I returned late last night from my shortest trip to London yet. I spent two and a half days visiting E from NYC and it was worth every hour of travel (26, to be exact) to spend that time together. I had to blow off studying for a couple days and I’m paying for it now, but I had a great time.

I was actually a bit surprised by how great it felt to be back in London! I enjoyed myself during my last trip in November and it was really sad saying goodbye, but the decision to leave had been made long ago and I was eager to move forward. This time, however, I didn’t really want to leave – it was an escape from reality as well as from the abrasiveness of NYC, and obviously it was wonderful to see E. I nearly got my wish when a snowstorm hit London on Saturday night and shut down Heathrow, disrupting service right up until a few hours before my flight took off at 8pm! Mixed feelings on that one, but I suppose it’s best NOT to be stuck somewhere and miss classes today…

I arrived early Friday morning, a bit of a mess from my crazy week plus the redeye flight, but incredibly excited to see E. The flight – my first time flying with Virgin Atlantic – was practically empty and getting to E’s flat went very smoothly. It took 13 hours door to door, using public transportation on both ends – not too bad! London seemed so calm, particulalry E’s flat which is ironic given that I always used to complain about the noise (he lives near a busy street). Everything is quiet compared to NYC, I guess! I forgot just how chilled out London is by comparison – more parks, less noise, not as claustrophobic. I miss it.

 

We headed to Borough Market for some Monmouth coffee (I brought home three bags – very exciting) and some of my favorite goodies, including Comte cheese (the best!), oak roasted tomatoes (SO amazing – like sun blushed but WAY better) and homemade ginger granola. I always love going back to Borough Market – it’s comforting to see all the same vendors, some of whom recognize me from my years of weekly visits.

 

We relaxed for most of the day – it was FREEZING out and I was very jet lagged – but we had a nice meal at The Garrison, one of our favorite local gastropubs. I wasn’t over the moon about what I ordered, but the atmosphere was awesome as usual – very cozy and bustling.

Saturday morning we headed out to the river for a 9M run. It was peaceful and relatively nice weather, although a bit chilly. E has become so much faster in the last year or so – I really am impressed. I had to tell HIM to slow down at times (well, mainly because I was trying to do a steady, easy run and he kept surging every mile or so, but still). My legs definitely feel SO much better after this past week – I’m glad I took three full rest days and only ran 23 miles.

Our run was followed by coffee with a friend and then an early dinner at one of my favorite London restaurants – Boca di Lupo. We sat at the chef’s counter, which is always my favorite place to sit (I love watching the chefs). However, this time was a bit different. Ever since my Food Safety lecture in Intro to Food & Food Science, I have become VERY aware of all the things that should and should not be done in restaurant kitchens. I couldn’t help but watch the chefs – particularly the grill – with a very critical eye and analyze the death out of what they were doing. I was cringing as I saw about twenty different examples of cross contamination, among other things, and of course I couldn’t shut up about it. E was ready to kill me!! But our food was delicious as always – malfatti with ricotta and spinach; celeriac, radish and pomegranate salad with parmesan shavings and truffle vinaigrette; and profiteroles with hazelnut, chestnut and pistachio gelati and chocolate sauce (pictured below). We also got an amazing sausage dish, a veal chop and a lovely carafe of red wine. I can’t tell you how much of a treat this was – I haven’t been out to eat much these past few weeks and really missed it!

    

During dinner, it suddenly started to snow! We were so surprised. We had planned to meet some friends across town at a pub after dinner – by the time we got there it was a full on snow storm, which is pretty unusual for London. I apparently bring winter wherever I go – first NYC and then London! At least we were nice and cozy inside the pub with our pear ciders, and it was awesome catching up with my London “framily.”

 

 

E and I had to walk 15 minutes to get back to the flat. We were soaked by the time we got home. I was also a bit stressed out that so many flights were being cancelled, including the Virgin flight to Newark right before mine. However, I couldn’t do anything about it, so I just tried to focus on having fun. Got some great shots during the walk back – and yes there wasn’t THAT much snow, but London shuts down even after a dusting! Ridiculous.

         

We slept in Sunday morning and had a fabulous lunch at Zucca, another local favorite on Bermondsey street. I forgot how great my old neighborhood is! I packed up and checked my flight status – on time! What a relief. E of course was bummed out – apparently he had been conspiring with the weather to keep me in London!

E accompanied me to Heathrow which was very sweet. Saying goodbye was tough as always, but he’s running the NYC half in mid-March so we’ll be seeing each other again soon. Meeting up every month or so until he is able to move to NYC (by this summer, we hope) is doable.

The airport was mayhem and I had a bad experience at the Virgin check in counter (never have I heard of a 6kg weight limit for carry ons – stupid) but the flight went smoothly and I even had a free seat next to me.

It’s going to be a very busy week trying to catch up with school and get back into a more intensive training schedule, but hopefully my lovely weekend in London will provide me with plenty of inspiration to get through it! At least it’s sunny in NYC…

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