Travel Diaries: London

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“Oh the places you’ll go.” -Dr. Seuss

I recently came back from a holiday with lots of content and ideas in my head.  I hope you don’t mind (bugger it, I’m going to do it anyway) but over the coming week you will see lots of travel writing in ‘Coffee and Career Chat’.  Enjoy as you sip on your flat white or other beverage of choice.  You’re welcome.  

Yesterday I arrived back in Aotearoa after three jam-packed weeks overseas with my partner and family.  In that time I went to London, Denmark, Greece and Hong Kong and each place was amazing, and wildly different from each other.  I chuckle as I sit here sipping coffee at Robert Harris Cafe in Westgate, where they are is little traffic and few people around me. We are truly blessed with space and beautiful fresh air in New Zealand!

What made this trip so special was that it was my mum and dad’s very first time to Europe and Hong Kong.  They did so well to keep up and sprint from between airport gates, train stations and ship terminals despite  (damn, I knew I should’ve brought my Fitbit on the trip).  Also on the trip were my wanderlusting sister and her hubby who completed a two-week European tour with mum and dad before meeting us in London.

Travelling is such a privilege and I am aware that not everyone has the ability to go on holiday.  It makes me appreciate every waking moment, realising that we have much to learn from being in environments different to our own.  It also reaffirms the conscious decision to make travel a goal for the foreseeable future and I will continue to work hard to fund this passion!

Over the course of my next few blogs I will share insights and observations from the key places we went to.  There is simply too much to share in just one post.

Places visited

London (4 days) – Copenhagen, Denmark with side visit to Mälmo, Sweden (3 days) – Athens, Greece with cruise around the Greek Islands of Mykynos, Syros, Santorini, Heraklion, Kusadasi in Turkey (9 days) –  Hong Kong (3 days)

London, UK

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  • Technically my 5th visit to London (first time was during my school band trip in 1995) and I am still in love with the culture, fashion and arts-scene in funk London. Bought my obligatory colourful socks from Topman (3 pairs for only £8.00).
  • Awkward start at our hotel… Opened the door of our room to find a half-naked man sitting in bed (this was at 3pm and I could also hear a female voice from the room too).  I quickly said ‘sorry’, and shut the door. Yup, we were given the wrong room key…
  • Visited the impressive Buckingham Palace, which is the Queen’s official London residence and a working royal palace. I wasn’t interested in going at first, but I’m so glad I did!  The rooms are beautifully decorated and I especially liked the international art collection selected by Prince Charles.  Public visits are run between the months of July to December, plus selected dates from December to May.  The £24.00 entry fee is worth every penny.
  • High tea at the classy Fortnum and Mason (an upmarket department store established in 1707).  As you would expect, the food was exquisite and the teas perfectly matched.  We even had a tea tasting session with our own Tea Sommelier.
  • Quick visit to Harrods.  Yes, the shopping is very high end and expensive, but the building is worth exploring, even if just for their amazing food hall.  Bought mum a t-shirt as she was overheating in her long-sleeve top.  Um, she chose a Stella McCartney Adidas T-shirt (yup, that will count as her Christmas present!).
  • Had a quiet drink at the gorgeous Pilgrm Hotel in Paddington.  The first floor lounge is so classic and chic and is totally my idea of cool!  With sumptuous jazz and ambient electronic music playing in the background, how can you go wrong?
  • Sauntered around Borough Market and happily got lost around the different stalls.  The food and drink options are varied and cater to every taste.  I had a goat kofta bowl with bulgar wheat, washed down with a fresh apple and ginger juice.  Great value for less than $15NZD!
  • Strolled through Hyde Park.  The park itself is a huge oasis in the centre of London, but a particular highlight was visiting the understated and peaceful Diana Memorial Fountain.   According to the Royal Parks website: the design aims to reflect Diana’s life, water flows from the highest point in two directions as it cascades, swirls and bubbles before meeting in a calm pool at the bottom. 
  • Had delicious pan-Asian cuisine at cheap and cheerful East Street, just off Oxford Circus.  I swear I ate the best Nasi Goreng I’ve ever tasted… I attribute this to the fresh herbs and kaffir lime leaves.  A big shout out to our sassy waitress Imogen for creating such a lively and welcoming atmosphere!
  • Got intimate with the Tube (London Underground).  We took mum and dad on the Tube train during the morning rush hour and they quickly saw why my sister (she lived in London for over 4 years) said… When you enter the the station, keep your shoulders strong and just walk straight even if you nudge into people.  Mum and dad survived to tell the tale!

London in 5 words…

Diverse, busy, stylish, business, pleasure.

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