Get lost in London, England.
LONDON: probably my favorite city in Europe.
If ya’ll have never been before, well first things first:
remove ya’ll from your vocab.
"Are ya’ll in line for the bathroom?"
Let’s try that again…
"Are you guys in the queue for the toilet?"
I love everything about this city. From the deep rooted history, incredible architecture, museums, swanky pubs and british boys… there’s a little something for everyone
Are ya'll you guys ready for a fun little picture book?
Let's set the tone... Pretend you're back in 1st grade, sitting indian style on the floor surrounded with your buddies, juice box in hand (hell ya). Eyes glued to the teacher, listening to her overzealous story-telling voice as you anticipate each page turn.
But instead of dragons and princesses, it's about a girl in her mid-twenties headed on a little solo adventure to the UK discussing her fav hot spots.
so let's open the page and begin shall we?
Once upon a time...
So last week ....
I stayed at the Kensington Close Hotel & Spa ... to all my fellow wanderlusters, you're well aware that hotels standards are not the same in Europe. A 4* is sometimes the equivalent of a 2.5 or 3* in the states, so you may have to dish out a little extra to get what you want.
... and I'm not saying I'm a brat when it comes to hotels or anything like that, but you know the story Princess and the Pea? That darn legume would have me tossing and turning too. I feel ya, girl.
A few things I refuse to encounter on my travels: sketchy neighborhoods, no air-con and bed bugs.
That's why I do thorough research and make sure I take into consideration the neighborhood, amenities and overall reviews.
Kensington Close Hotel & Spa was exactly what I expected: Great service, standard amenities and most importantly a perfect location. It's located just a stone's throw away from High Street Kensington, which is an upscale neighborhood with great shopping, cafes and probably everything you could possibly need/want. Always felt safe, even walking around alone at night.
There's a little cafe a few meters from the hotel that I ate at almost every morning: The Muffin Man Tea Shop . I discovered it when I was visiting last year and it's hands down my favorite breakfast spot in London. For 9.50 (Where's the pound sign) you get a full English Breakfast with OJ + yummy coffee/tea. There's also about 3 pages of breakfast/lunch options.
You may leave a little more rotund then when entered but you'll surely walk it off exploring High Street Ken... and besides, everyone knows calories don't count on vaca.
While we're on the topic of exploring. One day I decided to find the Queens Garden in Regents Park... I've been to London numerous times and hadn't seen it yet. I put on my walking shoes, grabbed my 'Hi-I'm-a-Tourist' Map, camera and was on my way. I made it to Regents Park:
(Didn't find Queens Garden but this one is still pretty right?)
...and then I got lost, for a while... like really lost. I ended up in the town Camden.
I have to say getting lost in a city is the best way to find spots you never usually would. I had never been to Camden before and I LOVED IT. Kind of a young/urban/trendy vibe with a lot of cool shops.
Came across this coffee shop: The Coffee Jar , and it was probably the best iced coffee I've ever had:
Sitting there eating my blueberry & ricotta muffin (remember what I said, calories don't count), I took advantage of their wifi and tried to figure out where the F I was. At this point I still didn't know I was in Camden... I was being real basic and took a snapchat picture of my coffee, slid through the filters to see Camden (with a peace sign) HA who needs a map when you have snapchat location filters!?
Fueled with darn good caffeine, I said fairwell to the barista and wifi and continued on down the street.
The vibe started to become more touristy as I was getting closer to Camden Market. I mean, tourist or local, everyone should admit that this area is a must see. Get some cash out of the ATM and get ready to splurge on gifts for everyone back home.
Keep walking down to Camden Lock where the shops consist of much more then 'I LOVE ENGLAND!' shirts. Here you'll find dozens of tiny shops- many with super unique, handmade jewelry, household items, leather goods, etc... this is where you get the good stuff.
Also um the food, SO MANY LITTLE FOOD TRUCKS. Like hello gourmet mac & cheese, fresh rice & curry + fish tacos. I got stressed with all the options and got a veggie juice LOL opportunity missed.
Another one of my favorite neighborhoods: Notting Hill
Not only are there great stores & gift ops, the neighborhoods are to die for. There are brights and pastels everywhere you look. Who knew door envy was a thing?
You obvs have to see the Blue Door from the movie Notting Hill.
I was shamelessly taking a selfie in front of it when the owner walked out and gave me a semi-friendly, I'm-use-to-it look.
... it wasn't Hugh Grant. *sigh*
Next neighborhood: Fulham
Lots of cute pubs.
Fun fact: my mom is originally from England and grew up in Fulham. It felt a little weird walking around her old neighborhood knowing she went to the same pubs I was hanging out in. Weird in a good way!
... and have to point out the flowers around these neighborhoods. LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL!!
-Dinner at The Locale with my old college friend, JP, who now lives in Fulham- GREAT italian food... and wine.
Luckily I have a few friends that live in London, so we had a few nights of pub/club (plub?) shenanigans. Let's just say my legs weren't just sore from walking all day.
Get your minds out of the gutter.
WE DANCED... we danced a lot! And had way too much fun doing it.
Two clubs I recall: Po Na Na in Wimbledon (LOL can't type that without giggling. Light up dance floor. That is all.) and Bonbonniere which was a bit nicer. Both played really fun music. I'm not into clubs, but I was in vacation-all-I-want-to-do-is-dance mode this trip.
Fun pub in Wimbledon Village: Dog & Fox. It always seemed to be busy!
(post happy hour family photo at the Dog & Fox in Wimbledon)
Fav find: The Buddhapadipa Temple (say that 3 times for a good time)
I heard about this Buddhist temple that's tucked away in a neighborhood in Wimbledon, and it was on my to-do list while in London. It was the first Buddhist Temple built in the UK, and it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.
After a 20 minute photo shoot in front of it (girls will be girls), a monk...yes a monk...came out and invited us into the temple. NBD. We took off our shoes and followed him in, he mumbled something along the lines of we are very lucky, so I guess not everyone gets to go inside.
Unfortunately no pics were allowed in there, but we were so mesmerized by the beautiful murals, golden shrines and this overpowering sensation of stillness to notice. It's a special place.
Now last but not least, the main purpose of my trip: TheWimbledon Championships.
I've been fortunate enough to attend Wimbledon multiple years, and I have to say it's one hell of an event. I know most of the actual players would agree it's the best tournament of the year.
The cliches really are as good as they are hyped up to be: Pimm's, champagne, strawberries & cream, well dressed men (ellllo)... oh and great tennis too :)
(Papa Sav doin' his thing on centre court)
STORY BOOK CLOSED. THE END.
Notice I left out some of the iconic spots: Big Ben, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, etc... if you haven't been to London before, then obviously these places are must see's!
TIP: give yourself a few days to explore. Leave the map at home and get lost! It's the best way to find some real gems that the city has to offer.
If you were to give advice to someone traveling to London for the first time, what would you tell them? Where should they go?
Talk to you lata! *english accent*