The Buckingham Palace
Bummer, they don't let you take photos inside the palace, which was really grand and really beautiful, and the Queen's dresses were on exhibition. Also secret passageways seem to be a thing in royal residences, there is one in one of the drawing rooms in Buckingham and a few in Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau when I visited. Only a small portion of the palace is open to the public but I think it's still a must-do for a first-timer in London. I also stayed for the changing of guards but it was so crowded I could barely see anything. On top of that, it started raining mid-way through but the police blocked off all the streets so I was stuck in the rain for a good hour :(
Many friends have recommended this multi-concept restaurant/tea parlour due to its immaculate decor. Unfortunately I didn't make reservations in time so I just popped into The Glade for a quick bite and some tea. I got a sneak peek of the famous pink room, The Gallery, and yes it looks even better in person. They also house a two Michein-starred restaurant that I will also be returning to.
The best shopping area with virtually everything (reminds me of Soho in New York, such nostalgia!) I wanted to get a leather jacket from AllSaints, which turned out to be almost half the price as in the US, and at least 80 euros less than in France. What a steal!
This food market was simply amazing. I got some freshly shucked oysters and sea urchin served still in its shell, and oh my god were they so good. The sea urchin was so fresh it barely had any taste, just a sweet and buttery finish at the end. I could eat a hundred of them. I also tried some goat's milk ice cream and it was surprisingly really good, creamier and smoother with more flavours. And it kind of tasted like cheese at the end? Sweet creamy cheese like ricotta or mascarpone.
The funny thing is that I was still eating my ice cream so I had to finish it in the lobby before I could go up. I think you could pay to go up to the viewing gallery, but I chose to enjoy the view with a few drinks at Gong, a bar in the Shangri-La Hotel (which is inside the Shard). There's a minimum spending of 30 pounds which basically equates to two drinks. The cocktails were ok, one tasted like a Chinese medicine I used to drink, but the best part was the complimentary and I'm drooling just thinking about them.
(at this point my phone died so there's no footage of the rest of the night in the video)
Awesome Indian restaurant designed for sharing everything - we got the chicken ruby and a seafood curry with some sides and they were possibly some of the best curries I've ever had. Beware that if you come in without a reservation, the wait is usually around 40 minutes; no worries though, they serve sherry and mint tea while you are in line!
This is the bridge Voldemort screwed up in Harry Potter. You can see a nice view of St Paul's Cathedral and also Tate Modern on the other side. We were looking for an installation but unfortunately it got moved on that day. We also ran into a guy projecting a photo on the side of the Tate; a picture of his girlfriend with her pants down. Not sure if it's a Tate Modern project or just for his own personal pleasure...
My favourite bar in London with awesome waiters and awesome cocktails. Their philosophy is based on human-plant interactions, a modern approach to botany with super creative drinks featuring ingredients like plant haemoglobin. And they tasted amazing. Our waiter would sit down and explain every cocktail to us, the concept, the process, the tastes, and honestly it was so hard to choose because every single one of them sounded so good. Would definitely go back if I'm ever in London again.
Portobello Road Market
I bought a tea cup set here! The market was ten minutes walk from Notting Hill Gate and it was full of antique wonders. We found maps from when not all of the Americas had been explored, The road also connects to a street food market (where we had jerk chicken, coconut chicken and Valencian paella)
So begins my journey walking through three parks in a row (which are not that close to each other, actually, learned it the hard way with sore feet and painful ankle). Holland Park had a bush-walk kind of feel, with narrow paths and shady trees, but the Kyoto Garden was really nice, complete with a few peacocks.
There was an astonishingly large amount of birds in the lake. Also I realized that London pigeons are much cleaner than New York pigeons.
Highlights: guy fishing in the lake, Princess Diana memorial fountain, and escape from the cold with some tea in the lakeside pavilion. Out of the three parks, I'd say Holland Park is the most peaceful and Hyde Park is the most nicely groomed.
Hands down the best meal I've had in London. This cute little Venetian restaurant with exceptionally warm and homey vibe offers cichetti for sharing, and everything we ordered was amazing - the octopus carpaccio was especially mouth watering.
Bob Bob Ricard
What are the odds that our next destination, a restaurant and champagne bar, was right across the street from dinner. In addition to its exquisite art-deco theme and glamorous 1920s vibe, it also features a Russian menu and amazing desserts. Obviously, we had to order some champagnes, served in heavy crystal flutes matching the sophistication.
The Spaniards Inn
Sunday roast at one of London's oldest pubs, where it has been standing since 1585. I stayed at my friend's place in Hampstead so it was only a 30-minute walk from her house. The pub was classically English, and we would have sat in the garden if it wasn't so cold that day. The food was amazing too, lamb chop and roast beef complete with Yorkshire pudding and some veggies.
I was so surprised to see this beautiful little hidden gem tucked away on a side street in Hampstead. The gardens and the walkways were so serene, it felt like a whole other world.
Fortnum & Mason
Probably the prettiest tea shop I've ever seen! The current stores stands at its original location on Piccadilly and has four storeys of pure wonder, housing everything from tea to wine to groceries to the most delicate tea pots. The store itself was such a beauty, and definitely worth a special visit.
My favourite painting, or rather paintings, were the Marriage à-la-mode series by William Hogarth. I forgot where I first read about them but I just found them so hilarious. Also in the gallery were a lot of works from the renaissance period, if you're a big fan of that era.
Ah yes, the most touristy spot in all of London. I don't know if I did it wrong but I literally just hopped of the bus, took a photo of Big Ben, and hopped back on because there seemed to be nothing else around Westminster.
So everything closes at 6pm on Sundays... After a few failed attempts at department stores like Selfridges and Liberty, I retreated back to Covent Garden to walk around. I sat down at Jamie Oliver's restaurant Union Jacks for a light dinner (order the superfood salad because I basically hadn't been eating vegetables at all this weekend). The food was quite good but it took forever to come, and the waiters seemed to be almost busy and stressed out and everything, including water, just took an abnormally long time. Afterwards I went for tea at Whittard to end the night.
Garfunkel's Full English
I finally got my fix of English breakfast at the airport at Garfunkel's. I had more than an hour to spare before my early morning flight so I took my time enjoying the classics, the hash browns, the sausages, the bacon, the roasted mushrooms, the baked tomatoes... and of course, we can't forget Yorkshire tea.