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Trip Report London Again ..just the start

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Before I forget or can’t read my notes, I thought I ought to start this
Tues Mar 15.Rebecca was actually early to pick us up! Got to MCO with time to spare. No upgrades available but they did move us closer to the front of the plane when they saw my cane! Quick flight to Atlanta and a long wait for the wheel chair to get me to our next gate in another part of the terminal. A then got on the London flight and sat on the runway for 1 hour waiting to take off. Disgusting food but the wine was free in coach this time.
March 16 Arrived Heathrow on time and the wheelchair was waiting to take us thru Immigration and onto baggage claim. Just airports was waiting just outside the exit and we quickly made it into London and the Grosvenor Kensington, formerly the Kensington Moat or Mad House as some of us called it. Room not ready so went across the street for some breakfast. Back to hotel and the room was ready, very nice sized room with a totally unsafe bathroom. No grab bars except on the side of tub, which are useless and no rubber mat for when using the shower. No way I could get in that tub so showered and felt better quickly. Talked to a lady from Texas and she said the same thing. She said her SIL had fallen in the tub the first time she used it. The hotel has been sold and will be completely renovated so I hope they do something about the safety features. Free internet in rooms so set up computer so I can check bus routes. D hit the bed and I hit the streets, going over to South Kensington tube to add 7 day travel cards to our Oysters. Unpacked had some lunch and then a short nap before dinner at La Famiglia..of course ..it’s always our first night’s restaurant. Saw all our old friends had a nice chat with Alvaro and a great meal. Mussels of course for David . As I said before they always know what his first course will be, he followed with rare liver! I had fried artichoke hearts and stuffed veal roast , all delish. So off to bed.
March 17 Had planned to go to Trafalgar for the St Patrick’s day parade, but the streets were jammed with yobs and drunks even early in the morning so gave up on that and spent some time at the V and A and walking along King’s Road and stopping in at the Sydney Street Antiques market. Lunch somewhere and then back for a nap before dinner at a new place , Venosi. I had read a great review in a London newsletter I get, The Londonist, Thanks Beth!! And the review was spot on. The place is on Sloane Avenue and very nicely decorated with comfortable leather chairs and banquettes, white wall and marble floor, very cool and crisp looking. The service from Miguel our waiter was excellent and Luigi the owner most pleasant. I really hope his business thrives because they certainly deserve to. I had Braciole, a rump steak stuffed with herbs and parmesan and served in a Pizzaoli sauce over sautéed broccoli and roast potatoes. I wish I’d taken a picture because the presentation was great. D had kidneys and semifreddo for dessert.. We booked again for later in the week before leaving. The bus to take us back to the hotel was right outside the door. Did a lot of bus riding this trip. The hotel has excellent transport connections.
March 18 David’s birthday and he wants to see the Victoria Cross exhibit at the Imperial War Museum. As I said before, you know you have been to a place too many times when the doorman greets you with a hug and a kiss. I always tease him about his hearing as he collects the coats and back packs of the screaming school children that come thru his door. Interesting exhibit, David also revisited the Holocaust exhibit while I visited the art galleries. I think the main thing he wanted here at the IWM was lunch and their delicious Mac and cheese! Spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon here and in the park outside enjoying the beautiful weather. I had to take the liner out of my raincoat when we got back to the hotel.
Dinner tonight is supposed to be a special treat. We haven’t been to Montepeliano in ages and David is looking forward to their Dover Sole and crepes Montepeliano. The restaurant has changed a bit since we were last there. They have opened up the front room into the back room but the service is not as good as it used to be. Of the 3 original owners only 1 remains.
They used to serve the whole sole with head and tail on and bone it tableside. A bit disappointed that it came ready boned to the table, We strongly suspect that it is no longer fresh but rather frozen. Then the waiter forgot to crush the almond biscuits over D’s crepe. Well the wine was fine but I doubt we will be going back anytime soon.
March 19
Hadn’t been to Portobello the last few trips so decided today was the day. Bus dropped us off right in the middle of the market, much better than taking the tube. Had some almond croissants and coffee before during any looking at the stalls. Spent several hours inside and out admiring but not buying! Did see an engraving like one we have and were astonished at the price, 750 GBPs! I’ll take better care of ours.
Bused back to the V&A again . You could spend days there and not see everything. Paid particular attention to the Diamond Jubilee exhibit of Queen Victoria.
Had a 50% off offer from top table at Marco Pierre White’s King’s Rd steakhouse so set off for dinner around 7. I had a delish rib eye and chips, David had their grilled double lamb chops. They had not been skinned properly and were very hard to cut into. He told the manager and the chef agreed with him so they didn’t charge us for them and gave 50% off on my dinner! Good business . Both finished with crème brulee. You didn’t think D could make a trip without having at least 1 CB!


March 20

For some reason I swore Borough Market was open on Sundays, Following a LONG bus ride we arrived to find it closed. No big deal headed over into Southbank and took the boat over to Tate Britain. This is not one of my favorites but usually has a good temp. exhibit on. Wandered around for an hour or so and stopped in their café for lunch. David had some kind of soup, the color alone turn ed me off. I enjoyed my Panini though!
We did a lot of walking and David was so tired he wanted to sleep rather than eat dinner. So I went over to Carluccio’s on my own and had a nice pork saltimbocca and wine. Now I was tired so returned to hotel and turned in early

March 21

Today is the day for the Wallace Collection. After walking the wrong way on George St we asked directions and were pointed back the way we hd just comke. Stopped in a Café Nero for some revitalization coffee before entering. D’s favorite picture is in the collection so we stared at The Arab Camp for a bit before seeing the other things. Lunch in their garden café is always nice. The medieval armor always amazes me. No machinery involved and the decorations on what is essentially a bullet proof vest is amazing


After liunch we headed to Gray’s Antique Center as I had 2 rings I wanted to sell. First guy I showed them too asked what I wanted for them so I said 500GBP. He was so quick to hand over the money I think I made a mistake. Oh well, we won’t have to find any more ATMs while here and I should have some leftover for our next trip.

D wants to go to Carluccio’s tonight . So walked over We shared a cheese and salami antipasta , I followed with fried calamari and D had a venison stuffed tortellini Both excellent. Food is so good here if you can stand the noise!

More to follow



 

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    and a bit more
    March 22

    Spent the day at St Paul’s mainly in the church yard enjoying the sunshine! It cost almost 50 US dollars for 2 people to enter the church, As We’ve seen it before I can think of better ways to spend 50 dollars! Enjoyed walking around the area checking out shops and cafes. Back to the National Gallery and the Nat’l Portrait gallery. These are our 2 favorites in London. Spent the rest of the afternoon browsing thru the permanent collections and glancing in at the temp, which neither of us was fond of. Can’t even remember the name of the artist!Did get a Monet poster for my bathroom. Totally differnet look from most MOnet's . Thames below Westminster

    Back to hotel for a short rest before dinner at Venosi again. I had their lobster pasta with big chunks of fresh cooked lobster , even served it with the shell on top> David started with mussels. They cook their in white wine as opposed to La Famiglia’s which are in a tomato sauce. Tasted the sauce and it was very good. He followed with crab ravioli.

    We were talking with Luigi , the owner, and mentioned how disappointed we were with the Dover sole at Montepeliano. He said the next time we wanted DS to call for a reservation in advance and he would order it for us and himself. So we made a reservation for Friday night! I love this place.


    March 23 Finally what we came for , the 2 big antiques fairs at Chelsea Old Town Hall and the BADA fair at the Duke of York Headquarters.

    Went to Duke of York first, had some lunch at Partridges and eyed the long lines waiting to get into the fair. Decided to do Town Hall first. Very nice affordable show even though we did not buy. We did come close though. David saw a small oil of the head of a Victorian boy. It looked so much like our nephew Brendan we were tempted. It was 350 GBP so I told D to think it over carefully. Went back up to Duke of York . The lines had thinned out so we made a short stop there. I had several free tickets for both shows so we will come back again later in the week for a more careful look. It is hardly likely that we will buy anything at the BADA fair as the prices are sky high and each item is worth it and more in some cases.

    Dinner tonight was at Racine. I’ve wanted to go there for ages but always forgot to make a reservation and it is essential. It is not related to Bouillon Racine in Paris. I asked the French waiter we had. The whole staff and menu is very French. David started with sautéed duck hearts. He said they were excellent. He went on to a confit of guinea fowl. I had shoulder of lamb braised in red wine. I’d never had lamb shoulder before but I will have it again!! We’ll make a point of coming here again.

    March 24

    Had tickets for War Horse this afternoon so made it to the theatre early to pick up tickets I had bought online. Then wandered around the area until showtime. It is quite near Covent Garden so headed in that direction stopping for lunch at La Ballerina. The lunch was good but a bit expensive so we’ll eat cheap tonight!

    The play was FANTASTIC. One of those that sticks with you. The puppetry was exceptional. I swear I could see expression in the horse’s eyes! Our seats were right next to stage and even the under area was made to look like a WWI trench. Lots of leg room too! Got out of theatre around 4:30 so headed off for a drink before heading back to hotel. Dinner at Carluccio’s. I had Osso Bucco with saffron risotto , very very good. D had some kind of pasta dish.

    March 25

    Back to the BADA show and it is almost overwhelming! Saw more beautiful paintings and furniture than you could imagine. David was much taken with a particular oil. Thank God it was way out of our price range because we’d have to add on a room to hold it! Spent the entire day here even lunching on site though we did pass on the champagne bar. 9 GBP for a small glass of bubbly is way too much for my purse! Talked with a lot of the dealers and picked up some good hints from them.

    Back to the hotel, stopping at the outdoor terrace of La Floris for a reviving glass of wine before going up.

    Back to Venosi and our Dover Soles! Luigi was right , his are far superior to what we had earlier. His son Gino, a Prince Harry look-alike, is the chef and he does a really good job. Also had more fried zucchini. David says I should buy a deep fryer and learn how to make it at home.! I’ll miss this place but we still have others on our list/.

    March 26th

    Saturday and finally we will get to Borough Market! Snacked and sampled our way thru the entire market for several hours. I love this place and so does D! It was a long bus ride from the hotel with a transfer so D said we should take a cab back to a more central location. Flagged one down and hopped in and said take us to Trafalgar. The cab driver asked if we REALLY wanted to go there as today there is a huge protest march beginning or ending there. Several 100 thousand people are expected! Changed our mind in a hurry! So he took us to Knightsbridge. They have the most interesting cab drivers in London. This guy was a Turkish Cypriot married to a Greek Cypriot. No clashes of religion though. He said he disapproved of the burkha and knew lots of Muslims who made their wives wear them and then went out and took up with Eastern European girls!! Don’t know if he was joking or not!

    Dropped us off and we decided we hadn’t looked at the Gilbert Collection of silver at the V&A so walked over there and drooled for an hour or sass. It is the most amazing collection of silver anywhere. Had a snacking the café. Food is mediocre but the setting makes up for it.
    Bused up to Chez Gerard on Kensington High street for another bit of France. I had steak frites with their great peppercorn sauce , D went with kidneys again!! Crème brulee to finish.

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    And the END!

    Forgot, as we came up to the hotel I noticed Market Stall Umbrellas further down Harrington Rd on one of the side streets, so headed down to see what was up. A weekly street market, jst like in Paris. Well this is a rather French neighborhood, with the Lycee Francaise , French bookshops adn cafes and patisseries so why was I surprised. Wandered a bit htere and had a pastry before heading back to hotel

    March 27 Sunday

    We started out for the Museum of the City of London, but as we passed the Imperial War Museum David remembered something he wanted to see so hopped off the bus and went in Again! Spent about 2 hours and then he wanted more mac and cheese. I
    m beginning ti think it is addictive. Had that and the worst bottle of cider ever. I'll not try that brand again.
    Headed back to Antique shows. Thank God, the picture David wanted was sold! Did talk again with some dealers about pricing various things. I think we'd get lot better prices if we carried stuff back to London when we want to sell.

    Back to Chez Gerard for dinner. We both had a lamb dish and creme brulees again. I was thinking of CBs last night and wishing I had one.

    March Hadn't been to the Covent Garden antiques market for years so headed in that direction. Got there early and found mostly junque!! Won't bother with that one again.We did spend the entire morning there before hading back to the National Gallery and the National Portrait gallery again. They are 2 of my favorite London places. Spent the rest of the day there, did leave to go for a pub lunch then went back. I was dying for a Ploughman's lunch and had a good one at the pub right by the bus stop. I think it is called the Duke of Clarence. Lots of cheese, good bread and a yummy chutney along with the pickled onions. Forget what D had. Washed it down with a glass of cider and one of Guinness for David.

    Back to hotel for a rest before heading out to Cafe Montepeliano. This is not owned by the same people as Montepeliano and it always a good choice for an in expensive really good dinner or lunch. I had a veal saltimbocca with lots of veggies on the plat , D had a pasta and mushroom dish


    March 29th We are both tired, dragging around a bum leg and doing lots of walking has worn me out so for once I was glad we were heading home tomorrow. We had missed the Gilbert Silver Collection at the V&A so headed back there. Arrived a bit early so went over to Orsini for some coffee. Nice waiter and Mr and Mrs Orsini were not there but talked to the daughter who has taken over the day to day running of the place. Mrs O still comes in each day to bake all the pastries and Mr O comes in as a greeter each evening. Made reservation for dinner that evening. Found the Gilbert collection without too much trouble. Last visit I could nt find it. Spent several hours admiring all the beautiful silver and miniatures that the Gilberts collected over the years and left to Britain. It is truly amazing. Stopped in the museum cafe for lunch. The dining room is so pretty, . It was much cooler today so no kids frolicking in the fountain today.Back to room to pack up and get ready for our flight tomorrow. Managed to fit everything in!

    Greeted by Mr. O as if he remembered us, though I don't see how he could! They make the best meatballs there. You get 5 big balls along with roasted potatoes and 2 veg, no way I could finish my plate!D had their mussels cooked in white wine rather than tomato sauce and said they were excellent. He then had a starter portion of some kind of pasta. Both too full for one of Mrs O's desserts.


    March 30

    Our dinner arrived a bit early so we took off for Heathrow. Checked in waited a bit for the wheelchair, no way am I walking the Mile to the gate! Boarded the place we had a window and an aisle. Just as they closed the doors I saw 2 vacant seats a few rows ahead so dashed up and claimed them! Then we sat on the runway for 1 1/2 hours waiting to take off. We were both a bit worried about making our connection in Atlanta. We did not have a lot of time and Atlanta is a hellhole of an airport. You have to go thru security when you get OFF the plane before you can enter the terminal. Makes no sense at all. Then good old truthful Jody tells the immigration agent she has food so our entry card was marked with a big A and we had to go to Agriculture. The guy there asked what food I had and when I said VAcuum packed olives , he asked why they had sent us there. old him maybe they should tell immigration what is allowed! He sent us on our way and the girl wheeled us to the next terminal down. Thru security again and thankfully the weather in Orlando is bad and our connecting flight has been delayed!!So we made it just in time. Again we sit on the runway , for over an hour waiting to takeoff. It was the roughest flight I've ever been on. They didn't serve anything because the attendents had to be strapped in the entire way! Landed just a bit late and got a taxi at once. One thing you can say abou Orlando there are always loads of taxis waiting. Opened door and no lights!! Managed to turn off security system in the dark. Power did come back on in an hour or so, so did have hot water to shower before hitting My Very Own Bed!!

    All in all it was a great trip. I do love London and when I'm there I think it is my favorite but I do the same with Paris!!

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    Just found out the Olympia Winter Art and Antiques fair will be on when we are in London in November!!That is another great show.

    Planned on the Queens JUbilee in June of 2012 but see that my 2 favorite fairs are on in March so may have to change lans!

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