Did you know it is incredibly easy for us Belgians to hop on the train and pay a quick visit to London? Bloody fantastic, right? I got up super-early on Saturday and took the first Eurostar heading to this amazing city with my best friends. We arrived after a smooth 2h ride and had a whole 10h of shopping to enjoy before we needed to catch the train back.
We started at Covent Garden Market, where we got so early the shops weren’t even open yet. But waiting time provides the perfect opportunity to snap some pictures. After 10am it got crowded really quickly so we were glad we were able to do our little photo shoot without people hovering in the background. I’d been to Covent Garden before and it is such a nice neighbourhood but it’s so touristy I usually avoid it. I don’t like crowds and when travelling I try to find places the other tourists haven’t massively discovered yet. They usually prove to be more fun –and cheaper. Still, there’s something about London that makes me want to be the typical tourist, getting excited about the red buses, casually posing with a phone booth, sightseeing at the Big Ben,…
I couldn’t resist the Kikka K shop. Filled with pretty notebooks, stickers, patches, pens,… I was in stationary heaven. I should confess I’m addicted to notebooks and diaries, unfortunately I have too little time to actually use them but that never stops me from buying more –they’re SO pretty. Luckily my self-restraint kicked in and I only bought a card and stickers. And since they ship internationally I signed up for their membership program… you know, to test my restraint on future occasions.
After strolling around Covent Garden a bit we headed to Seven Dials. These are seven cosy streets lined with the best shops around a little square, where they were having a music festival last weekend, YAY for us! I wanted to see Neal’s Yard cause of the pretty Instagram pictures. It really was a great place to sit for a bit (with a coffee, finally! Thank you Pride Kitchen) until it too got crowded by tourists. There was an amazing looking restaurant called Native for which I definitely want to come back. We also visited the Caudalie Boutique (so much love) and Urban Outfitters (always amazing). I got a new harry-potter-themed notebook at Scribblers (bye bye self-restraint) and then we stumbled upon Fopp. Even the name is brilliant. I got some great books and CDs at an even better price. A little further, we discovered Skinnydip, which is my new favourite shop! Everything pink and glittery with sarcastic slogans, yes please! (since I’m too much of a coward to ask if I can take pictures inside shops, here’s a lovely still from the outside)
I wanted to have lunch at Kingly Court (again because of Instagram) but we got a little lost and by the time we got there we were all too hungry to check out all the menus. We settled for pizza at Pilgrims cause that was the first thing we encountered. Lucky for us they are very fast and we quickly were able to dug into our pizzas. I had the aubergine parmigiana and it would have tasted very good if the bottom hadn’t been burned. I’m also too much of a coward (and too hungry) to send back food in a restaurant though. That’ll teach me to eat so close to touristy spots. I’ve really only had bad encounters with food in the centre of London. I did have some amazing food in Shoreditch once so I know it’s possible but other than that my experience with London-food sucks. You’d think I’d remember that and go back to Shoreditch, oh well, next time.
It wasn’t till we got to Carnaby street after lunch that I realised I’d been here before. Last time (like three years ago) it provided some peace and quit after the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. Unfortunately by now everyone else seems to have found it as well. It’s still great though. There are some great shops like Cheap Monday, Levi’s Vintage, The Kooples, Vans, Toms and Monki. I was really curious about Monki and bought what will now be my favourite socks –avocado’s y’all! AND there’s a Benefit shop. That’s why we went last time since they didn’t sell Benefit in Belgium at the time. Luckily now they do (Thank you Inno!). I’m not that into beauty but the few favourite things I do have are almost all from Benefit.
We turned back to Oxford street and found the Forever21! The last stop of the day was HMV where I kinda lost it and bought three records. To make up for the lack of clothes I bought –or at least that’s what I tell myself. They have an amazing collection of vinyl, cd’s, films,… And that’s how my clothes-shopping trip turned into a music-buying day.
We had originally planned to go to Shoreditch afterwards (best neighbourhood in London in my humble opinion –and yes, that’s probably because of the food) but we ran out of time. So we went back to St-Pancras and grabbed a drink at Joe & the juice before catching the Eurostar back to Brussels. And that’s the end to my incredibly fun day in London. I might not have found the clothes I was going for but discovered beautiful streets, bought some great music and well, my friends always crack me up. They could take me anywhere and I’d still have an amazing day. I love London but sometimes the company is more important than the destination.
What do you think? Planning a trip to London or have you been and do you have some tips for my next trip –yes, I’m already planning on going back. Let me know in the comments.