Aside from Seattle, London is my favorite city in the world.  I fell in love with the place as a high schooler visiting with my family (when a poster of teenage Prince William was still hanging on the walls of my childhood room.)  I love the history, the food, the architecture, the people, all of it.

Each visit since I’ve felt comforted by the fact that as much as London changes, it also stays the same.  The laundromat I used when I studied abroad there is still as packed as ever and the Peshwari Naan at Star of India (when dipped in lamb curry) is still one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

After my mom departed, I shared a wonderful walk through Hyde Park and dinner in Notting Hill with Amber, a friend from college (and her darling pup, Pippa) who now lives in London.  The next day, my dearest pal Caitlin arrived for a week. As a first-time visitor it was of course fun to show her my favorite spots, but some of the most memorable moments of the trip were ones we hadn’t planned.  When an insane rain storm suddenly struck in Shoreditch, we ducked into the nearest pub (The Owl and the Pussycat) and drank a couple of pints while we watched the downpour through the windows.  After all, even for a Type-A planner like me, the luxury of being spontaneous can often be the best part of a vacation.

Because I could go on forever, here are some of the highlights in list form:

Old Favorites:

1) Borough Market on Saturday morning (including coffee at Monmouth Coffee, green juice at the juice stand, and grilled cheese at Kappacasein)

2) Star of India in South Kensington for Papadum, Peshwari Naan, Lamb Curry with Coconut, and Green Beans with Cashews. (I may have eaten there three times this trip…)

3) Falafels at Falafel King in Notting Hill

4) Anything and everything at La Fromagerie off of Marylebone High Street, a place we quickly became obsessed with after my friend Alyssa discovered it when we studied abroad. (This time we paired our cheese, soups, and salad with the most amazing dry cider from Normandy.)

5) Proper pub food at The Troubadour in Earl’s Court

6) A night out at Mahiki (Might be considered douchey, but it’s still as fun as ever. Feel free to judge.)

7) A visit to Liberty in Oxford Circus, the most beautiful department store known to man.

8) Walking, napping, running, anything in Hyde Park.  Bring a book and a blanket and pray for a Kate Middleton spotting.


New Favorites:

1) Brunch at Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch (Felt like we were at home in Seattle!)

2) Visiting stately Kenwood House in lush Hampstead Heath (One of the filming scenes in Notting Hill)

3) A visit on Sunday to ogle the sunflowers at Columbia Road Flower Market in Shoreditch

4) Chicken liver toasts (and everything else) at St. John Bread and Wine in Shoreditch. (Oh. My. God.)

5) Avocado Toast with Poached Egg at Electric Diner in Notting Hill

6) Thin-crust Pizza at Story Deli in Shoreditch (Thank you to Sarah and Kathleen, it really was THAT good.)

7) Drinks on the second floor of Commercial Tavern in Shoreditch (Where Caitlin told the bartender she was a country singer from Nashville and he actually believed her.)

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