After a quick flight from Italy, I landed in London and jumped on a train to Liverpool street station where Paul was waiting to greet me. Right off the bat, I performed an embarrassing failed attempt to make it through the exit turnstile without a pre-paid oyster card (local Paul could only mutter ‘tourist’ between fits of embarrassed laughter) we jumped on a connecting underground train to Greenwich. Thank God Paul was there to carry my excess baggage through the hustling and bustling impatient London commuters.
Once we dropped my bags off at our hotel room in Greenwich, Paul and I quickly covered a lot of ground in the surprisingly sprawling city over the next few days. One thing I found remarkable was how the skyline was such a contrasting mix of ornate, stone buildings from the past and sharp, modern glass super structures of the future. Every city has a mix of old and new but the age difference in London is far more pronounced than any city I’ve seen so far.
The building on the left is called The Gherkin (2003)
Royal Navy College (1696)
London City Hall (2002)
The London Tower Bridge (1894) with The Shard building (2009) in the background
In the 3 days of walking and tubing our way around London there were many highlights. One being the old battleship that Paul worked on for nearly 5 years, berthed near City Hall on the Thames.
The HMS Belfast is now a museum ship, originally a Royal Navy light cruiser launched in 1938. She’s HUGE, about 4 X bigger than the motoryacht Paul and I worked on together this past year.
We met my other yachtie friend Jackie for a pint and some fish and chips at a well known historic landmark, appropriately named ‘The Anchor’.
Later that night we went to Camden, an area that for years has traditionally been the heart and soul of the hipster club and music scene in London. Paul’s brother is the drummer in an amazing new band and we were lucky enough to see them perform. The venue, once horse stables long ago but now happening music club ‘Proud Camden’, was also super cool.
Paul’s brother Luke is an extremely talented drummer. Paired with a cellist, violinist, trumpet, base, electric and acoustic guitar players AS WELL as a lead singer who sounds like Florence Welch but better…..the band Edith Violet is sure to go far. Give them a listen here:
Possibly my favorite thing Paul and I did in London was on our last day together. After taking me to see Buckingham Palace he brought me to St.James Park to see some pelicans. Walking through St.James’ Park made me feel like I was living in a Disney movie. Squirrels and ducks and swans were tamely taking food right from the hands of park goers. Weeping Willows, fountains and a real life castle in the background left me wondering if at any moment all of the little woodland creatures were going to break into song.
After a quick last pint together in the park, I went on to meet up with my sister Jen.
Jen had planned a gorgeous night out in London starting with dinner in Levant. Walking into Levant feels like walking into a whole new world.
Belly dancers, a feast of food, wine and great conversation with Jen’s friends made for a wonderful dinner. But the night wasn’t over yet…..much like the skyline of London our night went from old world charm to modern glam in one short walk. We finished the night with designer cocktails and dessert in the lobby bar of the St.Martin’s Lane hotel in Shoreditch, the uber posh Light Bar.
How cool is this lobby?! Yes those are golden molar stools
shout out to ol’ checkmate too!
The huge creepy faces on the upper walls reminded me a lot of the Mondrian in South Beach…come to find out they are part of the same Hotel group, upscale funky interiors and freaky faces being their trademark? If that isn’t their trademark, delicious drinks and cuisine could be. Between rounds of gourmet cocktails, our entire table ordered our own plates of the signature butterscotch filled donuts. After the feast at Levant, any semblance of a diet day was out of the window so I just enjoyed every bite of the divine pastries.
So it’s been an action packed week in London, I left out at least half of the things I did (including the extreme privilege of sitting in a certain historical figure’s chair who will remain nameless to protect the wish granter…but lets just say the likes of Bon Jovi have been refused this privilege……No big deal)
Now I am off to Abu Dhabi for a week of everything opposite London’s chilly city streets and historical landmarks…..Here I come warm weather, sandy beaches and modern sensations!