Sunday, June 29, 2014

London 2014 Day 2

After a solid twelve hours of peaceful sleep, our first official full day in London began with breakfast at L'Eto Caffe, which quickly became a favorite of ours during our stay in the city. A small, beautifully modern French cafe just around the corner from our hotel.


First I have to talk about coffee. I'm a die-hard espresso-based coffee drinker. My daily choice: Americano. Basically a few shots of espresso and hot steaming water to top it off, then a light bit of cream. It's simply the best cup of coffee in the world (well, in MY world anyway). So you can imagine my delight when everywhere we dined in London there wasn't an automatic drip coffee machine in sight. ALL espresso machines! And the basic cup of coffee: Americano. Yes! The big difference is that creamer doesn't seem to exist. We quickly learned they don't call it cream they call it milk, and that's what it is. But not even whole milk. It's "part skim." I guess that's a good thing to keep the fat content down, but I did miss the cream. But darn-it, the coffee was unbelievably good anyways. Dark, deep and rich. A beautiful thing. Sweeteners were not readily available on the tables like here in America. My poor hubby had to keep asking for it everywhere and most of the time the waitress would bring the coffees and forget the sweetener. It just didn't seem that popular there.


So back to L'Eto. The menu was simple which I like. This is just the egg portion of the menu below. You can see what I chose. It was not only delicious, but also served beautifully. It was probably the only meal I didn't photograph from the trip, and I still don't know why. I wish I had.



EGGS
Soft boiled eggs with milk bread, avocado salsa and butter £7.9
Egg White omelette with spinach and tomatoes, sourdough toast, Feta cheese £8.9
Fried eggs with avocado tartines, fresh tomato, Feta cheese £9.9
Poached eggs on toasted milk bread with avocado, fresh tomato, Feta cheese £9.9
Scrambled eggs with avocado tartines, fresh tomato, Feta cheese £9.9
Eggs benedict on sourdough toast, fresh tomato, avocado £10.5
Eggs royale with lightly salted herb salmon on sourdough toast, £12.5 fresh tomato & avocado
Eggs Florentine, Feta cheese & spinach seasoned with cumin & chili flakes £10.5 



While waiting for our orders, we usually goofed around to kill time.



Another interesting thing was water. My daughter usually drinks water with her meals and when she ordered it, she was always asked "Still or Sparkling?" We're used to being served a glass of water from the tap in the States and it's free. But we didn't seem to have that option (maybe we needed to ask specifically, I don't know) so we paid for fancy water which she enjoyed and drank every drop.



After breakfast we walked and walked. We made our way to Chinatown and popped into a couple stores. This grocery was fantastic! (Sadly, I never got the name of it.) My hubby, for those who don't know, is half-Japanese and daughter is therefore a quarter, which she takes great pride in. They both love Asian groceries and sometimes will drive an hour into Orlando just to go to one together. They buy little noodle packets and candies and snacks. On this particular day, Jamie bought some mochi (sweet rice cakes) and other candies to take to her friend in Brighton (to come).



Classic.



I just couldn't pass up a photo of this place. Sure made me miss my baby Suki who was back in the States in the good hands of K9 Kampus and staff.


After our walk, we headed back to the hotel to plan the rest of our day. The Big Bus Tour was on the agenda, but first we had to grab some lunch.



This ended up being another favorite of ours. We ate here about three or four times I think. Tonkotsu is a very common Japanese dish, usually a noodle soup made with a salty pork broth. 



Steaming bowls of homemade ramen noodles were served with choices of vegetables and/or meat and always included this lovely marinated egg. I chose a soup on this particular day, but hubby opted for noodle salad option. (Can't remember exactly what it was called.) It was also ramen only chilled and served with veggies, chicken and that glorious egg. 

I'm gonna make that egg this week. I found a recipe online. I'll let you know how it goes.



As we ate, I happened to notice this graphic on the wall indicating where the bathrooms were located. LOL! That's another thing, they don't call them "Restrooms" they call them "Toilets." I would say this graphic makes it pretty clear what's what, wouldn't you?



After lunch, we made our way on foot to Picadilly Circus which reminded us a little bit of a mini Times Square with all the lights and hubbub and traffic. There we found a vendor cart to purchase Big Bus Tour tickets. In case you're curious, it cost us £93 for the three of us. The open-top bus tour on the Red Line took about 2 1/2 hours and was a great first-day thing to do. I highly recommend this tour, not to be confused with The Original Bus Tour.  



Our bus top had a shaded section which is nice when it's really hot and sunny (which it was the day we toured). This informative tour took us all around the city of London as a sweet gentleman narrated interesting facts and funny stories about the sites. The bus stops at several sites along the way where passengers can hop off and then hop back on another Big Bus when they're ready. They arrive every 10 minutes or so. We opted to stay on for the full bus tour, to get an overview of everything, then planned to set off to desired sites throughout our stay in London.



I told you about the architecture. Such a history here!



Our bus tour guide prepared us for this wonderful shot of the London Eye as we rode through the city. We all got our cameras ready and he said, "Now, to the left!" and we all snapped a picture.




Big Ben rising over our heads.



Cheese it, it's the cops! (friendly chaps)





Approaching St. Paul's Cathedral.



The front view of St. Paul's.



The Tower Bridge, which many mistake for the London Bridge. 
(But that fell down, remember?)
This is the River Thames which was quite busy all the time and especially beautiful at night, which you'll see another day in our journey.



Here our bus is about to go over the Tower Bridge with a shot of the very modern London skyline.



A look up as we pass over the bridge. See that beautiful blue sky? It was a gorgeous day!



After the bus tour, we walked and walked some more and found a Tai Yaki shop. Jamie was super excited when she saw this. I had no idea what the heck it was.



Tai Yaki is basically a Japanese fish-shaped cake, usually filled with red bean paste made from sweetened azuki beans, but other common fillings are custard, chocolate, cheese or sweet potato. This little one was filled with custard and the overall taste reminded me of our traditional eclair pastry in the States.



The shop also featured some seriously cute and colorful treats.


After quite a bit more walking around Soho, it was time for dinner. (we seem to eat constantly, don't we?) We found another Asian restaurant to try. Tao Tao Ju on Lisle Street where Jamie and I shared pork dumplings and crispy squid cakes (the adventurous ones) while Paul had friend rice (boring). Finally a stop at "Paul's" a chain pastry shop where Jamie got a big pistachio macaroon which she loved, then we stopped at Patisserie Valerie where Paul and I shared a piece of chocolate mousse pie.



It had been a long full day and by 8:30 p.m. we were ready to settle down in the hotel, have a glass of wine, post photos online and watch some TV. On this particular night the streets were especially full of pub-goers. Why? England was set to play their first game in the World Cup. That game aired at 11:00 p.m. London time, so the folks were already getting good position as we passed by to our hotel.


Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 3's adventures and my take on the London Pass. Worth purchasing or not? You'll have to check back to see.


11 comments:

  1. Great to hear more about your adventures Annette. There is still a London Bridge, but I believe we sold the old one to a chap in Arizona back in the 60's! Jenny x

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    1. Thanks Jenny. Yes I discovered this on our trip. I didn't know that before! I figure most Americans can relate to our childhood nursery rhyme. I wonder how many if us know it's in Arizona now...?

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  2. Please share the egg recipe since I too am married to a half Japanese man! I am thoroughly enjoying the "extended" version of your London vacation!

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  3. I do, I do! LOL It's in Lake Havasu City. :) I am enjoying your posts and photos. Looks like a lot of fun and I'm with you about the architecture Annette. :)

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  4. I'm really enjoying your daily posting Annette. I know it's too late but you just needed to ask for tap water in a restaurant, otherwise they assume you are ordering bottled water. Glad to see you found the toilets...yes I find it funny that Americans call them rest rooms ;0) Looking forward to Day 3 photos even though my Hb sees all these sights every day whilst he is working in the city x

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  5. Really enjoying your pics and observations of London! It's so interesting to find out about other countries, everything from their famous historical sites to what is just their ordinary, normal fare and habits :)
    Btw, what a beautiful little family you are! Your daughter is SO cute! She seems like a very confident and happy young lady :). I'm sure she will treasure the memories of this special trip always!
    Looking forward to tomorrow's post!

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  6. I am so enjoying your London adventures.

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  7. Wow! How cool! How did you settle on staying at the Nadler? just wondering...and so close to Selfridges...but no pic? But love all those other pics! Your daughter looked so cute...love those faces! Thanks for sharing! :)

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    1. Hubby is the king of research. Wanted to be in Soho and found the Nadler online.

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  8. I'm a day late! but checking in- I am sitting here drooling as you go over the foods Annette!! Everything looks so good! Gotta go make a PB&J, so I can read day 3 without the belly interruptions!! heehee

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  9. I love coffee ..I like a full robust coffee with a lot of bite. I like many desserts in which coffee product is used.

    Regard
    Kopi Luwak.

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