This post is long overdue. It’s been two weeks since we got back from Europe, and with no written journal to recount our days, I will have to rely on my increasingly poor memory to complete this entry.
Let me start off by saying I love London. If not for this city, I would likely not be alive. Literally. My parents met while studying at the University of London, and I will have you know that on our trip back in 2007, they essentially walked us through their college years. Right down to where my dad would park his motorcycle when they went to Chinatown.
We flew easyjet from Barcelona to London. There is definitely no shortage of cheap cross-Europe airlines, but my mom recommended it to us. They kill you with checked bag fees, but alas, ’tis life. We paid for two checked bags when we really only needed one (I didn’t want to run the risk of having to pay more for the bag at the airport). Oh well. We know now for next time.
While we were in town, we stayed at this AirBnB on Sloane Avenue. The location was perfect – short walk to either South Ken tube station or Sloane Square and a Sainsbury just across the street. We loved having a home base from which to enjoy the sights, and the biggest plus was having our own bedroom separate from Andy.
What to See
We took Gatwick Express from the airport to Central London, and with that we were able to access the London 2FOR1 deals. Buy one get one free for certain admissions and food across the city. That was amazing. One place we visited with the deal was the London Transport Museum. Kelvin and I love taking transit whenever we travel, so this place was a dream. We only had 45 minutes to explore, since we got to the Covent Garden area so late, but what we did see was awesome! It was amazing to see how transportation has changed since the beginning of the city’s development, and we loved all the Transport for London paraphernalia! We may or may not have spent a really long time perusing the store afterwards to find the right poster to take home as a souvenir…
Also with the London 2FOR1 deals, we visited the Globe Theatre. I’ve actually been here three times, and this is the first time we were able to go inside and see it! They often have afternoon shows, so if you want to take the tour, I’d definitely try to make it to Southwark in the morning. We took the tube to Blackfriars and then walked across Millennium Bridge to get here. We really enjoyed this tour and I would highly recommend this whether you like Shakespeare or not. We had a super awesome tour guide and I learned so much about the context of Shakespeare’s plays and audience! If Andy was older, I think we would have opted to come back for a performance. Favourite fun fact: Fainting is a regular occurrence at their shows.
One thing that is amazing about London is that so many museums are free. Our favourite one would probably be the Natural History Museum, which we went to on Saturday morning before the lines got too crazy. The dinosaurs exhibit was packed, but it paled in comparison with the dinosaur collections at the ROM or at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. What was awesome was the new Darwin Centre – a space where visitors were able to see firsthand the work that happens behind the scenes at the museum. Everything from the labs to the specimen collections. Having done his degree in biology, this was probably Kelvin’s sightseeing highlight. He lingered at every stop, and it just seemed like everything resonated with him. What a fanboy.
London is also a place for just strolling and exploring. We walked through our share of Royal Parks. We saw Buckingham Palace. We made our way up and down Regent Street and into department stores (we were commissioned by my in-laws to locate some Magnum chocolate, which we found at Selfridges). We enjoyed the buskers at Covent Garden. We ventured all the way out to Canary Wharf and to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
(Side note: Going to the theatre is highly recommended as well – we just didn’t get a chance to this time around. Next time!)
Where to Eat
London is an amazing place to eat, but I’m just going to highlight our two favourites. The first was our Friday lunch at Borough Market. The market is London’s oldest, and the selection is just mindblowing. We ate from half a dozen different stands. Burgers, pasta, baked goods, sausage, shawarma…whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. My suggestion? Scope out your options beforehand – don’t just jump at the first thing you see. Kelvin and I split up when we got to the market and when we reunited (thank goodness we found each other…we didn’t have each other’s UK cell numbers and our iMessages weren’t working…and the market is a labyrinth) all he could say was that he kept seeing people with burgers and he wanted one. This will happen to you with more than one dish, I promise. We bought a venison burger at this one stall and it was delicious.
Hands down our favourite meal on this trip was at Dishoom. They have multiple locations, but we went to the one near Covent Garden (can you tell that we were around Covent Garden a lot?). Kelvin and I love Indian food and this was well worth the 75 minute wait. Or it might have been 90 minutes… The atmosphere was electric and the food was exquisite. Andy also fell asleep partway through the meal, so it made our experience that much more enjoyable. You can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu, but you must get the calamari. You will not regret it. And have the chai.
One of the nice things about visiting London is seeing family. My dad’s sister and her family are still in the UK, so we met them in Chinatown for dim sum. It was really nice to wrap up our European getaway by sharing a meal with them. Plus we got to meet my cousin’s little toddler, who we were told was so excited to meet her cousin (Andy) that she couldn’t sleep! I don’t know that Andy lived up to her expectations, though. She barely talked to him the whole meal! Maybe she didn’t realize that he would be a baby. And that he wouldn’t be able to talk…
And there you have it, London in a nutshell. Until next time, London…