This year, braving the elements was a common theme for our family trip. Rain, snow, hurricane-force winds, you name it, we saw it. Well, actually, not really, according to every local we met, each who said that this winter had been one of the mildest Europe’s had in years. There could’ve been a whole lot more rain in London, wind in Scotland, and snow in Norway, so apart from the damp toes and layers of California-thin jackets, we got off easy.
Peckham in south London was our home base throughout the trip, having vibrant streets that were loud with the sound of fish mongers and produce markets. The constant buzz is a welcome sight for many as Peckham, not so long ago, was a poorer neighborhood amongst its immensely wealthy counterparts nearby. Like any former rough and tumble neighborhood, the locals have been through a lot as a community and there is a general sense of hope in the air these days. When in Peckham, be sure to hit up Ganapati, an eclectic Indian spot, it’s a local favorite so getting in takes a bit of persistence. When the silver platters of naan and bubbling curries come out though, you’ll know the wait was worth every second. Another south London cafe that is worth visiting is Rosie’s Deli Cafe in Brixton. Earthy, fresh, bright food. They are known for their Scotch eggs but you must also get the hummus, feta and eggplant toasts. Finally, head over to Yogarise for a morning vinyasa that will melt your London chills away.
Next up was York, a quaint town with an old England feel. Despite being fairly early in the trip, we had already consumed our fair share of bangers and mash so we were delighted to find El Piano, a colorful, vegan spot right in the heart of the shopping center. It was much needed organic cleanse to keep us going. From York, we caught the train to Edinburgh, an impossibly charming city where medieval history meets the modernity of H&M and Uber. A must do in Edinburgh is Arthur’s Seat, a short hike to a crag overlooking the entire area. We crawled on all fours to the summit because the wind was so strong it could have flung a grown Scotsman from the top. We then headed to Cafe Marlayne on Thistle St. for a warm, wine-filled meal. It’s a one room restaurant decked out in tropical wall paper, normally a sure sign that there will be an overly sweet Mai Tai on the menu, but not here. It feels more like you’re sitting in a friend’s cozy living room. Beautiful, delicious food.
The last leg of the journey was Oslo, Norway, which was a location many gawked at when we said we were going over New Years. “You are going to freeze,” was a common response we received. We packed our one check-on bag to the brink of explosion, and we were off. Layering on the scarves and overcoats, we often found ourselves with very little elbow flexibility but warm hands. We met up with some family friends who were incredibly hospitable tour guides, taking us to Holmenkollen, the majestic ski jump in the sky and Frogner Park, a beautiful urban park filled with the work of the prolific artist Gustav Vigeland. We even had a homemade, Norwegian Christmas dinner. Meaty and delicious. The city is a mix of history, industry, and street art. Creativity is woven throughout the city, including Mathallen, a massive food market cooking up cuisines from around the world, multiple micro breweries and the majestic Oslo Opera House. If you spend all day outside, you will get chilled so head over to Fuglen for an afternoon coffee or cocktail.
In my opinion winter is a magical time to visit this part of the world. Nothing warms the Arctic chill like a steaming cup of mulled wine and a good pub lunch.
Ganapati in Peckham, London
Blanchette in SOHO, London
Dishoom in Shoreditch, London
Regency Cafe in Pimlico, London
High Tea at the Brown’s Hotel
Perky Peacock in York
El Piano in York
Cafe Marylane Edinburgh
Mathallen in Oslo
Fuglen in Oslo
Music Credit: Dustin Tebbutt