Saturday, 14 July 2018

London, England (Hampton by Hilton, London Docklands)

A very slow start this morning, but that’s okay since I needed the extra sleep.  I followed up on a couple of travel recommendations that I received last night from Dmytro. Such as, adding extra days in Norway to visit Bergen, Norway (for the fjords) and to take the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia. I also prepared the original document ready to send to the attorney in Hood River before I headed out the door.

I mailed the letter at a Post Office near the Baker Street station then visited Paddington station before traveling to Sloan Square to do some shopping. I’m meeting Prean and Viktor for dinner in the area of Sloan Square and had time to buy a few items that have been on my shopping list. Mainly, replacement sweaters for the two that I wore out in my first two years of traveling. The final sweater (with two holes in it) was retired during my visit to New York in April.

I’ve liked shopping at Peter Jones department store when I’ve visited London. Very similar to the old downtown Meier & Frank store in Portland. I didn’t think I’d find cashmere sweaters being sold in July, but somehow thought I would, and there they were. I found a couple that I liked and bought them. Also a new hat and a wash cloth too. About half the time I find a wash cloth in hotel rooms and Airbnbs. I had a wash cloth up to a few months ago but threw it out because it wasn’t dry when I packed and didn’t want to carry a damp wash cloth in my luggage.

I had some time to relax before walking over to the restaurant where I’m meeting Prean and Viktor. To pass the time, I bought a root beer at Partridge’s and sat in the Duke of York Square and enjoyed it while people watching.

I had made reservations at Tuscanic Belgravia, a Tuscan restaurant where I celebrated my 64th birthday in March. Great authentic food, friendly staff and conveniently located. Good that I made reservations because when I arrived it was very busy. The restaurant’s host, Andrea (from Sardinia), must have recognized me and knew that I had reserved a table for three. I was given a complementary aperol spritz while waiting for the guys.

We enjoyed our spritz’s for almost 45 minutes before we ordered dinner. We talked about the differences between European (including the UK) and American and Russian restaurants where you’re often “encouraged” by the restaurant to order, eat and leave. I enjoy the slower pace when dining with friends.

It seemed like we just got there when I realized we were among the last diners in the restaurant. We had been there two and a half hours talking and enjoying our antipasto, lasagna, and desserts with coffee. We were served a chianti wine along with our meal. We sat outside and enjoyed the warm evening in a beautiful Belgravia neighborhood.

I didn’t return to the hotel until midnight and stayed up for a little bit before going to bed. I have an early start tomorrow. I’m meeting Csabi in Milton Keynes where he is working this summer. The train to Milton Keynes leaves from Euston Station, which is not easy to get to from where I’m staying so I’ll need to start first thing in the morning. 7:00 a.m. wake up call!

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