My Trip to London
This past weekend I traveled to London with my best friends, in what would be our first trip together. I literally arrived back in Madrid today at midnight!
Anyway, the first two days were cold and rainy, as you'd expect from London; but the next two days were partly cloudy, so it felt like a nice change for us to walk and get to know the city more comfortably. I had been to London 3 times before, but it always feels like I'm visiting for the first time: it's a gigantic city and there's always a new place to see that you didn't get to see the previous times.
A lot of funny things happened, such as two of my friends getting lost in the airport and not being able to find their way out, as well as the same two missing their flight back home. I even got lost in the Underground, because one of the trains closed its doors right in my face while the group managed to get inside. It was non stop laughter during the whole trip. I'm going to give my personal recommendations on what I saw and what I think it's best to visit, and also, very importantly, where to eat.
The first night we had Indian food. You might get Indian restaurants anywhere, but none are as good as the ones in England. We ate at Tayyabs in Whitechapel, I had a lentil and aubergine curry that was hot and spicy enough for me, and naan bread that was heavenly. They don't serve any alcohol, so if you want beer or wine, you have to bring it yourself. Around the area you'll see lots of graffiti and murals that make up for good instagram pictures, if you're into that. There's a tunnel leading to the Shoreditch Overground station that is magical for pictures.
On day number two we booked a walking tour; this is when I got lost in the Underground, but I got right on time for the tour to start. Our guide was Spanish and very knowledgeable about the history of the places. We saw part of a Roman wall, the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, the Royal Exchange, the Monument, Saint Paul's Cathedral and the Royal Courts of Justice. At this point there was a break but we didn't rejoin the tour as we were very tired. We had lunch at Nando's, which, if you've never eaten there, specializes in Portuguese style chicken. They make their own Peri Peri hot sauces that go just perfectly with the chicken. After lunch we went to Trafalgar Square, where we had churros at the Christmas market; yes, it's that time of the year again! We then walked by 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minister's residence) and towards Westminster. The Big Ben was sadly in maintenance, so we could only the part of the clock while the whole tower is covered. We caught a glimpse of the London Eye before heading home because we were dead of walking all day long.
The third day we went to Camden Town. I really love this place in London, with all its alternative fashion stores and its food market. But that day it was particularly overcrowded, so we couldn't walk without running into hundreds of people walking the other way. There are many international food stands in the market, including Mexican, Korean, Indian, Venezuelan food, but we couldn't try any due to the long lines of people. We ended having lunch at Wetherspoon, where you can eat basically any type of dish such as pizza, burgers, pasta, or pub food. There's an amazing shop called Cyberdog that specializes in rave clothing, but even if you don't go to raves, I suggest you pay a visit: it's got loud music and girls dancing on two balconies, everything is neon and it gives you the vibe that you just entered a massive party. Part of the group left as they had to fly back home, but you already know they missed their flight!
So the three remaining of us went to the Shard, this tall glass building downtown, to get views of the city. There are several restaurants on top of the building and they usually allow tourists to check the view, so there's no problem to go up without making any reservation. We got there at night, but I think the views are much better during the day, so plan ahead to get there on time. Afterwards we headed to the South Bank and we found another whimsical Christmas market, where we obviously had mulled wine because 1: I love it, and 2: it was very cold. The group who missed their flight reunited with us there, and we then headed to Piccadillly Circus and Chinatown. We had Chinese food for dinner at a restaurant called Gerard's Corner, and I highly reccommend their spring rolls and dim sum, they were all too good. Since it was 11pm on a Sunday, most pubs were closed by the time we left the restaurant, so we just walked aroung the Seven Dials area but we couldn't have the pint we wanted.
On the last day we went for a stroll around Borough Market and Southwark. At the market we tried some Welsh cheese called Caerphilly, but its unpasteurized variety, and all I can say is: TRY IT. We walked along Southwark and its historical pubs and theaters, inlcuding Shakespeare's Globe, a replica of a theater of the Elizabethan era. Then we crossed the Millennium Bridge, enjoyed the views and headed to Hampstead in north London. This is perhaps my favorite place in the city because it looks like a small village inside the big city. The reason we went there was to have a proper brunch at La Creperie de Hampstead, a food stand specialized in French style crepes. They are really good and you won't regret trying them. We got there right on time to be the first in line, but during weekends lines can be very very long, so it's best to go early. We walked around the neighborhood, visited the cemetery at St. John-at-Hampstead, visited Hampstead Heath and then headed to the airport.
I believe London is a city that needs more than just 4 days to visit, maybe a whole week. What I do know is that you definitely need to take a pair of comfy sneakers because walking is what you'll do mostly!
I hope you enjoyed my post and that you take my recommendations if you ever find yourself visiting London.
Till the next time!