I woke up early, ran to the tube, and headed to my dorm to pick up two bags for Kristin, who Pocky and I were meeting later in the day. As I returned to our fancy hotel they looked at me as if I were a bag lady, with my pots, pans and hangers sticking out of one of the bags. Oh well. Pocky arriving late allowed me a little time, but not enough for me to arrive at the airport before him, as I realized when I couldn’t find an express train to the airport. I had a snack on the train and he called with about 15 minutes left. So, I sent him to my favorite London Café, which luckily has a spot at Gatwick – Apostrophe Boulangerie Patisserie Café. When I arrived at the Café he was smirking because there was a charity group singing holiday music, my favorite! They don’t call me scrooge for nothin’.
I was so happy to see him in person, five months of email and Skype is a long time…
We took a train to London Bridge station, then hopped the underground for two short stops to Waterloo station and walked a block to the hotel. Thankfully Kristin called and asked if we could push back the time to meet, which gave us time to grab lunch. We went to Le Pain Quotidien in the Southbank Center, one of my favorite places for salad, small plates, baked goods, coffee and they also have a great wine selection. After lunch we grabbed the stuff at the hotel, jumped in a taxi and went to the North bank to meet Kristin, and the family.
We wandered over to The National Gallery Museum at Trafalgar Square and then walked over to The Lyceum Tavern on the Strand for quality time with friends. After, we walked across the Waterloo Bridge and over to the Southbank Center for a wonderful dinner at Strada and then our hotel.
The next day we roamed around the Strand and the fabulous shopping district of Piccadilly Circus, King’s College, Somerset House — complete with winter skating, Fleet Street, and Trafalgar Square. We had lunch at All Bar One, which is one of the few restaurants that serve traditional and vegan food. It is not difficult to find vegan food, but finding it on the same menu as traditional food (for Pocky) of whichever country we were in proved difficult in some places.
We wandered over to the Tower of London, but were too late for a tour. We did watch outdoor ice-skating, walked across London Bridge and over to the Southbank for a yummo dinner at Wagamama noodle bar. After dinner we spent a while in the hotel bar, picked up our luggage, hopped on the underground and boarded on night train to Edinburgh, Scotland.
We had a private couchette for the two of us. It was comfy, but not very wide. We were having drinks in the bar carwhen the train had an unexpected stop. A few minutes later police escorted a homeless stowaway off of the train and we were on our way. I love traveling by train, especially at night if you can. You skip paying for a hotel and travel while sleeping, instead of loosing valuable daylight sightseeing hours.