Today started as almost all of our sundays in London do, the Columbia Road Flower Market. And it was fabulous, as it always is. But after that we didn't know what to do, because the weather was unbelievably wonderful. Notice that last sentence? People in London don't know what to do when the weather is nice... After some deliberation, we opted to explore Hyde Park. Then we discovered these rad bikes that you can rent. The rest is history. Wobbly cycling and all. We had a blast on this very beautiful Sunday in London.
Since we've been in London, one of our favourite things to do is go to markets and there are so many that by the time we leave we won't even make a dent on the market scene.
There are several reasons why we like markets so much:
1. Markets have awesome food. We've yet to go to a market in London that has bad food. They don't exist. And the food is cheap, which leads to our second reason...
2. Markets don't cost any money to visit. At least until you buy tons of stuff.
3. Pretty much every borough has it's own market, so we're always finding new places and discovering new things on our way to and from the markets. Don't be afraid to go off the main roads. Go down side streets and try new routes. It's the best way to discover a city.
Josh's classmates at school told him that the Camden Markets are particularly exciting. So we headed there on a Saturday to find out. The core of the market is an old horse stable. You can literally get lost for hours wandering the tunnels and little ally's. This market is a bit cheesy when it comes to the vendors, lots of cheap gimmicks for tourists and after a while the stalls start to blend and look the same... BUT there are gems to be found. The food alone is worth a visit.
Easily one of my favourite things to do is go for walks along the Thames. Be it during the day or at night. During the day there often is street vendors selling caramelized nuts. If you pass them, buy three packs. They're amazing. Here are a couple photographs we took on our last walk.
Sorry for being MIA lately. Life is just now starting to form some sort of a routine. Josh has started school and I've been slowing chipping away at my giant 'while in London' list. The first few days felt like we were tourists trying to see everything London had to offer as fast as we humanly could (a trait I think I inherited from my mom.) After doing that, we ended up needing a few days to let the swelling in our feet to go down, and our fingers to defrost. This week has been far more enjoyable. Josh's school doesn't start till 10:30 so that means quiet mornings with coffee and breakfast together, which is something we were never able to do back in Vancouver. I explore during the day, and work when it gets dark (it does so quite early.) Overall, it's been wonderful, that said, here is some stuff we've learned about London so far:
No street or park is ever the same. Going for walks never gets boring.
Always have an umbrella on you at all times. You never know when it will start raining. And it always starts raining when you aren't prepared.
Good coffee shops are few and far between, but once you find one it's so worth the £3.
That brings me to my next observation, the word 'cheap'.. does not exist. Josh and I have a rule now: Don't ever, EVER do currency conversions or think about how much something would cost in Vancouver. It's a downward spiral that never ends well.
Never, ever go in those cute red phone booths. Basically just avert your eyes in the opposite direction and keep moving.
Good ethnic food is everywhere. Too bad we're not very adventurous to try it for ourselves (we're picky foodies... If that is such a thing!).
Fish and chips are our new favourite.
Go to markets on an empty stomach. That way you can gorge on street vendors. Such a good idea.
The underground will make you go broke. So have an umbrella and water proof shoes so you can walk.
Don't practice your British accent when you're walking on the street. Apparently it offends people.
If people think you're from the US, they are very mean to you. So work into conversations as early as possible that you're Canadian. The customer service improves 100048420323920% once they don't think you're american.
Favourite coffee shops:
For a really good cup of pour over coffee, and great service - Monmouth in central London. It's really small and always busy so it's not the best place to go if you want to read or work. But if you're on the go, or in the area definitely a must go.
For a good place to go if you want to stay a while and work - Prufrock in Holborn area. It's a great space with a good vibe and of course great coffee. They have great espresso, and a variety of different methods for filtered coffee, including pour-over, aeropress, and some other cool ones that we had never heard of.
If your in East London: Shoreditch Grind is a laid-back coffee shop with a Mt. Pleasant feel (for you vancouverites reading this). They had a nice selection of pastries and it is also a cocktail bar by night.
Favourite fish and chips place so far - Golden Union in the Oxford Circus area.
Goal for this week: find the perfect pastry shop. Too bad this will involve a lot of sampling. Perhaps all the walking will counteract the calories going straight to muffin tops.... Fingers crossed.