You may have noticed that around here lately the answer to the question “what to do tomorrow” never seems to be “write a blog post.” One of the problems with blogging about your travels is that sometimes you are just too darn tired (or lazy, but tired sounds better) to write about your adventures after a long day. I’ll write something tomorrow, you think but then another day goes by and before you know it you find yourself at home with piles of laundry and unopened bills, staring down the barrel of another trip. (Colombia. For a month. Next week!)
This is what happened to me while we were in London. (And, also in Sweden. I don’t know why I still haven’t written about our trip to Stockholm. I will, I promise. Hopefully before we go to Colombia!) Part of my excuse is that we walked a LOT while were in London. We figured we walked (no exaggeration, we kept track of our steps) about 50 miles in the three and half days that we were there. (How the kids kept up is amazing to me.) By the time we got on the plane home we were all exhausted. (And sweaty. We happened to be in London on the hottest day of the whole year. When our Uber driver dropped us off at the airport he said he felt like he was back home in the Middle East, not in London.)
I still maintain that the best way to travel is on foot. We had decided ahead of time that our first full day in London would be spent exploring our old neighborhood. Sean and Oscar woke up early and together replicated the Sunday morning ritual we had when we lived in London. (For those of you wondering: Yes, Oscar was a bit annoyed at our walk down memory lane that did not include him AT ALL.) While Sofia and I slept, the boys bought us every newspaper from the newsstand (about five of them), coffee, pastries, bacon butty (basically, bacon with butter on a baugette) and egg sandwiches and we settled in for a leisurely morning in our temporary, tiny flat.
After breakfast, we walked up the hill to Hampstead, past the dark, dank garden flat with the crazy landlady where we spent our first year in London. We made it all the way to the Hampstead Heath, a nearly 800 acre park in North London to the Spaniards Inn. Sean loves nothing better than a good pub visit for a pint and a chat in a historical setting. (The Spaniard’s Inn is one of the oldest pubs in London and is said to date from 1585.) I also love the British Sunday ritual of spending several hours at the pub, eating, drinking some, reading the paper and wiling away what is generally not a great day of the week. But, in my old age I am not much of a beer drinker (wine, please!) and the kids were not too keen on spending the whole day sitting in a pub so after a quick rest we made our way back through the Heath to….another pub. This time it was for lunch and we told the kids it wasn’t really a pub but a gastropub (true.) The Wells, on the charmingly named Well Walk is a hip, busy place with fantastic pub food. Sean, Oscar and I all had a traditional Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding which was delicious.
After lunch we had barely made it around the corner before Sean spotted another one of his favorite pubs, the Flask. The kids refused to go in so while Sean went inside (clearly attempting in one day to make up for his ten year absence from the pub scene, one half pint at a time) I took the kids to La Creperie of Hampstead. The lines were still as long as I had remembered them. Sean and I used to occasionally walk up the hill from Belsize Park to the crepe stand, share one savory crepe and one sweet crepe then make ourselves, bellies full of carbs and sugar, walk back home. I had a fierce craving for crepes when I was pregnant with Sofia and I stole a few bites from hers to make sure they were as good as I remembered (they were.)
Now, those of you who know Sean, know that he was not going end his pub crawl with only three pubs (lame!) so despite the complaints from his traveling companions, we stopped into one more pub, the Holly Bush. We sat cosily together in a snug (basically a small alcove) and promised the kids that this was truly, the very last stop on the pub crawl. We walked back to the flat in the blazing hot sun and once we got there, we rested.
No one was really up for another walk (mean mom) but after a short rest we went back out this time in the opposite direction toward nearby Primrose Hill. This was the park where Sean and I walked our beagle, Maddy, pushed Sofia in her stroller, had picnics and did the occasional sprint up the hill. On a clear day, the view from the top of the hill across Central London is magnificent. Whenever I think of Primrose Hill, I always think of the song lyric written in graffiti on the walkway up the hill, “and the view’s so nice.”
After walking down the Primrose Hill High Street (sadly, for Sean, no stop into the Queen’s or the Princess of Wales or any other pub we used to visit) to the edge of Camden Town we went back to Belsize Park for dinner at a new-to-us Indian Restaurant called Hazara. Sofia was a little annoyed at our choice of cuisine (there was NO way were going to leave London without eating Indian food) but she ended up loving it. The food was really spicy but delicious. Exhausted but satiated we collapsed into bed.
I promise to finally wrap up this London trip (will it never end?!) in another blog post before heading to South America!