Back in Bordeaux. Whew.
That was one looooonnnng week. In the best possible way.
After Dublin, I hopped on a plane to London, where my first stop upon descending the plane was Whole Foods.
Not really. Well, almost. First I went to the GAP where there happened to be a magical pair of pants in the color and style that I was looking for AND were long enough. Since stores never carry longs, they only ever have them in stock if someone’s returned a pair. Thank you so very much to whoever returned this pair. My other jeans, which were bought in high school with my mother who was convinced that I was going to turn 18 and gain 15 pounds, have always been a bit on the big side but after being worn for four days straight they were actually falling off.
Anyways, Whole Foods is way more important. The one at Kensington High Street is the largest one in the world a
pparently, complete with three stories and at least five different restaurants. It was amazing and full of wonderful things that don’t exist in France. Like ham without wheat dextrose. As I was going to stay with a friend in Oxford, bringing my own breakfast food was essential and being able to find edible protein that didn’t need to be cooked and wasn’t smoked salmon was lovely.
In Oxford we gallivanted around to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant (the porchetta was stuffed with breadcrumbs unfortunately but my Moroccan-spiced lamb lollipops definitely made up for the loss), to the wine shop where we found a wonderful Sauvingon Blanc from New Zealand, and the covered market where literally every cut of meat imaginable is sold. And we found a restaurant for breakfast that has a sign outside saying “gluten-free and dairy-free and vegan options.” Getting to go out to breakfast is the biggest
Also, did you know that some of the Harry Potter movies were filmed at the colleges in Oxford? SO COOL to see the places where Ron, Harry and Hermione wiled their way through Hogwarts. We also made it to the Ashmolean, an enormous history museum with something about everything.
With only one full day to explore, we decided that the Tower of London would be a great one-stop-shopping kind of touristy thing to do. It was a great choice; that place is practically an amusement
park between the beefeater-led tours (still don’t know why they’re called beefeaters…), the actors in full 16th century costume, the crown jewels and the multiple museums. Fun fact: apparently the beefeaters and their families live at the Tower. And the first polar bear in England was given to the king around 1215 as a gift from the King of Norway. A polar bear trainer was included with the gift.
Upon advice from our couchsurfing host, we made our way to the Bourough Market, which is an enormous market of all sorts of cheeses, meat, produce, prepared food and goodies wedged underneath a bridge. It’s kind of creepy but amazing all at the same time. We walked down this rickety old stone staircase and through a hedge to get to the market; it kind of felt like we were going underground or something.
Of course we sampled our way through the market, but we also made a key purchase at the “Free From” stand, which is a bakery stand with goodies free from the top 8 allergens and refined sugar. There were these Rocky Road hunks with goodness knows what inside that were crunchy and smooth and chocolatey and nutty all at once. Amen. They also had banana bread that I just about died over.
Good thing that we did lots of walking.
To end the day, we hopped over to see Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and then ended our excursion at Harrods, which is already all decked out for Christmas and packed with people as if Christmas were a week away. It was so beautiful. And Christmassy! The Christmas season will soon be upon us! There were lights all over and the inside was decked out with every gold, red and green garland imaginable. Giant Santa statues and bears were everywhere…it was the perfect end to the evening.
So I left Christmas paradise in London to return to rainy Bordeaux and had some southwestern French duck to celebrate. That will have to be a recipe for next time, though. If anymore food is mentioned in this post, your stomachs might explode just from reading!