It goes without saying that visiting beautiful cities and historical landmarks is always a wonderful experience. But, there are times when visiting little hamlets, towns and villages on the outskirts of these highly touted tourist meccas can be just as rewarding.
Our last day in London presented one of these opportunities to learn about the community of Golders Green where our hotel was located and, as a bonus, I would have an opportunity to reconnect with a nephew who moved to England several years ago.
After breakfast and talking with front desk personnel, Randy, me, Doug and Sue decided to walk to the town of Golders Green and see what we could see.
What we found was a very nice multicultural town filled with many cafés, delis, butchers, bakeries and restaurants.
We leisurely walked up and down the sidewalks stopping periodically and peering into shop windows and gained a sense of the town’s diversity.
We discovered that the town has a large orthodox Jewish community. We saw many kosher markets, delis and restaurants on our stroll. I learned that starting in the 1970’s there was an influx of South Asians and Africans into the area. Japanese and Southeast Asian families have also migrated into the area over time.
I loved the buildings that lined the main street. Walking down the street reminded me of many of the neighborhoods I walked through as a child growing up in New York.
I was struck by the pace of the residents and visitors to the city. There was no sense of urgency in their gait just a nice slow, steady pace stopping here and there at various shops along their route.
We eventually decided to stop for a bite of lunch and proceeded to read menus posted on restaurant windows as we walked along.
We finally chose a small restaurant called The Imperial. The easy pace of the town was also evident in the restaurant. Our server approached quickly but sensed we wanted to take our time and have a conversation so, while keeping a watchful eye, left us in peace. And, as always we had a great time chatting away and enjoying each other’s company.
We finally ordered lunch and it was abundant and delicious. I ordered the Jacket Potato with several filings. I expected a plate with a potato in the center loaded with the fillings I had ordered. The dish presented to me was wonderful. My plate held a wonderfully large potato filled with large chunks of crisp, delicious bacon along with individual bowls of cheese and beans on the side and a wonderful salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and greens. My eyes were happy even before my stomach.
Randy ordered his favorite English food, Fish and Chips. His choice came with a side of mushy peas. Evidently, mushy peas are a traditional accompaniment to fish and chips. He loved the cod and chips but really did not like the mushy peas very much.
Sated, we left and continued our walk stopping here and there looking for refrigerator magnets for my daughter and her friend. We finally located the magnets and started making our way back to the hotel.
As we walked down Rodborough Road we passed lovely homes covered in beautiful vines and flowers. We returned to the hotel and retreated to our room for a short rest before starting our evening.
This evening was exciting for me as I would be seeing my nephew Steve for the first time after several years. I have very fond memories of Steve, his brother James and mom coming to visit our home in Virginia during the holiday; it was always such a delight.
Steve arrived at the hotel with his sweet dog Olga in tow. Evidently, he had walked to the hotel because his neighborhood was not very far away. When I asked how long it took him to walk, I smiled and said, “Let’s call a taxi”.
Steve and his partner Dave live in a beautiful section of West Hampstead. The flat is large and their backyard has a lovely patio area and garden.
This was our introduction to Dave so, we spent time just getting to know one another. I found Dave to be very engaging and enjoyed the encounter. We spent some time talking about their lives in England and sharing stories about our trip.
I mentioned to Steve that we would love to eat in a pub during our visit. Steve said there was a pub within walking distance and, off we went.
The Black Lion was a wonderful and intimate pub with a sidewalk café and a beautiful outside back patio. It was a bit chilly so we decided to stay inside.
Our server was a delight. The men could not decide what they wanted to drink although they all knew they wanted a beer. This lovely woman disappeared for a bit. She returned with a tray filled with nine glasses of three different beer/ales for the men to try. They each had three samples to try and what was amazing is that they all chose a different brew. Me, I ordered a bottle of sparkling water.
The menu was extensive and everything sounded delicious but, as many of my friends know, I love burgers. I ordered the Angus burger with smoked Applewood cheddar, hand cut chips, tomato and chili salsa. I added crisp bacon and voilà; a feast.
The evening passed quickly as we chatted about family, living in England, future travel plans and holiday travel plans.
What a lovely evening! It was wonderful to catch up with Steve, meet Dave and finally get to meet their dog, Olga.
We caught a taxi and returned to the hotel happy about our last day in England.
Tomorrow we head to Southhampton to board the Oasis of the Seas for our journey back to the states.