writing utter nonsense!). Since we were in a pub, I had to order a cider and the one I got was huge (probably just normal) and sooo good. I also loved what it said on the label:

Then I had their “beetroot and carrot houmous with pitta” and the “halloumi with homemade preserved lemons”. All I can say is that I loved every bite of what I had. I also got to try some of my friends “pea guacamole” which was equally delicious. For dessert we had the “apple and rum crumble with custard” which was hands down the best crumble I had ever tasted! We really enjoyed our dinner at “The Elk in the Woods” a lot and I cannot recommend it highly enough to you. The service was also great and I found it all really well-priced. If you go there (and you really should), don’t miss out on the restrooms, even those are brilliant at this place 😉 . http://www.the-elk-in-the-woods.co.uk/

London Day One

We arrived in London early in the morning and headed straight for our Bed and Breakfast to drop off our luggage. Our B&B was just around the corner of Notting Hill Gate tube station and since Notting Hill is one of my favorite areas in London, the location was just perfect. When we entered the road, we knew that we had chosen the right place. The houses looked just as lovely as we had imagined, it was calm yet animate with a restaurant just beside our B&B and cheerful people on the streets. The B&B itself was also great and our host, Hilary charming and very helpful. We did not have breakfast at her place (I asked for a room without breakfast since I had so many places on my list and we were given a discounted rate), but we had a kettle in our room to make tea (Clipper!) and coffee and there was a fruit basket and cookies. Our en-suite bathroom was huge which we loved. Hilary even made our bed and brought us fresh towels once. I cannot recommend her B&B highly enough! http://www.26hillgateplace.co.uk/

Right after dropping off our luggage, we went to the Notting Hill Famers’ Market around the corner and boy, it was beautiful. I would love to show you a few pictures but I was just too hungry and forgot to take pictures once I held that glorious food in my hands. I tried Irish Soda bread for the first time at the stall of Celtic Bakers and happened to love it! I bought half a loaf of it and had it with amazing tomatos from The Tomato Stall. Everything else looked great as well and if you happen to be in London on a Saturday, you should definitely go there. http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/notting-hill/

With satisfied bellies we went on to Portobello Road Market since my friend had never been there before. The market takes places on Saturdays as well and happens to be very crowded and touristy on that day but is something you have to see once even if I prefer the area on other days.

On the way to Borough Market

And on we went to the next market… 🙂 Borough Market that is. I went there for the first time and simply loved the place, even if it was quite crowded and touristy as well. I would recommend to go early in the morning though. I was one happy girl when I spotted “Monmouth Coffee Company” but then I saw the huge queue in front and we decided that we had to postpone our visit since we both needed a coffee badly. Before leaving the market, we went for a quick visit of “Neal’s Yard Dairy”, “Gelateria 3Bis” and “Aesop”, all around the corner of “Monmouth Coffee Company” and places that are not to be missed. http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

Long queues in front of “Monmouth”

I had another place in mind that was said to have great coffee but was not really sure how far away it was. We decided to walk anyways and took the “Thames Path” (http://www.thames-path.org.uk/) which was lovely and very peaceful but took us longer than I had tought. In the end we were rewarded with great coffee at a great place, Fernandez and Wells at Somerset House. Somerset House is one of my favourite buildings in London and it has great expositions and free guided tours. Just make sure you get there ahead of time since the tours are often booked up. If you do so, you should spend your waiting time at “Fernandez and Wells”, have a great coffee and enjoy some of their pastries. I had a slice of gluten-free/dairy-free clementine and chocolate cake and it was amazing. http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/ http://fernandezandwells.com/somerset-house.php

Cakes at Fernandez and Wells

Then happened what had to happen in London. 🙂 The rain started to pour down. Luckily we were still inside the cafe and were able to wait until the worst had passed. After some time we decided to leave though, even if it still rained quite heavily and we arrived at our B&B with soaking wet feet. Just make sure you always (!) put on waterproof shoes in London and don’t let the blue skies in the morning fool you!

London Love

Last Wednesday I returned home from a five day trip to London. It was my third visit to London and I seem to fall in love more with this city each time I visit. There is barely anything about the place that does not make my heart burst with joy, from the friendly and helpful Londoners to the stunning streets and buildings to the great atmosphere and (of course) the wide range of amazing food.

I love to plan my journeys and read a lot about the places I want to visit because that way I can get more out of it and besides it somehow prolongs my holiday as I am able to travel to the place before I am actually physically there. And restaurants and other eating places obviously have a big share in my holiday planning. I know it can be just as nice and I do love the spontaneity of incidentally stumbling upon a lovely place but to me there is also a lot to the anticipation when it comes to travelling.

For now I leave you with a few first impressions but I will be back soon with more pictures and details about the places I visited and the great food I enjoyed.

Next to Portobello Road Market

Long queues in front of Monmouth Coffee Company at Borough Market

Amazing cakes at Fernandez and Wells in Somerset House

Marylebone Farmers’ Market

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Cider at The Elk in the Woods

Notting Hill