Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stylish and serene London!

On my recent trip to London, while I was in the English countryside -which is so beautiful in Spring, with never ending fields of tiny yellow flowers- I probably saw hundreds of sheep and coal-black young stallions..And centenary buildings...and palaces...and castles...and so much greenery and pieces of History...that taking a deep breath I suddenly realized...this was very good for the soul!

Traveling puts us in the right pespective and makes us see people and things in just the right way. And in England I have always been impacted by the reality of this thought. On this trip it was proven, one more time, the immense value of being polite, corteous, and loving and respecting traditions, the way the English do.

This sense of serenity and respect makes life easier and more harmonious. And since the very first time I visited London in 1969 (I saw the Moon landing there when I was single and very young!)- the city and its way of life, which has not changed in its core, have 'calmed me down', tamed my rebellious Cuban temperament --and brought the best in me.

On this trip I flew British Airways, probably the best consistently perfect airline in the world, sleeping like a baby on its Business Class flat beds (they elegantly call it Club Class). Later in London, I was pampered beautifully at the grand and recently refurbished The Langham hotel, which is just steps away from the heart of everything and had the most amazing staff --and a subtle and yummy fragrance piped through the air conditioniong system that welcomed us with enchantment every time we stepped into the hotel. I ate like the Queen (better, because she does not get to know these amazing restaurants!) at trendy and delicious places like Asia de Cuba, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Nobu Berkeley ST and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. All different cuisines and all a-ama-zing.

I had Afternoon Tea at the lovely Palm Court at the gorgeous Ritz Hotel (a 'must' experience to understand the serene harmony of what England is)...I went to a wonderful candlelight Vivaldi and Bach barroque concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields...I took a bus tour and visited medieval Warwick Castle, the town of Straford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born and is a beautiful place and then we went on to Oxford, which amazed me with its centenary buildings and the dining hall and church of Christ Church, where Harry Potter was filmed...

Like a simple tourist, I also took a 'bus' tour of the city I know so well, under spurts of rain and sun, marveling one more time at the Tower Bridge, the London Eye, the Big Ben, and all the old and new landmarks....And I was so very happy walking around stylish and sober Mayfair, checking out the old places, the stores and the elegant red brick buildings I have known forever, including the jewel that is the gorgeous art deco bathroom at Claridge's.

The end of the trip was also amazing with a stay at Cliveden -the old stately home owned by the Astors and turned luxurious hotel, where I was assigned the Lord Astor suite, just next door to Lady Astor's amazing bedroom --and was in awe of the place and the atmosphere around me. The parterre gardens, the champagne trip on Nancy Astor's boat in the Thames, dinner at The Terrace, tea at the Wedgewood Salon where the Cliveden set used to play cards...This 'taste' of this lost world was also so very good for the soul!

I was lucky to have shared this trip with my childhood friend and colleague Eva Leivas-Andino, who -like me- also dreamt of marrying an English Lord when we were 13 and in school in Cuba -- and who loves these same things. She lives in Miami and flew to London to take part of this exquisite adventure. Thank you Eva for your company and enthusiasm.

Of course, now I am back home in New York --and suddenly can see the differences between America and Europe. And my feeling is that is mainly a matter of character. Of a deeper education. Of culture. And -above all- of being able to enjoy the subtle things of life.
I like both, but I must confess that I already miss England's politeness and respect. It was lovely and so absolutely brilliant!