Truly an unforgettable trip that ticked off many items from our bucket list.
The elegant Dorchester hotel and a beautiful piano playing to serenade the start of our evening.
Nobu's legendary black cod miso. And to the right, a new feature of the week from the chef. A fish dish so divine, we were in 7th heaven.
The trip to the Tower of London. Started off with the Traitor's Gate.
And the informative Beefeater (Yeoman Warders), the guardians of the Tower of London. I did not know that all warders were retired from the Armed Forces of Commonwealth realms and must be former senior non-commissioned officers or petty officers with at least 22 years of service. I also learned that the warders and their families actually lived at the Tower of London. The community of the Tower of London is made up of these Yeoman Warders and their families, the Resident Governor and officers, a chaplain and a doctor.
Where the Crown Jewels are kept.
We also saw a little reenactment of the day before Anne Boleyn's wedding to Henry VIII.
I could not help to take photos of the cute school children walking about with their tour guides in period costumes. Lucky children; to learn history in such an amazing way.
The Tower Bridge of London.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
The view of St. Paul Catherdal (where Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married) from across river Thames.
And from different angles:
We were fortunate to get tickets to Shakespeare's play, King John. It was a brilliant play, and the fact it was performed at such a historic venue, left us speechless.
And we fell in love with the variety of food at Harrods'. That evening, I tried my first fresh (black) truffles. And I was completely hooked! In London (at Alain Ducasse in Dorchester) I fell in love for the first time with foie gras. And now, again in London, I fell for the first time for truffles.
The dish pictured blow, mes amis, is what food in paradise should taste like, if paradise exists.
And second round after the truffles, we headed to have some caviar. Mille, the girl working at Harrods' Caviar House & Prunier, gave us over-the-top service; top notch hospitality from a real Londoner. She even wrote some suggestions on places to go to with the closes tube stations. The overall UK experience for us (I've been to UK for 4-5 times) has always been extremely pleasant; courteous and helpful people every where.
... and I had to have my tea.. at Harrods' Laduree. :D
What is Laduree without macarons? Earl Grey, Pistachio, Rose, and Apricot.
I just love people who dress well.
One morning when we passed by Buckingham Palace, there was an event and the guests were entering. I guess I must have misplaced my invitation somewhere. Blimey! My apologies, your Majesty.
Visiting Hampton Court, about 35 minutes train ride from Waterloo station in London. From Wikipedia: along with St. James's Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by King Henry VIII. In the following century, King William III's massive rebuilding and expansion project was intended to rival Versailles. Work ceased in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque.
This is straight from the camera; no filter added. Absolutely stunning light; the old Tudor windows act as beautiful diffuser. Too bad it was just me in my casual clothing; it would have been much more interesting had we had a model in Tudor costume. It is easy to see that this kine of lighting is what was commonly used by the great masters/painters of the past. A Rembrandt lighting effect could easily be achieved during the day in such setting. I simply adore it!
Back at our home, the Savoy in London. Fairmont hotels are like our second home, really. It is not 'stuffed up' like some of the other five star hotels, yet it is full of history, heritage, and the service has always been top notch for us.
Kaspar's has the best escargot we've had so far. Outstanding service is... when they brought the wrong starter, and not only did they apologise profusely (although really, it was not a bother at all to us), minutes later they came back with free glasses of wine. Fairmonthotels never fail to impress us. We are happy to be their platinum President's Club member.
The beautiful decor at Wolseley Cafe in London.
Back at the Savoy, to try their other restaurant, Savoy Grill.
My first time having a waiter debone my dover sole by our table. Quite an experience. He skillfully cut the fist and presented a beatifully seared and deboned dover sole.
The mouth-watering display of Cicchetti, in our opinion the best Italian restaurant in the world! The truffle ravioli is to die for!
There was a family day at the Royal Opera House when we visited. We got to see a demo on how Freed pointe shoes were made. I danced classical ballet for over 10 years, and we followed the Royal Ballet curriculum. I also had the wonderful opportunity, at 13 years old, to go to Royal Ballet's headquarter in Battersea London, and to Tring Art Educational School in Hertfordshire, for a summer school.Somewhat of a miracle (thanks to my grandparents' help), considering I almost could not have a separate passport from my mother (I went alone across the continents without my family) as I was a minor. The two pointe shoes brand I loved were Gamba and Freed. It was interesting to hear that they've used the same recipe for the glue/starch since its inception in 1929, and this gentleman was explaining the different soles, and why certain ones made your feet arch more than others. A Royal Ballet dancer can go through 6-8 pairs of pointe shoes in a week. A trained pointe shoes maker can make 4-5 pairs every hour. Freed is well known for making the pointe shoes the traditional way; full of heritage. Memories of my dancing days just came back to mind, and I remember in 1995 and 2002 when I went on my own to Covent Garden.. déjà vu.One day I will watch a ballet or opera at the Royal Opera House (this one in London or the one in Vienna). Fingers crossed.
We also had a little backstage tour of the Royal Opera House. The opera house has the world's most advanced flooring technology by Rolls-Royce, that enables 30 tons of stage props/setting to be switched in less than 30 seconds. It was truly overwhelming to see all the work behind the stage.The opera house employs over 1,000 people, and at any given performance, about 100 people work behindt the scene with the props, stage setting, etc. For every ballet costume, they make 6-7 copies for replacement dancers in case of accidents etc.We also got to sneak in to the dancers' resting area and some of the studios. The guide explained that usually kids at the age of 11 started to be chosen (based on musicality and dance talent). They then were sent to see a physician to see if they have 'out' legs essential to dance classical ballet. If all checks out, they will go to a boarding school away from their families as of 11 years old and usually until 16. Between 16-19 they have the opportunity to be chosen to be 1 of the 90 Royal Ballet dancers.Considering the amount of work and people needed for each performance every single day, I think the ticket prices are quite reasonable. It is not mass-produced silver screen movies. These are live performances, and I do hope they will thrive for generations to come.
The lively Covent Garden. Full of delights.
I am normally not partial to Italian food, but this restaurant is absolutely at a different level. We had truffle ravioli, sea bream carpaccio, and other delectable dishes, all chosen by our bartender/server, this gentleman here.
It was the first time ever we let someone else choose an entire menu for us, and it was nothing short of amazing. The ambiance of the restaurant is also classy and lively. Definitely our new favourite!
A nibble before our Orient Express adventure! (to be continued in our next post)