Diva-Worthy London Tips!

Dear Diva,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>I town.html” target=”_blank”>read on your blog that you are off to London with your nephew! It sounds like you’ve already done a lot of booking for your upcoming trip but as I used to live there I wanted to give you some tips!

As you’ll be with your nephew, I think a great thing to do in London is Madame Tussaud’s. It is very popular and though the lines outside are crazy long, you can avoid standing in the queue by buying the fast-track tickets. They are usually a bit more expensive but it is worth it. Same goes for the tower+of+london&WT.mc_id=ppc013&WT.campaign=1035&WT.mc_ev=click&aid=146&WT.content=text&afp=ppc013&WT.source=google&cshift_ck=686894050cs501604715&WT.srch=1″ target=”_blank”>Tower of London – I hope they still do the fast-tracking there! You will still be with everybody else in the Crown Jewel room but at least you saved the hassle of queuing to get into the Tower grounds!

The London Eye is just magnificent and I enjoyed it especially by night when you can see all the lights of London. They now do a “champagne flight” – perhaps that is not too “teenager friendly” but worth noting for another time when you & WG are in the city sans nephew!

You’ll love the walking tour in the area of town.com/LondonInformation/Entertainment/Shakespeares_Globe/8f9c/” target=”_blank”>Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre! In fact, when we first moved to London we lived not far from the Globe. Speaking of this area – if you want to enjoy the pub experience try The George Inn on Borough High Street south of London Bridge. The George is one of the oldest pubs in London and was used as a stage for the Shakespeare Company, but be forewarned – it does get a bit crowed at times because it is so popular.

Another thing in this area that your nephew might enjoy (and if you are up to some horror) is the ‘London Dungeon‘ – it’s quite scary and nothing for the faint-hearted. There is also the HMS Belfast mooring on the south side of the Thames if you are interested in ships (and war). From there you could walk along Southbank, cross towerbridge.org.uk/TowerBridge/English” target=”_blank”>Tower Bridge and visit the Tower of London. Makes a perfect afternoon!

The Horse Guard is another London sight which I enjoyed. And of course my favorite building in London is The Parliament building. Also, you must do St. Paul’s Cathedral – climb up all the stairs (approx. 400!) but the views from there are mind blowing!

If you want to see lots of London in a short time the red double decker buses are great. It is a hop-on-hop-off tour and it stops at all interesting sights. That’s what I did first thing when arriving in London.

For lunch you should have the famous fish and chips. I only know two very good pubs in Greenwich which is a little bit far to travel from central London just for lunch. Anyway the names are ‘The Trafalgar‘ and ‘The Yacht‘. They are both facing the Thames but the Yacht is hidden in the side street behind The Trafalgar. They are both popular and you will find someone who can give directions. Also Greenwich is great for the Observatory and the Maritime Museum. Unfortunately the Cutty Sark was burned down and it is being renovated right now, so you can’t see it.

Another nice place for lunch right in the city is the ‘Coq d’argent‘. It is one of the very few restaurants in London City where you can sit outside on a roof terrace. It is a small place and you need to make a reservation. I know you & your husband’s taste in food – you’d love this place!

Now, for dinner there are several diva-worthy choices:
1. The OXO Tower – it has wonderful views, delicious food. The downside is that it is expensive and hard to get in.
2. Another obvious recommendation for The Diva is The Ivy. Again, it is quite expensive and hard to get a table on the weekend. It’s close to Covent Garden
3. Remember me mentioning Coq d’argent above? Well, it is a Conran restro of the Sir Terence Conran restaurants. A few other Conran restaurants to consider are The Orrerys and Butler’s Wharf Chop House. And for a nice glass of champagne in the city try the Royal Exchange – it’s be
4. The Vinopolis Restaurant (Southwark/Borough) is just great for wine lovers. You could do a tour around the world of wines (tasting included) and then have dinner there – just delicious! In the UK the legal drinking age is 18, so your 16 year old nephew isn’t quite old enough to enjoy this yet!
5. The Winewarf (belongs to the Vinopolis) is great for nibbles and Champagne/wine before dinner. Your husband, The Wine Guy, would love it.
6. The Roast (Southwark/Borough) is located on top of the Borough Food Market building and is great. Borough Organic food market is every Friday and Saturday and we just lived around the corner and had Saturday breakfast on the market! I miss London!
7. Champor Champor (Southwark/Borough) is a very small place behind Guy’s hospital with a variety of Asian dishes and a beautiful setting, and sometimes offers quite unusual dishes.
8. For a real British experience Rules Restaurant, close to Covent Garden, is a must. They have their own hunting grounds in Scotland and Wales and this is the place to go for good and tasty game dishes!
9. Are you fish eaters? I can’t remember! If so, for fish, try FISH! behind Borough Food Market.
10. Most of the Italian restaurants are really good in London, you don’t have to go to one of the big names like Giorgio Locatelli and Carluccio’s — although I must confess, they are nice though!
11. Try going to one of the restaurants owned by the big chef names like Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White or Markus Waehringall. They all have one or more restaurants in London, but making a reservation is a must! These are places to spend your entire evening – simply eating and enjoying the ambiance.

There are so so many restaurants in London and I am sure I forgot half of my favorites as I just have too many favorites to list!

Now, forget your nephew for a moment and make sure to go shopping for yourself!! Buy yourself a lovely hat as this can’t be done anywhere else other than London. tore/?cm_mmc=tbg-_-ppc-_-google-_-harrods+london” target=”_blank”>Harrod’s is a good address naturally, but if you want to be cost efficient go to Selfrigdes, (you could buy two or more there for the price of Harrods!). Try Debenham’s and Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street.

If you fancy a real English Tea, The Ritz does it nicely, but again it is quite expensive. You could also consider tea at Fortnum & Mason. They are nice for buying tea and British delicacies. Harrod’s has beautiful food halls where you can also have a delicious lunch.

I am sure I could just go on and on and on but I have to run now! I hope the above information will be helpful! Not too many tips for a 16-year old as I never had this experience! But the Musical night is great and I am sure he will enjoy it. I can’t wait to hear all about your trip!

Give my regards to WG! Lots of Love and a Big Hug,

The Gourmet Goddess

Jewels of Geneva

top:5px;float:left;color:white;background:#781300;border:1px solid darkkhaki;font-size:100px;line-height:90px;padding-top:1px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Thursday night, my friend Ms. Holland invited The Belgian Beauty & me to join her for the Jewels of Geneva cocktail party at Sotheby’s in Amsterdam where we practically bathed in Veuve Clicquot while dripping ourselves in hundreds of thousands of euros worth of jewels. Only a part of the noble collection was brought to Amsterdam but what was there made me swoon with desire and had me salivating for the day the auction catalog is mailed out. The actual sale will be May 15, 2008 but in the meantime these magnificent jewels will tour Sotheby’s, generating interest amongst private buyers and collectors.

Not that much publicity need be done….the Sotheby’s Geneva sale, though always very well known as the premier jewelry auction in the world, has been in the forefront of peoples minds since the spectacular 2007 sell. The highlight of which was a stone acquired by Georges Marciano, founder of Guess? jeans, who paid $16,189,769 — the second highest price for a diamond at auction! With a price of $191,980 per carat, Marciano paid the highest price per carat ever paid for a white diamond at auction. Of course this wasn’t just any diamond — this was the largest, purest white flawless brilliant-cut diamond ever offered at auction. When buying a diamond such as this, you are immediately offered the opportunity to “name the diamond”. Marciano immediately exercised his right, bequeathing it forevermore as the “Chloe Diamond“, after his daughter.

Another historically important piece, an topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/duchess_of_windsor/index.html?query=JEWELS%20AND%20JEWELRY&field=des&match=exact” target=”_blank”>emerald & diamond bracelet, sold for 1,141,000CHF (1.1 M euros) against an estimate of 720,000 – 850,000 CHF in 2007. This bracelet wasn’t just any bauble. It was a Christmas gift to the Duchess of Windsor in 1935 from Edward, then Prince of Wales. The last time this piece had been seen at auction was in 1987 when Sotheby’s sold it as part of the Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor sale and it fetched 3X less than the price it sold for this May. Talk about a wise investment!

All this to say, Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels of Geneva are hot – and in high demand. Upon being invited to this cocktail party, I was ecstatic and immediately put on my best dress for trying on jewels — a black wrap-around number with a plunging neckline. I bought the dress a year ago for a dime to wear while modeling an over-the-top Rodrigo Otazu necklace for the IWC charity auction in benefit of the Make-a-Wish foundation and Liliane Fond. Perhaps one of the best parts of the Sotheby’s sale is that you can actually try on these jewels. While indeed the nobler pieces were well beyond my wildest dreams, there were a few more accessible pieces (though admittedly still well out of reach for my personal budget). I fell head over heels in love with a Cartier Art Deco platinum seed pearl and 6 carat diamond pendant necklace estimated at 20,000 Euros… although I fear I fell for the piece that every other lady in the room was also drooling over and given the stiff competition I think this piece, in spite of it’s lack of provenance, will exceed it’s estimate. It clearly stole the show!

I’d love to tell you more about the pieces on offer at this show, however I fear I might have had one glass of champagne too many. Though I tried on a giant cultured pearl with floral petal surround, I can’t seem to remember it’s estimate at all. And the details of the emerald & diamond cuff bracelet which enchanted me so have all but fallen from my memory. Never fear, though, I’m on the mailing list to receive the catalog and will update you on the details of my 3 favorite pieces once I get the information in writing. In the meantime, I’m off for another glass of bubbly for it seems I’m dashing from one glamorous party to the next this April. Stay tuned for the delicious details of the upcoming day at AF’sH – Art & Antiques Fair ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Until next time, TTFN.

The Antiques Diva™