What do you do when plans change and you find yourself alone in London for a weekend? Why, you enjoy every moment, of course!
I was supposed to meet up with a friend of mine in Ireland on March 2nd, but nature intervened with one of the worst storms that they'd had in years. I was supposed to fly through London to Dublin, but flights to Dublin were canceled. The earliest flight I was able to get was for Sunday evening. Thus, I found myself in London for a little under 72 hours.
I stayed in Whitechapel, which turned out to be a great hub from which to venture out and explore the city. I'm proud to say that I actually used the tube- when I visit New York, I'm normally a fan of taking taxis due to the simplicity and ease of use. Taxi money, however, adds up, so I asked polite strangers for information and eventually, began using Google maps to guide me from the tube station to where I needed to go.
Friday, I got off the plane on a mission. I was going to try to see as many sights as possible. Unfortunately, I got to my hotel (I stayed at the Qbic Hotel, an economical choice with little trendy rooms) and I immediately fell asleep. I woke up a few hours later and I was on a mission. I was going to start sightseeing. The last time I had been to London was in 2011 and I was certain a lot had changed. It had begun drizzling and there was still some snow on the ground, but the weather wasn't so bad that I couldn't explore. My first stop was the British Museum, which was free. I walked around, getting a few pictures of the Rosetta Stone and some other excellent artifacts from all over the world. Afterwards, I looked up Korean restaurants on Yelp and found one called Seoul Bakery. Using trusty Google maps, I made my way there- it was on a nearby street. I ended up passing the restaurant three times, thinking it was a comic book store. Seoul Bakery is an adorable little restaurant with writing and pictures on the walls and a few wooden tables. I sat at the longest table, which appeared to be a community table. It was fortunate that I did, because I was able to meet other people. One person I met was a local student and we had a great conversation about living in London and where we would want to relocate in the world. He also gave me some great tips on places to go: Soho, Camden, Shoreditch, Brick Lane, and other areas of town. I wasn't able to visit all of them, but it's great to have this list for the next time I visit. I spent the evening sketching a little scene that I'd photographed earlier in the day.
The next day, I intended to get the day started early but I ended up sleeping in. (I'm basically a sloth, you guys.) The first thing on my list was to go by Buckingham Palace. You know, in case royalty wanted to wave at me. I had like .5 seconds to look around that area before I needed to get over to the Lyceum Theater to see The Lion King. The Lion King was truly a magnificent show- I would see it again. While rushing from place to place, I totally neglected to eat so I decided I would eat at Padella after visiting the Tate Modern Museum. I would like to add that I had been wearing quasi-snow boots which, paradoxically, had heels on them and my feet were basically on strike by the time I was halfway through the museum. Despite dragging my feet, I'm glad I made the trip to the museum. I would recommend it to anyone who loves modern art. It was also free (which is always great.) After the museum, I took a cab to Padella. "It's not that far away," the cab driver informed me. "Are you sure you want a ride?" I looked at my feet. "Yep!" I didn't make a reservation at Padella and when we pulled up, I saw a small line. Apparently, the restaurant wasn't very big. Luckily, since I was dining by myself, I was able to get a seat at a long table against the window. Like the table at the Korean restaurant, it was more of a shared space and I started talking to a woman from Singapore who let me try some of her ravioli as I made my meal decision.
On Sunday, I went to the Tower of London- which was a bit expensive and crowded. I walked around for a bit before making my way to Beigel Bake- a bagel restaurant I'd been wanting to try. There was a line of people waiting for their bagels, but the line moved with an efficiency that you rarely see. I bought a cream cheese bagel, which was good. It wasn't what I was used to- my request for capers and onions met with a shake of the head- but it tasted good. I made my way to Brick Lane while eating the bagel. Vendors had set up little booths along the street, selling art, books, clothing, and other wares. Visiting Brick Lane was one of the highlights of my day. Some hours later, I ate at Efes, which was a Turkish restaurant. Their falafel sandwich is great and portion sizes were, in my estimation, fantastic. After stuffing my face, I made my way to the airport.
Stay tuned and I'll tell you about Dublin.