It’s been a dream of mine to head to the motherland since I was a little girl. This year, I got to realise that dream by travelling to London, Scotland (and Paris) and I am SO happy I waited until I was in my mid-twenties to go. Why? Maturity. A finer sense of sacrifice and, thus, a higher appreciation for what I was experiencing. I was in London from 5-9 May.
By our third day, we’d done so much walking and had been in the country long enough to start getting used to the time having gone back nine (or ten) hours. We woke up at 8.30am, indulged ourselves in the amazing breakfast Gavin & Lyn provided, and took up their recommendation of checking out Camden markets.
We caught the tube to Camden Town (change at Tottenham Court Road) and were greeted with a bustling, one-way street with music, market stalls, and people everywhere. This was my kind of place – I love going to markets – and we started wandering around. The markets are a bit of a mix of good quality items, crafts, cheap knockoffs, clothing, toys, shoe stores, alternative stores, and more. We found some pretty amazing places, with particular highlights being:
A little market stall that has photos of different things around London that look like letters. You put different photos of the letters together to make a name or a phrase!
Rockabilly and Steampunk clothes – everywhere!
So. Many. Awesome. Shoes.
The food market area was amazing. I settled on a Greek wrap and it blew my mind!
Street art is everywhere, and many of the permanent shops have amazing murals or sculptural signs above their awnings.
Watching a boat go through the canal. It sounds really lame, but I thought it was really cool. Basically, the canal is in two different levels and to get through it, boats need to go through a gated system that allows you to level out a section of the canal so you can both enter the first gate and then leave through the second gate. Hyperlapse coming soon…
So Camden markets are a must. However, if you’re not a fan of large crowds then make sure you go early. My friend, who we unfortunately couldn’t meet up with, went later in the day and it was “[her] version of hell on earth.”
Travel tip for London: free wifi covers most of the area at Camden markets.
Our only problem was that we went on a Sunday. Unbeknownst to us, Camden Town tube station closes to outgoing passengers between 1.30 & 5.30pm on a Sunday, because the crowd is just too huge. There are a couple of overground and tube stations nearby, and there are always bus options.
Alternatively, if you’re up for a walk, you can walk all the way to King’s Cross station (which is what we did). There are some really amazing sights along the way, including St. Pancras Old Church – the oldest place of Christian worship in Britain. It is a wonderfully peaceful place, with mossy stones, places to sit, and the ability to go into the church (if you’d like). I’m agnostic, so sometimes I feel a little weird about going into churches and prefer to appreciate the architecture from the outside. In any case, I would really recommend taking a look.
Our next stop was King’s Cross station because HARRY POTTER YES. I found Platform 9 ¾, but so did about 70 other people at the same time and I’m not really up on the whole, “let’s stay in line for 45 minutes JUST to take a photo and not experience anything even though in the photo it looks like you’re having the best time HAHAHA.” So I just went to the Platform 9 ¾ store instead and apparently looked at every single item twice. (Ross has not read the books or watched the movies so he’s not keen on Harry Potter at all.) But I left with a Ravenclaw beanie and some presents for the kids, so I’m happy. I must admit, I spent a large part of my time wondering if I was from Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, but ultimately my first name won out – how many Rowenas are there in the world, let alone in literature!
Travel tip for London: do the Pottermore quiz, just so you know.
By this time of the afternoon, I was pooped and wanted to have a nap. Ross didn’t want to waste any of his time, so we agreed that I would go back to the Airbnb and then I’d meet him at Tower Bridge at 7.30pm. I got on the tube and changed my mind, getting off at Baker Street station to visit Sherlock Holmes’ house. Being strapped for cash, I didn’t go into the actual exhibition, but the shop was rather nice and it felt cool just being there.
I then walked over to Regent’s Park and actually got to spend a bit of time there. It’s home to the Open Air Theatre and, quite frankly, shits all over Hyde Park in terms of beauty and relaxation. A ladybug hitched a ride on my jacket for a little while as I walked through the park and found a community garden, a lake, fountains, and tennis courts.
I caught the tube from Regent’s Park to Monument (there’s a changeover station in between, but I can’t recall what it was), checked out the gigantic monument made to mark the Great Fire of London, and walked across London Bridge and down to Tower Bridge to meet Ross.
While I’m sure you can work this next tip out by yourself, unfortunately, my wonderful, intelligent partner couldn’t. Ross wore shorts during the day. That’s fine – he’s a living heater – but as soon as the starts to go down in London, the weather drops about 10 degrees Celsius VERY quickly. He sacrificed his warmth for his photos, but:
Travel tip for London: even if it’s warm during the day, make sure you have some warm clothes for the night!
We thawed out in a little bar under Tower Bridge called The Vault and then made our way back to the Airbnb.