Friday March 25th
After making a great lunch for the school, I headed for the airport to catch a plane to London. The trip was super easy. I got to Liverpool station at about 6:30 and met up with a friend Sebastian Schluter who I hadn’t seen in a long time. He lives in the University of Westminster housing and had a kitchen so we went right to the market to get some goodies. In light of the delicious lunch, I recreated a dinner that was just as special. Although the resources in a dorm kitchen are even more limited than you would imagine, I was still able to come up with a method to make everything work. Dinner was accompanied by a few Bulmers, which is the name of an Irish company that makes really good cider. Bulmers is renowned for their high quality fermented cider! The annoying thing about London is that everything is so expensive and you pay for stuff in pounds.
To walk off the meal, we headed down Victoria Street and walked by Westminster Abbey/ Big Ben, and the House of Parliament. This was the beginning of great food and sight seeing in a fantastic City.
Saturday March 26
Today was a long day of sight seeing. We started by going to the Tate Modern museum. Getting there took longer than expected because there was tens maybe even hundreds of thousands of people walking along the river protesting the rise in college tuition and pension cuts. As a result we were forced to walk inland and then cut back over the Millennium Bridge. At the museum, there was a beautiful view of London from the 6th floor balcony. Also there was a really cool sunflower exhibit. I would tell you how many sunflowers lay on the floor but unfortunately before I was able to finish reading all of the information on the exhibit, the fire alarm, yes that’s right, went off and the security guards quickly evacuated the building.
Outside, we noticed that the Globe Theater was right next-door and went and had a look. We didn’t stay for a play but it was a cool sight. From here Basti and I debated going into a pub for fish in chips or going to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We decided that it was too early for lunch and walked to the cathedral, which took a while. We went into the main part of the Cathedral but didn’t go the whole way in because we didn’t want to pay the entrance fee. You will find that this is a recurring theme in my travels. From here we wondered up Ludgate Hill St. in the opposite direction of the protesters, past the London School of Economics and went to Neal’s Yard Dairy. Neal’s yard is a great cheese vender that emphasizes local and small farm cheese. There, we sampled a few cheeses and picked up some real buffalo mozzarella for Caprese. Finally we headed back to the flat for lunch.
After lunch we went to Portobello Road, which is a huge street that has lots of interesting shops and a lively atmosphere. Basti and I stopped at a really cool pizza shop and split a slice, which was just what we needed. It was cold out and the warm bread covered in delicious sauce and a little bit of cheese was just what I needed to warm up. Fortunately, we hit Portobello Road on a day when there happened to be a market and there were venders selling everything from jewelry to homemade paella. We found that the produce was surprisingly cheap- three times less than it would be at the market and made a few purchases. We were very happy with our purchases but found out later that we should have bargained and dropped the “Poor Student” phrase to get more bang for our buck. In addition to these purchases, we had a large helping of paella with clams, calamari, and shrimp. It was delicious. I think that the rice was a little too al dente but it didn’t matter. The flavor was exceptional, the ingredients were high quality and watching the cooking process was exciting.
After this snack we continued wandering around Portobello Road and eventually decided to go have pre-dinner dessert in Hampstead Heath. Even though it was a schlepp, the crepe stand is located right down the street from the tube stop and I had been waiting 5 years to go back to La Creperie de Hampstead. In my opinion they make the best crepes in the world even better than the ones in Paris. I had a chocolate crepe with banana and rum. It was delicious. The melted dark Belgium chocolate oozed out of the crepe and with every bite I received a sweet banana and a nice sharp contrast from the strong rum. At 4 pounds 20, the crepes are not the cheapest in town but the steep price and the commute is worth the flavor explosion! At the stand, we met two Cambridge grads who said always bargain for more stuff at the markets. They were interesting people. Did you know that Cambridge grads get sent master’s degrees two years after they finished their B.A. just because the curriculum is supposedly sooo hard? After the crepe stand we headed home for dinner. We had Caprese and leftover rice for dinner and then went out to a pub.
Sunday March 27th
Today we woke up late. I actually woke up first and went to the market to get a few supplies. After breakfast, we headed to Brick Lane, which is a great street full of shops, street venders, a flee market, and lots of amazing food. Our first stop was Brick Lane Beigel Bakery. It is a Jewish bakery that makes homemade bagel’s 24 7 and they make incredible salt beef. Additionally they sell dozens of bagel’s at a very cheap price. We picked up a salmon and a salt beef with mustard bagel, and a dozen for 3 pounds.
From Brick Lane, we headed to the Imperil War Museum. Even though I had been there during my previous stay in England, it is a cool place and the holocaust memorial is always moving. After this, we headed to Camden Town Market, where we had delicious fish and chips and then stopped at a pub to pick up another bulmers. From here, we caught the C2 bus back to victoria but ended up detouring through Green Park. It was a really nice day out and when I heard that we were stopping at Green Park I decided we should walk through, stop at Buckingham palace, which we did and got a great view of it as the sun was setting behind it; then headed home to make dinner. Dinner was spicy peanut noodles, which I have previously posted, with homemade guac and tortilla chips as appetizers. Sebastian appreciated my help in the kitchen and enjoyed having someone do the cooking. He was a very great and competent sous chef.
Monday March 28
Today I took the London underground to Liverpool Station, where I hopped onto the Stansted express to the airport.