Tag Archives: UK

Rounding out my two-month adventure was a weekend with dear friends in the marvelously medieval Edinburgh, capital of Scotland.

I opted for an East Coast Rail train from London. It should have been a pleasant, four-and-a-half-hour journey northward along the eastern coast. Unfortunately, in classically British fashion, the train broke down moments after leaving Kings Cross. (Had I not had the pleasure of efficient, fully-functioning trains in Spain, France, Ireland and, to a certain extent, even Morocco, I might have been more forgiving of this mechanical malfunction!) An hour and a new train later, however, I (and a car full of screaming children) were on our way out of London.

Thankfully, my time in Edinburgh was otherwise worry-free and altogether delightful.

Aside from the usual things one does with old friends (wine, dine, reconnect, reminisce), we took in the curious Jupiter Artland on the outskirts of town. A sizeable outdoor sculpture garden, it afforded us the opportunity for some air and culture at the same time. (Always a great combination.) While it obviously fell short of the splendours on offer at the Gardens of Versailles, it was a lovely little place all the same.

Also, worth noting: Edinburgh Castle. I’d had the opportunity to visit this spectacular site when I last visited the city in 2004. Unsurprisingly, little had changed; it was still the same, imposing grey fortress overlooking the city that it was six years ago.

The return train journey to London was, to be fair, much more pleasant than the journey up. Even if the train had malfunctioned, however, I suspect my recollection of the trip would have still been quite positive: I was travelling with two very good friends, both of whom had joined me in Edinburgh that weekend.

During our trip, we reflected on the weekend that had just been and concluded it was splendid. We’d spent it together at the home of our dear friend and, despite the rain and altogether dreary weather, were thrilled to have had the chance to make the trip.

For me, of course, the weekend in Edinburgh proved bittersweet: it was, after all, the final leg of a summer adventure that had begun in Barcelona nearly two months prior, taken me southward along the Spanish coast, across Morocco, to Paris, then London, westward across Ireland, back to London, before finally arriving in Edinburgh.

All in all, it was a remarkable ride; one I’m so very thankful to have taken. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend the summer!


After almost a week in the Emerald Isle, I returned to London, my friends’ lovely flat, and a readily-accessible laundry machine.

Like before, tourism wasn’t at the top of my agenda. No, again, I spent my time relaxing, recharging and reading. However, I did manage to squeeze in a few museums — and why not, since London has so many.

Top of my list: Sir John Soane’s Museum. What a gem! If you ever find yourself in London, I highly recommend this eclectic little number. You won’t be disappointed.

Also on tap: Tate Britain. (I figured, since I’d been to Tate Modern during my last stint in London, I ought to round out my tour of Tate with the one that started it all.)

Other than that, as before, I did precious little and was happy for it. Even better: by week’s end, I was ready for the final leg of my two-month adventure: Edinburgh.

After five glorious days in Paris, I bid adieu to the city and headed westward across the English Channel towards London (by way of the Channel Tunnel!).

Truth be told, I was saddened to be leaving Paris. I’d loved the city so much, and felt I’d only just begun to discover the place. Still, other destinations were calling and I had to press on.

Once arriving at the beautifully restored and renovated St. Pancras International, I made my way to friends’ house in Westminster, which is where I resided for about a week. Doing so allowed me to catch my breath, rest up and do some much needed laundry before the next leg of my adventure: Ireland.

Whilst in London, I did very little in the way of classically touristy things since I’d been to the city so many times before. I did, however, pay a visit to the Tate Modern, which is always a treat; I also discovered the National Portrait Gallery, which I absolutely loved.

Otherwise, it was a quiet week in London, which, when one is trying to navigate the crowds on the hot, sweaty, cramped Tube, seems like a near impossibility. I managed… thanks to the extraordinary generosity of friends.

If I ever found myself sitting on Death Row (an impossible scenario, I assure you), my last meal would be, without hesitation or second-thought, pizza.

I love everything about it: the bread, the sauce, the cheese, the inevitable guilt.

I know most people would probably opt for lobster, prime rib, or insert-pricey-/-obscure-dish were they similarly faced with the choice of eating one final time; not me.

That’s not to say I don’t like those other, more refined culinary selections; on the contrary, I haven’t met a pricey/obscure dish I didn’t like.  (My one pretension, I suppose.)  But were I faced with the unpleasant task of selecting my final supper, I’d opt for the humble pie.  (No pun intended.)

Thankfully, because I really can’t see a scenario wherein I’ll be on Death Row, appeals exhausted, asked to choose my final meal, I’m free to indulge my pizza craving early and often.  And I did so twice this past week, both with very satisfying results.

First up: Tony’s Master of Pizza.

The place has been around forever.  Yet, I’d never even considered it until Thursday night, when I was at a friend’s house for the evening.  We’d both previously lived and worked in Ottawa together, and had frequently enabled each other’s pizza addiction.  As such, it was only logical that, faced with the prospect of nothing in the fridge worth eating, we’d make the call.

On his advice, we rang up Tony’s – and am I glad we did: it was a revelation.  The crust was thin, crispy, with just the slightest bit of chewiness; the cheese was hot and melty-good; the toppings (ham, pineapple and bacon) fresh and generously scattered about.

It didn’t last long.  True to form, we polished it off quickly.

Which brings me to the second round: Saturday night at Pizzeria Gusto.

It’s a new-ish place on Academy Road in Winnipeg’s River Heights neighbourhood; an upscale place where the wood-fired oven takes centre stage.  (It reminded me of the UK’s Pizza Express, which, while a chain, delivers top-notch pizza.  So you know.)

All of their pizzas come in one, uniform size.  Wood-fired to perfection, they are served with your very own pizza slicer.  (Which, admittedly, I could do without.)  While I can’t remember the fancy name of my pizza, it featured capicolo, roasted red peppers, pepperoni and hunks of fresh, buffalo mozzarella.  It too was delicious.

I recognize pizza may not be gourmet fare, nor is it the most heart-healthy dish on the planet.  Still, this heart loves it.