In February, my husband and I spent a weekend in London — exploring traditional sights, up-and-coming spaces and other interesting places. Below is a summary of our itinerary, plus a few pictures for those who haven’t followed Longing to Travel on Instagram yet.
London – Day 1
Upon Arrival, we quickly ‘cued’ up for the National Express bus from Luton Airport to London – (Marble Arch stop [A]). Luckily we had booked our tickets in advance, or else I’m not sure there would have been a seat for both of us on the bus. The ride was smooth and comfortable (the free WiFi helped with the comfort factor!).
After meeting up with my brother-in-law, it was dinner time and we decided to explore our surrounding which was highly concentrated with Middle Easterns restaurants and shops. It was like Chinatown, but for Arabs.
We chose to eat at Abu Zaad [C] (128 Edgware Rd, London W2 2DZ, United Kingdom), a Syrian restaurant, based on the recommendation from a dear friend and it’s proximity to our hotel [B]. While the ambiance isn’t something to be impressed with, the food absolutely was. From the kebab, to the fattet makdous to the mint tea. Everything was perfect–including the service. This restaurant comes highly recommended.
London – Day 2
Day 2 began with an amazing eggs benedict and coffee/tea at The Portman (51 Upper Berkeley St, Maryleborne, London W1H 7QW, United Kingdom).
Next, we used our Oyster cards to take the bus towards Buckingham Palace. [A] After snapping a few pictures in from of The Palace and the Victoria Memorial, we walked up Birdcage Walk towards Westminster Abbey [B]. The line (and price tag) to enter the Abbey didn’t seem like the best bang for our buck, so we quickly made our way to the River Thames and enjoyed a few windy minutes on the Westminster Bridge [D], where we had a great view of Big Ben and Parliament [C].
We continued our walk along the river and continued our day exploring Leicester Square Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden Market. We ended our day of sightseeing with some drinks and snacks at The Maple Leaf (41 Maiden Ln, London WC2E 7LJ, United Kingdom) while watching the Man City vs Leicester City football match.
A Night Out in Shoreditch
A few hours (and one nap) later, we get dressed and headed towards hipster-central, aka Shoreditch.
Dinner was amazing at BOXPARK Shoreditch [A] (2-10 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6GY, United Kingdom), a pop-up establishment, made from old shipping containers, with awesome music and a number of interesting restaurants to choose from. After enjoying a great burger from Bukowski, we went on a mini-bar crawl around the area.
Our first stop was in the deli section of Pizza East [B] (56 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JJ, United Kingdom). Great ambience and a HUGE space filled with trendy 20 and 30 somethings. It’s a loud, popular place, so don’t expect to find a seat around the giant wood table. After a drink here, we headed for a nice walk around the area. Walking down Rivington St, we passed many cool places–bars, restaurants, pubs, clubs, concert venues–as well as A TON of graffiti. Maybe it was the darkness and rain that made this strip seem so edgy and cool; but I liked the vibe. Two interesting places we stumbled upon was the London Cat Village [D] (47 Rivington St, London EC2A 3QB, United Kingdom) where you can pay to play with cats (…no we didn’t stop in, but it was quite a sight to see). More sophisticated and impressive was peering into the Tramshed [E] (32 Rivington St, London EC2A 3LX, United Kingdom); a restaurant within a former East End tram-generator building. A very cool place to see, even if just from the outside.
The line outside The Book Club (100-106 Leonard St, London EC2A 4RH, United Kingdom) was too long for us (we’re past the age where we’d wait in line in the rain to enter an establishment of any kind), so we popped by The Old Blue Last [F] (38 Great Eastern St, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3ES, United Kingdom) instead. We were pleasantly surprised to find an amazing DJ who played all 90’s & early 2000’s music on the main level and live music upstairs. I think this place had something for everyone and the prices were reasonable compared to the other places we had been.
Finally, we ended the night at the bar of the Ace Hotel Shoreditch [C] (100 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JQ, United Kingdom). This classy joint had something for everyone, including an interesting cocktail list, snacks and a live DJ. All in all, I’d say Shoreditch had a lot to offer, if you’re into the ‘hipster scene’. But be prepared to pay high prices for drinks/food and come dressed to impress.
London – Day 3
Our third and last day in London was short and sweet. We started it off by grabbing a few pastries and walking around Hyde Park. We made a point to stop and listen to the people at Speaker’s Corner. We didn’t really enjoy the topics they were discussing (they were talking about the need to keep foreigners out of England), but we enjoyed the fact that freedom of speech was alive and well. Then we spent a few hours checking out the Victoria and Albert Museum [A] (Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL, United Kingdom), followed by a nice walk in the surrounding areas; which included an unexpected gem: The Albert Memorial [B] (Kensington Gardens, London W2 2UH, United Kingdom).
Our short visit to London was eventful and impressive. To this day, I have claimed that London is not my favorite city…but after this trip, I can say that it’s starting to grow on me.