This is a guest post by Summer Hickam, my sister, friend and editor of the blog since day one. Her recent week in London makes me want to book a ticket ASAP! Enjoy:
I was walking through Heathrow airport and saw a billboard that said, “We don’t travel to escape life. We travel so life does not escape us.” I love this; and London, you are full of life and so cool!
I was in London for a week and had the good luck of traveling at the end of August, so the sun was actually shining and the days were long. I spent most of my time kicking around the West End. This is what I found…
After the overnight flight, I landed Sunday morning and immediately set out to find a good cappuccino and lunch. My first stop was Bar Italia, a small cafe in London’s Soho neighborhood. I am a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s show “Layover”; this cafe was his first stop, so good enough for me. I took a seat at one of the small tables lining the street and watched London wake-up over cappuccino.
From there, I was on a mission to find The Grenadier (@tamalecloset, thanks for the recommendation). I made my way through the Royal Gardens near Buckingham Palace and down a cobblestone street. I thought I was surely lost and then came across a little pub that could not have had more character. I ordered fish and chips with mushy peas and a pint of ale – brilliant! I sat on a barstool for awhile and overheard a local talking with a couple from Turkey and a family from Australia enjoying beers in the sun. For me, being out in the world is the best reminder me that people are a lot more similar than they are different.
Anyways, black taxis and Uber were easy ways to get around, but most of the time I preferred walking. My absolutely favorite walk was from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben to The London Eye along the Thames River. On these walks, I discovered one of the unique things about London – no open container laws. Come afternoon, the streets and alleyways in front of the pubs are brimming over with people having a pint or aperol spritz. It is so cool and gives the city a buzz (literally and figuratively). I doubt you can go wrong, but the row of pubs along Kingsley Street and The Windmill Mayfair were very cool.
London has an incredible and it seems constantly changing food scene. Pub food is just the tip of the iceberg and I found the options were SO wide ranging. A few standouts during my week were tuna poke and lychee martinis at Black Roe and literally everything at Le Petite Maison (reservations needed). For an easy lunch or breakfast, I liked Joe & the Juice (good smoothies, coffee and pressed sandwiches). I also had two nights of mushroom pizza at Sergio’s on Great Titchfield Road. Sergio’s is so comfortable and welcoming. The red-checkered tablecloths and massive picture of the owner with Lionel Ritchie filling the entry made me feel right at home (“hello, is it me you’re looking for…”).
Taking an hour to work out when I travel keeps me sane and keeps my days a little more structured. Most mornings, I hit spin class at Pscyle London. The classes were high energy and it is somehow better to have instructors shouting cues in a British accent! Last, but not least, I am picky when it comes to hotels and would definitely recommend The Langham Hotel. It’s centrally located with a chic lobby bar (inspired by Salvador Dali); it is elegant, but still super comfortable.
In London, history and the traditional are situated alongside change and the modern – it s a very cool mix. Not to mention British humor is also the best! I found the taxi rides especially educational and learned all kinds of British English. “Uni” is college/university and “a bezzie” is a great friend. Also, public service announcement for anyone who is still rocking a fanny pack: it is a “bum pack” when in the UK…fanny means something entirely else in the UK (see Urban Dictionary).
Until next time, London!