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She Travels to London With Her Husband

 

Travel writer and editor Anita Epler Crotty didn't even have a passport until she was 27; she's made up for a lot of lost time since then. After spending 12 years in San Francisco, she moved to Seattle in 2002 with her husband, Cameron, and their two Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bella and Angus. Anita writes, "here's a sampling of some of the things Cameron and I enjoyed on our last trip to London" ...


Amazing Indian food...

Sorry, no meat here... To begin, we had an amazing Keralan (coastal south Indian) dinner at a place called Rasa (55 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16) in London's Stoke Newington neighborhood. The food is totally unlike anything we had before in the States. I think that we took the Tube to Euston and then a double-decker bus (we were meeting a local friend). If you go, it might not hurt to (a) make reservations and (b) call for directions on how to get there via transport. Rasa happens to be completely vegetarian, but both of us (die-hard carnivores) loved it. If you can't decide what to have, they have a set menu where one can pick from the restaurant's specialties. Rasa has other outposts around town, but the Stoke Newington location is the original and some say, the best. We found it well worth the short hike. Stoke Newington is a very real neighborhood -- not unsafe or sketchy, just not at all touristy.

Noodles and mussles...

communal diningWe had two cheap-but-very-good food faves - (1) Wagamama, an asian/urban noodle chain where you sit with other diners at long communal tables. Great fun! (2) We enjoyed the various Belgo outposts; 50 Earlham St. in the theatre zone (and its various spinoffs about town) for beer, mussels, more beer, frites, more beer, and other Belgian faves. If you go between 4pm and 6pm, they have a beat-the-clock dinner special where you get their specialties for whatever time it is (that is, come in at 5:30, pay �5.30). Ed. note: Wagamama was suggested by another reader as well. Linda from Toronto, Canada writes: In London, check out www.wagamama.com. It's a great site that provides all the locations' addresses, dine in and take-out menus. This chain offers funky and friendly places with good food and value. It's also non-smoking!

Sandwiches, wine and beer...

wineProbably our favorite find is a sandwich shop chain called Pret � Manger. They're everywhere, but sometimes the signs just say PRET. They've got stunningly good (if slightly mayonnaisey) sandwiches and crisps and other lunchy things. Check out their website: www.pret.com before you travel. We also went to the basement grocery store of Marks & Spencer for in-room picnic supplies. If you'll have access to a kitchen, or even a microwave, I suggest you go to M&S's grocery at least once just to see all the amazing prepared foods. Branches of the Oddbins shops are perfect places to find trustworthy wine that's not overpriced.

Walks, trains and boats...

One of the best parts of our trip was a walking tour we took with London Walks. Our tour guide, Tom (the Barrister), was a true Upper Crust Character; I would go out of my way to take another walk with him.Follow me, ladies... We took the Wednesday London Explorer Day, which covered a lot of ground, but nicely. The other customers on the walk were not at all your typical tour people.

We took the somewhat eerie Docklands Light Railway out to Greenwich to see the meridian. A brass marker runs all through town, so there's no need to haul yourself to the observatory unless you feel the need. Do check some pubs, a couple of which were very neat -- The Richard I (has a great back garden), and the Gipsy Moth (sits right near the Thames boat dock). Someone on the web described the Gipsy as "actually really cool, trendy without trying too hard."

On this last trip, we inadvertently spent quite a bit of time riding boats on the Thames, which turned out to be a lot of fun. The captains generally give some sort of impromptu narration of the buildings that you're floating by, then pass the hat as you leave. Some are more entertaining than others, but it was always a pleasant trip.

A posh massage...Ah-h...

I've saved the best tip for last. You might want to try it, too. When we first arrived in London we went straight from Heathrow to our hotel, dropped off our bags, and then went to the posh Dorchester Hotel's spa for massages. If you go mid-week they almost certainly will have space for you to rest in their post-massage relaxing room --ask for the "ionization room" (I think that's the name but you can check when you're there). Imagine yourself newly massaged and wrapped in a robe, tucked into your own personal waterbed with cozy sheets in a room with dim lights. Ahh....


The south side of the Thames...

Journeywoman Brenda R. from Phoenix, Arizona (USA) writes...
"I've just returned from several weeks in Europe including a few days in London. For anyone who has not been there for a few years, be sure to see all that's new on the South side of the Thames. Regards to the Queen...A suggested itinerary is to start at St. Pauls (mostly under wraps for a much needed cleaning), Walk across the millenium bridge and turn left/East to the New Globe Theater. The only way to see the inside is to take a tour. Then head West and spend some time at the Tate Modern - a fabulous re-creatioin of an old power plant! (It's free, like all the other museums). Continue along the riverside. In the OXO building is an upbest and inexpenisve cafe called EAT . The building features several designer/artist studio/stores - great browsing. Further on is an almost always open, open-air book sale. This new area is called Southwark and pronounced Sutherk. You'll pass by/under several upgraded bridges and end up at The EYE. You can cross back over at several points along the way and be at a Tube stop in minutes. My regards to the Queen!"


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