After the holiday festivities, we slept in and took it easy Thursday morning. After breakfast, we walked to Hyde Park, catching the brief moment of sunshine.
At Christmas, the park hosts Winter Wonderland, a big holiday fair, inspired by the Bavarian Christmas Markets. We spent some time strolling through the vendors.
From Hyde Park, we made our way to Brixton. Meg’s sister Katie moved to London 10+ years ago and lives in Brixton with her family. Katie is hilarious and has great stories, and it was awesome to have a chance to catch up with her and her husband Chris. Brixton Market is a maze of food stalls, pop up shops, and small vendors. You could spend a day there, going from lunch, to tea, to drinks to dinner-so much to see. We had incredible jerk chicken at Fish, Wings & Tings-it was chilly but warm to enjoy lunch at the picnic tables outside :)
After a late lunch, we made our way back to Green Park for an early evening cup of tea. On our last trip to London we did a full afternoon tea at The Gallery at Forntum and Mason. It was wayyyy to much food, so this time we stuck to tea (hot chocolate for David :)) and scones. What do they do with tea in London? Why is it worlds better than anything here? It makes me want to get proper leaf tea and do away with bags. We had many incredible meals on this trip, but something about that simple tea, in the pretty F&N Gallery, overlooking the store, chatting with David, just made me so happy and calm.
We did a bit of shopping and admired the Christmas decorations before heading to to Covent Garden.
The decorations along Covent Garden are incredible-but the crowds are maddening! Our big splurge this trip (other than taking the trip-a serious splurge in and of itself) was tickets to Book of Mormon. We’ve wanted to go for years and have tried to get tickets when they were on tour and our last trip. Every time, tickets were absurdly expensive, so it was exciting to find semi-reasonable tickets for this trip.
Wow-Book of Mormon. Never have I ever experienced a theatrical event quite like that. I’m a bit embarrassed for announcing to everyone I know-coworkers, family, friends-that we were seeing it because I had NO IDEA how graphic it is. It was fall-out-of-your-seat funny-particularly in the second act when you let yourself relax and take it all in.
As much as I was looking forward to Book of Mormon, I was just as excited for our dinner plans. On our last trip, we discovered an incredible North Indian restaurant, Punjab. Any meal since then has been slightly disappointing. 60% of my motivation for returning to London may have been fueled by a craving for their lamb chops. This is what I wrote in my journal when we first met, August 2013:
The restaurant was packed and cozy-purple and yellow uniforms, tablecloths and wallpaper. Our table was in the back room, next to what looked like the most fun British birthday party ever, and we quickly ordered our favorites. After waiting what felt like an eternity, the server brought our meal. I sat back amazed as the plates arrived: sizzling, seasoned lamb chops still in the skillet, sagar and paneer, naan and chicken tikka masala. David and I looked at each other, nodded with the mental message of, “oh yes, this will do,” and began to enjoy. I’m not sure what happened in the next twenty minutes; it was a blur of flavors, spices, and heat, but at one point, I’m pretty sure I was trying to pull the last few pieces of lamb off the bone. With my hands. I would be ashamed, but the meal was that good. David and I didn’t speak the entire time-the zone of food took control.
After the sad last bite, we looked at each other and said “What was that?” I still don’t know, but it was incredible.
Happy to report that the return lived up to all the wonder of the first meal-just so, so good.
From there, we picked our bags up at the hotel and made our way to Katie’s sweet Hackney house. We had enough SPG points for two hotel nights, but when I inquired about purchasing a third night, my eyes bugged out at the cost. Nooooo way. Thankfully, Katie and her flatmates were beyond generous and we were able to stay their place Friday night-thank you, K, K, J and M!