Wednesday, 1 May 2013
For the last few months I've been scanning for quick, direct flights out of Norway in hopes to do a little Spring shopping. I moved here with a wardrobe fit for the tropics, purchased new things for Winter yet really needed some clothes that would be appropriate for a Norwegian Spring & Summer (i.e. not hot.) Shopping isn't fantastic in Stavanger and while I can certainly find what I need, it's so expensive here and doesn't seem worth it to pay a lot of money for a mediocre selection. (There's also a 25% import tax on anything shipped in thus that was not a feasible option.) So, I scanned for flights to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh, etc. Flights to any of those destinations for a weekend were expensive and after continually checking back for deals, it became apparent that we just weren't going to get somewhere cheap so we bit the bullet and booked a trip to London.
London has never been high on our list of places to visit. It's not that we didn't think it would be a good city to travel to - we just figured we'd get there eventually whether we really planned it or not. Well, London, you exceeded my expectations. I can't quite put my finger on it... perhaps it has to do with coming from a Commonwealth country and growing up looking at so many iconic London images or perhaps it was just entering a bustling city after months in our quiet, Norwegian town, but London won us over pretty quickly. Also, it was pretty darn nice travelling to another English speaking country and I cannot discredit how smooth and easy everything was just because we could read the signs.
Shopping was semi-successful, as my credit card can attest to, but I didn't get everything I was looking for. There was just too much to do and as happy as I would have been perusing the shops day-in and day-out, I'm sure Joe wouldn't have appreciated it. Perhaps next time I'll schedule a mid-week trip by myself so I'm not dragging my husband around and can avoid the sheer craziness that is Oxford Street on a nice, dry, Spring Saturday afternoon.
+We flew via Norwegian direct to Gatwick. They offered the most reasonable flights and had great timing with a 19:40 Friday night - 21:05 Sunday night return ticket.
+From Gatwick, we hopped on the Gatwick Express which took us right to Victoria Station near Central London in about 30 minutes. Do note, there isn't much space for luggage on that train so if you're travelling with a lot, you may want to hire a taxi. The train departs every 15 minutes (30 minutes on Sundays) and costs £19.90 for an Anytime Single ticket although you can save £2 by pre-purchasing on the internet.
+I found us a great deal on a swanky London hotel in Covent Garden. St Martin's Lane Hotel was in an amazing location which made it easy for us to walk to practically every sight we visited. It's also a really hip hotel that has some super cool features that play with coloured light. Even with the deal, it wasn't cheap but as compared to other London hotels in the centre, it was worth the extra few £'s for the location and funky room. (The deal is valid until May 16 so if you're looking for London accommodation and don't mind splurging a bit, you can check it out here.)
+We arrived quite late Friday night and decided to eat in the hotel restaurant, Asia de Cuba. An Asian-Cuban fusion restaurant sounds like a bizarre pairing yet it was oh-so-good. The crab croquetas were delicious as were our main courses of pan-seared ahi tuna and Cuban BBQ'd chicken. They also have a very extensive cocktail list (I enjoyed the Chilli-Passionfruit Caipirinha.)
And... a very happy May Day to you all. It's one of our many public holidays in May here in Norway, celebrated as Labour Day. Unfortunately, Joe's boss didn't get the memo and scheduled a very important, not to be missed meeting for noon.