Ah, London. The city of angry tube-goers and overpriced food. What more could a humble, poor traveller ask for? £4.50 for a coffee?! Sign me up!
During the Easter holidays, I spent the better part of a week and a half in and around London. The first part of the week had me house-sitting with two of my friends Chloe and Abby in an apartment in Richmond. Needless to say, we were quite happy to skip out on the hostel life for a few nights, and trade it in for a decent shower and some peace and quiet. However we took full advantage of our time there to squeeze in all the must-see tourist destinations that we had yet to explore. These included: Old Spitafields Markets, St Paul’s Cathedral, Notting Hill, Tower Bridge, Richmond Park, Harrods and the Victoria Albert Museum. The latter was by far one of my favourites, as I’m someone who low-key loves art and hence had to make an exceptional effort not to make an absolute idiot of myself when I recognised some of the artworks that I loved studying at school. However, I was entirely unsuccessful in this endeavour a few days prior when I had been on a casual walk around Shoreditch with my cousin and spotted a Damien Hirst installation and a legitimate Banksy work within five hundred metres of each other. Only in such an up and coming, and perhaps more pretentious than pretty place could such a thing happen.
Saint Paul’s Cathedral was also another highlight for me. We ended up spending about three hours there, most of which had me just looking up at the high ceilings and religiously-symbolic artworks with my mouth wide open in awe. Although not an original realisation, such triumphant construction beaming with progressive artistic talent really made me have one of those “wow, isn’t humanity cool” kind of moments.
After a weekend getaway to the countryside with my friend Serena, which mostly consisted of going on muddy walks and eating far too much chocolate, I returned back to London to meet up with one of my nearest and dearest friends, Declan. He was over in Scotland for other reasons and extended his trip just to spend a few extra days in the mother country with me. I hadn’t seen him since November, but needless to say he is one of those friends who I could potentially not see for 10 years and upon being reunited find myself laughing within seconds, as if nothing had changed.
We stayed in a mediocre (to use a somewhat more generous adjective) hostel in Greenwich, and just spent a few days catching up and exploring Central London. We ventured to: Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery, St James’ Park, Buckingham Palace, Oxford Street, The London Eye and The London Dungeons.
We also spent a relaxed day just wondering around Greenwich where we visited the Greenwich Time Signal (which was far more interesting than I had anticipated), walked around the park and looked through the markets. We managed to look like absolute tourists at every location as we posed for photos and read all the plaques explaining the history behind every monument we came across. Not my finest moment in that I would like to think I’m more of a local than a visitor, but it had to be done. We also made an attempt at celebrating my new found adulthood (yay 18!) by entering the London nightlife scene on more than one occasion. This sometimes made for difficult early morning wake-ups in time to grab the free hostel breakfast, but was nonetheless a lot of fun.
However, we also celebrated like mature adults and even managed to forget that we are empty-pocketed teens with wanderlust bigger than our wallets on one particular night, as my brilliant mum very kindly gave me some money for us to go out to a nice dinner. So I took Serena & Declan out on our last few hours together to a sophisticated dinner where we sipped cocktails and ate far too much pasta. Afterwards I had such a happy tummy I felt as if I could burst at any moment. Not to say that there wasn’t room for gelato when the idea was put forward… There’s always room for gelato. I like to think that my regular stomach is a separate entity to something I call my desert stomach, so we headed out for some delicious ice cream to end the night. Such a nice evening had me reluctantly having one of those corny life-epiphany moments where I realised how lucky I am to be on the whirl-winded adventure that is somehow my actual life. Let alone how fortunate I am that I get to spend this year with some of the best people possible.
Although my week in London was far more touristy than I care to admit, I had a top-notch time. I got to spend it with some of my favourites, and see all that London had to offer. And although I had to essentially spent the entirety of one of my pay checks on basic human necessities like food and transport, I in return got to enjoy the vibe of living in such a gorgeous but crazy city. Although ridiculously overpriced, London is far from over-rated in my books. It seems to be able to satisfy any kind of craving you could have when travelling; food wise of course, but also in art, culture, ambiance, views, shopping and anything else you could think of. All I’m saying is, when there’s a gap in time between my next travelling adventures, I’ll happily spend it there.
Until next time London… Bring on Europe!