“So how can you tell me you’re lonely, and say, for you that the sun don’t shine ?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London,
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind.”
Nevena had been to London a few times, so when she came to see me I had to get rather creative and think of new places to take her to. Luckily, London entertainment is right up my street and I could instantly think of a ton of fun things to offer, from browsing markets bursting with vintage finds, to enjoying some abstract modern art.
And these were just a couple of activities on our long list of places in London which are worth a stop. First stop though – St. Pancras International!
There is just something about London that can’t quite be defined. I don’t purport to have found the source of its charm, or the reason for it being a draw for so many people around the world, but what I do know, is that for me it’s the little details that make a walk in its streets so special. Take this metal exhibit hidden away on the second floor of St. Pancras International station. The busy commuters always whizz by without paying any attention to it, which is quite a feat considering its size! If you find yourself at St. Pancras, don’t forget to stop by the pianos just by the Eurostar arrivals gate and enjoy some excellent (and free) street entertainment.
Our next stop was Leicester square, a massively popular venue surrounded by eateries, and more importantly – theatres! I had booked us tickets to see the Let It Be musical which took us on a journey through the best live performances of The Beatles, from their first underground gigs in Liverpool, all the way to their breakthrough in the States.
Some of the audience danced, others sang along and the atmosphere was great. We decided to call it a night as Nevena was tired from her trip and we knew that we would need all the energy we could possibly muster for the big tour on the morrow.
We started Saturday off with a relaxed walk around Notting Hill, and we marvelled at the lovely pastel-coloured houses between nipping in and out of little crowded shops crammed full of random goods and souvenirs.
It was an exhausting affair, so we soon had to stop by 202 for brunch. This always guarantees some egg-cellent eggs benny, and a browse through their brilliant collection of fashion magazines and books.
^ Nevena is the most passionate animal lover I know, and she just couldn’t resist making some new friends around the neighbourhood. We even stopped and considered animal-themed souvenirs.
We then continued our fashion-themed tour with a stroll through the Victoria and Albert, the home of art and design. We loved all the exhibits, but we really enjoyed the museum café with its ornate ceiling and stained glass windows (and, naturally, the delectable carrot cake!).
After a fair bit of culture it was time for shopping! We headed to good old Picadilly Circus and lost ourselves in the Burlington Arcade, Fortnum and Mason and Liberty, my favourite department store hiding behind the façade of a Tudor house. All three are a distinctive feature of London’s shopping scene and are well worth a browse, even if you’re not in a mood for a splurge.
^ You simply can’t have a trip to the UK without some time spent ogling a gorgeous bone china tea set.
The museum enthusiasts that we are, we simply had to pay a visit to the Museum of London. You probably wouldn’t see it listed among London’s top attractions, but it’s actually really underrated. Personally, I would gladly skip the massive queues at the London Eye, and spend my time exploring London’s history instead. The Victorian walk recreates the dimly-lit cobbled streets and a range of shops from Victorian times, and is a definite must-see. In fact, I was so captivated by the detail within every shop window, that I completely forgot to take pictures so you’d have to go and see it for yourself!
^ The elevator doors of the Selfridge’s department store dating back to 1928.
We crossed the river and found ourselves right in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, another unmissable London site. Usually, the highlight of the churchyard is feeding the friendly squirrels, but we were unlucky in finding any this time, so we had to settle for Shaun th Sheep and a few snaps around the garden.
If you find yourself in the London Bridge area around lunchtime, your best bet would be Borough Market. It’s full of fresh produce, street food and numerous other things to splurge on, and it’s right next to Southwark Cathedral and the Shard, both very interesting landmarks. I would definitely encourage you to go up the Shard. It’s Europe’s tallest building and on a clear day you could see as far as 40 miles in each direction. Another great part of the experience is that you don’t have to climb a single step – the supersonic lifts takes you up 72 floors within 12 seconds!
We headed East and jumped on the Emirates cable car for a slightly different perspective. It took us over the O2 and London City Airport, but it also revealed a striking view of Canary Wharf against the backdrop of an indigo sky.
We then headed back West towards the heart of London. Our preferred route along the South bank of the Thames rewarded us with a sight of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and a snap in front of the historic pub, The Anchor, which happens to have an excellent roof garden you might want to check out.
We felt like we needed to refuel, so we walked over to Fire and Stone, a cosy place tucked away behind Covent Garden, boasting a huge stone furnace and an exceptionally diverse pizza offering. I had the Canberra (roast chicken breast, garlic & rosemary potatoes, marinated mushrooms, mozzarella, sour cream and sweet chilli sauce & chives), and Nevena had the Florence (pepperoni, crudo ham, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes & basil pesto, topped with olives). You guessed right – the pizzas are named after cities, and make use of ingredients traditionally used in the corresponding places, so it’s tons of fun figuring out where you want to imagine yourself travelling to through experiencing the local cuisine.
To finish off our feast of a meal we stopped by at Carluccio’s for desert. I had the forest fruit tiramisu which was absolutely brilliant, and Nevena went for the handmade classic tiramisu ice-cream which was very moreish as well!
All in all, I loved our weekend in London, because sometimes when you haven’t been able to go back home for a while, it feels great when your home comes to you instead, and brings a sense of comfort and serenity to your busy life. It’s even better when you are lucky enough to be in London, as it’s bound to offer you an inexhaustible list of things to see and do, however many times you visit.
I would love to hear about your own trips and fun days out in London, so please share your stories in the comments!