day 1 :

saturday, 26 may

After a smooth overnight British Airways flight to London, we stepped off the plane on Saturday afternoon to begin our three weeks of vacation. London is a nice layover and jumping-off point to the rest of Europe – it's a direct flight from Seattle, we speak the language (well, sort of), and intra-Europe flights are relatively cheap. On previous overseas trips, we've never bothered with an intentional layover stop. This time we enjoyed having a couple of nights in London, because it made getting over jetlag and getting into "vacation mode" really easy.

Our first order of business was to get to our bed and breakfast, which turned out to be even easier than we expected – we hopped on the Underground at the airport and went straight to the South Kensington stop, walked a couple of blocks, and voilà, we were at The Aster House. The location was great; we were just blocks away from Harrod's, Hyde Park, and High Street Kensington, not to mention the Lamborghini dealership that lured passersby to stop and stare. There's no doubt that this neighborhood is one of the more well-off in London.

Eric visited London years ago, but it was Dawn's first time in the UK. The weather for our two days here seemed quite appropriate to give Dawn a realistic sense of city – cold, damp, and rainy. That didn't deter us from going for a very wet walk through Hyde Park, after which we arrived at Zaika restaurant (translation: "sophisticated flavors"). The unique thing about the chef at Zaika is that he spent years working in Michelin-starred restaurants, and decided to apply his haute cuisine knowledge to Indian cooking. The results are amazing: intensely-flavored curries and sauces, beautiful presentation, and a fusion of new ingredients into classic dishes. Our favorite dish was the Malai Milan appetizer, a cheese platter of tandoori paneer, crispy paneer and Stilton cheese pakoras, and goat cheese and smoked cashew nut samosa with an excellent pear and clove chutney. The coconut, raisin, and almond naan was also excellent.


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