Friday, October 23, 2009

More London


The hubby and I decided to rent a car, and by rent a car I mean rent a car service to pick us up from Heathrow airport, now as fancy as this may sound it really is only a few pounds more than lugging your crap on the tube then flagging down a taxi to carry you to your final destination…so worth it after such a long flight. Our driver was a hoot, short, clumsy…dude kept dropping his phone, quick to mouth off at all the, “carless” drivers on the road as he was trying to go past them doing like 90, and very forward with giving us tips on what to see, what to avoid and where to eat. After waiting for us to have an, “oh so needed” cigarette before getting in the car he promptly stopped off at a shop, “If you don’t mind” to pick up a pack for himself then telling us, “feel free to smoke in the car. Don’t tell anyone but have at it” as he was lighting up one of his own.

Checked into our lovely hotel, The Waldorf Hilton in Covent Garden, dumped our bags and took an accidental one hour nap. The second I realized that we were sleeping I jumped up and tried to rally, it was to no avail…I was dog tired but knew I needed to get something to eat and like be in some fresh air and stuff. Now I thought about washing my face, even showering the airplane gunk off of me but knew once the warm water hit my face and body I would be calling for room service. I tried the never successful, “re-apply” of the makeup…this never really works, especially after that many hours of the crap already being on your face, the results, ghastly. I kept trying to pull the liquid liner over the little bits that remained but everything just kept crumbling…my face was literally disintegrating before my eyes, well..on my eyes. Ended up not giving a shit as my eyes were blood red and only at half mass anyway, pat of power to reduce the oily sheen and a swish of lip junk…you know, to make me look all perky and junk. Changed out of my flip-flops as it was pretty chilly and tossed on my gray hoodie, which matched absolutely nothing I was wearing, didn’t care, needed food, maybe a drink and then bed.

The hubby and I wandered out of the hotel into the VERY bustling area of Soho, man these folks are like high speed, running here and there…and I mean running. We found a very quiet street and an even quieter “sports bar” there was no one in the joint, in hindsight we may have questioned why but in our sleepy, travel weary state we just stumbled in and tried to order a Gin & Tonic, or I should say, “Sapphire & Tonic”. Now they had a Sapphire Martini on the list and the bar keep, well she was Russian…yeah. What came out was a multi colored cocktail, most of which was blue, (have a bad, long and bad history with blue drinks) with a little bit of brown in the bottom…shit. I had ordered some, “jacket potatoes” thinking that they must be like potato skins, well kids, they aren’t, they are baked potatoes…just how lame did I look with my stupid blue drink, in a “sports bar” eating a baked potato? Um by the looks we got from the few locals that came in while we were sitting there, pretty freaking lame. Pounded my sweet, blue drink and ordered a Guinness which the hubby and I took outside where we could have a cigarette and watch the locals rush by, much more comfortable aside from the fact that, a hoodie on a London night in October, maybe not quite sufficient in the keeping warm department, thank goodness it made me look so cool and all…ugh.

Aching to just get to bed we knew we had better get a bite to eat and we had passed a very cool, very traditional looking spot called The Wellington on the way to the bogus “sports bar” and it was on the way back to the hotel, winner! We climbed the stairs to the dining room and took a seat, still not sure if we followed protocol there as it took forever to get any service, what did we know and seeing as we were just barely coherent, we didn’t even care. Ordered a platter of fish and chips and a platter of sausage and mash along with two Gin & Tonics, (which were in fact Gin & Tonics) and soaked up the feel of the place. Very what you would expect, a small warm room, tables close together, high windows with years of texture on the window frames, kind of grimy but not in a dirty way if that makes sense. I so wanted to take a picture but somehow knew it might be frowned upon by the locals that seemed somewhat taken aback by our intrusion already…can you just see me pulling out my little sack, photo and sunglasses and taking a picture? The food was lovely, am now a fan of the English chips and quite full we made our way back to the room and crashed, fully clothed on the bed. I woke 10 hours later…oh wait, only felt like 10 hours, it was actually 2 hours later, shook the hubby and made him get his jammies on and get into bed and went to post….freaking Internet was out, dammit. Woke up every 2 hours after that, every 2 hours on the hour, stinked.

12 hours later the hubby was up, jovial and pissing me off, “Yeah, good for you honey, so happy you are rested” Internet still down, no coffee and no sleep and less than chipper. I was so not going to let my shitty attitude ruin the trip so once the Internet was fixed I popped in the shower and began preparing for our day. So funny thing, all my French appliances, that I assumed would be easier to convert, (those adaptors not so much good with hair appliances) um, they have US outlets in our hotel, merde. Now pissy about my stupid looking hair but not trying to be a total downer we set out for the afternoon and stopped at The Nags Head, a pub I had read about and just so happened to be on our way to The Market at Covent Garden, (a place we wanted to check out and where we were going to catch the tube) for lunch and a pint…bliss.


This place is right out of every movie or guidebook you have ever read, had a coffee shop appeal, people just sitting around, chatting but over ale rather than coffee. We squeezed into a two top table and ordered two pints, eggs and ham with chips for me and beer and beef pie for Call-o. I was so back to life, this is the kind of shit I thrive on, new place, new faces, new tastes and people just hanging out getting their fun on, could have stayed there all day, we could not of course, (but I am so going back before we leave) but I did order a second pint to make it last just a little bit longer. Hopped the tube, and why don’t we have a form of public transportation like this? D.C, Chicago, Paris and now here, these subways are absolutely amazing and SoCal would be a better place if we had a rail system, you know that like went somewhere anyone wanted to go. Now after two pints I have to warn against the taking of the stairs down into the tube…spiral, black and white painted narrow steps, 193 of them….I was so dizzy by the time we landed on the platform I was simply spinning. We took the tube to a place I had heard of for as long as I can remember, Harrods.

My mother spent some time in Europe when she was a teen and the one thing I remember her talking about was Harrods, how amazing, how overwhelming…I just knew I could not be here in London and not visit my mother’s favorite place. We never made it out of the food court, seems silly to call it that but it is in fact what they called it…um, our food courts back home, just put horribly to shame. There were rooms upon rooms of fruit and veggies, chocolates, cured meats, seafood, bakery items and my beloved cheese…I think I heard harps at one point. On top of that there were all kinds of places to sit, have a bite to eat, (Damn you Nags Head…too full for snacks) Dim Sum, Oyster bar, Rotisserie, Caviar bar, all of which served wine and Champagne…again harps, I heard harps. I walked around too overwhelmed to actually buy anything, planning a trip back tomorrow, bringing a list.


Back on the tube, back to “our hood” and a stop at Tesco, a grocery store, to pick up some water, a bottle or two of wine…lots of Chilean and Australian wines here people, not so much with the French, what up with that…and we are now back in the room having a slight break before heading back out into the London night. I miss my folks back home but am truly enjoying seeing this new place and cannot wait to see more. I will try to look less like a dolt over the next couple days, no guarantees but I will do my best. Off to try and fix my hair with the hairspray I was able to procure from the Tesco before heading back to the lively Covent Garden Market for more food and maybe another pint or five.


Amy said...

Wow. I love reading about your adventure in London. I am actually laughing aloud to the pictures. I can just see you guys giggling putting your "friend" together and snapping away. Bravo to sticking with it to find yummy food. Sometimes, you just need to walk another block to find the treasure. For me, I am happiest when I travel and experience new things even if they make me a bit nervous. Take lots of pictures.
PS-I bet your hair looks fabulous.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Sounds like your trip is off on the right foot. Wait, in England is it the left foot? I'm so confused.

I am reminded of a girl I used to date in college. Everyone called her "Westminster Abby" because she always had a large organ in her. You should go visit her.

But, seriously, I am vicariously full and slightly pissed from reading of your London adventures. So sweet of you to take me along. What do I owe for cabfare?

I love you.

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...

My love, you should so be here. This trip was so made for you darlin...not the same without you. Putting together my little buddy has me in stitches each time, Call-o not so much, even thinking about it now has me giggling.

Cabfare is on me My Sweet Man, I've adored having you here with me...even if it is just a snapshot, not like I have ever seen anything more anyway. Putting together my little travel buddy has less than pleased my husband...think I am causeing him shame all over this here joint, best part...don't care, just thrilled that I can have you along. I miss you kid and I love you too!

TWG said...

Saturday: rain 62 F, night 53F,
Sun-Mon: mostly cloudy 60F, 50F
Tues: cloudy 59F, 49F
Wed: drizzle 60F, 53F
It's London, sorry to rain on your parade, but at least you'll get a real taste of London weather (briefly I hope).
Seems like quite the adventure so far, glad you're enjoying it and the pound dropped today.
The RSJ restaurant in South Bank (other side of the Thames, across the Waterloo Bridge) is a specialist in Loire wines and associated with Jim Budd of the blog Jim's Loire ( (the dude who likes like he's from Cali.). Perhaps I'm mistaken but I thought you had an interest in wines of the Loire, might be worth a look.

Terroirs wine bar(on your side)also looks interesting and is on my list to visit.

My prelim. ggogle map will be emailed to you, your presumed hotel location is at the strand

TWG said...

TWG said...

Borough Market on Saturdays (inclusive of Neal's Yard Dairy also Covent Garden, each closed Sunday) for Brit cheese (exclusively).

Wine Shops: courtesy of Jamie Goode:

Hit the pubs for happy hour, mostly men standing and drinking outside, but quite the phenomenon with good weather (this isn't California when the weather is good the street scene can be amazing).

Samantha Dugan said...

Wow, thanks for the tips! Guess you have been here before then! I saw that it was going to rain today, kind of a bummer but expected for London and the room has an umbrella so it should be fine. I have seen the happy hour deal and it is so cool to see everyone out on the street with their pints in hand, now that...that would not happen in California. Was planning on having a proper English breakfast this morning but once again I went to bed at close to three so not sure I will be able to make it in time. Oh and you are correct, I do loves me some Loire wines...thanks for remembering.

vickibarkley said...

I'm in vicarious bliss. Love the travel buddy!