London 2023: more museums & playgrounds, Portobello Road and shopping!

This is part three in a four-part series about our recent trip to London. You can read part one and part two.

Andrew was back to work the following day, so Maelle and I went BACK to the Natural History Museum! We love it there. This time, we learned about volcanoes and earthquakes.

Interestingly enough, we’ve now been to this museum FOUR times (in two years) and have basically seen these same two sections: dinosaurs and earthquakes and volcanoes. We simply must branch out and see some of the myriad OTHER sections of the museum next time we’re in town.

Afterward, we walked up to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, which is in Kensington Gardens. We never visited last year, and I wish we had. It’s wonderful! It’s fenced in, has a snack bar and good bathrooms, and features multiple play spaces, including a giant wooden ship. You can just barely see Maelle (in pink) climbing to the crow’s nest in the photo below:

In another section, a father was blowing bubbles for the kids to chase, which they all thought was great fun.

That night, for dinner, we hit up Chinatown! It’s just off Leicester Square and was very festive with the red lanterns and street performers. We arrived at dinner just in time–there was a line down the block by the time we left! We loved Viet Food, and would definitely go back on a future visit. Maelle loved that we sat at small stools at a low(ish) table–just her size! We caught a street performer on our way out.

The next day was Saturday, and we went to the Portobello Road market, which we did last year and enjoyed. (Thankfully, knowing what to expect helped me with this ‘sensory overload’ experience, but Andrew’s walking away to peruse the wares solo did not.)

Early on in our visit, after I mentioned I was thinking of getting a ‘London’ baseball cap as a souvenir, Andrew quickly steered me toward a felted wool ‘fedora-type’ hat. I was seriously skeptical, but decided to give one a try. We both loved it, and I wore it multiple times after that. It must have made me stand out, as a ‘hen party’ (bachelorette) grabbed me shortly after to place a ‘hot mama’ sash around me! They explained that they were on a scavenger hunt and saw me with the stroller. Ha! I will admit, in the moment, it certainly made my day, as the crowds were starting to get to me and Andrew was taking WAY TOO LONG to pick our a few tiny metal army men figures from an antique seller.

This year, I chose Iraqi food, Andrew chose the EXACT SAME Venezuelan stand, and we got Maelle paella. I absolutely LOVE seeing people cook paella in those giant pans, and I love that it’s all over Europe!

After we finished up at the market, we made our way to Soho to walk around. Maelle played on that very rainbow last year!

While in Soho, we stopped at Liberty. What began as a chance for me to browse the beautiful scarves ended with me taking our kiddo for a (very) prolonged bathroom break, and Andrew getting a very nice (and very spendy) shirt. C’est la vie.

We explored the Seven Dials neighborhood as well. It was great weather, we enjoyed window shopping, and Maelle and I even got matching ‘mommy and me’ teal shoes from Superga (to be featured in the following post). After the busyness of the market and Soho being more crowded than we anticipated, we ended our night with an easy dinner at Nando’s.

The following morning was the London marathon! Thankfully, we realized it in time to adjust our plans, as we’d anticipated spending that Sunday in the Docklands, which is where a large portion of the course is. We were able to see the elites run by before popping into a nearby museum, and then stopped to see more runners afterward. Andrew was so inspired, he signed up for the London Marathon lottery for next year! Our fingers are crossed he gets in–what a fun thing for our family to do this coming year: help Daddy train for a marathon and then another guaranteed trip across the pond!

We saw the Courtauld Gallery , which has excellent impressionist art on the 3rd floor (my favorite!) and even an animal scavenger hunt for kids.

Afterward, we walked along the marathon route to the Blackfriars Pub, which is one of Andrew’s favorites. I’m pretty sure my mom took me there once, too. Maelle and I shared the mac and cheese!

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