Hello beautiful people!
In April I went to London! If you have been following me on Instagram you probably saw a few of my stories and photos. This was my first trip traveling outside the US ever! My entire life, I have longed to travel abroad, but never had the financial resources to do so. In high school, my classmates would talk about their trips to Paris, the Swiss Alps, London and Cape Town. I could never relate. We often took road trips to different states which were fun, and I am blessed enough to say I have seen about twenty of the US states. However, there is nothing like traveling alone outside your country and experiencing another culture. I always thought maybe one day I’ll travel abroad with a group of friends or a boyfriend. Nonetheless, the one thing I’ve learned this past year is if you want to do something you should plan to do it by yourself! While traveling with other people is a ton of fun, you can not rely on other people to be on the same schedule as you. Sometimes you just have to book the ticket and go! Luckily I have three sets of friends living in various parts of London. One of which is from London and has a twin sister, who I finally got to meet in person after pen-paling it through DM on Instagram. Another friend from high school who went to a University in London along with her brother. Finally, my last friend who has been in London three years with the love of her life and their beautiful daughter. Each group of friends lives in a different section of London, so I knew I would get a full tour of the city!
I must confess I had a slight moment of panic the day before I was leaving. What if I get lost underground while using the tube? What if I get kidnapped like Taken? Will the Brits accept an American girl after all the chaos and ignorance coming out of our White House? I took a deep breath, made sure I checked the weather for the tenth time, downloaded the Citymapper app and grabbed my passport for the plane. This year I promised myself to get out of my comfort zone. Last year was all about growth, change and cutting out toxic relationships. This year is about chasing every opportunity, traveling to places I’ve never been and working on my weaknesses.
As soon as I got on the plane a lovely fellow named Ollie (the first of three I would meet on this trip) talked for about five hours about music, acapella, life, dating, London, and Scotland. I probably should have gotten his Instagram or Whatsapp, but you never know I’ll visit London again and the universe has a funny way of bringing the right people to you at the right time.
My first group of friends took me to tea at the St. James. The art deco decor was absolutely stunning, and tea sandwiches were even better. I had hibiscus tea and tried about 5 different tea sandwiches. The pickled one was my favorite! Our server was so attentive and even went the extra mile to switch out a few sandwiches that my friend did not enjoy.
Later that night I hit up the Ned and drank Mojitos with the girls while we caught each other up on the last year and a half of life. The Ned is right near the tube so it is pretty easy to get to. It was so nice to get the full story on everything going on in everyone’s lives instead of the reader’s digest version. The Ned is in the financial district, but a good amount of people were dressed business casual, so you don’t have to worry about a formal dress code here. The bathrooms are beautiful and so are the ridiculously high ceilings.
Covent Garden was such a cute picturesque area of shops. They even had multiple flower arrangements over arched benches that many women took advantage off. I also got talked into buying my beloved Bvlgari sunglasses here! I will say I got them for about 40 percent off so I could not resist! (Also save your receipts when you are shopping around London. At the airport, you can get your Value-Added Tax back)! I loved seeing the turquoise colored beams and the different art vendors. I picked up this tiny piece from a woman, who uses pencil and watercolor on her pieces. I thought it would be more interesting to pick a piece that did not have a stereotypical red bus, telephone booth or bridge. She also mentioned the piece I selected had a bit of gold paint to add shimmer.
I also enjoyed multiple Irish pubs in London with the most delicious shepherd’s pie and roasted vegetables. I was amazed at how many places had vegetarian/pescatarian options.
If you are looking for a chocolate lovers dream then you must go to one of the many Bill’s Soho restaurants throughout the city! I went to Bill’s in Soho and ordered the Melting Chocolate Bombe. It’s a Chocolate dome, with brownie chunks below, chocolate sauce, and they pour warm caramel. I don’t have a picture of this decadent dessert, because our waiter poured the caramel over before I could take a photo so I ate it all hahaha! So you’ll have to take my word for it!
Camden! Camden was a cool edgy spot where the 90 grunge trend originated from. I loved all the individual shops in the marketplace. One vendor had dozens of white T-shirts with an animal screen printed peaking out of the pocket. Another spot had Chinese puzzle boxes. Some took four steps to solve others took as many as twelve. Honestly, the store owner was kind enough to show me how it works because I had no idea where to start! There was something so unique and whimsical about this market with the variety of foods to try as well.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This is an absolute must for actors, theatre patrons, and literary babes. I did not get to see a show since they are in their offseason. Just seeing the replica of the original globe and reading the quotes from so many of his great works is enough to leave your heart full and your soul hungry to dive into more acting roles.
Shoreditch is one of the few places I looked up before coming to London. I love the concept of taking shipping containers and reusing them in a better way. Anytime there is good food, graffiti, and an eclectic group I am so down! Thus my love of Wynwood. Time outWhen it comes to food there was something for everyone. They had greek food, vegan, create your own wraps, bubble wrap ice cream waffles which look cool, but did not taste that great (sorry😐 ).
The shipping containers below housed multiple clothing, jewelry, and paper goods stores. I’ve been stalking Astrid & Miyu online since they came up in my Instagram feed and I had to pick up a cute earcuff and rose gold initial ring while I was there! Their pieces are so dainty and the sales associates are very attentive.
My friend from high school and I realized we have been friends for over ten years now! This trip reminded us both how much we miss being around one another. Her musician friends were absolutely amazing. They completely adopted me into their tribe and I literally had separation anxiety for a week after I left. We all laughed together so much my abs hurt every day for four days. Us girls went to see a friend perform at a piano bar and she was fabulous! I love all the speakeasy vibes on the underground bars, jazz clubs and nightclubs in London.
Original we planned on going dancing at a Colombia restaurant for live music and dancing. When we got there, there was nowhere to sit and no music playing. So we left and went to Crust Bros. This restaurant had a cool urban vibe, with hip-hop music blasting through the speakers. I will say it gets pretty hot in there since there is a giant pizza oven in the center of the restaurant. However, you don’t feel the heat once you are in there for more than ten minutes. This pizza is the perfect light, fresh thin crust made to your specifications. The owner came over and told us he lived in LA for the longest then came back over here and opened this pizza place, but did not want it to have the typical Italian pizza place vibe. Thus the open loft ceilings, with industrial metal and wood touches throughout. He then mentioned how awful Miami is, I laughed because all three of us were from/lived in Miami for at least three years. When we told him that, he immediately laughed and said damn, well you know what I mean about how people down there can show off and be pretentious. We laughed and pointed out that, that happens in every major US city. I asked him if he knew what the nameless pink neon light place next-door was? WELL, it turns out he owned part of this underground all female club called Tonight Josephine.
Tonight Josephine is an all-female nightclub where you can go dance and drink with your girls without worrying about being harassed by a guy. In order for a guy to enter he has to be accompanied by a woman. This place is covered in Millennial Pink, mirrors, neon light signs, fun wallpaper, and handsome male bartenders. As you enter there is a giant neon light sign that says, “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History”. I was talking to one of the owners and he mentioned when women enter they immediately start taking selfies in the ceiling. My girls and I were dancing to so many throwbacks when we looked around and noticed most people were taking selfies in the reflection of the ceiling. I could not stop laughing! The bartenders were super sweet and when one of the drinks my friend ordered did not taste good he remade it for her. Each of the bathroom doors had a different celebrity mugshot, Paris Hilton, and Justin Bieber just to name a few. Isn’t it funny how the nights where your plans fall through end up being the most fun? Has this ever happened to anyone else?