A whole week of firsts for me! Not only my first trip to London or England, but my first visit to Europe! It was my first time seeing friends from home since leaving Calgary and most importantly, my first time tasting curry sauce (kidding, it was the second most important).
Seven days went by quickly, our days filled with things to do and see, lots of catching up to do and (for me) trying to soak in every moment of a normal city with my best friends.
Day 1 – Monday June 6
I arrived in London around 11:00 AM local time; barely jet lagged as the time difference between Abu Dhabi and London is only three hours, and I had overnight flights on empty planes allowing me to catch Z’s on the way.
Cyd and Laura’s flight was delayed, but finally landed around 1:00 PM. I was excited, to say the least. Each person that walked by with a WestJet tag or every embrace between someone arriving and a waiting family member or friend trigged a small pool of tears in my eyes. It felt as if the three months away were a few days, except for of course all of the girl talk to do.
From the airport we took a booked car (thank-you Lewis) to Kirsty and Lewis’ apartment in North London, about a 45 minute drive. It definitely felt weird being a passenger on the opposite side of the car and driving on the left hand side of the road! One of our two fabulous hosts for the week, Lewis, was home when we arrived. A tour of the flat, a quick coffee and time to change before heading out for drinks (obviously). Went went to Ryans N16, sat outside and enjoyed the warm 25 degree weather, drinks and company. Our second wonderful host, Kirsty, met us after her work. From there we walked to Stokey Bears for probably one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. After eating, our last stop at The Jolly Butchers for more drinks (this will be a recurring theme throughout the week). We were home by 10PM and asleep only a short hour after that. Props to Laura and Cyd for staying up so late after an eight hour flight and 7 hour time difference!
Day 2 – Tuesday June 7
Cyd and I woke early, around 7:45, made Arabic coffee, ate dates and sat outside talking until Laura woke up shorty after. First experience on the tube!! We went to Oxford Circus for shopping, spending nearly 3.5 hours in TopShop 😐 We made an attempt at Primark, but lesson learned, that takes mental preparation.
Back to Lewis and Kirsty’s place around 5, had time for a drink and got ready for dinner.
Our dinner splurge, sketch. A cocktail bar, restaurant and art gallery combined into one.
Where my drink came served in a pepper, the walls are lined with interesting art and the bathrooms are pods (with a voice recording inside speaking to you, as if on a space ship).
We then went to ‘Ain’t Nothin’ But… (Blue’s Bar) in Soho. Had a pint and a whiskey (lol) and listened to live music. Where watching the men dance was nearly as entertaining as the band.
Day 3 Wednesday June 8
We woke early, fell into our usual morning routine – coffee and chats. Had my first crumpet (it’s a good thing they aren’t easy to find here, or it would be all I’d eat) and bacon made in the most genius way possible (see left).
Ready and out the door at 12:45 to take the tube to head to museums. First to V&A and then to Natural History Museum (I promise we did more than just take pictures of ourselves). We got caught in the rain only once and was worth getting a little wet to finish our coffees.
One of my favourite parts of the trip was the afternoon tea we did at Muriel’s in Soho. A cute restaurant with a rustic and homey feel. We had the best seats in the place, swings from the ceiling. Champagne, tea, sandwiches and (omg) the scones – it was a perfect afternoon.
After eating more than we probably should have, we rolled – I mean, made our way back to relax before an evening out to see one of Laura’s friends shows at the Monarch in Camden. Kirsty finished work late and met us out to start her long weekend!
After the gig we walked to the Elephant Head for drinks. We left there and walked to get kebabs, which was an interesting experience to say the least.
Day 4 – Thursday June 9
Woke with a wee headache from the night before. Got ready and headed for breakfast at the Blue Legume in Stoke Newington via bus (my first double decker ride experience).
After breakfast we hopped back on the bus to head for some shopping. All of the shopping made us a little thirsty, so went to Cafe Route in Dalston Square for drinks.
Made our way back home, but not before a stop at McDonald’s for chicken McNuggets and CURRY SAUCE. Got ready to head to pub quiz at the White Hart. We had drinks in the gardens first and then headed inside to eat and drink before quiz.
WE CAME IN SECOND PLACE & WON CHEESE. Considering it was a Queen’s Birthday special quiz and Lewis was stuck on a team with the three Canadians we did quite well!
From there we took the bus to a cocktail bar called La Cabina, where to enter the lounge you have to dial a 4-digit code on a telephone to enter.
We left to go home and feast on Kirsty’s amazing cheese toast.
Day 5 – Friday June 10
It seemed like each day we stayed we gradually slept in later and later… Woke slowly around 11:00 today, got ready and went for another breakfast – this time a proper English fry up!
We walked with our full bellies to the tube and headed back to Oxford Circus for our Primark shopping (this time prepare for it).
Shopped out, we walked to a French bar and had a cider outside.
Back home & got ready for Street Feast in Dalston Yard. Exactly what it sounds like, a huge assortment of different food and drink vendors. Trying nearly 10 different foods from BBQ ribs to steamed buns and drinks out of watermelons and expensive tequila – everything was amazing. The grand finale, a “freak shake” with peanut butter, jelly, ice cream and marshmallow, topped with a brownie, marshmallow fluff and peanut brittle.
With our bellies full, we went to The Nest for dancing and drinks. Of course we hadn’t already eaten enough earlier, so stopped at VooDoo Ray’s for late night pizza!!
Day 6 – Saturday June 11
A nice quiet morning, we sat outside and had our coffees and breakfast. A later start to the day, we headed to Broadway Market… for more eating and drinking (noticing a trend yet?). Stopped and had chips and curry sauce, did some shopping and attempted to have some park beers in the POURING RAIN.
We took an Uber from the park to the Crooked Billet to watch the football match. Moving from our inside seats to the patio, we ended up in the pouring rain again for the second time that day. We left before we were completely soaked and before the game started to go back to Kirsty and Lewis’ place. Got ready for a Saturday night out!
Opened my birthday gift from the girls – caesar drink mix!! Had a caesar for the first time in nearly 3 months and it was worth the waiting!!
Heading out, we first went to Moth Club. Stayed for the length of one drink and then changed locations to The Alibi which had a better crowd and better music. You guessed it, we stopped for food on the way home at VooDoo Ray’s (again) and ‘The Best Turkish Kebab” shop (lol).
Day 7 – Sunday June 12
My last full day in London 🙁 Woke up to Lewis making us sausage sandwiches…o.m.g. so good!! We headed to the People’s Park Tavern for Sunday Roast Dinner!
After eating we sat outside for more drinks. It was a beautiful afternoon, blue sky with the fresh after-rain smell.
We stayed out later than expected, but home to pack my suitcase in our messy room at midnight!
Day 8 – Monday June 13
Awake at 5:30 to finish packing and get ready for my ride to the airport (thanks again to Lewis for arranging) at 6:00. Quick flights home, with a layover in Istanbul. Landed back in Abu Dhabi just after midnight and home after 1:00, to shower, unpack essentials and Skype my mom. The holiday was officially over when my alarm went off for work at 7:00 the next morning.
**Thank you Kirsty and Lewis for having us as guests in your place for the week!