I landed in London on Thursday but I only actually started to wander around on Friday evening when I was done with work, or work was done with me. Both are just as valid.
But before we go into details, some logistics. Because London is awkwardly expensive, I decided to go for a hostel. I have to say: the best £60 invested. I stayed at the Astor Hyde Park Hostel in a room with other 9 ladies. Clean, super safe and super close to the city centre and good tube connections (if I can call it tube after 2 days of London)
April 7th - First evening in the city.
I was tired, confused, a bit depressed so I found the closest Wagamama and went for a seafood ramen and a spicy beer. Seafood ramen rocks my world! Thank you seafood ramen and to you spicy beer!
The real adventure started on April 8th which I will officially call DAY 1.
I was aware that London is so big, diverse and dynamic that will be impossible to get anything done without even the tiniest plan. So I put on paper a few spots I would like to see and started from there. This is how DAY 1 went.
Caution! I did a lot of walking and I am usually a super fast, tireless explorer so this may not be for the faint-hearted. So, if you are an explorer just like me, this might be just up your alley (so many English expressions, it's clear that I am a true Londoner now!)
Stop #1 - I woke up super early and by 8 a.m I was already on Gloucester road looking for coffee. I found it at 119-121 Gloucester Rd, Kensington, called Nero Cafe. What a pleasant surprise: an Italian barista and 2 Italian ladies speaking in Italian about, well, Italy and famiglia of course. And Toscana and famiglia again. Felt like home.
Stop #2 - after a proper cappuccino and a brioche, I started walking towards Hyde Park through Kensington park. It was still the early hours of the morning, sunny day, parks were green and lots of birds singing. I was fortunate to have such good weather.
Stop #3 - Borough market. For this one I decided to take the tube so I went to Hyde Park Corner station, bought myself an Oyster card, filled it with £25 which lasted 2 days of tube journeys. I arrived there at around 11 am and loved the fuss, the small stands, people moving around trying out stuff. I bought sausages and chai from the Borough Market. Being clumsy, I dropped the sausages on the floor, in the market, but eat them anyway as these were super delicious + I applied the 3 seconds rule works.
Stop #4 - As I was leaving Borough market, I saw a huge queue for coffee just outside the market. The queue was in front of an ex barn current coffee shop called Monmouth Coffee Company. Of course I had to stay as I was curious to taste this coffee + the interior looked so nice. I was totally seeing myself in there, with my journal, acting all bohemian. Delicious coffee! This is one stop not to miss in London
Stop #5 - As I was leaving Monmouth Coffee place, I heard they were selling strawberries for £1.5 so I bought some. Then, I took my coffee and my strawberries and decided to do some sunbathing on Southbank, right in front of the Tate modern on the green grass in the (almost) summer sun. There were a lot of talented artist playing on the banks like these little fellows here.
Stop #6 - I was quite lazy, didn't want to leave my spot in the sun as the atmosphere was oh so jolly but I decided to continue my pilgrimage. Next stop was Covent Garden. I was quite disappointed by it, too pretentious for my taste. That didn't stop me from eating ice-cream from Venchi! I didn't spend to much time there. I decided to continue with SOHO
Stop #7 - somehow I landed right in the middle of Chinatown. It was just about the right time to grab something to eat so I opened up the internet and looked for a nice Chinese restaurant to have some dim sum. OMG, I just adore dim sum. I did not find anything relevant on the internet but I did start to stare in the windows and relied on karma much. That's how I landed at Bao and Noodle on 16 Lisle St. I had some shrimp dim sum.
SOHO was super loud and noisy, people everywhere, crowded streets, kind of confusing and tiring. As the day was approaching to an end, I remembered that on one of my first visits here I saw Shoreditch and liked it so I decided to go back. Before taking the tube to Shoreditch, I stopped in a vintage shop. As I was looking around, what to buy? what to buy? I found an old leather money belt and here is how the dialogue went along:
me: how much for this? she: 5 pounds, but be careful, the inside is stained with something. me: I'm fine with that, it makes it more interesting. [pause thinking that she should have asked for more as I was interested in buying it nonetheless] she: anyway it's an ugly purse, I'm glad you are taking it, it was ruining my window here....
Stop #8 - Shoreditch and Brick Lane. I took the tube again, this time to Old Street station and from there by foot in Shoreditch, here and there, on the streets, admiring the street art, the graffiti and the super cool kids, dressed in a crazy creative way. This is where I should be! Hipserlandia! I went down Great Eastern street, then Quaker street and reached Brick Lane where the party was just getting started.
As I was going down Brick Lane, I occasionally took left / right on the smaller streets intersecting this one for some cool street art. This is what I saw along the way. Streets I would recommend: Woodseer street, Hanbury street, Princelet street.