Hello Internet world.
A few weeks ago we decided to take advantage of another long weekend and go on a quick getaway to London. We’d both been lucky enough to have been before so this weekend was focused around visiting places we hadn’t seen and places we couldn’t wait to return to. We left Edinburgh early on Friday morning and arrived to Stansted airport before lunchtime. Having never flown through anything other than Heathrow I was a bit concerned about the logistics of getting into the city centre but it couldn’t have been easier. A quick bus ride later, for which we ingeniously bought cookies, and we were whizzing past 221 Baker Street. We dropped off our bags at the airbnb, which was, much to Chris’ delight, smack dab next to MI6, and left to explore the city. We were generously given theatre vouchers as a very creative wedding present and the first item on our agenda was running up to Leicester Square to see what was available. Having walked around Covent Garden and the various surrounding theatres, we ended up with two brilliant seats at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the next evening. Mission accomplished, we headed over to seek out a ramen joint called Bone Daddies that I had heard about through various online grapevines. It was just as good as I’d hoped. We had two incredibly hefty servings of sweet, salty, deliciously warm ramen, slathered in chicken scratchings.
After dinner we wandered through the Soho area, meandering through comic stores and fabric shops until we made our way to Oxford Street. Being a massive lush fan myself, a trip to the famed 3-storied heaven of a store was definitely in order. We spent ages trying out all the products and left with that kind of sickly headache that only comes after inhaling bath bomb dust for the past 90 minutes. Our next stop was Muji, a store so wonderful that I’m extremely thankful we don’t have one in Edinburgh, as I feel as though a closer location would result in us having to eat toast and beans for the duration of our time here. Having finished our little bit of shopping we continued wandering until we ended up in Oxford Circus. From there we walked along the Thames, enjoying the night time view of the Eye and my favorite view of Parliament, which never ceases to remind me of my endless love for J.M. Barrie.
The next morning we woke up bright and early and walked to Borough market, which may very well be my new favorite place on earth. A pure Valhalla of culinary delights, we spent hours wandering through and marveling over all the different stalls and food vendors. Deciding what to eat was nothing short of impossible but eventually we settled on salt beef sandwiches, salted caramel and honeycomb doughnuts, fresh mango juice, and apple cider. We also tried cannelles de Bordeaux, which are basically perfection in baked custard form. Six cannelles later and I perhaps over enthusiastically promised Chris that I would attempt to bake them myself sometime in the future.
After tearing ourselves away from the tastes and smells of the market, we wandered along the river to the Globe and the Tate Modern. Having visited both before we decided on just a quick jaunt into the Tate to see some Richter and Rothko. Stopping only briefly as our feet were beginning to deform from all the walking, and perhaps not the most sensible shoe choice on my part, we continued along the millennium bridge. Chris was excited to be walking across the famed Harry Potter bridge, and we childishly delighted in the smell of candied nuts that various vendors were selling across the water. We ended up on the steps of St. Paul’s cathedral where I proceeded to get “Feed the Birds” stuck in my head, where it stubbornly remained for hours.
With our feet begging for a rest, we took the tube over to the monumental Victoria and Albert museum. My mum had recommended we select a few exhibits to see well, rather than quickly running through the entire thing, and we easily settled on the history of furniture and the history of fashion wings. Both are brilliant and if ever you find yourself in London, I couldn’t recommend the V and A enough. We eagerly read everything we could on both Eames and Dior, and I only had to remind Chris once not to touch the furniture. After our fill of museums and galleries we went home for a quick change and then went out again to hunt for food. Through more Internet grapevines I had heard of a place called Homeslice that was said to make the best pizza in London. Unfortunately it was too busy to get a table but we happily ordered some slices to go and enjoyed them sitting outside in Covent Garden. It was a bit full of cigarette smoke for our liking but the pizza itself was as good as the rumors promised.
In true Canadian fashion, we arrived to the theatre with ample time to spare so we entertained ourselves with some evening drinks on the patio. The theatres in London are so beautiful that even just the building itself is a spectacle, and we excitedly explored the various lobbies and corridors. As it was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the theatre was selling all sorts of treats and sweets and we bought some whimsical white candyfloss that tasted of hot chocolate. The show was absolutely wonderful and we had a fantastic evening. Directed by Sam Mendes, the stage was full tricks that had the whole audience audibly gasping. For the life of me I still can’t figure out how Mr. Wonka disappeared at the end. It was the first West End show Chris had ever seen and I was thrilled that he had such an enjoyable experience. The entire walk home was a hurried conversation alternating between what a wonderful evening it had been and how much our feet were beginning to become necrotic.
On Sunday we packed up and left our airbnb bright and early, eager to make the most of the time we had left. We went back to Covent Garden to grab some breakfast at Bills, which was as scrumptious as I had hoped, continuing the theme of a weekend of delicious food. We then walked to the Royal Academy of Arts as we had tickets to their featured exhibition. In fact, it was this exhibition that brought us to London in the first place. Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist who Chris and I have long admired and we were completely thrilled to be able to see his work in person. The exhibit was one of the largest collections of his work ever and we spent hours absorbing as much as we could. It was such a haunting collection and surpassed even our highest of hopes.
With just a few hours left before our bus to Stansted was set to arrive, we walked to Hyde Park to visit the Princess Diana Memorial fountain. We had spent quite a lot of time there on our previous visit to London and Chris was eager to return. We were lucky enough to get a beautiful and sunny day, which lent itself perfectly for an hour or so of people watching. Hungry and with little time to spare we grabbed a final meal at a pub in the train station and a few delicious doughnuts to eat on the bus. A few hours later, and that final Krispy Kreme sugar high a distant memory, we were back in our Edinburgh flat, exhausted, crippled from walking, and very pleased with our little English adventure.