While typing the title of this post, I don't know why I couldn't stop singing Fergie's London Bridge. Now that I'm old enough, I wonder about the innuendos behind that song. I mean why does her 'London Bridge' wanna go down? What exactly does she mean by 'London Bridge'? Anyways, that's completely beside the point of this post. I'm going to talk about my recent trip to London instead. Maybe it's not as exciting but please stay with me..
My brother was somehow vehement about booking a room at the relatively new Ace Hotel for our London trip. He insisted that the one in Los Angeles is very cool with a rooftop bar overlooking LA skyline. He lives in LA, by the way. So off we went from London's St. Pancras International Station to Ace Hotel once we arrived in London with a Eurostar train that departed from Paris Gare du Nord station. Oh yeah, it only takes about 2 hours 15 minutes to get to London from Paris by train.
As soon as we dropped off our baggages in our hotel room, we ventured the Shoreditch area. My growling stomach insisted to be fed so we walked to Leila's Café to grab something to eat.
We were seated at a communal table and there was an older couple sitting next to us. We ordered the globe artichoke and the cheese plate, unfortunately not included in the picture above. I was excited when the server put the globe artichoke on the table; it was my first time eating artichoke in this manner. To be completely honest, I wasn't sure how to eat it and my brother showed me how. Oh yes, I was a little embarrassed but hey, everyone is a globe artichoke virgin at some point of their lives, right?
Feeling a little more sophisticated, we snacked on the artichoke while carrying out our usual random conversation. We were thrilled to be back in London and couldn't wait to explore. At one point, we decided we had enough of the artichoke and neglected it when the older man sitting next to us started talking to us.
"Excuse me..." he turned towards us and paused for a few seconds. I was like oh no, what did we do? Were we too loud?
He started talking again, "But you left the best part of the artichoke, right there in the middle, under the dipping sauce."
"Oh, wow really?" Astonished and embarrassed, I then lifted the dipping sauce off the artichoke. There it was, thick flesh of artichoke sitting prettily waiting to be devoured when we had been scraping the barely-there flesh off the leaves all this while. Thank you, sir, I now know how to eat an artichoke in its original form.
Afterwards, we strolled along Calvert Avenue where we found several concept stores and cafés. We then grabbed a cup of coffee at Paper & Cup. It's a small cozy place with bookshelves holding various books.
Shoreditch is a very hip area. It literally feels very hipster-y in terms of the people, cafés, restaurants, shops and even the Ace Hotel we were staying at. We really like staying in the area.
We ate at quite a few restaurants in Shoreditch. One of them is Pizza East. The restaurant is hugee with industrial décor and great pizza.
Another restaurant we tried out was St. John Bread & Wine. We like their small-portion sizes and this particular quail and blueberry pie.
We like St. John so much we went to another location, St. John Bar & Restaurant, for dinner on the same day.
Further down the Marylebone High Street, at the George Street intersection, there is a cute little Monocle shop that sells Monocle magazine and a few other merchandises. I bought the recent issue of Monocle magazine there and received a voucher for free coffee at Monocle café not too far from the shop.
Visiting London wouldn't be complete without an afternoon tea session. We made a reservation at The Palm Court at The Ritz London. They have a formal dress code, suit and tie for the gentlemen. The dining room itself is really classically elegant and the service was excellent. Our server served our scones later in order to keep them warm. I must say, though, our wallets were not really happy with our decision to have our afternoon tea there.
Overall, we had a great stay in London. My brother fell in love with the city. It was also a great relief for him because he could finally communicate with others using English, after an extended stay in Paris and being bombarded with French.
Other places to visit:
- Barbican Centre - Various exhibitions, click for more information. When we were there, we caught The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier
- Hyde Park & Kensington Garden
- Oxford Street & Regent Street - Shops and department stores ranging from high street to high end