is still better than a sunny day anywhere else.
I made my way home in the rain after landing around 3PM this afternoon, and ever since have sat on my bed, catching up on emails, social media, and rest.
In the back of my mind, I’ve been trying to piece together what to say about this weekend that could carry the weight of just how special and intoxicating London was to me.
And now, I’ve realized that maybe that can’t be done, and that is part of what makes it so extraordinary. But I will share with you the fun we had, and some pictures we took along the way. It might take one or two posts, or ten. I might just keep writing about it forever.
So without futher babble, here’s London:
Once Alleigh and I reached London via the train from a northern airport, Mitch met us and helped us navigate the Tube towards his flat.
For the many of you who don’t know Mitch, he’s a Green Bay native and Minnesota student who I lived next to freshman year in the dorms. He’s always been one of those friends you can call on out of the blue to shoot the breeze or talk serious stuff. As he’s studying in the city all semester, we were lucky to get the chance to visit London with him.
His flat is in the northern borough Camden, and just like the area itself, it’s funky and fresh. We were more than slightly jealous of his brand new appliances and flooring, and wide-eyed upon noticing his roommates watching TV, in English. It doesn’t really bother me that we don’t have television, but it was a comfort of home we forgot about – even after two weeks.
An episode of “How I Met Your Mother” later, we headed out with more of Mitch’s classmates to a few clubs near Piccadilly Circus – the Times Square of London. The atmosphere of the city was electric, the club was exciting, the way home a little exhausting. But even a few hours in to our stay, we were completely enamored by the city.
Mitch had his internship at a local football club, leaving Alleigh and I free to roam the city at our leisure. Out the door by 9AM, we confidently hopped on the Tube in Camden, toward the heart of London.
Exiting the Underground at London Bridge, we practically skipped across the river. We had no idea where we were, where we were going, plenty of time, and no reason to care. Of course, our wandering brought us right to Starbucks, and we enjoyed warm, homey drinks that didn’t come in cups made for dolls.
Chais and mochas in hand, we stumbled across St. Paul’s Cathedral (another sight that felt close to home, for me), ventured across the Millennium Bridge + Tate Modern, spotted the Globe Theatre, and walked a beautiful road along the Thames. Familiar sights were just as beautiful as I imagined, but the rest of London was what absolutely left me in awe. Perfectly restored antique buildings stood aside glassy, modern marvels, and all of it was immaculately clean and well kept.
Ok, pardon my obvious statement, but Big Ben is really big. Like, huge. And ornate, and wonderful.
In the vicinity, we visited Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey, and a few red telephone booths. In the on-and-off drizzle, we strolled through the park leading us to Buckingham Palace. Both swans and pigeons roamed the lush area, and tourists and Londeners alike also seemed to share the pretty space.
By luck, we caught the changing of the guard at the Palace! Proud of ourselves, we skipped the obligatory picture with the guard. It felt awkward, and they were in grey winter coats vs. traditional red.
The rest of the day didn’t consist of big stops, but more so mindless wandering. We saw historic Leicester + Trafalger Squares, then bopped in to one of the more prominant fashion districts via Piccadilly Circus. Among one of the best finds was Fortnum & Mason, thanks to the suggestion of a Londoner we met on a street corner. The official department store of the Queen, the lavish building had grocery, home goods, and high tea. We enjoyed many sweet and savory samples from the gourmet food section. Empasis on many.
Back in Piccadilly Circus, we hit Regent Street and windowshopped on the wide street. One of the noteable stops we made was at the very new J.Crew, the first shop to open in London and one that we were very excited about at my own store this fall. It was kind of surreal to be there!
Of course, shopping works up an appetite. In Chinatown, we celebrated the Chinese New Year with authentic and hot Chinese food as the rain came down a little harder outside. We took our time eating for the sake of tired legs and free wifi.
Around 5PM, we jumped on a red doubledecker and went to see Harrods.
Oh my goodness.
It was overwhelming. Alleigh and I walked every inch of the 6 floor luxury department store, starting with designer perfumes, fashion, and shoes – then ranging to plush home furnishings to children’s toys.
A $40,000 Pound toy Range Rover for your 6-year-old? Sure.
We loved it.
Still high on our love for this newfound place, we walked out of Harrod’s and continued to walk. In fact, we walked back to Piccadilly once more. Everything was so beautiful, we just didn’t want to miss a single second of it.
But our feet were tired, and 12 hours after leaving Mitch’s place in Camden town, we returned. We actually burned ourselves out so much, we skipped the night out with Mitch and his roommates. Instead, we sat on the couch eating fruit and ice cream, watching TV.
And it was a great end to the best day I had on my trip so far.
Never in a rush and never with an agenda, Alleigh and I somehow managed to come across all of the sites we wanted to see in London in a day, and then some. We ate good food, took photos like tourists, and laughed a lot. We are so lucky not only to have the chance to travel to such beautiful places, but to do it together!
Of course this is just half the trip, and I need to take a shower. Look for “day two” soon, if you aren’t completely exhausted from the length of this post.
Ciao, for now.