I recently spent a weekend in London. It was a wonderful 4 day weekend. Instead of a usual travel log, I wanted to make a list of the best and the worst parts of the experiences we had in London.
On the lower end of the scale, I’d have to begin by saying that we opted to go to London during one of the busiest weekends. Not only was it a long weekend with a Bank holiday and the Chelsea flower show but a big soccer finale between two German teams was being played there the night we arrived. Our prior accommodation plans fell through due to a communication failure and we were left wandering from hotel to hotel to hostel in the dimming daylight as we were repeatedly met with ‘No vacancies’. Our ounce of good luck meant that we found the last two available beds in a 4 bed hostel dorm. I felt utterly relieved for the first time in the hours since we had arrived, knowing that we would have a roof over our heads for the night.
Upon entering the room and encountering one of my phobias (cockroaches!) that relief dissipated rather quickly. The hostel was so bad! I have seen some awful hostels but nothing compared to this particular one. My boyfriend even told me the next morning that he would write a guest post on the horror of the hostel! I’m looking forward to reading that.
Apart from this one day wasted, the rest of the trip was awesome.
meeting up with an amazing friend after almost two years was a huge highlight. Lilia was a great host and the three of us hired Barclays bikes and cycled around Hyde park, Buckingham palace, and Trafalgar square. It was a much nicer way to see London than the usual bus, walking or tubing to each location, and speeding down the Mall on a bike was a thrill.
As an homage to our countless evenings spent together eating Jaeyuk in Seoul, Lilia and I ordered a few of our favourite dishes in a great little Korean restaurant and the three of us demolished them.
We had coffee in the afternoon sun at Somerset house courtyard.
Our personality colour was determined by the genius reader at the M&M building at Trafalgar square. All three of us found our colours to be pretty accurate.
Walking down Brick Lane was a fun experience that I wanted D to have. Lilia was the right person to accompany us through gauntlet of ‘Come into my restaurant, I’ll make a deal for you!’
She unwaveringly responded to their introductions with ‘Ok, what’s your deal?’ at almost every doorstep, while D and I shied away from the pushy proposals. One guy made the mistake of asking Lilia outright ‘What do you want?’ to which she responded brazenly ‘I want everything for a fiver!’ The reaction of this guy was classic. He quickly shooed us away from his restaurant, shocked at the audacity of her suggestion.
The curry as to be expected was sub standard but the experience was fun. Another highlight was seeing Wicked again. I saw it previously during my 2010 trip to London. I think I could see this show again and again it is so engaging and fantastical.
Walking through London in the warm sunshine and looking at the buildings of Parliament, and the London eye from the bridge was fantastic.
The food was so good. We were told repeatedly by our friends in London that we wouldn't find a scone inside London and these delicious baked goods were only to be found in the little towns and cities outside of the city. They were wrong! We accidentally stumbled across a great bakery on our last afternoon in London after deciding against standing in line in the rain for the Natural history museum. The place is called Gail's and it is at South Kensington station. We bought a raspberry and white chocolate scone and a cheese straw and practically inhaled them they were so delicious. The woman behind the counter laughed when she saw us return a few minutes later for more. We also went to a great little French bistro called Paul's which was right next door. I wish we had known about these two gems earlier as I’m sure we would have bought all our lunches here.
There was burger chain we walked past often, Gourmet burger kitchen that had a Kiwi burger on its menu! We were tempted but unfortunately ran out of time for this one.
I also loved the Portobello markets on Saturday morning but we visited in the midst of our initial homelessness and while carrying around our heavy bags it was a little harder to enjoy.
Almost all the sales people we encountered were friendly and approachable. People stood uniformly on the left of the escalators allowing those in a hurry to walk past, something that is seriously lacking here in Berlin! The trains came frequently although they were often packed and the tube was stifling hot. The shops were full of Cadbury chocolate and salt and vinegar chips. Needless to say we returned with bags full of Whispa’s pieces, Terry’s chocolate oranges, Crunchie bars and ginger nuts biscuits. I wish we could have brought back bags full of scones as well.