It’s not every day you get to go on an all-expenses paid trip to England. That is, of course, why they call it a once in a lifetime opportunity. You can imagine my over-the-moon excitement when I received the email offering me a round-trip plane ticket to London. When it came down to it, it was a business trip, and the work outweighed the play— but, nonetheless, England was calling.
So with a suitcase full of my winter best and my camera to document it all, I made my way across the pond.
We landed in Manchester, England and drove an hour and a half south to the tiny, charming town of Derby (pronounced dar-bee). Derby was exactly what I had envisioned when I thought of England. It was a rural city of rolling green hills, with the cutest downtown smack dab in the middle of it all. I’m talkin’ cobblestone roads, brick buildings, cozy ale houses, coffee shops that make you want to post up for hours with a good book and an even better cappuccino, and the kindest people with the best accents. Derby was a total dream.
In the off chance that you ever pay a visit to Derby, you absolutely have to go to these three places;
1) The Silk Mill Ale and Cider House, which is adjacent to the world’s oldest factory, is home of some pretty dang good beer and fries (or, chips, as they call them). The interior is so welcoming with fireplaces on either side of the room, candles adorning every nook and plush couches to lounge on. I don’t know if Queen Elizabeth drinks beer, but if she does, I’m thinkin’ she would like this place as much as I did.
2) If curry is your jam, Anoki is your place. I’m typically not big on Indian food, but the cheese and garlic naan and red curry was to die for. The atmosphere was a magical combo of the Sultan’s palace from Aladdin meets Bollywood. Need I say more?
3) And last, but certainly not least, Revolucion de Cuban was the bees-knees. We loved it so much, we went back three times in just two days. I don’t know how the tiny town of Derby pulled off such a poppin’ and festive restaurant and rum bar, but kudos to them.
After we wrapped up the business meetings and project planning, we took the train to London for the weekend. I don’t quite know how to explain London, other than some enchanted version of San Francisco. The charismatic energy of the town broke through the perpetual gloom and fog that encompassed it. We only had 24 hours in the city, but we tried our hardest to hit all of the essentials with a team effort from a double-decker bus and Uber. Despite our best efforts, we just couldn’t do it all. We made it to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, London Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The London Eye, Westminster Abbey and of course, Harrods (which is out of control).
My biggest regret was not visiting the infamous bar with a 360 view of London, The Shard. So if you’re planning a trip to London, check it out for me. Unfortunately when you’re on a timeline, you really have to prioritize the things you absolutely have to see. For me, that was Big Ben (because Peter Pan, duh).
I wish I had more time to explore this royal city, where the newspapers are still alive and the public transportation makes you want to rip your hair out. But at the end of the day, I am grateful to have another stamp in my passport.