I hadn’t been to London, England since May, 1996, so my trip last week was a real treat. I’d spent a week there with my husband, Reg, on our first wedding anniversary and loved the city. But somehow, my travels only took me through Heathrow Airport in London over the past 15 years and hadn’t allowed me time to reacquaint myself with this marvellous city.
A spur-of-the-moment research trip with writer-friend, Suzanne Boles, of London, Ontario, enabled me to spend 6 days in one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world with one of my dearest friends. Eating chocolate for the next installment of Chocolatour. What could be better than that?
For this journey, we chose to fly Air Transat and were pleased with the service we received. If you can afford the small fee for the upgrade, do opt for Club Class, as it offers you additional space, enhanced service and comfort. For an overseas flight, it’s definitely worth it!
We were fortunate to find affordable and comfortable accommodations at Dillons Hotel (B&B) via the Journeywoman website. If you don’t already subscribe to Evelyn Hannon’s fantastic travel resource for women (and all travellers), I strongly suggest that you do. You’d be amazed at what you’ll find there.
We really enjoyed staying at Dillons. We were offered a complimentary breakfast daily, free in-room wifi, friendly helpful staff, and a convenient location near two Tube stations and the quaint neighbourhood of Belsize Park.
The only deterrent to staying at Dillons are the stairs! We were on the top floor (called the second floor, but it’s 2 levels up from the ground level.) We had a nice view and good air circulation with a large window, but there is no elevator, and so if you have difficulties with stairs or lots of heavy luggage, ask for a room on the lower level or choose another location for your stay.
Belsize Park is a really cool neighbourhood in the London Borough of Hampstead. Lots of ethnic shops and restaurants without the hustle and bustle of staying in one of the more central, trendier locales. Reg and I had stayed in a similar neighbourhood in New York City several years ago and also loved it for its realism, safety factor and more reasonable prices.
Suzanne had been to London a few years ago with her daughter, so she recommended a visit to Covent Garden. I loved it! Lots of shops and restaurants, buskers, and pretty much anything for anyone. Reasonable prices in the flea market kiosks, more unique and fashionable items in the storefronts. And a Thorntons shop for chocolate lovers.
We also enjoyed a walk through Hyde Park. I was surprised at how much it reminded me of Central Park and many other green spaces in some of the world’s most memorable cities. Lots of people walking their dogs, cyclists, families feeding the birds, flowers and greenery for nature lovers.
However, my primary reason for visiting London was to eat British chocolate. I was not disappointed. Tune into the blog during the week of June 21st for more on that.
But for now, let’s talk London highlights. What have been yours?