The fact that this magnificent city is only a 45 minute train ride from our "permanent" home is still so surreal. Ryan and I hopped on the train and got into our long-haul travel mode, only to realize it took NO time to get there. We are used to being stationed in rather remote areas in the U.S., where the cool places were at least a 2.5 hour drive. So, to say the least, we're very happy to be near a world-renowned city. Since we'll be spending a ton of weekends in London, I obviously won't blog it every time, but the first time in a city is always noteworthy.
Now, adjusting to living in a foreign country is a whole other topic. We are lucky that the native language is English, but there's a lot of other aspects to get used to. The most obvious, perhaps, is learning how to drive on the left side of the road. I curb-checked Ryan's new car multiple times while being on the right side of the car driving on the left side. The slang/lingo is another. For example: trolley=shopping cart, lorry=semi-truck, pavement=sidewalk, chips=french fries, crisps=chips, carriageway=highway, toilet/loo=restroom, and what we think is the first floor of a building is actually the ground floor? Anyway, navigating the lingo is a fun and confusing experience.
London is such a pretty, diverse city. With how massive it is (6 airports, if that says anything) it's an incredibly clean city. Like many large European cities, there's a symbolic mix of ancient and modern buildings, representing its extensive history yet progressive agenda. This combination is something lacking from the States. The architecture is just awe-inspiring.
We checked into our Airbnb on Friday afternoon in Covent Garden. I would highly recommend staying in or near Covent Garden because it's only a short walk to Big Ben and the London Eye, has amazing and quaint cafes and restaurants, and is only a short walk to Soho, where much of the nightlife resides. We changed and saw those main sights, grabbed dinner at what we thought was a super authentic gourmet burger joint, but turns out it was a massive chain, haha. Still good though!
Afterwards we partied in Soho in what we later found out was most definitely the gay district (I wondered why my drink was SO EFFIN' SWEET...then again it was called the Pink Pornstar). That made the night more fun! The Brits truly know how to party and we were a little out of practice.
Saturday morning we got brunch in literally the most beautiful patio I could've asked for. Anyone that knows me knows Ryan and I are massive brunch (food) enthusiasts, bonus points if there's breakfast cocktails, avocado and in an aesthetic location. The Dalloway Terrace inside Hotel Bloomsbury checked all the boxes. I could live inside this place.
After brunch, we headed over to Notting Hill to check out Portobello Market. The streets to this place were super crowded, as expected, and is more of a international food and souvenir market. Worth seeing, though!
In typical Ryan and Jenna fashion, we walked the whole market, then stopped for a drink, where I discovered my new favorite day time drink: the Aperol Spritz.
It's a Northern Italian drink, go figure since all my favorite things are from Italy. Including my husband.
It's a bitter orange liquor mixed with prosecco and a bit of soda water, garnished with an orange slice. Will basically be my day drink of choice for eternity.
Notting Hill is a high tourist attraction not only for Portobello but also for its colorful houses and pretty streets.
We bounced from one market to the next and headed to Borough Market, which was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. When you go, go hungry. The market is full of local food and drink, from meats, to cheese, fresh fruits and veggies, seafood, and lots of prosecco. You'll have to take my word on it because I failed to snap images of the food - I was too busy drooling over it. The market also has some art floating around.
European Bucket List: Wander London's Borough Market ✔️
After a solid day of walking, eating and drinking, we ended with a stroll along the river to see Tower Bridge. Can't wait to explore the more unknown gems of this city over the next couple of years!
Behind the lens moments
1. I heavily rely on Ryan's navigation skills when traveling. I'm the idealist, in that I suggest where to go, what to see, and where to stay. He's the logistics guy: how much we can see in a day, how to get there, how much it is, etc. I forget that he, too, is learning how to navigate a new country. He underestimated the walking time to Borough Market, and ya girl was hangry thus cranky. We had to work through our miscommunications, and how best to address our expectations.
2. Portobello Market's crowds were overwhelming, which is something you just have to accept when traveling a popular city during tourism season!
3. People do not use Yelp and rarely TripAdvisor over here, so in many cases we were stuck on a bench trying to find a place to eat that wasn't super touristy or overpriced. We found that Pinterest was a good solution to that issue, and we hope to get to know this city well enough to discover those places for ourselves.
WHERE TO NEXT?