London for Hipsters

Day two in London was much more comfortable and fun after a good night’s rest.  We kept commenting on how cool it was to feel so foreign in a country that still speaks our language!  Crossing streets, as expected, was dangerous.  We kept looking the wrong direction and almost getting run over.  Thankfully, we figured out the train system a little better and spent the day jetting all around, seeing some of the most famous sights first.  We also got super lucky with beautiful weather in this usually rainy metropolis.

London (1 of 1)
London Eye
London (2 of 1)
Big Ben
London (3 of 1)
Westminster Abbey
London (4 of 1)
Buckingham Palace
London (5 of 1)
He’s not allowed to move!

Our hosts suggested we check out Camden, a more trendy, hipster-ish neighborhood in north London.  It was great!  We got to see an old lock on the little river pushing boats through, check out an awesome crafts and food market, and found craft beer!

Lock 17
Lock 17
It's a tea party!
It’s a tea party!
Street DJing in a mask
Street DJing in a mask
Brew Dog has awesome beers!
Brew Dog has awesome beers and does tasting flights!

After only stuffing our faces a little bit on the best falafel I’ve ever had, we were off to Brixton, all the way in south London.  It’s a more ethnic neighborhood with a little bit of seediness and a cool up-and-coming food scene.  We checked out some pubs and then headed to Brixton Village Market.  This awesome little warehouse holds over 100 different tiny restaurants, each with around 12 seats each, serving different cuisines from around the world.  Apparently you only have to sign up for a six-month lease to open up here, which makes it a great avenue for those without a ton of cash to get started.  What a cool idea!  I wanted to eat everything!  But we settled on sharing a Pakistani “thali”, or sampling plate, from Elephant, which was wonderful!  You can also BYOB to these restaurants, so we grabbed a couple cervezas from the Colombian shop next door.

Space Invader tag in London
Space Invader tag in Brixton

Sufficiently stuffed, we headed back home to rest before our onward journey.  We both agreed that London was much cooler than we expected.  We were not at all excited about British food, but you can get any kind of food from anywhere in the world in London!  It’s such a multi-cultural city, which we really loved.  We’ll be back someday!

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London Town!

The journey from New York to London wasn’t super long, but wasn’t super comfortable either.  Neither of us slept and Zach celebrated our arrival by beginning to throw up repeatedly about an hour before landing.  After we landed, we conveniently found out that our second (because our original had already canceled) Couchsurfing host had to cancel on us!  Great.  So off to a hostel we went, navigating several confusing forms of public transit, Zach dragging all the way.  Thankfully he perked up once we arrived at Restup Hostel UK but we couldn’t check in until 3pm so we stowed our stuff and started walking.  Fortuitous, because as soon as we found some WiFi we had another host offer from someone we met through this very blog!  Hooray!  Now we just had to kill the next 10 hours before we could show up at Tom’s house.

Luckily Zach made a miraculous recovery and we were able to enjoy a great walking day along the Thames River, taking in the skyline, a glimpse of the London Eye, the Old Globe

Sorry for the iPhone pics, we forgot the camera
Sorry for the iPhone pics, we forgot the camera

(very exciting for me, as a former theater nerd)

the London Bridge,

(very unimpressive considering we’ve seen the original London Bridge where it now stands in Lake Havasu City, AZ.  It’s true.)

a classic British pub with warm and flat cask ale,

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Taylor Walker Pub On Thames

the amazing Borough Market which we just stumbled upon,

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and the Tower Bridge with a view of the Tower of London.

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After all this rambling, we got to meet up with our wonderful hosts in Earlsfield, southwest London, for some awesome hard ciders and conversation at their local pub.  They are moving to Colombia soon and that’s why they had been reading our old blog entries.  Although not official Couchsurfers, they definitely had the spirit, and hopefully we were good enough guests to convert them!

Phew, what an exhausting but awesome first day!