Seasoned travellers (those with salt and pepper sprinkled on them) will be familiar with the sensation of returning home from extended travels through unfamiliar lands, to then journey through their native territory, witnessing and observing the locale as though through the eyes of a tourist. That freshness of spectacle, wherein even small details stand out: visual, social, and cultural elements are at once analysed and interpreted to create an atmospheric blend of nuanced, experiential readings, illicits a sense of place that is altogether more alive than the previous conception. The sensation is akin to returning to somewhere that you’ve never been before.
I had occasion in November to show the sights of London to a Romanian visitor, freshly arrived from Toronto, new to the city lights and enamoured as one would expect. I set to creating a Culinary and Cultural Tour of of the city, to provide ammo for her fledgling blog. One aspect of creating this tour that I really enjoyed was the ability to see London with fresh eyes. Seeing a visitor get excited about things we take for granted: black taxi cabs, red phone boxes, Big Ben, routemaster buses, was highly entertaining and gave me a sense of national and civic pride.
Incidentally, please could somebody invent a new word for blog? Thank you. Blag? Interdiary? Interlog? This calls for a consortium of wordsmiths to collaborate and create one single word that embodies essence of what we are forced to call blogging. The new word may emerge as some sort of contorted mulch, as close to it’s kernel as Churchill was to Hitler or Pol Pot to sanity. Anything has to be better than a word that sounds like it describes something you might do when recovering from a bout of gastric flu.
The schedule created in response to her request for a mixture of history, nature, culture and fine dining, read thus:
Saturday 9th November
Arrive Gatwick 0800
Check in to Selsdon Park hotel
Traditional pub lunch
Stroll through South Bank
Check in to Crowne Plaza hotel, Blackfriars
Dinner at Buddha Bar
Breakfast at Crowne Plaza
Lunch at Bar Boulud, Knightsbridge
Victoria & Albert museum
Cocktail at Voltaire Bar, Blackfriars
Dinner at Ciciannove restaurant, Blackfriars.
Overnight stay at Crowne Plaza
Stroll on South Bank, brunch pie at Pieminister, visit Tate Modern, Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square
6.30 pm “Future Food” event at QBic
Overnight stay at QBic
Buckingham Palace, Regent Street, Soho, Paramount for sundowners, Covent Garden.
Dinner at Northall, Corinthia hotel. Return to Selsdon Park hotel.
Thursday am – departure
Let’s face it, it’s easy to make London look good. She is already draped in sequins and batting glossed lashes at every prospect across the globe. She has transformed herself from a fusty, pompous empirical wench, to being the brazen starlet of Europe, in one Olympian breath. I chose obviously touristic hot spots, and aimed high in terms of culinary standard. For the sake of simplicity I am going to review each establishment individually, in date order.