To start the trip, I flew from Sevilla to London Thursday night. TIP: London dresses better than what I am used to so I made sure to bring more nice clothes, knowing we would go to restaurants and clubs where there were dress codes. Flying Ryanair, I just had a backpack which was fine for three days. I landed around 7:30 pm in Stansted and then took the Stansted Express train, arriving in London around 8:30 pm. My friends met me at the train station and we walked to Box Park for dinner in the Shoreditch, Islington area. Box Park has a multitude of take-away restaurants but I think I made the best choice by getting a falafel bowl at What the Pitta London. Since there is not quite food that is pertinent to London, all cuisines are great.
TIP: Get ApplePay. You can use it for everything including taking the tube and the bus… just tap in, tap out.
We went back to the apartment, then headed to O’Neill’s on Wardour Street. My middle name is literally O’Neill so I thrived. It felt like the go-to destination for abroad students because everyone had American accents. It was a fun night. We went home early because we had a full day planned for Friday.
Eating My Way Through London
On Friday, we started the day with brunch at Borough Market. There were a ton of samples, and again every cuisine you could imagine. I went to the Thai food booth to get pad thai. It was called Khanom Krok and I 10/10 recommend if you like pad thai. The guy working there also said his friend thought I was cute so it was a good confidence boost for the morning. They gave me so much of the chicken-shrimp combo I let my friend finish it.
From Borough Market, we took the bus to the Westminster area. There we walked around and saw the London Eye (Ferris wheel), the Parliament, the Abbey, White Hall and visited Trafalgar Square. From there we went to the National Gallery and saw Picasso’s famous sunflower painting. Growing up at the small catholic school my siblings and I went to, our art teacher made every second grader imitate this painting. My mom liked that each of us had a piece of art influenced by the same painting so she framed them and has them hanging in our house. I think they’re ugly but it was nice to see the original. If you’re going, the National Gallery is free, so its a bonus, and definitely worth seeing.
After waltzing though the museum, we strolled through St. James Park and saw Buckingham Palace. I truly love palaces. We then continued through Green Park and spent about an hour at Harrods before our afternoon tea reservation. In one of my journalism classes we learned about how department stores revolutionized commercialization and marketing. Some of the first were Harrods and Macy’s. It was insane to see Harrods and I imagine that I had the same shock that the people had when it first opened over 100 years ago as it is both immense and incredibly glamorous. I was content to say the least.
My friend had made a reservation for afternoon tea at Capital Hotel and it was something that I definitely recommend doing to get the authentic London tea experience. Although it can be pricey, they offer a deal in which you get 4 for the price of 3 and it was great. We chose the free-flowing prosecco option with two rounds of sandwiches, an incredible array of pastries and of course, multiple rounds of exquisite tea. The server was very astute and taught us of the origin of each tea which was interesting. We finished tea around the same time that the sun set and headed back to the apartment to nap and relax before going out.
We went on somewhat of a pub crawl in the financial district. Did you know Guinness has coffee in it? I didn’t. We went to a few pubs before going to Duck & Waffle for our midnight reservation. After 11, you can order off of the late night menu which is less expensive but still very good. It is on the 40th floor of the 110 Bishopgate Tower which gave us an incredible view of the city. For appetizers we got eel croquettes and pig ears; get two orders of eel croquettes and don’t get the pig ears. I liked them but I wouldn’t order again and would definitely get the eel croquettes again. For my meal, I had the Duck Kebab and a Pine Needle Lemonade Martini. I had never tried duck and I might never be able to have it again because it was so good. You know when you have something that is so good you don’t know if you can ever recreate it? That was my meal. We ended the night there and went to relax for another day full of exploring.
Seeing More Sights
On Saturday morning we headed toward the Shoreditch area to find Indian food. We walked along Brick Lane and found a great Indian food place called Brick Lane Brasserie. I like Indian food a lot and think its really good but I never crave it. The Shoreditch neighborhood itself was unreal. It’s pretty gentrified and there are tons of little vintage stores and restaurants. A very cool area.
After this we walked along the Thanes to see Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. After this we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral and decided to climb to the top. There are three stops on the climb to the top. The first is where the dome starts and you can whisper from one end and it can be heard from the other — so they say. We kept climbing up and could walk outside at another break in the dome. It was super cool yet windy. We went even further up to the top and I never realized that I was claustrophobic nor scared of heights until that moment. I got over it though! You can walk outside along the dome which was kind of scary but definitely worth the view of London. Across the walking bridge is the Tate Modern Museum so of course we went. There was a lot to see and it was free and very cool. It made me realize I need to learn more about modern art.
From there we headed toward the Sky Garden to try to have a drink but learned you can’t enter without a reservation until 9 pm. My friend said it was a cool bar in a garden so next time! We went to Camden Market to a bar called World’s End (made me feel like home) and had a couple of beers and haloumi fries (incredible). It felt super authentic because everyone was wearing leather and looked like they rode a motorcycle, almost like a scene from Sons of Anarchy.
To go out, we had bought tickets to Ministry of Sound, a club with super loud music. I forgot my ID but finessed my way in anyway — super lucky. It was cool. The next morning I left for the airport at 9 am.
Crazy twist to the story… I had planned to take the express train from the station to Stansted airport and a TREE fell on the track, cancelling all of the trains. I had stupidly bought a ticket ahead of time and was going to the information desk to see if I could transfer it to the bus service when a man looked at another woman and I and asked if we would want share an Uber because it would be about 80 pounds total (about $100). The woman and I both said yes and headed out with him. He was from Hamburg, Germany but was living in London and the woman was in Stockholm and was visiting her friend for a baby shower. Because there was another woman, and because it was Uber, I felt comfortable joining these strangers. We were almost to the airport and the man told us he would just take care of the bill because he was expensing it for work. It was incredibly nice and I felt super blessed.
Sometimes things just work out. Couldn’t tell you what I did to deserve that. As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments!