Christmas in London

I’m finally on Christmas break!

Today is supposed to be the first day of Paris Marathon training (16 weeks out) but my left IT-band is still painful. I am still seeing a physical therapist, and found a very, very basic marathon training plan that I might attempt to start, but am feeling rather pessimistic that it is actually going to happen. So instead of talking about that, I’m going to share the happy things that have been going on lately – like all of the festive Christmas things I’ve been doing in London!

On Thursday, our last day of class, we had a party with festive donuts and mince pies, and then some of us headed to a pub…as one does, in England.

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In most places in Europe (and maybe all over the world?) you can stand outside a bar or pub and drink, which is nice when the weather is mild. It was warm enough to stand outside but cold enough for mulled wine – the perfect temperature. img_3019

On Friday, I finally tried the famous crêpe stand in my neighborhood. It’s been around for over 35 years and always has a long line (or, in British, a long queue) outside. But I was able to snag one for lunch on Friday without waiting for too long – I went all-out and got one with mushroom, ham, and cheese, with tarragon and garlic. Yummmm.

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That evening, I checked something else off my Christmas in London list: ice skating!

The tickets for Somerset House were sold out, so we picked the next best option: the Natural History Museum.

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In retrospect, skating probably was not the best decision for my IT-band. It was a very small rink and we skated in very small circles for almost an hour in one direction. But it sure was fun!

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Skating in front of the Natural History Museum

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A video posted by Gabrielle (@marathonsandmacarons) on

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After that, we made our way to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, a big amusement park/Christmas market. There were rides and food and gift stands, as well as Christmas Haunted Houses (hmm…) and carnival games. My favorite, although we didn’t go inside, were two Carousel Bars, which is just what it sounds like: slowly rotating bars on a carousel foundation!

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Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

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Selfridge & Co.

Although it’s been pretty warm (in the high 40s), the weather has been rather foggy and gloomy lately. Here was the view from my flat on Saturday morning – usually I can see all the way down to the Thames, with the entire city skyline in view:

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On Saturday night I had drinks with my friend Madoc, from New York! He’s from London and is home visiting his family for the holidays. He took me to a cozy pub called The Cittie of Yorke, where some drunk people in full medieval garb turned up at one point in the evening. Never a dull moment in London!

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On Sunday, I visited Kensington Palace in Hyde Park. We had seen ads that Kensington Palace, where Queen Victoria grew up, was decorated for a Victorian Christmas. In reality, the decorations were pretty minimal, so I was a little disappointed, but it was still something I needed to check off my London list, so I was happy we visited.

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A statue of Queen Victoria at the entrance to Kensington Palace

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Royal toilets

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Christmas trees lining the walk up to Kensington Palace

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Decorating a Victorian Christmas Tree

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Posing for our Victorian Christmas Tree portrait

My parents arrived today, so there are still more London Christmas adventures to come!

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