..from an absolutely wonderful holiday! So, where did we go? Well, eastwards we did fly with a first stop in Montreal, where we spent most of our time with family as well as in our hotel's very lovely outdoor swimming pool (the weather was hot and humid so the swimming pool was absolutely the best place to be!).
As you can gather from my photos below, we didn't stop at Montreal... 'Hopped back on an eastbound plane which took us all the way to, yes... London! Excited I was, because for quite a while now, I've been wanting to visit London again - last time there was in the sad August of 1997 when Princess Diana died...
With 10 days in London (more time than I've ever spent in London!) we were able to explore many of its great sites (the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey being family favorites), but we also had time to hit our kid's favorite candy store (a perfectly-appointed charming little shop near Covent Garden, I might add...) more than once,
...as well as my very favorite "candy store" more than once:
Despite having seen CK products here and there at local indie retailers, CK catalogs and lots of photos of her shops, the first time I walked into a CK shop (the Portobello Road one), I truly felt like a little kid in a candy store... all weak-kneed, gushy (probably drooling), not knowing what to grab first! I ended up going to a few CK stores and I found all of them, all be it a little different, so prettily arranged with the loveliest and freshest assortment of goodies... a definite high point of my holiday! (I'll show you my CK loot in my next post...)
Along with three of my children, I took the tube to Camden Town to take a peek at Loop. My kids had no idea that checking out Loop was my ultimate mission in this little trek up north, ( they would have never wanted to come with me if I told them that the goal was to find a yarn shop!), so when we did finally find it down a very quaint alley, I exclaimed: "Oh look, is that a yarn shop?! -- I'll just go in to take a quick look..."
As you may gather from the photos, Loop has a very sweet look to it, with a second floor decorated with lovely vintage chairs and sofas, making it a perfect cozy spot to browse through their yummy collection of yarn and books... ah, if I just had a little bit more time!
We stayed at a modest but very clean and friendly apartment-hotel in Notting Hill, a stone's throw away from world-renowned Portobello Market which is held every Saturday. We spent our first day in London at the market which I have to admit might not have been the best of ideas, since we were all very jet-lagged and comatose due to lack of sleep and the market was insanely, and I mean INSANELY, busy!!... One could only walk at a snail's pace, elbow to elbow with the crowds -- altogether not the best of market experiences for me and definitely a very excruciating experience for the children! I did however go back to Portobello Road when the market was not on and was charmed by the street and the shops:
Sigh!... how very lovely! And for more sheer loveliness, take a look at what hangs in the lobby of the V & A museum (my favorite museum in London):
Being a lover of flowers, I cannot speak of English loveliness without mention of flowers. So here goes... breathtaking views at Kew Gardens,
...and Hampton Court,
While stories of Henry VIII may take center stage within the castle walls at Hampton Court, the roses are without doubt the queens of the castle grounds; I couldn't help but linger in the walled rose garden because it being a warm and sunny day, the scent in the garden was absolutely intoxicating!
Eastwards to where? Well, a quick 2 hours on the Eurostar brought us to Brussels where we stayed in the most wonderful attic apartment with this incredible view of the old town of Brussels:
I spent most of our time in Brussels being mesmerized by the facades in the old town around la Grand-Place -- take a look:
However, we also found time for a few of our favorite Belgian things:
Belgian chocolates and comics -- most important when traveling with kids! Our next stop was Bruges, so romantic and peaceful in all its medieval splendor... take a quick peek:
...and even more romance here,
As we only spent a day in Bruges, I would love to come back and stay longer; this time with a good guidebook in hand and in the autumn because I have a feeling that the sense of romance here is even more poignant during this season! ... Before leaving Bruges, I have to show you something I spotted on one of the canals:
It looked like someone's studio on a canal.. Can you only imagine?! Our last stop was Amsterdam and since this post is getting awfully long, I'll keep it brief... Amsterdam was a big hit with everyone as soon as we rented some bikes and got to cycle along its delightful canals!
While visits to the Riijskmuseum and the Van Gogh museum were definite highlights of my stay in Amsterdam, I have to tell you that I had the most fun on the last day of our trip when I went to Lapjesmarkt, the fabulous fabric market in the Jordaan which is held every Monday. Need I say more?!...
I will show you all the goodies I bought at this market as well as elsewhere throughout this trip in my next post. I hope you've enjoyed this post about our holiday -- I certainly enjoyed sharing it with you because it made me realize how truly amazing our holiday really was!