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Trip Report One Fine Stay in London

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After several days in Belgium last month, DH and I took the Eurostar to London where we had rented an apartment from onefinestay.com. Once the train arrived in London we took a taxi to the apartment. The cab driver did not seem to know the address at first nor did he help us with our bags. Very different than the ride from the hotel to the Eurostar a few days before.

This was our second apartment abroad experience and both have been interesting. Last year we rented from Paris Perfect and it seems their apartments are only holiday rentals. This year with One Fine Stay we are renting someone's apartment which might be a bit too personal. There were lots of knickknacks around which we steered clear of and the apartment was a little more quirky. Things like the light switches, the step down in the hall to get to the bathroom. There was a separate bedroom but the bed was not King-sized as advertized. Fortunately it was a queen. If it were only a double we would have been doing some serious negotiation upon arrival. The wood floors were painted and positively ancient with lots of squeaks. There was decent storage in the bedroom and a teeny tiny washer/dryer combo which we tried out during the week.

We were met by Matt who helped get us settled in and gave us the iPhone One Fine Stay provides then we walked to Sainsbury's for some groceries. The next morning I made oatmeal and DH had his cereal and we set off walking along Westbourne Grove to Portobello Road just a few block away. We came upon Daylesford organic farm store and went in to have a look around. We stayed for "elevens" or second breakfast which was really good. Bought a loaf of their bread too. We strolled along Portobello checking out the shops and managed to find a perfect gift for our niece at The Blue Door.

After a rest back at the apartment we took the Tube to Piccadilly then walked to the Wolseley for tea before the theater. The Wolseley was at one time a car dealership and is next to the Ritz Hotel. It was a big bustling restaurant with marble floors. The tea was quite good, especially the scones and clotted cream. After tea we walked past the Ritz toward Green Park then reversed to head to the Noel Coward Theatre for Much Ado About Nothing. The production was set in India and had a Bollywood twist. We both enjoyed it. We took the Tube back to the apartment only to find the power was off. DH thought it was the breakers and found the box but was hesitant to mess with foreign electrical. We called One Fine Stay and after trying a few switches decided to go to bed and let them work on it in the morning.

At 4am we were awakened when the lights came back on. Glad to have the power back but wish we had switched off some of the lights we tried out last night. We slept kind of late and were awakened by calls from One Fine Stay telling us an electrician was on the way. When he arrived he spoke with DH and determined the breaker box probably needs to be switched out. As it turned out we did not have another problem with this and we understand it was going to be worked on after we checked out.

We decided to treat ourselves to breakfast at Daylesford Farm Store again. After breakfast we took the tube to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. We looked at some renaissance Italian paintings then decided to focus on the 19th century Impressionists. There were some lovely works by favorite artists including one of Van Gogh's sunflowers and Monet's study of the Gare St. Lazare. My favorite however was the Bridge at Argenteuil by Gustave Caillebotte. Because the work was on loan there were not postcards or prints of his work to purchase.

From Trafalgar Square we walked to Covent Garden. Lots of new shops since we had last been there in 2003. Found a gift at Whittard which sells tea and tea cups, pots, etc. There was a Laduree shop but I skipped the expensive macarons since we still had Belgian chocolate in the apartment. We did pass a place called Ben's cookies and shared a peanut butter with milk chocolate chunk cookie--it was amazingly good. My favorite shop, Past Times, was no longer located in Covent Garden.

We headed home for a light dinner and a load of laundry. The tiny little washer dryer combo took almost 3 hours to clean and dry a small load. It's handy and sort of entertaining to laugh at how long it takes but we wonder how people live like this on a daily basis.

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