I’m going to start this post by saying that I only saw one pair of white, pleather, platform boots while I was in London and that is very disappointing. More disappointing- she wasn’t Scary, Sporty, Ginger, Baby, or Posh. Oh well, better luck next time.
After such an amazing first day in London, I was excited to see other areas of the big city, and to experience some of the other vibes they had to offer. We began our second day by meeting up with Eleni’s new friend Connor who is also a student at London School of Economics. When we asked her what to look for while trying to find him she said, “He looks like a British boy. You’ll know.”
She was right. Standing under the awning of a streetfood cart to avoid the rain was a guy about 5 feet 8 inches tall, wearing brown leather shoes and a green Barbour coat. We instantly knew it was him and introduced ourselves. In my usual fashion of missing cultural cues, I stuck out my hand for a good old American handshake. As my hand went crashing into his stomach I realized we were hugging. “You’re in Europe now.” He said. (I later went in for the hug with a British girl I was being introduced to and she went for the handshake so basically I can never win.)
Connor told us he had a tour planned and, after realizing his favorite coffee shop was too crowded, we went to his second favorite: a Vienna themed cafe with delicious cappuccinos and a beautiful dessert counter. I didn’t get any food (actually shocking) but the coffee was great and got us going for the day.
Next, Connor tried to explain the British legal system to us and took us to The Royal Courts of Justice. It was fun to learn about the legal process of another country, and even more fun to be able to go into the courts and learn more about the history. The building was absolutely beautiful and we felt very official having to go through security. Again, being my rebellious self, I took a forbidden picture.
Following the historical theme of the day, Connor excitedly brought us to what claims to be one of the oldest pubs in London. The Old Cheshire Cheese is definitely a place to see. The dark, almost cavelike feeling of the pub takes you back in time to the days when literary icons like Mark Twain were rumored to have been regulars. As you move down the flights of stairs, the pub gets older and older and you may forget how many pints you’ve had along the way. I only had three- I’m very responsible.
That night we were invited to Connor’s apartment where we met his roommates, played the British Version of kings, and argued over the correct pronunciation of “aluminum” and “puma.” We tagged along with the brits to a beginning of the semester party at LSE in their student club. They have a full-on club in their student center so that’s one thing the English are definitely doing right. A huge thanks to Connor and his friends for taking us out and showing the town!
One of my favorite parts of London is that within minutes you can feel like you’re in a completely different place than you were before. Each day we spent was different and exciting, and we were only there for a few days! Day three was spent in Nottinghill wandering Portobello road. The colorful houses, the street market, and the surreal atmosphere were like nothing I’ve seen before.
I have something here to admit. I wish that I could tell you about the amazing streetfood that I ate here but the truth is that we were so tired* and hungry from the previous night’s events that we ended up in a diner begging for burgers and fries. In our defense, the burgers were delicious and fairly upscale from the usual fast food but we totally missed out on an awesome food opportunity. The diner was really cute, the food was just what we needed, and the Obama poster made us feel right at home.
I wasn’t kidding.
We decided to have one dinner per country we visit to have a fancy, pretend-we’re-not-backpackers, dinner, and we chose Dishoom at King’s X to splurge in London. Dishoom offers a full array of upscale Indian food and the decor is equally as breathtaking. From the incense burning to a bathroom that was so nice I asked Eleni to take a picture of it, we were impressed from the very beginning. We each ordered the Chicken Tikka, and for sides we ordered calamari, gingery greens, and black dhaal which was a sort of lentil sauce. Of course we had to have naan to bring it all together and decided on both the cheese and the plain. Dessert blew me away- spicy chocolate mousse, rose and raspberry meringue, and a mango popsicle that the waiter sent us on the house.
We got a little crazy in the drinks department and ordered the punch, which was a very large glass punch bowl delivered to our table filled with limes, nutmeg, and other delicious secret things. The menu said it was to be served to a minimum of four people but I guess they thought we looked like we could handle it.
I would really recommend Dishoom to anyone looking for great Indian in London. I would go just for drinks and the atmosphere alone! Thanks for the recommendation, Lindsey!
Being in Camden, the Camden Market was a must, so we set out on day four to see what it was all about. The market was a maze of food vendors, artisans, second hand stores, vintage booths, cafes, and hundreds of people. It was a lot of work to maneuver around all those shoppers, so we of course needed to grab some food to keep us going. We decided on indian again (because you can never have enough) and found the Roti House stand, where they were making tandoori naan to order with your choice of fillings. Ashley and I ordered masala chicken rolled in garlic naan and let me tell you, it was just what we needed. (we had a piece of chocolate stout cake too but there’s no picture so the calories don’t count).
We walked around the labarynth of stalls and vendors for a few hours, weaving in and out of racks of second hand overalls and knockoff bags. We did not pay the one euro to take a picture with “real English punks.” It was like a classier Hampton Beach on British steroids. SO much fun.
Second dessert is now a Michelle Obama approved meal I heard so, to celebrate, we headed over to Chin Chin Labs where they make to-order icecream dishes using a Kitchenaid mixer and liquid nitrogen. You can watch the whole process from the counter, seeing them pour the nitrogen into the cream and churning it to perfection. Ashley and I shared the coffee and doughnuts special, which was coffee icecream over a bed of doughnut crumbles and white chocolate sauce. Eleni got their classic vanilla, and we were all impressed.
London was an amazing time. Thank you so so much to Eleni who is a rockstar and the best hostess ever. Next, we’re on to Ireland. See you soon Dublin!