Even though we were in London for three and a half days, I feel like we barely scratched the surface of this wonderful city. Compared to many of the other cities I have visited where one can walk around the town centre in a few hours, London’s sights were sprawled all over the city. While this was a bit unfortunate in the regards that one has to spend a lot of time travelling to and from various locations, it did give the city an eclectic mix of locations. You could hope on a tube in the old town near the historic London Tower, and get off in an area with a completely different feel, such as Camden Lock.
Our Saturday began with a mission to Kings Cross Station to fulfil our tourist desires.
I know, no shame. We didn’t feel so ridiculous doing it, as there was a line of tourists for this prop. Which, I should add, is not even in the true location of the platform. Platforms 4 and 5 – in the below photo – were the actual location of the entrance to Platform 9 and 3/4. After having a quick look around the station we also dropped into the Harry Potter gift shop to look at the over priced merchandise. They literally had every conceivable Harry Potter piece recreated (wands, the Philosophers Stone, a time-turner, etc etc).
We weren’t really sure what to anticipate, maybe just a few stalls and some food vendors. Turns out the entire district is one big market. There were some stalls (with amazing street art) on one side of the road, some more on the other, and an old stables that was an absolute rabbit warren of clothes, bric-a-brac, vintage goodies and food. It was amazing to walk around, and if you had the time and money you could spend an entire day there! Even out on the streets the stalls continues, though with somewhat tackier products on offer.
We decided to treat ourselves and booked lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. We had reserved the table ahead of time as we weren’t sure how busy it would be, but it ended up being about half full, giving it a nice atmosphere. The restaurant and staff were wonderful, and the food was delicious. However, as is the way with fine dining, you don’t get a massive meal for the price tag. Proceeds from the restaurant go towards Jamie Oliver’s charity, so we felt a bit better knowing our money was going towards something worthwhile.
I also wanted to have a quick detour to poke our heads into the Sherlock Holmes pub (I am currently reading all the books!) to see a recreation of Mr Holmes’ study. The pub itself is also very traditional of the hundreds of other English pubs we encountered on our travels.
Our evening eventually lead us to the London Eye. Chris had organised for us to go on a wine tasting experience, which involved trying five wines and two rotations on the wheel. The wine was delicious and we were given fantastic views of the city. However, the guide talked about the wine a lot, leaving us with little time to enjoy the views. It could have also gone for a bit longer – it was only an hour – considering the amount of wine on offer and the price.
Sunday morning saw us head out to the Natural History Museum. Most of the museums and art galleries in London are free to enter, which would be great for a rainy day. Unfortunately for us we had decided to go on one of the busier days of the week, so we were battling children and families to get in. There was even a line for the dinosaur exhibit, much to our disappointment.
We had planned to indulge in a traditional Sunday roast for lunch, but we struggled to find a pub that had one on offer within our budget. After a good hour of walking we gave up and went for cheap Asian, yet again. I think our next travel destination is going to have to be South-East Asia…
On recommendation from a friend we headed to Brick Lane after lunch, which pretty much filled the criteria for hipster central. Vintage clothes, independent art, and street food galore. If I had had money, a suitcase, and an apartment, I would have had an absolute field day. Instead, we remained content with taking in the atmosphere.
It was such a wonderful weekend away. London certainly felt a bit like home to me. Not only from the language (boy, it was nice to have a break from constantly worrying about the language barrier!), but the city had so much on offer, and had a culture and vibe about it I certainly could get used to. Maybe post-graduate education or employment in the UK is on the cards? Who knows! But I would love to come back and do a road trip around the rest of the United Kingdom too!