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Travel Log - London

Mike C | Dec 12, 2000 09:48 AM

Following is my travel log from my trip to London that I took with my wife almost two months ago. Once again there is a lot of sight seeing mentioned, but everyday ends with a nice meal and there is plenty of food consumed before dinner.

London – Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Once again I find myself tagging along on one of my wife’s business trips. We went a few days early and got to spend a couple of days together in London. Allison was in London years ago as a child, but I’ve never been there so I’m really looking forward to this trip. She is going to hopefully tag along on my next trip to Las Vegas in February, but it’s not quite like Europe.

We arrived in London early after an uneventful flight. We took a taxi to the Knightsbridge Green Hotel. Our room wasn’t ready, but we expected that since it was 8:30 AM. So we freshen up, rearrange our bags and head out for the day. First things first, we need some breakfast. The concierge suggested Café Mina located in the alley around the corner. It’s far from fancy, but two cheese sandwiches later we’re set to go. While sitting at the café we took a peek at one of the guidebooks to plan our day as best we can. We’ve both been real busy with work and travel and thus we didn’t get to plan our trip the way we would have if time permitted. Also we were jet lagged and had to take that into consideration.

After walking much further than we intended, we made it to the South Kensington underground station where we took the tube over towards Westminster. Our first stop for the day was Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. We end up getting there very early, but you have to get there early in order to get a spot against the fence that surrounds the palace. Plus, getting there early was the only way that our schedule worked out.

The changing of the guard involves a lot of pomp and circumstance. Frankly the ceremony wasn’t terribly exciting although small children probably love it. I think if I understood exactly what they were doing it would have been more interesting, but it looks like a lot of marching back and forth combined with some music and a good deal of shouting. Also, I might have enjoyed it more if the guy behind me would have stopped poking me in the back.

From there we walked down Birdcage Walk over to Parliament Square. This provided me with my first view of Big Ben and Parliament. You know the ones of Chevy Chase’s European Vacation fame! I could just picture Clark Griswald driving around going, “Look kids, Big Ben…Parliament!” To me, Big Ben is the essence of London, much like the Statue of Liberty is to NYC, or the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. We took a few pictures and then made our way to Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous churches in the world. It was extremely interesting from an architectural and historical point of view. The number of Kings, Queens, and other famous people that are either buried in the church or memorialized there is staggering. Pretty much everyone who was famous for just about anything in Great Britain’s history is remembered there somehow.

After Westminster Abbey we were pretty tired and wanted to take a quick nap. We decided to walk back to the hotel via Sloane Square and Sloane Street. I didn’t know this in advance, but there are a ton of stores on Sloane Street and the walk took much longer than expected while we window-shopped the whole way. We did stop in Thomas Pink, a store famous for its shirts. We’ve been told to try stuff on in Thomas Pink for size, but pick it up at the duty free shop in Heathrow. I’ve already been informed by Allison that I’m going to have to stop there on the way home since she is flying out of Gatwick. We made a slight detour along the way to pick up something to eat. We went into Harrods and got some finger sandwiches from their food hall to eat in our room. More on the food hall later.

We get back to the hotel and thankfully our room is ready and our bags are already in the room. The room is really nice. We usually make it a point to save some money on our accommodations since we know we are going to splurge on our meals. In the past we’ve gotten what we paid for quite often, so we were pleasantly surprised when we opened the door to our room. It was spacious and very nicely appointed. In addition, the room was fairly cheap for London and that’s why I was expecting a dump. I immediately turned on the television to CNN in order to get a score for game three of the World Series that took place while we were flying to London. Unfortunately I found out that the Yankees had lost to the Mets, but only after watching about 30 minutes worth of Rugby, Football (Soccer) and Cricket!

After waking up two hours later slightly refreshed, we walked over to Harvey Nichols. This is one of many well known department stores in London. I checked out the food and wine shops while Allison shopped for clothes and whatever else women shop for. :) The selection was small, but well thought out. There were no bargains in the wine shop and Allison must have felt the same way about the rest of the store judging by how quickly she was finished there.

From there it was onto Harrods. This is one of the most famous stores in the world, made even more famous after Princess Diana’s link to Dodi Faid (sic?). Once again in what will prove to be a theme of department store shopping while in Europe, I checked out the wine and food shops while Allison checked out the clothing section. Much in the vein of Harvey Nichols, the wine shop had a small but well thought out selection that included very few bargains. They had several vintages of the Paul Jaboulet Aine La Chapelle for a few dollars cheaper than in the USA, but nothing worth lugging home. The food hall encompassed several very large rooms. The selection and quality of the food at Harrods was not to be believed. I can’t even begin to describe it. It was like they combined ten of my favorite specialty stores from NYC and then doubled the size and scope of all ten stores. I made a mental note to get some raw milk cheese to have back in the room after dinner at least one night.

We went back to the hotel to shower and change before going to Star of India for dinner. Star of India was recommended to us by Steve Plotnicki. We’ve eaten at several restaurants that he has suggested before on previous trips and he’s always been on the mark from the moderately priced to the very high end. We took a cab since we were still pretty beat and we were a bit late. The cabs in London are terrific. They look like old-fashioned Fords. The nice thing is they are clean, odor free and very roomy. It’s so unlike squeezing into a NYC cab with your knees jammed up against the front seat. I don’t think that I’ll get used to the fact that they drive on the wrong side of the road though. I’ll have to remember to be careful when crossing the street.

At Star of India we start out with an order of Naan and Papadum. These are two different types of traditional Indian bread. We shared an appetizer called a samosa. There are many types of samosas. It is a savory stuffed pastry. They can be stuffed with lamb, chicken, beef, vegetables, etc. This one was stuffed with different types of cheeses and was very tasty. I was tempted to ask for another order of the samosas, but I resisted since we have a lot more food coming. For our entrees we share a chicken dish that is marinated in yogurt and a salmon dish that is smoked and then cooked tandoori style. We also get saffron rice with almonds and raisins. Everything is wonderful. Allison and I are Indian food novices, but we are learning and enjoying it more and more every time we try it. The wine list was fair at best, but it didn’t matter this night since we were washing this meal down with Cobra’s, a beer from India. We were too stuffed for dessert.

Since it was late we took a cab back to the hotel. We got out a few blocks before the hotel and walked by Harrods, which is all lit up at night. We make a mental note to come back and get a picture. We decided to have a drink. Allison remembered a funky looking place a couple of doors down from our hotel called Isola. It turned out to be an Italian restaurant that had a lounge and wine bar downstairs. The “by the glass” list is very nice although a bit pricey. Everything in London is pricey though so what the hell. Allison has a crisp glass of 99 Tocai Fruilli from an unknown producer and I have a glass of the 96 Fontodi Flaccianello. The Flaccianello had the leather, beef and dark fruit notes that I expected, but was rather light bodied and without the long finish that I expected. It’s not a bad wine, but far from great. We had a long day so we went back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

London – Thursday, October 26, 2000

Our intentions were good this morning. We were planning on waking up early and getting a jump on the day. However Allison’s back was really bothering her when we woke up. After a hot bath, she felt well enough to get on with our day. I woke up, turned on CNN and found out that the Yankees had won game four of the World Series and were poised to win their fourth championship in the past five years.

We took the tube to the Tower of London, but before we could go in we needed some sustenance. The Tower of London is located in a commercial area and we struggled to find a café. We finally found one that wasn’t fancy, but the staff was so nice. I just couldn’t picture the guy who sells me my muffin and coffee every morning in NYC being this friendly. But then again most New Yorkers are in a hurry to get to work in the morning and wouldn’t want to chit chat anyway.

We made our way back to the Tower of London and got on a long but fast moving line for tickets. We hooked up with a tour that was already in progress. Tours of the Tower are given by Yeoman Warders or “Beefeaters” who are wearing their formal uniforms. Yeoman Warders are the guard/staff that live in and attend to the Tower of London. The tour was very interesting and helped bring the Tower to life for us. It’s one thing to read the guidebooks, but it’s extremely interesting to hear the Yeoman Warder tell the stories in their own words. Plus we had a guide with a great sense of humor, sort of like John Cleese in “A Fish Called Wanda.”

One of the major sights within the Tower of London is the crown jewels. They are an amazing sight. They include a scepter that has what I believe to be the biggest or one of the biggest diamonds in the world at its tip. Allison managed to put our thoughts into in to eloquent terms saying, “that’s one big ass diamond.” I got a little concerned that she was going to want to upgrade her engagement ring! :) We also toured the White Tower, which served as the armory for the Tower of London among other things. Currently it houses examples of ancient weaponry and armor. One of the highlights is a full suit of armor worn by King Henry VIII. I was amused since this suit of armor illustrates one of the earliest versions of the protective cup in the form of an oversized protrusion around the groin area. I couldn’t help laughing when a mother said to her son, “See what a big man King Henry was…oops maybe that’s a bad choice of words.”

When we were done we made our way to the Tower Bridge. This was a sunny day, and we were eager to head to the top of the bridge for some pictures. We were happy to see the sun since yesterday was overcast and very windy and the forecast for Friday and Saturday wasn’t positive. We skipped most of the tour at the Tower Bridge and went right to the top with camera in hand. Unfortunately the London skyline isn’t as pretty as I expected. I guess that the Paris skyline with the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Sacre Couer dominating the views of the city colors my opinion. London reminds me of Rome a bit. It is a modern city, but throughout the city old buildings and ancient structures blend in with the modern buildings. So even after going to the top of the bridge we didn’t take that many pictures.

We took the tube to St. Paul’s Church. This is a stunning cathedral that reminded me of St. Peter’s in Rome. We climbed the 250+ stairs to the base of the dome and sat in what is known as the “whispering gallery”. This area got its name from the strange acoustics that allow two people to sit on the opposite sides of the dome over 150+ feet away and face towards the wall away from each other and talk in hushed tones and be heard by the other person. The sound was faint, but I could hear Allison all the way on the other side of the dome.

Allison’s back was starting to bother her a bit again so she climbed down to the ground to explore the rest of the cathedral while I climbed up 280 more stairs to the top of the dome which has a tiny outdoor observation gallery. Whoa! There were some great views to be had up here, but it’s still a bit scary when the wind is whipping by at 40+ MPH. I climbed back down to meet Allison and to continue exploring the church where Princess Diana’s funeral was held.

We were getting hungry so we tubed over to the Covent Garden neighborhood in search of some shopping and a bite to eat. We ran across Neal’s Yard, the famous cheese shop that has a very nice selection of artisinal English cheeses. We also did a quick lap around the Covent Garden market. We went into a pub called the White Lion and got a bite to eat. The food was nothing special and frankly kind of expensive, but still hit the spot since we were starving.

From there we walked over to the Courtald Gallery which is in the Somerset House. Finding the gallery was a funny experience since we didn’t realize that it was housed within the Somerset House. As far as we could tell from the map, there was a building that was missing. At the first entrance to the Somerset House, we were greeted by a women who when told that we were looking for the Courtald Gallery exclaimed in her proper accent, “You’re in the completely wrong place!” Well the way she said it, I figured that we were miles from where we should be. When I asked for directions to the gallery she pointed to a doorway 50 feet away and said it’s right there. We laughed because she was so emphatic and it didn’t sound like the completely wrong place to us, but who were we to point that out.

The Courtald Gallery houses an impressive collection of Impressionist art. Allison has been a fan of Impressionist art for years, and after our honeymoon and a visit to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris I’ve been hooked as well. There were a large number of Cézanne’s, Renoir’s, Monet’s and many others. There was even a large format painting of the water lilies at Giverny by Monet. Another highlight was a painting by Manet of the bar at a Paris theater. The depth and detail of the painting was stunning. It must have taken months if not years to get it right.

After we were finished admiring the art, we linger in the beautiful courtyard at the Somerset House. They had a dancing fountain display much like that of the Bellagio in Las Vegas although not as grand. The sun was just beginning to set and the light was just perfect. We took a few pictures and I hope that they capture the moment.

From there we walked over to Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall Lane towards Big Ben and Parliament. It was getting dark and the sky was that iridescent purple/blue color that you see just before the sun sets completely. Both Parliament and Big Ben were lit up in a spectacular fashion. We took a number of pictures, but judging by experience these photos won’t come out that well. I think with this light we need a tripod and the wire that allows you to trigger the cameras shutter without touch the camera itself. I’ll have to show the photos to Brad Trent who is our resident photography expert and ask his opinion.

We continued walking to Parliament and made arrangements to sit in the stranger’s gallery in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This is a fascinating experience. You actually get to see the British government at work. The House of Commons is known for the heated discussion that can take place between the government and the opposition and this night was no exception. There was an argument over military expenditure that was rather hot. I truly enjoyed when the House Speaker had to jump up and yell “Point of order” when one of the members of the government wouldn’t stop arguing.

We had a fairly early dinner this night and thus we had to hustle back to the hotel to change and make our way to Momo, the Moroccan restaurant where we were dining that night. Momo is located on a back alley street called Heddon off of Regent Street. We walked in and the whole place was jumping with energy. Either the food or atmosphere was going to be great. I was hoping for both. We sat at what was essentially a communal table. Both tables on either side of us touched our table. After being seated, a man came over to us with a bronze pitcher and bowl. He asked us if we would like to wash our hands with orange blossom scented water. But of course we say! The whole atmosphere was exotic, from the low tables, the low light, the music and the smell of the food that wafted through the restaurant. We each ordered a tasty drink called a “Momo” which is a special drink that they make with lemon juice, mint, sugar, soda water and vodka. For an appetizer Allison started out with a pungent spicy vegetable soup and I tried a lamb, raisin and almond stuffed phyllo pastry. Both dishes were very good and we were looking forward to our entrees. For our main course I got a seared duck breast served with grilled figs and polenta. Mine was very good, but Allison’s entrée was great. She got a dish that sounded very simple, chicken with couscous. It came in four parts and the waiter prepared the dish for her. First he spread a layer of couscous on the plate. He then spooned a tomato based vegetable broth over the couscous, but before he did that he added a spice mixture to the broth. He then added the grilled chicken and chickpeas. It was an impressive display and the dish turned out to be wonderful. The amount of food that came to the table was ridiculous. We could have easily shared either of our entrees. We paired a 1998 Chateau Renjardes Cote du Rhone with the meal. The wine wasn’t anything special, and in retrospect I would have gone with beer for this meal. We both really enjoyed ourselves here and Allison already has plans to go back with some business associates after I’ve gone home.

My only complaint was with the fast pace of the meal followed by a long delay in getting a check. However it should be noted that the delay in bringing the check to the table is common in Europe. Often in the USA, the check comes too quickly, but in Europe it is usually way too long before the check arrives. A happy medium would be perfect.

It was still relatively early and we decided to stop into Isola, the Italian wine bar next to our hotel again. Allison tried a rather nondescript 98 Orvietto from an unknown producer while I had a glass of the 95 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino. Now this was more like it. It was a rich dark red wine with hints of fennel, leather and chocolate. I think that this wine will be stunning in 5-10 more years. We were tired at this point and decided to go back to the hotel. It had been a long but rewarding day.

London – Friday, October 27, 2000

We woke up early this day. We had a big day ahead of us. I flipped on the television to find out that the Yankees had won the World Series against the Mets no less and that Derek Jeter was the series MVP. We checked out of the Knightsbridge Green and took a taxi to our new hotel, #5 Maddox. This is where Allison was staying for business. Knightsbridge Green was very nice and I’d recommend it to anyone traveling to London. However, #5 Maddox is in another league. This place is really cool. It’s very modern and understated. When we checked in they told us that they didn’t have the room that we had booked, but for the same price they would upgrade us to the next level and to top it all off, the room was ready now. Everything that the gentleman was telling us sounded great to me! Our room was set up like an apartment with a bedroom, living room, dining area, kitchen, work area, etc. This room is a businessman’s paradise. It came complete with fax, computer ports, stereo, VCR, etc. This may be common for some people, but we are usually staying in much more spartan accommodations. To top it all off, there are only four rooms on each floor and thus it’s very private. I never even saw another hotel guest with the exception of one of Allison’s co-workers.

After admiring the room for a while, we went across the street to a café for a quick breakfast. We had a lot to do today and were eager to get started. After eating we took the tube over to Hyde Park and walked through the marble arch to speaker’s corner. Unfortunately we didn’t realize that it was Sunday when the public speakers gathered. From there we strolled through Hyde Park on our way to Kensington Palace. This is where Princess Diana lived before her death. We saw the King and Queen’s state apartments and a number of outfits worn by the current Queen and by Princess Diana. Believe it or not it was actually more interesting than it sounded.

Afterwards we hurried through Hyde Park since it had started to rain. We were on our way to the Tate Modern, a large new museum that house modern art dating from 1900 to the present. We explored the Tate modern, but I will be the first to admit that I either don’t get or don’t like most of the modern art that I’ve seen in many of the galleries that I’ve visited and this museum is no exception. There are some late works by Monet and a few other impressionists that interest me as well as some work by Warhol and Lichtenstein. I even enjoy some of the Picassos, Dali’s, Miro’s and Kandinsky’s, but the majority of the exhibits on display are just plain strange. There was a videotape of a naked man jumping around in a room. That was example of art. I thought it an example of the bizarre. Modern art lovers are free to disagree with me and I would look forward to seeing some modern art that would change my mind.

We cabbed over to the National Gallery, but first we stopped in a pub for some lunch. Pub food is the British version of diner food in New Jersey. The burgers are good and I particularly enjoyed something called the ploughman’s lunch, which was basically cheese and chutney on brown bread.

The National Gallery is one of the more impressive museums that I’ve ever been inside. The wing devoted to art from the 1800-1900’s is very interesting. It’s filled with many of the Impressionist that we love. A bit of a side note, we were told by a friend to stand on the steps of the National Gallery and gaze past Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall Lane to Big Ben and Parliament. It was a very impressive view that warranted a few pictures. Too bad it was raining and overcast, otherwise the view would have made for a great photo.

We had some time to kill before going to the theater tonight so we decided to do some shopping. We headed over to some of the wine stores that I wanted to visit, but on the way we made a few pit stops. The first was in Thomas Pink. Allison tried on a few things here but wasn’t happy with them. We continued over to Berry Brothers and Rudd, one of London’s famous wine merchants. They have been in business forever and actually have an invoice for wine they delivered to the Titanic. They are also a big dealer of Michel Ogier’s wines. Unfortunately they only had the 94-97 Cote Rotie and I can get that in the USA or already have some of it. In addition, there were no bargains to be had here. Down the street, Justerini and Brooks was more of the same. They had a nice selection, but no bargains and thus I passed. I was looking for stuff that I couldn’t find in the USA or stuff that was at a significant discount and I wasn’t really finding anything. There were a few Burgundies that interested me, but not enough to lug them home on the plane.

Frankly, London is one of the most expensive cities that I’ve ever visited. Everything is more expensive than in the USA. We continued to window shop on New Bond Street while making our way over to Old Compton Street where we were seeing a show called “Mamma Mia”. On our way we stopped in a store called Lush that sells handmade, all natural bath products. Allison made a few small purchases here.

We got to the theater just in time for the show. It’s a musical about a young girl who is getting married. She has been raised by her mother and is unsure who her father is, but narrows it down to three of her mother’s old boyfriends. This show is about the search for her father among other things. Although it may not sound it, the show is very funny and to top it all off is set to a score of 23 Abba songs. You have to remember the Swedish band Abba from the 70’s! We really enjoyed the show and I believe it is coming to NYC in a few months. I wonder who will play the main characters in the NYC production. Allison has already made plans for more theater after I’ve gone.

After the show we head back to the hotel to relax for a bit. We have a late dinner tonight at the Sugar Club. The Sugar Club is located in a jumping area of London off of Regent Street. It serves pan-Asian fusion cuisine in a very modern, stark setting. For an appetizer, Allison started with a grilled scallop dish with a spicy chili sauce. They served the scallops with something called the coral attached. I’ve never seen this before, but it looks like a tiny carrot. Thankfully this strange sight didn’t take anything away from how delicious this dish was. They grilled the scallops to perfection. They were served medium rare which the way it should be. An overcooked scallop dish is just plain unappealing. For my appetizer I had loin of rabbit cooked tandoori style which was equally as good as the scallops. We both had a fish called Plaice for our entrees. It was served in a mango chutney sauce and was quite good. We had two different wines. The first wine went down way too easily. It was the 99 Kim Crawford unoaked Chardonnay from New Zealand. It had the richness of Chardonnay, but crisp, lime and citrus acidity kept it from being too flabby. It was a great compliment to the meal. Since we still had a lot of food left, we order glasses of NV Billecart Salmon Rose Champagne that had the right amount of strawberry freshness and bubbles to make it delicious.

It was late so we made our way back to the hotel. It had been a long day. We were up at 7:30 AM and didn’t return to our hotel until 1:00 AM. Whoa.

London – Saturday. October 28, 2000

We had finished most of the sight seeing that we had wanted to do on this trip, so today was going to be spent shopping and exploring throughout central London. We started this rainy Saturday at the Portobello Road market. This is a market filled with stalls selling everything from antiques to fruit that stretches almost a mile along Portobello Road. We start at the top and make our way back towards Notting Hill Gate. We got some breakfast in a nondescript café.

We made a stop in a store called Books for Cooks. This is a bookshop and tiny café devoted to selling new and used cookbooks. I’m sorry that we had just eaten, because the café in the back of this store looked like fun and the food looked and smelled great. It was here that we learned about the “coral” on the scallops.

After walking through the entire market, we hop on the tube at the Notting Hill gate stop and make our way over to Sloane Street. We have already walked on this street, but we were jet lagged the first time and Allison felt it deserved a second glance. Sloane Street has all the high-end shops, but even though we weren’t buying anything there it’s still fun to window shop. Although Allison did manage to find perfume at a store called Jo Malone.

From there we made a few twists and turns and found ourselves on Walton Street. There are a lot of small boutiques that Allison could browse in and even better, there was a nice wine shop called La Reserve that I could check out while she did her thing. This shop had a nice selection and high prices. Sounds like a common theme among wine shops in London. I was about to walk out when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Bingo…it was the 1990 Clos du Mont Olivet Cuvee Papet Chateauneuf du Pape. Finally, something worth buying that I’ve never seen in the USA. I only took one bottle since it wasn’t cheap, but I’ll remember London when we drink it.

We continued our stroll and took the tube over to Piccadilly Circus. One of the nice things about Europe is the department stores. Most of them provide great shopping for Allison and at the same time they have a food and wine section that allows me to indulge in some of my passions. Now if they’d only build a practice putting green next to the wine section… We stopped in Fortnum and Mason, and bought a half bottle of the 98 R&V Dauvassit Chablis La Foret and an au lait cru Camembert. Au lait cru (raw milk) cheese is illegal in the USA and that’s a shame. I have yet to try a pasteurized version of Camembert that tastes remotely as good as the au lait cru version. That goes for a lot of other cheeses as well. We were planning on having the wine and cheese for dessert in our room after dinner tonight. We continued shopping on both New and Old Bond Street before heading back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes.

We had reservations for high tea at Browns. I was looking forward to this tradition. I found this ritual to be very relaxing and civilized. That is after we got through the first 20 minutes of feeling like complete idiots. Even though we were dressed nicely in pants and sweaters, many people were wearing jackets and ties. I felt much better when several groups walked in dressed similarly to us. In addition to being conscious of our dress there is the thought...”Am I doing this right?” Do you eat your finger sandwiches with a knife and fork? Is it proper to hold your teacup with the pinky extended? After settling down and realizing that our attire was completely appropriate and that there is no one way to partake in high tea we really enjoyed ourselves.

To begin, our waiter came over waiter came over and asked us if we had a preference for a specific tea. I resisted the urge to say lemon zinger. :) High tea at Browns consisted of Brown’s afternoon blend of tea and a three tiered tea tray filled with delicious food. On the lowest tier were several different types of finger sandwiches including smoke salmon, cucumber, ham & cheese, chive cheese and egg salad. On the middle tier there were various scones, and on the top tier were pastries including a delicious éclair. We nibbled on the finger sandwiches and I made sure to put plenty of jam and clotted cream on my scones before devouring them. We laughed and chatted and we realized that we could get used to this expensive but enjoyable habit.

It had started to rain again, but we were determined to finish the day. We continued shopping on South Moulton Street, Conduit Street, Oxford Street, and New Bond Street. There is another fine department store on Oxford Street called Selfridges where we did the split up and shop for your own stuff thing again. I bought an umbrella to replace the one that the wind and rain of London had already destroyed. Hopefully this one would fair better.

It continued to get nastier out so we went back to the hotel to meet up with Allison’s friend and co-worker Dawn. Dinner this night was at Le Pont de la Tour. This restaurant is located on the South bank of the Thames with a world class view of the Tower Bridge which was lit up in a spectacular fashion. We took some pictures before heading inside for dinner. Allison and Dawn both started with the mozzarella, tomato and artichoke salad while I had the rabbit terrine. Judging from the smiles on everyone’s face, the food was very good. For entrée’s Allison had a salmon dish, Dawn tried the halibut with hollandaise and I had the roast loin of lamb with a potato galette. The food at this restaurant was excellent, but after eating at rather exotic restaurants the previous three nights, I felt like there was a lack of excitement. The wine and conversation more than made up for the stiff atmosphere. The wine was was a 1991 Henri Gouges Nuit St. Georges Les Pruliers. This was a fantastic wine with leather, mushroom, cherries and a bit of chocolate. I really loved it.

Back at the hotel, we opened the half bottle of Chablis and the cheese. The wine was served too warm, and thus I can’t really give an accurate opinion of it, but the cheese was wonderful. I’ve already said it, but I’ll say it again, pasteurized cheese doesn’t taste this good. It’s late and I have to pack. Good night.

London – Sunday, October 29, 2000

We set the clocks back in the middle of the night and that gave us an extra hour of sleep. We woke up to a sunny but cool day and enjoyed the pastries and newspaper provided by the hotel. London is a vibrant, exciting city with tons of things to do and see. I’m only sorry that we didn’t have more time together in London to explore further. I said goodbye to Allison and took a cab over to Paddington station where caught the Heathrow Express to the airport. This is the “only” way to get to Heathrow. It took 15 minutes as opposed to the hour car ride from central London out to the airport.

I should be back in NYC pretty soon. I miss Europe already.

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