Trips to London Town
The Seattle Reunion
Right after we arrived in Poole, we drove in to see our Seattle friends Kimi and Charlie who were in London for work. It was a quick day trip on a Sunday to meet up for dinner but so worth it to see our friends!
Girl’s Day Out
Later that week I (Rachel) rode the train in to explore London with Kimi.
We had a lovely brunch at The Albion; it was the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had! We explored Liberty of London’s haberdashery and children’s section shopping for Kimi’s soon-to-arrive little one, walked around Leicester Square, and got Kimi tickets for Phantom of the Opera the next night! And were women of leisure with adequate coffee and snack breaks (Hoi Polloi).
The Long Weekend
Andrew and I rode the train in for a long weekend. Our AirBnb was in Dalston, a neighborhood in the Bourgh of Hackney. It was further north than was ideal but given the price and easy transport via bus it couldn’t be beat. From the Wikipedia entry on Dalston
It is currently undergoing rapid gentrification, partly because of the redevelopment of the railway station at Dalston Junction and partly due to the revitalisation of large parts of east London in the build-up to the 2012 Olympics. (Hackney was one of the four host boroughs of the Games.)1
Dalston has attracted immigrants for over 100 years; at the turn of the century it was a popular area for newly arrived Jewish people from central Europe. In the 1950s and ’60s, as the Jewish community became more affluent and moved out, they were replaced by a large Caribbean community, which accounts for the wide choice of Caribbean food available in Ridley Road. As the Caribbean community slowly drifted out of Dalston it then became popular with the Turkish, as well as the Vietnamese. Recent arrivals include Poles, judging by the numbers of Polish delicatessens now appearing and other stores catering to Polish tastes.
We definitely felt the immigrant influence as there were no shortage of Turkish restaurants in our area.
Our AirBnb host had a very eccentric decorating style. Her living room and dining room were red (including a huge red SMEG fridge!), and our room had a huge lighting centerpiece, for lack of a better term. There was a huge buddah head in the bathroom and a beautiful crucifix in the living room. I suppose eclectic is the word.
Dalston Food Stops
Because I planned this trip and am the foodie in our family of 2 (+ Ezra), the itinerary included a few culinary gems: We had dinner at YUM YUM on the Friday night of our arrival, per a recommendation from our host. The food was amazing and the atmosphere was very posh.
We stopped at Mangal 1, a kebab house on Sunday night again based on the suggestion of our host. We literally and figuratively got some of the local Turkish flavor. Andrew ordered the mousaka and I had the tavuk sis (chicken kebabs). Delish.
On Sunday morning we tried to find a creperie but stumbled upon the Acoustic Cafe. While the food was good and the restaurant was a nice reprieve from the rain and we enjoyed a simple meal.
Holborn: My Old Dutch Pancake House
Oh man, I love this place. It’s carbs on carbs and I love it. If I had no concerns for my mass I totally would have ordered their crazy 2 foot wide pancake with ice cream and snickers bars and whipped cream…but I did get butterscotch pancakes that were prettttty great. And look at this boy I found outside waiting for his date.
Even though we weren’t able to eat at Dishoom, I did get a peak at their restaurant. Dishoom is a 1970’s Bombay style restaurant with gorgeous verandah seating that I desperately wanted to experience. It wasn’t in the cards for this trip as we decided to make haste and grab some pastries at The Albion across the street instead of pushing back our timetable. The pastries were great!(Or as they would say on The Great British Bake Off – the lamination was perfect!!!) The Albion and Dishoom at are at the top of our list for next time.
Believe it or not, we did do more than just eat in London!!
Andrew and I split up for a bit on Sunday. I attended an Evensong service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I’ve found I enjoy visiting churches more when you can participate in the service and you usually get to hear someone sing, which is a real treat for me.
In his pursuit of all things engineering, Andrew visited the London Transport Museum. He reported that while it was interesting to see and learn how fast London’s transport system developed, it wasn’t as fun as the Science Museum. He plans to visit the Depot later this year.
We met up for dinner and had to settle for shake shack because the UK does not have Chick-Fil-A (yet). After dinner we went to the production of 42nd Street at the Theater Royal, Drury Lane West End Theater. The show was based on a depression era movie. The dance numbers were huge and phenomenal. Wow, what a production!
If you get the chance, go to Novelty Automation! It’s well worth your time. It’s a tiny “museum” full of quirky arcade style games you can play, or rather experience. Very fun and right up my alley.
Before we left on Monday we stopped at the Geffrye Museum of the Home because it was super close to our Airbnb. We only spent about a 1/2 hour there but enjoyed looking at the displays of living rooms from different periods in time.
We spent a lot of time riding the bus. Initially I was planning on taking the tube because it’s novel for me, but Andrew pointed out that there were new caps on the transportation costs so we were able to ride the bus all day for no more than 4.50 while the tube would cap out at a higher amount. It was great because were were able to see more of the city above ground. And once we figured out that we had to hail the bus (instead of simply passively waiting at the stop) we had great success. While I appreciated their text system (text a number and receive a text back with the bus schedule), I was mentally praising Seattle’s OneBusAway App that always shows the real time bus delays. Watch this short video Andrew made!
I enjoyed doing a bit of shopping. I’d never heard of Fortnum & Mason but really enjoyed my time there. It was originally a food shop opened in 1707 but later grew into a department store. My favorite areas were the vast array of teas for sale and beautiful tea pots.
I also explored the Shipping Container Pop Up Mall in Shoreditch. Lots of hipster, cute shops.
Here’s our itinerary by day if you’re interested (I really enjoyed creating it!)
Next Stop: Luxembourg….
Sidenote- I’d love to know if anyone has thoughts or info on how common it is for public transport to gentrify an area because I’m reminded of reading about the same thing in Seattle. Here is one of the articles talking about gentrification in Seattle as it relates to the Link LightRail ↩