Tag Archives: London

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Merry Christmas from London

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that you had an amazing time with family and friends wherever you are in the world.

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We spent Christmas in London this year with our London family – our good friends Lilian and Andrew. We enjoyed a hearty Christmas feast, good conversation, followed by a 2 hour episode of Downton Abbey! Love it! I really wish I could have lived in that century for just a little while.

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I am at home now and completely full from all the food we ate. Watching all the YouTube tutorials for cooking a Christmas meal really paid off :)

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Anyway, it’s bed time for me but I though I would send my love and greetings to the blogosphere and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If you did not celebrate Christmas, I hope that you enjoyed the holiday and festive cheer :D

What did you do during the holiday season? Comment below and let me know!

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Bubs

I’d like to share some news with you!

Hello! I have postponed this post for awhile but then I realised that my current situation will be reflected in the stories about my travel experiences. You’ll also start noticing that my shape and size will change and this is because

We are expecting a baby!

That’s right! Hubby and I have managed to travel on weekends with minimal disturbance. Well… besides the food cravings and the constant need for afternoon naps that is!

Bubs

So when you read about my future travel adventures, I might mention why I decided to skip some activities and replace them with others. It is so that I keep healthy and safe for the baby.

At the moment I am working full time and still traveling when I can so it’s been a miraculous adventure. We’re very happy and so is our entire family! Only some of our friends know first hand from us and the rest will surely know as and when they see me. It is an exciting time!

That’s all for now but please keep reading about my adventures leading up to the Christmas period! It is a wonderful time of the year :D

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Exploring Europe with my parents series: Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British royal family so it is no surprise that the Queen only opens up her royal residence during the summer months.

When my parents visited me in September, I wanted to take them on a tour through Buckingham Palace. I loved how excited my mum was to buy an official ‘Buckingham Palace Book’ just as she was about to enter the Palace doors.

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There is a strict ‘no photos’ policy in the Palace so all I can do is explain how amazing it was to see old video footage of the royals, including events surrounding Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation where the toddler sized Prince Charles pranced around innocently. So cute!

We enjoyed viewing the state rooms and its marvellous furnishings. But my favourite part was being able to get a first hand glance of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation dresses. My favourite dress was a white ball gown with a fitted corset and a wide skirt. The dress was adorned with crystals, lace and pearls and matched well with the equally impressive jewelled tiaras and necklaces.

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Mum loved it. It was everything and more than she had ever dreamed of seeing.

When asked about whether this was his favourite royal residence, Dad shook his head and as-a-matter-of-factly told me that Windsor Castle was much nicer!

Here is the link to my Windsor Castle post, let me know in the comments below if you agree or disagree with him!

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The Ritz London – a special birthday celebration for my parents

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to take my parents somewhere special. Sending them to London and taking them around Europe was my way to thank them for all their hard work during my child hood and beyond. They always did everything that they could to make our lives comfortable and to support our goals.

My parents had me at the age of 21 and later had my 3 siblings to take care of so Europe was something they knew they wanted to do later in life. They had 3 children by the time they were my age, so I can imagine how busy they would have been! It’s my turn to repay them for paying for the piano lessons and maths tutoring, taking me to my kiddie basketball games and the countless hours they spent putting together lego, colouring in books and making coloured play dough from scratch! I don’t even think I can come close to repaying them for everything they have done but at least they can experience the London life for the 3 weeks they were here!

Dad had celebrated his birthday in August and mum’s birthday was in October, so I thought it was fitting to take them somewhere extra special to celebrate.

The first restaurant that came to mind was The Ritz London. I have written about The Ritz London in a past post. They  host the most exquisite High Tea that I have ever been to (you can read about my experience here).

One of my inspirations for taking my parents to The Ritz came from a book that my Aunt had told me about. It is called  “1000 things places to see before you die: A Traveler’s Life”. My Aunt (another inspirational women in my life) carries this book with her during her travels and has managed to tick off a chunk of places on the list. Now my parents can tick off  ‘The Ritz London’ from their bucket list too!

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When we first entered The Ritz, we were greeted by the lovely doormen who directed us to the main restaurant. We could hear the piano playing as the doors opened to a well lit foyer. We saw beautifully arranged vintage furniture, antique mirrors and sparkling chandeliers. It was like walking into a European palace. My parents were amazed and after seeing the look on their faces, I knew I had taken them to the right place.

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We sipped champagne and dined on a beautiful three course meal, while enjoying each other’s company. The food was delicious and the service was impeccable. We couldn’t’ have asked for a better dining experience.

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At the end of the night, the waiter brought out a freshly made Victorian sponge filled with fresh fruit and tied with a bow that displayed The Ritz London logo. The waiter lit the candle and my parents made a birthday wish. The cake was packed away in a Ritz box so we could enjoy it the next day. It was such a great night and I’m really happy to have shared this with my husband and my parents.

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What is your favourite birthday location or memory? Comment below and let me know! I’d love to read about it.

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LondonEye

Top things to do in London when you are just about to leave for good and only have 3 hours!

There is so much to do in London. They say that if you get tired of London, you get tired of life! You can spend weeks in London and never get bored.

Just to set things straight, I’m not leaving London. My good friend, Andrea, was leaving London and another good friend, Nirlep, was arriving in London. We had spent hours catching up over lunch and realized that we only had about 3 hours left of sight-seeing, hence the inspiration for this post.

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Andrea also needed to get herself acquainted with London. She had spent the past 2 years using London as a base to travel Europe, and just when she had only one weekend left in London, she realized that she and London had not really gotten to know each other. London was the neighbor that you would see on your way to work but never wave to because you were in a rush to leave home. Andrea could mostly remember the gloomy days of winter rather the colourful leaves during autumn, the flowers in Spring and cloudless days of summer.

I was on a mission to show her some of my favourite places in London, all in the space of 3 hours.

Let me know what you think and if you have any other suggestions!

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British Royal family. The best time to see Buckingham Palace is during the Changing of the Guards ceremony when the crowds are plenty, the royal band is playing, and the horses are prancing. If you’re interested in reading about this, click here.

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When you visit, check out Green Park (next door) as it’s a wonderful place for chilling out, having a picnic or people watching!

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My friends and I spent a good amount of time admiring Buckingham Palace and its beautiful facade. Queen Elizabeth opens the doors of Buckingham Palace to the public every summer, so I am taking my parents there when they come to visit me next month!

Tower Bridge

I have described this bridge many times in my blog. To me, it has become the symbol of London. London’s beauty. London’s grandness.  London’s ability to look glamorous, even in the rain. We did not get to visit the Tower Bridge with my friend, but I did not want to leave it out of this post. The Tower Bridge deserves a special mention. Plus, Nirlep had already seen the Tower Bridge and Andrea promised me that she had driven past it at least once!

Tower Bridge, London

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is purely buzzing with excitement, from the street performers to the crowds of people running about. Piccadilly Circus was one of the first places I visited when I arrived in London and even though I frequent this location, I still find it exciting. I especially love walking along the nearby streets to admire the architecture. Gorgeous buildings don’t you think?

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I have spent many nights trying out new restaurants and bars around Piccadilly Circus. I have made many memories here with old friends and new friends. I have sat in a red, double-decker bus when Christmas lights filled the city and again when the Queens Silver Jubilee boosted London’s spirits. I have walked through Piccadilly Circus to reach some of my favourite theatre shows and giggled with my friends on the way to a movie.

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Piccadilly Circus will always be special to me.

The London Eye and the Thames River

The London Eye is not just an oversized Ferris wheel, but one of London’s most famous sites. We did not get the chance to ride the London Eye, but we had time to admire its structure as it overlooked the Thames River. I have been told that the London Eye gives the best view of London on a sunny day or just when the fog is about to settle. Every experience is different so it is worth the ride.

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Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

When Nirlep asked to see Big Ben, I had a mind blank and thought it was the London Eye! Then I remembered the Elizabeth Tower which is located close to the Houses of Parliament.  This Tower holds ‘Big Ben’, a large bell which has been placed on its side but still manages to ring.

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Big Ben was initially installed in the Elizabeth tower until a crack appeared. It was eventually rebuilt but had to be installed sideways due to its large dimensions. Big Ben was able ring but a crack appeared again. The bell remained silent until the 1800s when a scientist figured out a way to enable the bell to continue ringing and the crack to stop from spreading. The bell continues to ring on cue to this day.

Westminster Abbey

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Westminster Abbey was founded by the Benedictine Monks and has been used as the coronation church since the 10th century.  Not only is it a remarkable piece of gothic architecture, but it is also the church where Will and Kate, aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had their wedding! Love it!

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What did you think of our 3 hour tour? What would you have done differently? Comment below and let me know!

Here are what others suggest:

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If you want travel or food inspirationsubscribe here, follow me on Facebook and twitter! I share a lot of food photos on my Facebook so don’t be afraid to share some of yours! Let’s connect. I will be blogging from Malaga later this month, so stay tuned for some sunny Spain adventures :)

Kew

Quick Day Trip from London: Visit the Kew Palace and Royal Botanical Gardens

What better way to spend summer than a relaxing meander around the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens! Just travel 50 minutes away from central London, it’s the perfect get-away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Kew Botanical Gardens is a royal botanic garden that was initially home to members of the British Royalty during the 16th and 17th century but was open to the public in 1898 thanks to the late Queen Victoria!

Walking through the Kew Botanical Gardens and the start of the Tree Top Walk

The Kew Palace

The Kew Palace is located within the Botanical Gardens and was the summer home to many royals throughout British history. The royals that inspired me during my visit were King George III, Queen Charlotte and their 15 children. It is the story of a royal family but also a love story and one filled with many cherished family moments. Royals are like normal people too! :)

The back of the Kew Palace
The back of the Kew Palace

Entering the Kew Palace was like a history lesson. We learnt about the marriage of King George III and Queen Charlotte, an arranged marriage that flourished despite initial language barriers. I loved looking at their old family portraits and wondering how it would have been like for Queen Charlotte to move to Great Britain with no knowledge of the English language. For a long time, she could only speak German, her native tongue.

Some of the rooms inside the Kew Palace

As I stepped through some rooms, it was arranged as if the family were about to enter any time soon. The furniture in the dining area was set-up for dinner and the beds were made fit for royalty. The chair that Queen Charlotte died on was even placed by her bed as recordings (of actors) voices played in the background. I read about the pain that the family felt when they lost 2 of the children at a young age; Prince Alfred and Prince Octavius. I imagined how interesting the conversation would have been with the family dining so informally in the dining room, much to the dismay of their courtiers. I could imagine Queen Charlotte playing with her children in the gardens and King George arriving on horse back after trips to London. I am sure that many interesting family moments happened in the Kew Palace and in the gardens. It isn’t just a beautiful house and garden, it is a place full of history.

The Kew Botanical Gardens

We were lucky to experience yet another day of sunshine in the UK so we walked around the gardens for a good 4 hours. Every now and then, we stopped to enjoy the pond full of lilies, do the tree-top walk and visit the many micro-environments set up in the green houses. This is not just a place for kids. I too loved being in the rain forest for just a moment, watching pirañas in the self-contained  water containers, standing next to tall sun-flowers, and spotting plants only seen in the Australian countryside or Nevada dessert.

Clockwise: Japanese Garden, a green house, pond inside a green house and view from the bridge as we crossed a lake

There are many restaurants located in the Kew Botanical Gardens, which is just as well because I was getting so hungry from all the walking. We opted for casual dining outside with some freshly barbecued Jerk Chicken and beef burgers! I have never eaten jerk chicken before but I must say it was spot on! Rick and I sat in the outside dining area and could smell the meat barbecuing as the scent wafted in our direction. Not a bad spot to relax at all!

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After spending the entire day at the Kew Botantical Gardens, we took a leisurely overground train back to London completely tired but satisfied from our excursion. We met up with friends for dinner and the rest is history :)

Do you have any suggestions for day trips from London or within London? I’m trying to see as much as I can during summer! 

Get inspired or get hungry

If you want travel or food inspirationsubscribe here, follow me on Facebook and twitter! I share a lot of food photos on my Facebook so don’t be afraid to share some of yours! Let’s connect. I will be blogging about Malaga later this month, so stay tuned for some sunny Spain adventures :)

Tower Bridge, London

Being a tourist in my ‘home’ town: Tower Bridge (London)

The London Bridge was once the only way to cross the river Thames, until the City of London decided to build another bridge. They called it the Tower Bridge.

The Tower Bridge  was once powered by steam and is now powered by oil and electricity to lift the bascules when a large ship must past.

The Tower Bridge is the first site that I visited when I first moved to London and remains one of my favourite landmarks to this day. I love the vibrant colours, the Victorian style architecture, the gorgeous views of the River Thames and the way that it makes me feel excited every time I see it.

It could even triumph over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Sydney’s Sydney Harbour Bridge.

What do you think?

I took these pictures on my iPhone after work one day and wanted to share them with you.

Tower Bridge, London
Tower Bridge, London
Tower Bridge, London
Tower Bridge, London

What is your favourite London site? Comment below and let me know as I plan to spend this weekend being a tourist in my own home town!

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I will be blogging every day during the month of July (today is the last post!) for the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

After today, my posts will return to the usual frequency. If you are enjoying this frequency and you want more frequent posts, comment below to let me know why! I might just write more often :)

Dishoom, Covent Garden, London

Where to eat good Indian food in London?

Have you ever just wanted to eat good Indian food?

I haven’t.

Well, that is until I moved to London and realised what good Indian food actually tastes like! Yummmm!

My friends and I have a few favourite restaurants in Brick Lane, the kind of restaurant that you can eat at for a casual dinner before going out to a club but we haven’t quite found a good Indian restaurant that had the funky atmosphere of a bar yet the tasty traditional meals served by Indian restaurants in Brick Lane.

That is until my friend took us to eat at Dishoom. Dishoom has two locations, one in Shoreditch and one in Covent Garden. The Covent Garden location was convenient as we had just spent a day at the beach and had made it to the centre of the city by dinner time. Dishoom was trendy with a classy persona and served the traditional  Indian cuisines that we enjoy at more casual places. What a perfect combination for a hot summer’s night in London town.

We waited about 45 minutes to get a table, so I suggest making a reservation.

Dishoom, Covent Garden, London
Dishoom, Covent Garden, London

When we were finally seated, we were famished and ordered quite a few plates, including some fish and meat curries, vegetable daal and naan bread. We practically ordered 90% of the menu and everything was really good. Special mention goes to the fried calamari, garlic naaan bread for which we had 3 servings each,  the Rose and Cardamom Lassi and the Mango and Fennel Lassi. The flavour was enough to put anyone into a food coma!

Rose and Cardamom Lassi and the Mango and Fennel Lassi at Dishoom in Covent Garden, London
Rose and Cardamom Lassi and the Mango and Fennel Lassi at Dishoom in Covent Garden, London

Do you know of any other good Indian restaurants in London or where you live? If so, comment below and let us know. I’m always on the look out for good food!

Related links:

Get inspired or get hungry

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I will be blogging every day during the month of July for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. If you are interested in generating more traffic for your blog or just having more fun with it, then feel free to join! It’s absolutely free so why not challenge yourself.

St Paul's Cathedral, London

Being a tourist in my “home town”: St Paul’s Cathedral and The Millennium Bridge

On the 27th July, St Paul’s Cathedral bells will ring to mark the royal birth of the Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge who was born to Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and Catherine (aka Kate), the Duchess of Cambridge. As I mentioned in my previous post, this royal baby has had England and the rest of the world in a flurry. People even put money on the name, weight and sex of the baby while others made the journey to London just to get a glimpse of Kate and Will as they exited the hospital with the baby.

St Paul's Cathedral, London
St Paul’s Cathedral, London

I work close to St Paul’s Cathedral. I have walked across the Millennium Bridge and admired the view of the Thames River countless times. When you have lived in an area for a long time (even though you are an expat), you start to lose sight of the small things that makes it unique. You forget that people travel long distances just to get a glimpse of London’s summer.

The view from the Millennium Bridge
The view from the Millennium Bridge

So, during my lunch time, I decided to be a bit of a tourist in my ‘home town’. The area that surrounds St Paul’s Cathedral is charming. There were people enjoying their lunch just outside while others were taking a photo with St Paul’s Cathedral in the background. I spotted a cycling tour that had stopped at the end of the bridge to talk about it’s importance.

London’s Millennium Bridge is the first pedestrian river crossing over the Thames in central London for more than a century. (http://www.londonmillenniumbridge.com)

That is pretty cool isn’t it?

St Paul's Cathedral (and surrounding area), London, UK
St Paul’s Cathedral (and surrounding area), London, UK

I admired St Paul and remembered how beautiful it was when Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana were married there. This happened before I was born but I remember watching the replays when I was a small child. Her Cinderella-like dress, her tiara and long veil still fascinates so many brides and was even used as inspiration (in part) on my wedding day.

There is so much history in London and I plan to spend the rest of the summer learning more about it.

What do you love about your current home town? Please comment below and share with us all.

Get inspired or get hungry

If you want travel or food inspirationsubscribe here, follow me on Facebook and twitter!

I will be blogging every day during the month of July for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. If you are interested in generating more traffic for your blog or just having more fun with it, then feel free to join! It’s absolutely free so why not challenge yourself.

Where were you when the future King of England was born?

Hello everyone! My Santorini blog series has been interrupted by a very important announcement! The Duchess of Cambridge has had a royal baby boy (yesterday)! Mum and baby are reported to be in good health and doing well. It is all very exciting!

The birth was publicly announced at Buckingham Palace after the Queen, the royal family and the Middletons had been informed. The announcement was placed on an an easel on front of a roaring crowd of spectators. In the meantime, a large crowd had gathered outside the Lindo wing of St Mary’s hospital as the town crier (wearing traditional town crier gear ofcourse!) formerly announced this important news.

I have followed the English royal family ever since I was able to read Woman’s Day magazine. My mother and grandmother would religiously buy this magazine as often as we would go grocery shopping. As a child, I would flick through the pages of the magazine eagerly awaiting the news of any royal adventures. I remember exactly where I was when each interesting moment happened. But I was always in Australia and far away from the action.

So my question to you is – where were you when the future King of England was born?

Now that I live in London, I can proudly say  I was in London when the future King was born! I may sound like a royalist, but really, I am just a believer of modern day fairy tales.

At the time of the birth, I was actually talking about the birth. I was on a conference call with my project team talking about ‘work stuff’ of course. The subject quickly changed when a colleague of mine couldn’t help but say “I’m waiting for the royal birth announcement”! She couldn’t contain her excitement and it was so contagious that we ended up talking about the topic for a large part of the call!

We were all wondering whether the future royal would be a King or Queen and whether we thought the birth would happen today or tomorrow. Everyone was in awe of this new royal baby and it created a buzz in the office that only happens during Christmas.

I know that a baby will not fix all of the world’s problems, but I do think that its birth has brought with it a much needed spark. A fascination that will continue to increase as England and the world watch it take its first steps, go to school and blossom into adulthood.

Yesterday, Kate and Will had a baby!

Where were you and what were you doing? Comment below and let me know.

p.s. my Santorini series will continue tomorrow but I will still continue to cheer outside of the blog-o-sphere!

Get inspired or get hungry

If you want travel or food inspirationsubscribe here, follow me on Facebook and twitter!

I will be blogging every day during the month of July for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. If you are interested in generating more traffic for your blog or just having more fun with it, then feel free to join! It’s absolutely free so why not challenge yourself.