I literally have dreamt of this UK trip for a quite a while. The last time I was there was in 2012 for my Masters graduation. It was way before my blogging days but I enjoyed just being in London and even more so, Nottingham.
Instead of going the straight route, I decided to celebrate my wedding anniversary in Mallorca, Spain and though beautiful, it added another layer to the travel cake.
Let’s take a bite of it!
We flew business class with Air Canada to London which is always a treat. More space, better food( They served my favorite Ravioli) and sheer comfort. I highly recommend flying business on flights that are longer than 5 hours. We arrived in London on Saturday morning, quickly scurried to the American Express lounge for breakfast and to freshen up. We then spent the day in the airport waiting for our flight to Spain in the evening. Ding, ding, ding… quality time. But this also allowed me to explore to wide array of duty free shopping in London Heathrow airport.
We arrived in Spain… more details to come in my iTravel Spain post next week.
Upon our return to London we checked into the lovely Hilton Euston. Small, quaint and appropriate situated right next to the Euston subway station. This allowed me to hop on the tube to any of the classic London shopping spots like SOHO London and Oxford street. I would highly recommend Hilton Euston ( though they are renovating right now) because it had an adequate gym and an extensive complimentary breakfast buffet. I looked forward to breakfast every morning after my workout. Apple juice galore! Most of all the rooms were top notch. Though the room was small, the sheets were sparkling white and the rugs were fresh. The bathroom was full marble with glass showers and bright white basins. So glorious, clean and calming.
During the day, I walked around the city ( in the rain) and spent time learning London. From the Oystercard needed for the tube to the double decker buses, I wanted to learn how people got around on one of the world’s most elaborate subway systems. Though I got frustrated at times, I figured it out and got to all the places I wanted to visit. John Lewis, Warehouse and River Island ( Shop the collection using the link on the right) were all stores worth the visit when in London.
I enjoyed lunch at Marks & Spencer and was completely impressed with their intricate approach to packaged food. They had everything in their café! EVERYTHING. All packaged neatly and ready for life on the go. From high calorie creamy pastas to their “ Count On Us” low calorie packaged meals, the food looked fresh , yummy and colourful. I even took some food back to the hotel for the next day after my workout or to snack on in the evening.
So I had to check out Nando’s. I know we have it here in Toronto but I initially heard about it from the UK bloggers on Youtube. My cousin Michelle ( a research academic) took us there for dinner and it was tasty. Quarter chicken meals for everyone!
Michelle was kind enough to drive us through the centre of London and the most beautiful sight was Harrods at night. One of the most iconic fashion site in the world, Harrods was a must see. I have seen it before during Christmas and during the day but to see it on a regular night was motivating and inspiring. Fashion is a universal language and I speak it wherever I go.
My cousin Kezia arrived in London the following day and that is when the party started. She is like a little me. I would like to say that I have taught her everything she knows about pop culture, fashion and being fab.
Kez and I dropped her bags at the hotel and headed out for lunch. We enjoyed lunch at a quick pizza spot called Pizza Express. Over a Margarita pizza and casear salad, we caught up on events back home in Trinidad, critiqued the recent Chanel collection and strategized both of our next moves in life. It was a very surreal moment to be talking business with my “not so little anymore” cousin Kezia.
That night we headed to Nottingham to meet up with the rest of the cousin crew. This part of the trip was filled with chilling, food and jokes. My cousins are academics, one being a lecturer and the other a PHD student, so they live on the University of Nottingham campus. I was so inspired by their flat. It was filled with so many cool nooks, greenery and history. Hence the glorious pictures in my Green in Greenery post ( will be up on Thursday) and in this post.
Nottingham reminds me of Ottawa. Very lush and green and extremely quiet in a simple way. We headed to a restaurant called REDs True BBQ. The main attraction: Beef ribs. Beef ribs are soo hard to find in Toronto, so it was nice to have them abroad, especially with Cornbread and maple butter. YUM!
Though there was rain in London, it was blazing hot in Notts. So there are more motivation to hangout shopping and eating and shopping and eating. With all the cousins in tow we went to brunch at an Indian resto called Tamatanga. The main attraction: Lamb Rogan Josh. Sigh. Lamb is also my favorite and my husband definitely enjoyed the food there. We even wanted to take some home.
We visited the Wollaton Hall Manor where the Batman movie was filmed. My hubby was happy to check out the building. The inside was stunning and full of emotional art that even moved me.
My cousin’s graduation was on the Monday and it was definitely worth the travel over to the UK. The full recap here. The University hosted a light, yet harty reception for the graduates and their families featuring a yummy white cheddar and pickle sandwich and light orange juice. We then headed to Iberico Tapas for a full celebration meal full of Tapas and Spritzers. Kezia and secretly ate the "inside out wings" quietly in a corner. They were soo yummy and innovative.
The next day we were headed back to Toronto. We drove back to London and hopped on a flight back to Toronto. I was exhausted and pretty much slept all the way back home, I mean even in the UBER from the airport to our condo.
Though it appeared like I shopped a lot, I actually didn’t. The British Pound is killer and I just could not justify some of the purchases. But I got something for you all. More details to come :)
The main reason I was there was to spend time with family as we celebrated this monumental moment of my cousin receiving her Ph.D!
And we celebrated as much as we could, as hard as we could!
Top 5 things you need to have with you in the UK: