Writing about how wonderful my trip to London was is as difficult as taking a picture to try and capture the beauty of the city. Nevertheless, I will attempt to describe the things I loved about my trip outside of my foodie experiences. There is NOTHING that I did not like about the city – there are so many things to see and do that I could spend years there and never get sick of it. Who knows… maybe I just might? 😉
My professional tourist friends all gave me their best advice before leaving on my trip. Most of it included don’t plan to much and make sure not to live behind your phone. While in London, I had some outstanding tour guides throughout the week to show me around through the eyes of a local (thanks Robyn and Christine)! In true Kirsti fashion, I planned a bit (hey, it’s what I do for a living) but I did work hard on being a little more spontaneous and independent with my adventures!
Obviously the best part about London was reuniting with my best friend and exploring the new place she now calls home! I arrived at the beautiful flat in Marylebone (apparently this fact makes me seem quite posh) and was welcomed by the world’s cutest sign. Robyn and her mom took WONDERFUL care of me and showed me as much of London as possible during my first weekend. We went to Borough Market, walked along the River Thames (where I caught my first glimpse of St. Paul’s, Big Ben, the London Eye, and you know – every other London landmark), explored Hyde Park, stopped outside Buckingham Palace, had afternoon tea, picked up sausage rolls and quiche at Marylebone Market and shopped on Oxford Street.
There are so many gorgeous parks to walk through and fun neighbourhoods to explore. My days without Robyn were balanced out by walks through different areas of the city including Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill (worth the walk to the top for the view of the skyline), Camden, Shoreditch (a big favourite of mine), White Chapel, Hyde Park, Notting Hill. I even made it to number 1 on my list of Fitbit friends through the week.
As much as I wanted to feel like a local, I did do a couple of super touristy things on my trip. I bought the London Pass before going to London (not something I would recommend if you are planning on meeting locals and getting a cool vibe of the city) so I figured I would use it a few times. I stopped by Kensington Palace which had interesting royal history. It was during my walk through this palace that I decided I would quite enjoy the life of a Princess or Queen looking out into my Royal Gardens and waving to my loyal following. Walking along the River Thames was one of my favourite activities, especially during sunset – hello, cotton candy skies. My camera roll is full of pictures of the Shard at sunset and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Tower of London was another stop I used my London Pass for and it was really cool! The Crown Jewels are housed inside one of the towers and you can walk around the top of the towers for a beautiful view. When I arrived at 3:45, the lady at the front gate told me I might want to wait until the next day due to closing time but I went ahead and it ended up being incredibly empty – I almost had the place to myself! In a place as busy as London, a moment of silence while taking in something as grand as the Tower of London is quite a treat. My favourite stop by far was St. Paul’s Cathedral. It took me two attempts to finally get my chance to see inside but I managed! It’s easy to fall in love with St. Paul’s from the outside alone but the experience is even better when you climb up all 528 steps to get a full 360 view of the city. This makes the Tower Bridge Experience (something else I did) pretty lame in comparison but it is something I will never forget.
One of my favourite parts about living like a fake local was experiencing cute popups and the random things that occur in London all the time! My new friend, Josh, and I hoped off the tube one stop early to check out the Rebel Kitchen popup. By dropping in and writing down which New Year’s resolution you had already broken, you received a free vegan milk and were encouraged to check out the fun sections of the store to help increase your motivation to be happy, healthy, successful, etc. I was also a huge fan of the extremely talented buskers and street artists around the city. The River Thames had some amazing sand art to check out (something I believe it is a common occurrence). I also spotted a beautiful memorial for Alan Rickman at Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station. [so artsy] [Rebel Kitchen pop-up’s corner of happiness] [insane sand sculptures on the River]
I didn’t do too much crazy partying while I was in London but we did go to Graffiti Bar in Balham on my first night and a company party at Dirty Martini. Both places played amazing throwback songs including S Club 7 and had wonderful drinks. We even tried black vodka – who knew that was a thing? Graffiti Bar has some sort of special deal when you try all of the drinks on the menu so I will have to go back with a big group to complete that next time I am in town!
This recap already has me looking for flights for my next visit. Stay tuned for our weekend in Milan!