{Train Trip} London: My Other British Love

During a trip to Washington, DC this summer, I was out with the friend I mentioned before who did his MA in London. We were talking about London and both grinning from ear-to-ear. Both of us seemed to fumble for words to express how much we love it. Maybe we’re both nutters, but we concluded that once London gets you, it doesn’t let go, and to truly understand the place, you have to visit it.

You might think I’m being a bit over-dramatic here, but I am not sure I can accurately convey my feelings for London in words. I literally love the city of London. Once you’re in it, you can just feel it…the movement, the excitement, the city. You’re so anonymous, but you can make your own time there extremely special to you. I’ll stop now.

Last week, the Brit was in London over night for work, so he found a great deal on a train ticket for me to come down and meet him. (£38 for a round-trip ticket on Grand Central that has free wi-fi for the entire 3-hour trip — can’t beat that!) I also should mention that the Brit shares my love of London, so we couldn’t wait for a fun night out just the two of us!

We both got all dressed up and headed out to Knightsbridge. The night started with a stroll around the Harrod’s food halls, where we checked out gifts for certain people in our families who will remain nameless. 😉 I showed the Brit what I want for Christmas…the Ultimate Hamper! Just kidding…maybe. Any other yanks out there who like me thought, “Why in the world would anyone want a hamper as a gift?” Yes?! Good! A hamper in the UK is essentially the equivalent to a gift basket. It is not, as I originally thought, a hamper for dirty laundry. Last year, I could not understand why the Brit wanted to bring my parents a hamper as a gift for hosting him at their house for his (first ever) Thanksgiving. I also could not understand how he planned to pack it in his luggage. Ha!! Moving on….

When we came out of Harrod’s and crossed the street, the Brit told me to look back and I wish I had taken my camera with me because it was lit up and just beautiful. Kinda like the photo below, which I found here….

Harrod's by night....

We continued up the street looking at restaurant menus as we passed and nothing really appealed to us. I think we were both already sold on the idea of eating at Harvey Nichols (or Harvey Nick’s, as it is so lovingly referred to in the UK). We had eaten at the bar in Harvey Nick’s with the Brit’s mum and dad when we were in London for a wedding in June, but neither of us had eaten in the Fifth Floor Restaurant. Definitely the right decision! Because it was a Wednesday night, it was not very crowded which makes the already impeccable service even better. Plus, half of the restaurant was set up for some sort of party and I had the perfect seat for gawking! 😉 And yes, there was actually a celebrity sighting, which I’ll get to later!

The food was truthfully delicious! I went with the 5-course price fixe dinner for £29.50, which allowed me to try a lot of menu items and not leave feeling overly full. We ordered a bottle of the Harvey Nichol’s sauvignon blanc, which is definitely on the low price side of their wine menu, but after trying it at the Harvey Nick’s bar in Leeds, we decided to go with it again. It’s the perfect combination of crispness without being tart that makes it a very nice wine for meal time.

So, back to our celebrity sighting…as I mentioned I had a perfect view of the private party, the Brit’s back was to it, but there was a mirror behind me so he could actually see quite well too. While we were enjoying our food, he said, “I think that is Dustin Hoffman.” I told him he was crazy. Why would Dustin Hoffman be in London in Harvey Nichols? It didn’t make sense to me. But, I continued to stare and realized that he just might be right, which he turned out to be! It was verified by the waiter who told us that Dustin Hoffman and his wife had just released a new clothing line at Harvey Nick’s that evening. (Just FYI, I did NOT ask the waiter if it was him. I merely mentioned that the restaurant got busy all of a sudden and he indulged us in the goss!) So, because we are both so cool (ha!), we both immediately texted our moms!

After that excitement, we had big plans to end the night with a drink (or two) at Mandarin Bar in the Mandarin Oriental, basically right across the street from Harvey Nick’s. The Brit’s friend originally began taking him there about a year ago and he took me there for the first time in June. We were both excited to go back to enjoy the fabulous bar again. It’s classy and swanky with a massive drink menu of classic and unique mixed drinks. It’s just a great place to end a fancy night out in London!

At least twice during the night, with a cheesy grin on my face, I told the Brit, “London is literally my favorite city in the world!” Thank you, Brit, for spoiling me with such a wonderful date night in ‘our’ city!!

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