London Bubbles.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In a recent sappy post about dreams, I mentioned I went into London for the day.

I booked a cheap bus fare for the wee hours of the morning – so early in fact, that as I was walking to the bus stop, people were coming home from the clubs. 

Why so early, you ask?

Simply put, I'm a breakfast enthusiast and I wanted to start my day off in a leisurely, cheery manner. I strolled along Oxford Street as it was just waking up and made my to The Riding House Cafe in Fitzrovia that I had read about through my girl crush/London food bible blogger: The Londoner. I was the first person in, right at 9am and was seated at a round table parked in front of a cushy bench, pillow and all. The staff were all friendly and the decor was gorgeous – shiny white brick, colourful splashes of turquoise, touches of copper. Industrial, cool, and vintage all wrapped into one.

I went for the Full and Proper English breakfast, which did not disappoint; the bacon was cooked just how I like it (a bit wiggly), I bravely ate most of the black pudding, and the eggs were juuuuust runny enough where they didn't make my toast soggy...I have issues with wet bread. I can't comment on the beans as I also have issues with beans, but everything else on the plate received a thumbs up from me! If you're in the area and looking for a good breakfast place, I'd recommend giving it a go! I did make reservations just in case, and it was pretty packed by the time I was leaving. 

With my tummy full, I made my way over to Camden Market to explore the many stalls and take in the extraordinary people-watching...

Huffed and puffed a bit to get to the top of Primrose Hill to scan the London skyline...

Ventured over to tourist paradise, Abbey Road and then 221B Baker Street.

I had never been to either and figured it was time to cross them off my list! Even with the crowd of people and frustrated Londoners trying to drive down the road, Abbey Road was fun to finally see. I didn't take a picture of myself walking across it because I rarely trust strangers with my camera, but I did walk across it in a free moment, hummed a bit of "Yesterday" and giggled to myself.

Baker Street, on the other hand, was a little underwhelming. The famous door and a Sherlock Holmes Museum (which received a "meh" review from my friend Sara) is shoved right into the middle of the commercial road and going out of the way just for a picture of the door hiding behind a queue of people wasn't really worth it. And I really love Sherlock so I had high hopes.

Following my counter-clockwise venture around Regent's Park, I got on the tube and headed East.

This far East, to be exact.

I had visited the Tower of London when I was 13 but not when I was in London a few years ago. I was debating going inside until I saw the hoards of people surrounding it. I'm not opposed to standing in a queue, but I'll save it for a weekday where I can breathe a bit more. But no worries, because there was plenty to see from the outside! To commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War 1, the Tower of London is installing 888,246 ceramic poppies in the moat, one to represent each British and Commonwealth solider who died in the war . It was really impressive to see and pictures do it zero justice. It'll be up until November 11 in case you get the chance to visit, for more details about the installation, click here.

Moseyed around the City of London, where this guy really knew how to be a crowd pleaser. Who doesn't love giant bubbles?!

I spent a few hours walking along the Thames until the effects of my 4am wakeup call began to take its toll and decided it was time for food.

Shake Shack is a New York City institution and has the cult following of a boy band. I'd never had it before and had been told there was one in Covent Garden, so I excitedly went there with anticipation. I had read that the queue could be insane, so I mentally prepared myself for a wait. It took under 15 minutes to get to the till and the area was absolutely mental, so I figured actually getting my food would take a while. I patiently waited for about 20 mins, started to be visibly annoyed at 30 mins, and around 45 mins my sanity was wavering. I had ordered one burger, one thing of fries, and one milkshake. When I approached the employees they were shocked that I had waited so long to say something and that orders should only take around 10 mins. Oops. She brought my food out to me within minutes yet I had no where to sit. The tables outside and inside were all occupied, and the roped of area in the main hall had its own queue of people. I circled around for a solid 10 minutes before carefully tapping the same lady on the shoulder asking if I could just go over the ropes and sit down since I already had my food. She nodded and waved me in. The food was good, probably really good. But nothing is that satisfying after waiting over an hour. Lesson learned.

London is a busy city, that's no secret. It was also a Sunday so the weekend was still in full swing however the sheer number of people and noise at Covent Garden was overwhelming for me. I don't know if it was amplified due to hunger and standing for nearly an hour, but from now on I'll avoid the area at peak dinner time on the weekend.

The weather began to take a turn for the colder and wetter side, and I had foolishly not brought a coat, thinking my jumper would suffice (I'm still a Texan deep down). After the food ordeal, I wanted to make sure I was warm and cuddly to prevent any grumpy moods, so I popped into Topshop and bought a furry-lined parka that will take me all the way through winter. (Heads up, it runs massive so I would go down a size or two if you're interested). I probably would not have enjoyed the rest of my evening without it.

Overall, I had a great day. My mission was to mostly just re-acquaint myself with London and re-master maneuvering around, as I haven't been in just over two years. There is still so much more to explore and I can't wait to keep adventuring (and eating) my way through the city. I even got to extend my stay, because my bus home never turned up!

I love you, London. You still have my heart, 10 years after we first met.

Any Londoners out there have suggestions for what I should see or eat next time? I'm also planning on visiting as much of the UK as I can, so share any other city suggestions as well!

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