Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Honeymooners

 Now that the wedding is finally over and we're back home and settled from our honeymoon, I've been quite the lazy bugger.  I have nothing to obsess over or plan...it's nice and kind of boring and I've found myself in a little bit a lazy bugger funk.  Last weekend though, I managed to shake myself out of it and start cleaning, organizing and decorating the house which has been fun.  I've also managed to find a new subject to obsess over, (baby fever!), so that helps.  So now that I'm finally out of my funk, I reckon I should post a really late blog about our honeymoon.

Mike and I always knew we didn't want to do the typical beach honeymoon because neither of us are huge fans of the beach and I didn't want to spend the whole week in a bathing suit...why torture the poor schmuck who just married me with that so soon in?!  Mike really wanted to do Europe and I agreed as long as we picked a country and stuck to it.  my rule was no country hopping, no packing and repacking, etc.  I wanted to have a relaxing honeymoon as free from travel stress as possible.  We decided on England because Mike lived there for a semester during grad school and had fallen completely in love with it.  I let Mike plan the whole thing, which is a huge deal for a control freak like me.

One of, I think, the smartest things we did regarding the honeymoon was give ourselves two weeks in between the wedding and the honeymoon to come home, unpack, and relax before leaving again. I can't imagine how stressful it must be to leave for Europe the day after your wedding...what do you do with all your wedding stuff, dress, etc?

Mike on the plane ride over, he was SO excited.

This is how we travel:  booze and Mad Men DVDs.

Sharing headphones...awww
We stayed at The Hide London, a modern, boutique hotel in Northern London.  I loved this hotel.  It was a great price, the staff was amazing, it was really quiet, and it was just our style.  The only downside was that it was a quite a tube ride to the rest of the attractions, but it was only a block away from a tube station that was never busy so our commute was usually pretty stress free.

My dad and his fiance surprised us with flowers waiting in our room.

And champagne!  We saved this for mimosas every morning.
I loved the tiny room and modern appliances.  Notice the chocolates on the bed.  Mike ate most of those.
The bathroom was really cute.  It was like Ikea threw up all over it, but in a good way.
Our first day, we were pretty exhausted from the flight, but we didn't want to waste a whole day so we got to our hotel room, (it was an ordeal getting a cab driver to take us from the airport to our hotel since it was so far....helpful hint:  call the hotel ahead of time and they'll get a cab for you and it's cheaper), took some showers, and headed out.  Our first stop was Portobello Road in Notting Hill.  It was a Saturday, so the streets were packed with the market which was fun to see, but pretty overwhelming because of how tired we were and how lost we kept getting.  We did get to spot the hotel we almost stayed at which was right above a pub with the market outside it.  That would have been noisy and incredibly difficult so I'm so glad we changed our minds on staying there last minute!  I was getting really overwhelmed and fussy, (like I tend to do in big crowds with lack of sleep), so we popped into a tiny little restaurant/bar called The Portobello Star.  Mike ordered his first beer of the trip which he had been so excited to do and I got a glass of wine.  We ordered a platter of meats, cheeses, and sides to share and it was delicious.  I still have no idea what the condiments were that we were spreading on our bread, but they were insanely tasty.

Mike enjoying a much needed pint.

Tasty deliciousness.
After that, we wandered around the rest of the day, going to a book store Mike was really excited about called Books for Cooks, stopping in at a pub with a little outdoor beer garden to enjoy some ciders and then went back to the hotel and were asleep by 8:00, not even eating dinner.  It was a long day!

Cider beers in the beer garden.

The next day, we started with breakfast at Cote Restaurant.  I'm a super nervous traveler wherever we are so I was extra nervous to be a in foreign country, with money I didn't understand, and ordering things that I had no idea what they were.  Imagine me in India or China or something...I'd be a mess.  I kept getting really nervous about people thinking we were ugly American tourists.  Thankfully Mike could give a crap and knew his way around London so he was completely confident and I stood behind him most of the time trying to hold in the tiny mouse-like squeaks of fear issuing from my ugly American mouth.  This wasn't helped by the fact that the dude at Cote laughed at me when I ordered coffee my first official morning in London.  I got it anyway and that and the food was delicious.

That was the first and last time I ordered "coffee" from then on out I ordered Americanos with milk and got less laughs.

My handsome husband at Cote.
One of the best parts of the day was that Mike got to show me where he lived while in London.  We had started dating about two weeks before Mike moved to London so the earliest part of our relationship took place over e-mail, IM, and phone with him there and me in Ridgecrest.  The first time he told me he loved me was over IM which sounds silly, but it was a moment I'll never forget and I've still got the conversation saved as a memento.  Mike was really proud to walk me around his old neighborhood and tell me all about it.  After the trip down memory lane, we set off for the The British Museum.  Mike and I are both huge dorks so we love going to museums together.  I also love that we both speed through museums and galleries because we have short attention spans.  We're perfect for each other.

Us really excited and about to set off on our first official day in London!

Me at the British Museum.

So so pretty.
After the British Museum, we were off to Harrods.  Now, I don't like to shop.  At all.  Most people know this about me, but I think they assume I just don't LOVE to shop.  But I really really hate it.  It makes me cranky.  After a loooooong day with me at Harrods, Mike now knows this for sure.  It's an amazing place to see and a definite must visit if you're in London and you can buy literally anything there, but it was a little too much for me.  We were there for hours and we got lost a lot.  Mike did happen to buy an incredibly ugly but entertaining sweater there so that was fun.  And we had a very tasty although far too expensive lunch at one of their counters and Mike rewarded me for hanging in there with cheesecake so all in all, it wasn't too torturous.
Mike's Harrods beer at lunch.

Salted beef sandwich...holy weird and tasty.
After Harrods, we set off for dinner.  It was a long walk to the restaurant Mike had chosen and we got lost for about an hour.  We almost gave up after our third time turning around to retrace our steps, I was fussy from shopping, and Mike was rocking his new ugly sweater...we weren't doing great.  Thankfully, we stuck with it and ended up at Byrons.  It's a cool, modern, little hamburger place that is DELICIOUS.  Our tasty meal with a view of the walking path that would have gotten us to the restaurant way faster, along with some drinks, calmed us down and was a perfect end to our long and tiring day.

Mike's beer at Byrons, perfect for him.

Mike and his ugly sweater at Byrons.

Me at Byrons.
At this time, I should point out that the second day in London, I blew out the fuse on our plug thingy so I couldn't use a straightener or curling iron the whole trip.  That's why my hair looks like I'm a beached mermaid in every picture.

The next day, we had breakfast in the hotel and set off for The British Library.  There's not a lot to see there, but I'm an English major and a librarian's daughter so this was a must-see for me.  It was well-worth the trip and I wish I could go there to read every day.

The king's books.  I want to smell them.  I'm weird, I know.
While at The British Library, we had our first and thankfully only ugly American incident.  We went to the little coffee shop on site to get some espressos and after everything already being made for us, the cashier couldn't figure out how to use our American credit cards.  He obviously thought they were maxed out and was cutting us looks the whole time, but it was just his damn machine, (I know this because not more than 2 minutes earlier I had bought some souvenirs at the gift shop with the same card and used it, albeit nervously, the rest of the trip).  We had no cash on us of course so we left promising to use the library ATM and come back and we didn't.  We ditched our food and drinks and ran off like the ugly Americans we are.

After our library hi-jinks, we appropriately got ourselves toot sweet to a church.  St. Paul's was breathtaking and one of my favorite sites we visited the whole trip.  I am not a very religious person, but churches like this one and The National Cathedral in DC always move me in profound ways.  St. Paul's was beautiful and the audio tour was great.  We decided also to walk to the very top.  I agreed not knowing this meant in total over 1,000 steps, some of which were STEEP.  It was exhausting, but the view was beautiful and my butt felt very toned afterwards.  Honeymoon bonus.

The view of St. Paul's from our lunch spot.

Gorgeous view of London from the top of St. Paul's.

Me!  I'm exhausted.

Mike at the top of St. Paul's.

After the hike, we stopped for a beer in the cathedral restaurant.

I felt kind of guilty for drinking beer in church.
After St. Paul's, we headed back to our hotel with the intention of eating dinner later that night at St John Restaurant, one of Anthony Bourdain's favs.  We had actually been really excited to eat there, but once we got back to the hotel, I started looking at the menu trying to decide what I'd order and reading online reviews and quickly got the ick on it.  I'm sure the food is amazing, but after an exhausting day and reading a couple of bad reviews, we opted to go somewhere else instead.  We ended up at Albion, a really cute little cafe/bakery/shop/restaurant.  It wasn't the most pleasant tube ride and walk there and I felt a little sketchy on the walk home, but I'm a big wuss so my vote is a little skewed.  The atmosphere in the restaurant was great however and the food was amazing.  I got a plate of gigantic fish and chips and our appetizer was literally bread baked in cheese..it was amazing.

The next day, we headed off to the National Gallery and a walk around Piccadilly Circus.  We ended up walking around a lot of the big sites like the Tower of London.  We're not big into tours so we just walked around and looked for a bit which was enough for me.  We finally caved and ate at a chain restaurant for lunch, Pizza Express.  Pizza Hut, this is not.  It was delicious pizza and tasty wines.  So glad we stopped in!

The foggy weather does not look good on me!

Mike at the Tower of London.

Mike finally getting to have a pint at a pub. 
Dinner that night was at a perfectly tiny little place called Andrew Edmunds.  The atmosphere was perfect, the food was delicious, and the neighborhood was amazing.  We stopped off at Mark and Spencer's, (I call this London's Target), on the way home and picked up some orange juice for mimosas in the morning and cake for dessert that night.  The night ended with cake in our pj's in bed.  Great end to a great day.

The next day, we accidentally slept in until 9:00 which is a huge deal for Mike so we woke up feeling really refreshed and ready for our day.  We started out with brunch at Ginger and White, a really cute cafe where we ate incredibly tasty cheese and meat croissant concoctions.  Delish.

The view from Ginger and White.  I want so badly to live on this little street.
After breakfast, we headed off to Westminster Abbey.  Westminster ended up being not at all what I expected.  I, unlike everyone else on the planet apparently, didn't watch a second of the royal wedding so I had no idea what this church looked like.  I was shocked by how Gothic it was.  It was beautiful of course, but I was used to churches like St. Paul's so this took me by surprise.  We walked around with the audio tour and there really are some amazing things to see in there so it's a must do if you're in London.  I also debased myself by purchasing a William and Kate mug for my sister there.  Thankfully, the check out girl was American so it was less embarrassing.

Westminster, so detailed and pretty.

Me looking like butt outside of Westminster...Mike looks good per usual.


After Westminster, we took a LONG walk to the Chelsea Physic Garden.  Mike always reminisces about how one of our favorite stops on our trip to DC with my dad was the Botanical Gardens so he made a point to schedule in a trip to the Chelsea Physic Gardens.  It was a long walk and there are no tube stops nearby, but once you get there it's totally worth it.  It's really beautiful there and for nerds like Mike and I, it was a must-see.  I couldn't help picturing how perfect this place would be for a wedding ceremony, so peaceful and green.
Having a sit down after the long walk.

We were pretty obsessed with this monkey tree.



We ended up having our best lunch of the trip that day at a pub called the Bag O' Nails.  We ordered two platters to share of everything quintessentially British pub food and it was amazing.  We also discovered our obsession of the trip, Pimm's.

Pimm's!  Mike has since taught himself to make this and serves it for our friends in the States.  So tasty.


Best.  Lunch.  Ever.
Later that day, we also stopped by Buckingham Palace.  That place is gorgeous and it's amazing just to sit outside and stare at it.  Like....it's a bonafide palace.  We don't have them things in Ridgecrest.

Mike and I sitting under Queen Victoria's statue at Buckingham Palace.
By the end of the day, we were exhausted so we hopped a short tube ride from our hotel and ate dinner at a hole in the wall pizza place.  It wasn't anything exciting, but the pizza was great, the wine was tasty, and it was close to home.  Before bed, we ran across the street to a bar frequented by college kids and had some ciders before passing out at the hotel.

The next day, we started out with brunch at Dean Street Townhouse.  It was gorgeous in there, the service was impeccable, and I ordered something really odd looking with a quail egg on top that ended up tasting delicious.  After breakfast, we walked by the actor who played the boss on IT Crowd and I managed to contain the loud SQUEEE sound building in my head and I didn't accost him at all.  I was pretty proud of myself.
This place was so cool, I want to live in it.
We then ventured off to the Borough Market.  This was one of my favorite stops of the whole trip and would recommend it to anyone visiting London.  My recommendation would be to go hungrier than we did though because I sadly was not hungry enough to nosh on all the amazing food there.  Outside of the market, we stopped into a little place called the Wine Wharf  for, you guessed it, Pimm's!  We then headed out to buy some discounted Phantom of the Opera tickets for that night and back to the hotel to get ready.

Mike enjoying a Pimm's break at Wine Wharf.


After sprucing up for the show, we headed of for dinner at Nizuni.  We ended up too early for dinner because I was being insane about not being late for the show so we stopped into a pub for some pre-dinner drinks.  We ended up in a room downstairs of the pub called the Writer's Bar which was old and gloomy and covered in pictures of authors.  I loved it.  Dinner at Nizuni was delicious, some of the best sushi I've ever had.  After dinner, we rushed off to the play making it with time to spare of course.  Thankfully, Mike loved it and I know every word of it so I had a great time.  I was also pretty proud to be wearing my adorable Banana Republic dress with black flats while we sat next to some Americans wearing jeans and Def Leopard shirts.
Me at the Writer's Bar.
The next day would be our last in London, so sad!  We were supposed to go to one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants for breakfast, but when we got there, realized they stopped serving by that time and they were super rude to boot so we left, wandered around, took a couple of tubes, and ended up having a random Greek lunch outside of St. Paul's.  The day was not starting out well.  We headed off to the Tate Modern which lifted my spirits because I love weird modern art.  Mike found joy in forcing me to walk across the Millennium Bridge which scared the bejeesus shit out of me.  I kept reminding him of what happened to that bridge in Harry Potter, but he didn't seem to care. After that, we walked around a bit and did some shopping and stopped in at a pub that Mike had been talking about since we arrived, The Black Friar.

Inside the Black Friar

Mike and I at Black Friar
That night, we had one of the best dinners of my life at Moti Mahal.  It was a great location, beautiful restaurant, impeccable service, and delicious food.  It was both of our first time's with Indian food and it couldn't have been any better.  Sitting in that restaurant in London with my new husband and feeling so thankful and peaceful was one of the greatest moments of my life and I'll never forget it.

Delicious Perfection

We spent more on drinks then we did on food.  So tasty!
The next morning, our hotel got us a cab back to the airport which, coincidentally was far less expensive then getting one ourselves, but ended up being non-licensed so it's literally a random dude who knows the city well driving you in his own car really fast.  Thankfully we didn't get mugged or shanked and made it to the airport in one piece.  24 hours later, we were back home and in bed with our dogs.

It was the perfect honeymoon, there was no fighting, no disasters, amazing food, great sites, and plenty of sitting in pubs staring out the window at the beautiful streets of London while sipping cocktails with my husband.  Dream come true.