London, Again

So, I went back to London. I just loved it so very much I couldn’t help myself! Plus, my complete and total obsession with the movie Love Actually has planted enduring dreams of London at Christmastime in my mind, so I jumped at the chance to go the weekend after Thanksgiving, right as November was poised to become December–my very favorite month of the year.

I’m sure no one’s surprised to hear that I went to the Kensington Whole Foods…three times in two days. The very best part was our Friday night dinner, which consisted of American-style Thanksgiving food! This in itself completely made my weekend. It was admittedly a little sad to be away from home on Thanksgiving for the first time, even if I’m away from home in Paris. But nothing else could have possibly been quite as warm and comforting to me that day as mashed sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce from Whole Foods.

PB253736

I also enjoyed an abundance of vegetables, which the French do not believe in, over the course of the weekend. Aren’t they beeauuutiful?

PB253735

Don’t worry, though, I also took the opportunity to enjoy some real English food. At last, fish and chips!

PB243686

I didn’t get any fish and chips in August because I was absolutely reeling from the horrible dollar to pound/euro conversion and the high costs of everything in Europe and was terrified my bank account wouldn’t last throughout the semester. In fact, I barely remember eating at all the first time I went to London…and know for a fact that we had beer for dinner at least once. Insanity! Don’t worry Mom and Dad, you’ll be happy to hear I’ve gotten over my shock at the conversion rates and now spend freely! (God help me when I’m a real person and have to learn about scary things like budgets and responsible spending.)

I actually got to do several things I didn’t get to the first time around, once of which was visiting Borough Market. Even though it was crowded, it completely lived up to my expectations. On my next trip to London, I’ll be back.

PB253740

PB253744

PB253742

PB253750

PB253751

So, now that I’ve gotten the crucial thing–food and everywhere they sell it–out of the way, let’s move on to culture and sight-seeing, shall we?

I insisted upon returning to some of my favorite spots. We wandered through Hyde Park, where I loved seeing all the swans gathered in a pond near Kensington Palace.

PB243670

PB243679

I of course returned to Westminster to visit my favorite building in all of Europe. At least in terms of exteriors. Can I say that? I think I can say that. The Duomo might be a close second. Oh, I mean, the Louvre. That’s pretty impressive. Okay, I can’t pick a favorite. But I really, really, love, love this one. A lot. I mean, it’s been there, just being beautiful, for hundreds of years! Incredible. Incredible.

PB243689

I also went to the Tate Modern, but I don’t have any pictures because I accidentally checked my camera with my bag when I walked in. But it was awesome!

Moving right along to my very favorite part of the trip (aside from Kensington Whole Foods, obviously): anything and everything to do with Christmastime!

Starting with the Christmas lights on and around Regent Street…

PB263761

PB263762

PB263763

And ending, most importantly, with my Christmas dream to end all Christmas dreams: Harrods decked out in all its festive holiday glory. It was a verifiable wonderland.

PB253706

PB253713

PB253714

PB253719

PB253718

Maybe the funniest part of being back in London was noticing not how the city has changed since my trip there in August (not much aside from the Christmas decorations), but rather how I’ve changed. Walks that felt incredibly long on my first trip seemed to pass in an instant this time around. And, shockingly, I was not appreciate of but rather annoyed by our many attentive waiters–somewhere along the way, against all odds, I seem to have adjusted to the Parisian standard of service. I remember landing in London, fresh off the plane from the U.S., and delighting in how European London was. On my recent trip, I was surprised by how very American it seemed. Everything from the way people walked around with Starbucks cups to the presence of Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods to the way parents coddled (and, dare I say, seemed to enjoy the presence of) their children to the many pedestrians on the streets not dressed to the nines (how dare they!) served to remind me of all the things I’ve come to accept as normal in Paris that are not part of my life at home. Throughout the semester, I’ve maintained that both Europe and America do so many things right and so many things wrong. I keep threatening to build an island in the middle of the Atlantic that combines all the things I love best about Europe and all the things I love best about America…but maybe, just maybe, London could be that island?

I just wish they’d appreciate the importance of dressing well to go to the grocery store.

Oh God, they’ve got me.

Advertisements

2 responses to “London, Again

  1. My love…I just came back from a whole foods…..in Sarasota,Florida. We went and looked at retirement homes….well actually one, and cancelled the other two….when we arrived at the first one, we were greeted with “oH ARE you here to see your parents? UHHHH We found out that the average age was 88. /foirget that. We had looked at some condos’ the second day we were here and actually fell in love with one of them. Now what….should we make an offer on it, sell the house and cary and call Sarasota home?

    We went to Church this morning at a ” EPISCOPALIAN church where we were overwhelmed (again) by the friendly people who all urged us to come back and live in Sarasota and come to their church…The Holy Redeemer. Pray for us…it’s a big decision. I am so happy that your semester as been as wonderful as you make it sound. /Thanks for the blog and the pictures. I hope I get to see you at Christmas.i UNDERSTAND that a concert may be a deciding factor. I love you…so much. Amma

    • I LOVE THE WHOLE FOODS IN SARASOTA!! Yeah, don’t move into a retirement home. You’re way too young for that nonsense. Sarasota’s closer to New Orleans than Cary is, so I don’t hate the plan! What about buying a condo in the Caribbean instead though? Or Paris? I’ll be your live-in chef and maid! Glad you liked the Episcopalian Church…we’re kind of the best obbvvviiouussslllyyy. And I’ll definitely be seeing you at Christmas! We’re coming no matter what! Us not coming at all = crazy talk. Well, unless we decide to strike (très parisienne) and insist that you NC folk occasionally come visit us. Hmph. Although I guess you and Poppy made it down twice this year…the Ruschers better get their act together!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s