Day 1 (8.31.15)
A short train ride from Paris and I had arrived in London, something I (and I’m sure most people in fact) had dreamed of for years. My arrival was not as lovely as I’d hoped though. I found the people in the train station to be very rude and that was actually a pretty common theme through out my stay.
I spent my first night in a hotel in Notting Hill so I could walk to the Notting Hill Carnival. I dropped my bags and went straight there and it was honestly the most fun I had the whole time in London! Thankfully an english customer of mine at work told me about the carnival and then I found out a few friends of mine would be there as well. It drizzled a bit off and on but didn’t stop the masses from a great party. I slurped down delicious frozen cocktails from ‘Have A Lic’ all day and watched as the streets filled with faces young, old, black and white.
We ventured out into the crowds to explore the different street food vendors and danced in the parade as they came down the streets. The floats drove by slowly, each blaring different music and luring along droves of dancing bodies. We stayed until the very end, watching as the police shooed out the last few stragglers. If you are ever in London during Carnival, I would highly recommend it!
Day 2 (9.1.15)
Now it was time to start exploring the city. I moved hotels to The Strand Palace in Covent Garden, which was more centrally located. A bit pricey, small room, nice and clean but honestly I wouldn’t stay there again. I ended up taking the metro everywhere and it was a 10-15 minute walk to the nearest station! When I return to London, I will definitely choose a hotel right next to a station. London is huge so it’s not like you can stay in one spot where you could walk to everything. You have to take the bus or metro at some point so staying near one is key!
I started with a visit to Big Ben and the London Eye and then made my way over to the neighborhood Shoreditch, which I instantly fell in love with! A few friends of mine recommended I check it out and said it was the new up and coming area of London. I think I loved it because it reminded me of Brooklyn in a way. Very hip and artsy with cute restaurants and thrift stores, and beautiful murals and art work scoring the building walls and ally ways. I’ve never seen so many vintage thrift stores in my life. This is great area to go and explore unique little restaurants and shops.
That evening I came back to the center of the city to meet some friends for cocktails at Oblix, a bar/restaurant on the 32nd floor of The Shard with stunning panoramic views over looking the city. We had dinner afterwards at a traditional indian restaurant called Tayyabs which was amazing. I had never really had Indian food before but supposedly it is the best type of food in London and I think I can agree with that!
The weather could not have been better this day, which was perfect for my morning “Royal London” bike tour of the city. I joined another Fat Tire bike tour (as I did in Paris) and it was great, I highly recommend this is a beautiful way to see London. We rode through the gardens of London for most of the ride as to avoid street traffic, so it is very safe and leisurely. I was pleasantly surprised how green London was, and it is actually ranked among the top greenest cities in the world. We stopped by Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards, and had lunch in Trafalgar square, amongst many other historic London sights. The guide for our group was so knowledgeable and had to most interesting facts about London to share. My favorite was that the Lion statues in Trafalgar square were made from melting down the cannons of the Spanish after the British defeated them in the battle of Trafalgar. Even more interesting (and comical) is that the designer used his dog as a model when creating the lions so they are actually anatomical incorrect and the legs and nose resemble that of a dog rather then a lion!
I met a girlfriend of mine afterwards in Camden Town, another cool neighborhood of London worth checking out. I heard it used to be like Shoreditch but everyone found out about how “cool” it was and it is now over run with tourists (like me!). It was still fun to walk around and check out all the food vendors and shops.
We ended our night with cocktails at a cute little underground burlesque bar near my hotel called CellarDoor and called it a night. Intimate atmosphere, good show, great craft cocktails!
Day 4 (9.3.15)
My last day in London I made a return trip to Camden to do some shopping and then met a girlfriend for happy hour cocktails at Sushi Samba. As two single girls, I must say it was near impossible to meet any men in London! I found this very surprising since I meet so many in the US. As I said in the beginning, the people here were not very friendly or easy to talk to. Everyone kept to themselves. I asked a few english men about it when I got back to the US and they said this: When they are in Las Vegas on vacation, they are far away from home and more relaxed and friendly (and probably drunk). When they are back home in London, they said, they tend to keep themselves more and hold more arrogance. What a shame!
I ended the night with another amazing Indian dinner this time in Shoreditch at Dishoom. It was less traditional, mixed with more modern flare in a very eccentric hip dinning setting. Highly recommended!
I would definitely return to London again, as I feel I did not get to experience it all and definitely did not experience much of the night life. I was there Monday-Thursday which was part of the problem. I would recommend going over a weekend to see a little more action.
OVER ALL TIPS FOR LONDON:
*Try to go on a weekend to see more action and nightlife
*Choose a hotel near a metro station
*Check out the neighborhoods Shoreditch and Camden
*Grab some delicious Indian food at either Dishoom or Tayyabs