Hi, everyone! In my previous blog post, I shared my "Part 1" version of our recent Christmas vacation in London with Colin's side of the family - which you can read here.
We really enjoyed spending quality time with the whole family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - and eating the amazing feasts that were so generously prepared for us! There was also something pretty magical about watching our adorable nieces open their gifts from Santa. Here's our crew enjoying a lovely Christmas breakfast together!
The day after Christmas, Colin and I returned to Central London to take a tour of Westminster Abbey! We were in awe of this spectacular coronation church, which houses the tombs of kings and queens and numerous other famous individuals. Its incredible architecture and rich history are truly worth exploring. To learn more about Westminster Abbey, click here. While we were not allowed to take pictures inside the Abbey, we at least captured a bit of this lovely church's exterior as it was starting to get dark outside.
The next day, Colin and I explored the Borough Market, which has been in operation for over 1,000 years! This market puts a strong emphasis on recycling its materials, selling a large amount of locally grown produce and locally raised meats, and offering cheeses, breads, and pastries made in different parts of the United Kingdom. It sends its extra produce to nearby charities - instead of the landfill - and transfers potential food waste to an anaerobic digestion plant. This food is then converted to power, water, and fertilizer. Pretty resourceful, eh?
And as a Harry Potter fan, I need to share that the Borough Market was also utilized as the entrance to the famous wizard pub and inn, The Leaky Cauldron, in the movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban! 7 Stoney Street is the address where the entrance is located (To read more about different locations where the Harry Potter movies were filmed in London, click here). The Borough Market is essentially a paradise for foodies, Harry Potter fans, and those who believe in sustainability. It's a total happy-fix!
Aren't these boxes of mushrooms with fresh rosemary just lovely?!
What a beautiful way to display the cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, greens, and carrots!
The bright colors of the market's citrus fruit immediately drew us to the fruit section!
We could have easily eaten some of these luscious looking grapes on the spot!
This is a good stop for seafood lovers as well!
As we scanned the impressive selection of street food that this market offered, I decided to help myself to the Spanish dish, paella!
Colin enjoyed the Karachi Chicken Curry below!
Then we savored every bite of this DELICIOUS cherry crumble! We were in heaven.
After we ate our way through the Borough Market, we headed towards the Tower of London. Since the last scheduled tour was going to end soon, we were unable to enter the inside of this notorious fortress. But here are a couple of pictures of its exterior.
Near the end of our vacation, we explored the Hampton Court Palace with my brother-in-laws, sister-in-law, and sweet nieces. This was the palace where Henry VIII lived. While in power, Henry VIII hired highly skilled artisans and gardeners from different parts of Europe to make the palace even more spectacular. He also expanded the indoor kitchens, which measure out to be 36,000 square feet! To watch an informative video about the kitchens and how they once operated, click here. Here's a small glimpse of the kitchens.
As we continued to tour the palace, we entered the Chocolate Room. Yep. This palace had us at chocolate! It's located close to the preserved 18th century Chocolate Kitchen - which is the only royal chocolate kitchen in all of Great Britain and is the kitchen where beans were converted to a chocolate drink. The Chocolate Room is where Thomas Tosier, who was a chocolate chef, put the finishing touches on the chocolate drink before carrying it up to King George I for his daily breakfast beverage. This is also the room where lovely serving dishes were kept for the special chocolate delivery to the King. It's worth noting that a chocolate drink was one of the most luxurious beverages that was consumed during this time period. The spices and sugar that were used to season the chocolate were very expensive. With this in mind, drinking chocolate was a sign of great wealth. To watch an interesting video about the Chocolate Room and the Chocolate Kitchen, click here.
During our journey through the palace, we spotted this lavish table setting. This is an example of how the King dined in public for special occasions at the Hampton Court Palace. Linens were folded into the shape of vegetables and animals.
Calling all grape lovers! The Hampton Court Palace is the home of the largest grape vine in the world. As the sign below states, the Great Vine - which generates dessert grapes each year called, Black Hamburg grapes - "...was planted in 1768 for King George III." While these grapes were once solely enjoyed by royalty, each September visitors can now purchase the grapes at the palace's shop.
As of 2005, the longest vine measured out at 246 feet!
A tour of the Hampton Court Palace is not complete without exploring its glorious grounds! What a gorgeous and historical place this is to take a nice walk with loved ones!
As our London vacation came to a close with the family, Colin and I felt really thankful that we were able to make such special memories with everyone in such a lovely and interesting city. Reconnecting with loved ones is so important. And traveling is just plain good for the soul.
What do you enjoy most about traveling? Feel free to share your travel thoughts in the comment section below!