Weekend Getaway: London
I have finally gone to London. And I loved it. No wonder so many people, from all around the world move here: it’s cozy yet international, brisk yet it leaves you with a warm feeling (maybe it’s the mulled wine).
A number of people recommend going to the U.K. (or any other native English speaking country) as your first solo destination, but I, of course, didn’t do that. Now I understand why so many people recommend it: it can be overwhelming to try to communicate with other people when you don’t actually speak the same language, but you don’t have that problem here. (I mean, if you speak English, of course). While you’re here, you get your first taste of Europe without the confusion of trying to figure out what exactly boudin noir consists of (& if you want to eat it). That being said, I wouldn’t travel back in time and change a thing about my travels.
Anyway, I was in the city around 14.30, after walking from AirBnB in Peckham Rye to London Bridge. It was a long walk. But well worth it. I ended up stumbling into the Borough Market, which was so lively! I grabbed some Indian food and a smoothie and went to wander some more. Unfortunately, it was really cloudy/rainy/ not a good day to take photos, so I don’t think I took a single one that Saturday. After wandering around the City of London for some time, I thought it was well past 22.00; it was 17.30. It actually gets dark at like 15.00 in London. That’s just crazy. Even crazier than Friesland (where the sun set at 16.19 yesterday). Regardless of the time, I was exhausted from a busy week, traveling, and recovering from an unreasonably long cold, so I headed back to my place (with the subway, no more walking for me). And was asleep by 20.30. On a Saturday night. Can you say party animal?!
The next day was a bit more lively. I spent the morning wandering around the Bank district looking for 1) a coffee place that was open- apparently they all close when the bankers aren’t around, and 2) an ABNAmro (my Dutch bank) ATM, I forgot to deposit my money and I really didn’t want to deal with the crappy exchange rate you get at those exchange places. But alas, there was no ATM in sight. However, I did find coffee. So I couldn’t say my morning wasn’t successful.
Also, the weather was gorgeous. Perfect blue skies. Granted it was still like 8degrees Celsius, but I’ll take what I can get.
I found this huuuge Starbucks advertisement on the side of a wall in the Diamond district (street?) and I couldn’t help but snap a photo. It’s just so Christmasy.
Here’s some more photos from my wandering:
While I was here, I was able to reach out to an old friend I had known in high school who now lives out here. He was an exchange student from Germany and lived with a friend of mine and her family. I hadn’t seen him since high school but he was kind enough to invite me to a much-more-local street market with his friends. Maltby Street Market was soo cosy. It was on a narrow street, one side there were booths selling different kinds of food, mulled wine, beer, soaps, honey, so many things and the other side had make-shift restuarants in these cut-outs of the wall that was holding up the train tracks. I wish I would’ve taken photos but I, of course, didn’t.
A couple hours later, I met up with a friend of mine from college who had a bit of a layover in London before moving on to Barcelona. It worked out perfectly; he had a layover and I needed to get to London sometime in December. We made our way to the Winter Wonderland festival in Hyde Park to drink some spiked mulled wine (so it’s mulled wine with a shot of Fireball or brandy, very appropriate for the chilly weather) and ate some German sausages.
And then we were kicked out. The festival ends promptly at 22.00 (although it takes a bit longer to get everyone to leave the area without any drinks in their hands). We decided to wander around the city and check out the amazing Christmas lights instillations that lined so many of the streets.
Okay, these aren’t exactly Christmas light instillations, but I still want to share them.
I had to leave in the early afternoon to make my flight at 18.00 (although, had I known it would be delayed by 2hrs I would have arrived much later at the airport), so we headed to the city centre for some brunch and to see Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.
I needed the typical London shot in front of Big Ben (and I needed options of the same photo).
Next up, Buckingham Palace. It’s quite remarkable, but I could imagine it’s very difficult to actually live there. The atmosphere surrounding it is humbling, definitely, but also a bit dreary. Overburdened. Perhaps it’s just the security, or the fact that I’m not actually allowed inside the gates, that made me feel this way. But either way, it’s a gorgeous building.
Meet my friend, Trey!
All in all, I could definitely see myself living in London one day. Or at least spending a prolonged holiday here.