Big Apple girl spends five days with Big Ben and falls in-fatuation.
I don’t remember much from middle school but I do remember learning about the TGV during Geography class. I spent the period daydreaming about blurry landscapes and fancy dining carts. Fast forward to two weeks ago and there I was, at 6:00 AM, making my way through a rainy Paris to catch the Eurostar and finally experience the innovation that had changed modern day travel.
It would be my first time in London and I could not wait to try a salt bake bagel, spot amazing street art, go vintage shopping, and live vicariously through Meghan Markle. Here’s what my five day stint looked like packed with tips for other Big Ben virgins (last phallic joke):
LDN n Friends
The two hour train ride was a breeze, but a freezing one courtesy of the icy AC on blast. Once arrived, we were met with a crisp London morning; a nice reminder that traveling warm is a must no matter the season. We decided to begin our touristic adventure with some light shopping for sweaters. Unfortunately our Airbnb check-in wasn’t until 3PM and we had arrived at 8AM. Bulky luggage would weigh us down. “Let’s find an information booth”, resourcefulness is my travel super power. And it paid off because thankfully there was a left luggage right across the street from the Kings Cross Station that would hold our stuff for up to 6 hours at only £5. Once we were free to explore, we took our first and last London bus (cc: Uber) to the shopping district and started day one.
“Wow, people are so nice here.” Was the first observation Ludi (BFF) and I made. As soon as we touched down in London town (only Kanye West reference) we were greeted by friendly locals eager to share helpful tips to add to our experience. It was a breath of fresh air, especially since we had traveled down from Paris (trip recap soon come) and the city of lights’s citizens had been less than bright personalities. Here we were charming people with our New York accents as they offered up suggestions on where to eat and what to see while we were in their neck of the woods:
Get food at the Delicatessen:
Check out the Getty Gallery:
Catch an event at the British Library:
We stayed in Hackney, or as I like to call it Williamsburg’s estranged English cousin. Expect to see lots of colorful street art, cute boutiques as well as some cheap and cheerful eats. On weekends they have the London Fields Flea Market which provides anything you don’t need but probably want.
Our first plug moment was at Donlon, a small rare book store on Broadway Market. Ludi and I had decided to get breakfast by us and stopped in for some nerdy take aways. “We’re ha’ing a magazine launch par’tee l8’er on if you’d like to join.” Why do people with British accents swallow their words?
Not just any magazine launch par’tee, More or Less Magazine launch par’tee. Jaime Pearlman‘s debut issue which features THE Kate Moss on the cover brought out an eclectic (mostly white) mix of people. I was sweating from excitement thinking of all the things I aspired Dyynamics to be or not to be (only Shakespeare reference). The fashion magazine “doesn’t feature anything more than £1000 and we’re really about sustainability. So we feature a lot of vintage.” – drawled a somewhat jaded and distant Jaime to my inquisitive excitement.
Note to self: at Dyynamics launch party be nice and warm to everyone to avoid being described as drawling (scroll down to sign up to our mailing list for the exclusive invite to the party!).
I did not see enough black spaces and I’m happy to chalk it up to the short amount of time I spent in London, but honestly I don’t think the city makes a lot of room for black people. Despite it being a very diverse place. Either way, we ended up at Shoreditch House for Hip Hop night which was so GOOD! Shout out to the plug, Adam Rogers, who was kind enough to have us as his guests and suggest the pre-game at Kansas Smitty’s a local Jazz spot which was fun (but again very white).
My only real club experience was at Maddox and it was dark. As in I don’t remember much, except getting an invite from Gabe Garcia who was responsible for heading G-Eazy’s pop-up shop Gerald’s and was coordinating the after party there.
No Rain, YAY!
You can walk to all the major landmarks in London and we were lucky enough the weather cooperated (shout out to that minor sunburn) which made discovering the city on foot that much more enjoyable. For maximum output in little to no time start by visiting The National Gallery, from there you can walk 20 minutes to Buckingham Palace and then walk to the under-renovation Big Ben, so you really can’t see anything but will be able to live to tell the day you almost saw it.
I ate a Salt-Bake Bagel…
…and I loved it!
So good it deserved its own heading. I went to both Beigel Bake and Beigel Shop and tried the typical Londoner drunk munchy from both places. The sandwich is a perfect medley of freshly baked bagel with delicious pastrami, super spicy mustard and a pickle.
I preferred Beigel Shop:
Some days I wish I could go back in life, not to change things, just to feel a few things twice.