In early December, Andrea and I took her mother to London, as she never had been to the UK before. Our trip was a kaleidoscope of experiences set against the backdrop of the city’s iconic landmarks, cultural escapades, and culinary delights. However, it was not just the sights and sounds that defined our adventure; the chilly weather, especially on the second day, added an extra layer to our London experience. London, with its higher humidity, felt much colder than Fort Collins at similar temperatures. Although the skies weren’t sunny, we were grateful that the clouds held back the rain most days, allowing us to explore the city without the hindrance of wet weather.
Day 1: Arrival and Exploring London’s Icons
The adventure began at London-Gatwick airport, where I embraced Andrea and her mother. Walking past the distinctive Walkie-Talkie building, we crossed Tower Bridge and indulged in delicious Schokokuss chocolate kisses. The Borough Market treated our taste buds to chili and macaroni & cheese at the Americana, where Andrea’s mom tried her first Coors beer. We marveled at Piccadilly Circus’s lighted angels and strolled by luxury shops like Prada, Cartier, Christian Dior, and Fendi.
We had a close encounter with organized crime on the first day at the Southwark Tavern while enjoying drinks in a private room. Suddenly, three Pakistani guys entered. One of them greeted me with “nihao,” so as a test, I responded with “你好，你会说普通话吗?” (“Hi, you speak Mandarin Chinese?”) Unsurprisingly, they couldn’t answer and mumbled something incomprehensible. So I shifted to English, which they also didn’t seem to speak, when suddenly Andrea’s mother alertly exclaimed, “¡tu telefóno!” My phone was under the newspaper they had stuck in my face, and they were intending to steal it if not for Andrea’s mom. I quickly grabbed it. Andrea then exclaimed, “¡mi bolsa!” so I swiftly handed her purse to her. The Pakistanis grew agitated and even attempted to touch some of our food. We managed to shoo them away, ensuring a peaceful remainder of our time.
Fortunately, we encountered no more of London’s delinquents throughout the rest of the trip.
Day 2: Landmarks, Parks, and Celebrations
Day 2 revealed a tapestry of iconic London landmarks, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, the horse guards parade, Trafalgar Square (minus its renowned Christmas tree), Elizabeth Tower, and Buckingham Palace. A leisurely amble through Hyde Park preceded a visit to the illustrious Harrods. We also enjoyed drinks at Gloucester, an English pub Andrea and I had enjoyed drinks at last year. I did not realize that until twenty minutes after we had sat down upstairs.
The evening unfolded with a birthday celebration for Andrea at Cinnamon Kitchen, an Indian restaurant with two London locations. While we dined at the Liverpool Street venue last year, this time, we chose the one nestled beside the Thames. True to form, the culinary delights and impeccable service exceeded our expectations.
Day 3: Colorful Streets and Laughter
Covent Garden set the stage for Day 3, where we encountered the familiar pink Nissan Figaro and explored Neal’s Yard before wandering through Camden Locks. A humorous sighting of a bicycle ambulance in Covent Garden brought laughter, and we pondered how effective that would be at bringing patients to Dr. Andrea’s emergency room department. A stroll through Notting Hill and Portabello Road completed the day, echoing scenes from the classic Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant movie.
Day 4: Rainy Days and Cultural Immersion
A rainy day led us to Leicester Square, Chinatown, and the M&M’s Store before seeking refuge in the British Museum, where we explored ancient artifacts, including mummies. The Museum Tavern, with roots dating back to 1723 as the Dog & Duck tavern, served as the perfect spot for Fish & Chips.
Day 5: Riverside Strolls and Farewells
The final day took us to the South Bank, where we strolled the Queen’s Walk, soaking in the scenic views. As the day concluded, we bid farewell to London, returning to the London-Gatwick airport and flying back to Santiago de Compostela.
Our trip to London was a tapestry woven with diverse experiences, from the grandeur of iconic landmarks to the laughter-filled streets of Notting Hill. Andrea’s mother, on her maiden UK voyage, added a special touch to each moment, creating memories that will linger in our hearts. Until our next adventure, London remains etched in our minds as a city that effortlessly blends history, culture, and modernity.