It was Saturday evening when we arrived at Regency Hotel (Doubletree by Hilton) in South Kensington. We banged our suitcases on the floor and went for something to eat. Our first choice was Franco Manca for a quick tasty bite, not far from where we stayed. Pizza and Italian wine safe zone. It was Halloween and everyone in that little restaurant was dressed up to the occasion.
Sunny Sunday at Buckingham Palace. After a long walk we rested in the Green Park’s chaises longues. It was noon when we arrived at the World Travel Market (WTM). Final preparations and arrangements for our participation in the trade show. We set up our booth and went through our print material. Our mission: Promotion of Crete as a Tourist Destination. All seems well taken care of which allows us – after 3-4 hours – to be dismissed, take a rest and go for an early dinner to Thai Square, a small restaurant, part of a famous Thai chain, right opposite South Kensington’s tube station. If you ever find yourself there, don’t forget to order Pork with Ginger, Steamed Thai Jasmine Rice, Mixed Vegetables with Garlic and Soya Sauceand Tom Yum Goong soup. Our sweet tooth took us to Le Pain Quotidian, where we indulged in a lemon pie, chocolate tart and green tea.
Early start on Monday morning. We set out at 7 for the trade show. Big crowd. The most beautiful booth among the Greek entries was naturally ours! And the most popular too. No matter how many times they refilled the trays with Cretan delicacies, they came up empty! A non-stop flow of people consisting of hoteliers from Crete, tour operators, journalists and staff from other booths made our first day a success.
Happiness charged us with so much energy that after 7 in the evening, despite our exhaustion, instead of going back to the hotel we set out to explore Coven Garden. After the compulsory window shopping, we booked a table at Big Easy Bar.B.Q & Crabshack. An authentic American diner with huge wooden tables, a young crowd, loud music and unbelievably big portions. Our choice was Lobster Bake, Big Easy Smokehouse Burger & Fries and Coleslaw. And of course beer! We finished our dinner with a cigar outside the restaurant. Cigar in one hand beer in the other.
Second day of the show. We were hugely successful and equally hugely knackered. A member of the team had a bit of luck: She was put in charge of guiding a client to the British Museum. The team reunited for dinner at Notting Hill, at Jamie Oliver’s Recipease. A big hall with Jamie products and big kitchen tops where one can cook for one’s friends. No, we didn’t. We rather sat and ordered burger, carbonara and chicken kebab & couscous.
Third day. Dinner for journalists and bloggers outside the trade show and a quick walk down Oxford Street in order to admire the Christmas decorations and get some photos. We chose for them The Life Goddess at Kingly Court. A small Greek restaurant, in the heart of London, with Cretan products and high quality cuisine, signed by a Cretan chef. We promoted Crete as tourist destination and held a competition where one lucky person won a week’s stay in the magical island. The planning and staging by our London partners were truly great.
We decided to carry on into the night and try the Jamaican cuisine under Bob Marley’s music at The Rum Kitchen, in Soho. We tasted Jerk Fried Chicken, Island Spice Baby Squid και Sweet Potato Fries. Next stop the Red Lion for malt whisky and the familiar cigar.
No matter how many times you visit London it’s never enough. Even when it’s all about business.
Fourth and last day of the trade show. Finished quicker than expected, we defied the English weather – rain and wind – and went for shopping at Regent Street. We dined at what is probably one of the best Japanese restaurants in London today. Yashin Ocean House, very close to our hotel, gave us our last taste of London: Miso Cappuccino, Tempura Paradise Prawns, Vegetarian Sushi and Omakase Sushi, Yashin Roll Sukiyaki with Red Ginger, and needless to say… sake! London bid us a very tasty goodbye. Well, dear reader, we promised ourselves to return as soon as possible. Because it’s a fact. One visit to London is never enough.