Places: Londontown I
In winter of 2014, I left the Eastern seaboard for a seven hour hop across the pond to glorious London. “London in February?” was the quizzical response from well-wishers to my extended mini-break, a three week vacation of spending time with friends and strolling around the city. London is fabulous at any time of year, even when it is damp and cold and rainy, which could just as well be the case in July.
It is a place that is full of unexpected delights. If you can bypass the major tourist traps and avoid fighting your way through Oxford and Regents streets, where the shopping hoards threaten to mow you down, London’s secret gems that are hiding in plain sight begin to reveal themselves. They reveal themselves in the artisan food stalls at the Maltby Street Market just down the road from Tower Bridge, as you look up to the sky across the Bond Street tube station and see St. Christopher’s place decorated with silver baubles, in the narrow lane of the Columbia flower market in Hackney that overflows with azaleas, in the West End’s top theater shows, in the eclectic clothing choices at Spitalfields market, at anything happening at the Design Museum perched alongside the Thames, in the window of the tiny Ottolenghi restaurant off Westbourne Terrace where gooey hazelnut brownies beckon, and on the top floor of Harvey Nichols, where you can enjoy an elderflower cocktail.