Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Caroline vs. London (a quick visit!)

After leaving Tokyo, Clem and I headed to England for a friend's wedding.  Before going up to Yorkshire for the festivities, the two of us had a few days in London, so we did a few pre-wedding errands and just relaxed.

We stayed at Generator Hostel in St. Pancras, a great part of town.  Generator is really "cool" with awesomely decorated common spaces, and we actually stayed at their Dublin outpost as well (a couple Ireland posts are coming soon!), but I found the London staff to be kind of standoffish and unwelcoming, which didn't feel great after a long, looooong travel day. I wouldn't stay there again, though to be fair it is mostly because Clem and I feel like we've outgrown the hostel phase of our lives. The location is fab, and rates are really good compared to what you'd pay for a private room in London hotels - just don't expect staff to be tremendously involved or helpful.

Breakfast at Karpo on our first morning in town.
I love love love this style of bike parking! Spotted on our way (by hire bike!) to Shoreditch.
Shoreditch. My first time really in the East End, which was a nice change of pace from my typical touristy activities in the centre of town.
Patio drinks with an old friend at the Earl of Essex in Islington.
A good ol' English Breakfast at Bloomsbury Coffee House, one of my favourite spots in St. Pancras.
My first visit to the British Museum! A very overcast day gave the main hall a kind of underwater-looking tinge and didn't make for great photos, but I love the architecture too much not to post this one. A lot of museums in London are free, which is great for the wallet, especially with the weak Canadian dollar right now.

We were back in London at the end of our trip as well, and chose to stay across town, in Bayswater.  This is another fun area of town, and it's right next to the hip Notting Hill area, where I met some uni friends for brunch one day.  Unfortunately Clem and I were both sick, so we didn't do much more than stay in bed and venture out for food.  We stayed at the Bayswater Inn Hotel, which was BAD.  Please, friends, do not stay there.  We chose it because it was a decent price in a convenient location and the photos looked really good, but it was one of the worst hotel experiences of my life. Luckily our room had been recently renovated and was actually pretty nice, but everything else was suuuuuper rough, and the staff were horrendously rude.  By our last day we were well enough to actually do things in town, so we stayed out of the hotel for as long as possible. We headed to Westminster for a walk-by, then meandered up to Trafalgar Square before grabbing some fish and chips in Fitzrovia for our last meal in London.

Notting Hill townhouses.
6ix God in SW1
Monument to the Women of World War II on Whitehall.
Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square.
Picked up some fresh fish & chips with beers and mashed peas from Golden Union
Clever signage at the London Gin Club!
Digging into our fish and chips on the grass at Soho Square
Tudor-style gardener's hut in the middle of Soho Square.
Oxford Street is a treat for the eyes (not so much for the wallet).

I like visiting London, but I don't love it as much as I used to.  There are always a few things I want to do, like see friends and visit certain museums, but from now on I think London will be a via point for other UK trips, as opposed to a destination in itself.  Regardless, Clem and I had a fun few days and liked having London as a final pit stop before I flew home to Ottawa and he went back to Berlin to finish out his work contract with GPPi.

xx, C.

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