I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t overly fussed about visiting London. Don’t get me wrong, I was really looking forward to catching up with old friends, but the thought of seeing the city didn’t really excite me. Now that’s mainly because the last time I visited the people I dealt with were rude, everything was expensive, the food was lousy and the weather was even worse. But this time was different.
We made the train ride into Camden Town from Heathrow Airport and took a bus to our friends Sam and Bill’s apartment in Parliament Hill. Once they arrived home from work we all went for a walk through the beautiful park next door and before we knew it, it was dark. We couldn’t believe it was only 4:30pm and already night! We decided to grab a beer from a nearby pub and then passed out early.
The next morning we walked to a Santander Cycle docking station in Kentish Town, dropped in our £2, and hit the streets on two wheels. We understood that as long as we re-docked our bikes every 30 minutes we could ride around London for up to 24 hours for £2! We were wrong. We cruised down to Regent’s Park and rode around a bit before it was time to re-dock. We docked our bikes but couldn’t detatch them again. It turns out the bikes were actually £2 every half hour. We knew it was too good to be true. Not letting it bother us we decided to spend the rest of our day exploring on foot.
One of my “must-visits” while in London was the Supreme store. For those who don’t know it’s a type of streetwear/high-end skate brand with a cult-like following. They have two stores in America, two in Europe and a handful in Japan. That’s it. It’s not that strange to see a line of people outside their doors, eagerly awaiting the chance to spend £45 on a cap or £150 on a shirt. Ridiculous, I know. After spending some time admiring all the clothes and accessories I wasn’t going to buy, we walked around a little more before returning home.
The following day we travelled to Brixton to check out their Saturday market and of course try some authentic jerk chicken, courtesy of some of Brixton’s many Jamaican locals. Bill and I smashed a wrap, while Anita opted for rice and Sam, a goat curry. The blend of spices and flavours packed a real punch. It was all so mouthwateringly delicious. We spent the rest of the day bouncing between flea markets, car boot sales and second hand stores before heading back home to make it in time for the Wallabies vs. Ireland match at a popular rugby pub called The Faltering Fullback.
We arrived only minutes before kick off and weren’t surprised to find no stool to sit on or space to stand, so walked around the corner to a slightly less crowded pub for the game. After the game we ducked across the road for some cheap and tasty fried chicken, a popular feed amongst Londoners.
Anita and I spent the following Sunday morning at the Columbia Road Flower Market before walking to Brick Lane Market, probably one of the largest and best markets we’ve been to. The place was packed with vendors selling everything from modern art, innovative designs, second hand clothes and a million types of food. It was really impressive. We even got a chance to walk past Cereal Killer, a popular café dedicated to selling your choice of over a hundred cereals and flavoured milks. It’s quite bizarre, yet strangely intriguing. One part of me laughed at the stupidness of it, while the other wanted to walk in and order a large bowl of peanut butter Cap’n Crunch with white chocolate milk. We decided instead to stop by the famous Beigel Bake for a delicious salt beef, pickle and mustard beigel, right before heading back to the warmth of Sam and Bill’s apartment.
It was nearly the end of our time in London and even though I joked that we had already done what we thought most typical Londoners do (i.e. eat jerk/fried chicken, watch rugby and drink at a pub and visit the markets and expensive clothing stores), we knew we needed to see the sights before leaving. We walked past Buckingham Palace on the way to Big Ben and the London Eye. After that we headed to Tate Modern, a place which I was probably looking foward to the most.
Tate Modern is a massive contemporary gallery, one of the largest in the world, which houses an impressive collection of local and international modern art. This incredible multi-story gallery puts places like MCA and ACCA to shame, and all for free! We couldn’t believe it. After spending a few hours testing our imagination it was time to catch up with our very old friend Christina for a few too many drinks.
Our last day was spent aimlessly walking the streets of London and Hyde Park, where we actually stumbled upon the Winter Wonderland festival. Although food, rides and games were quite expensive the entry was free, so it was a good way to kill time before our bus to Amsterdam at 9pm.
We had such a great time in London this time around. The people we dealt with were friendly, the food was awesome and the weather was perfect; the only thing that hadn’t changed were the prices! A big thank you to Sam, Bill and Christina for not only hosting us, but showing us the best of London.