First off, you guys have no idea how badly I wanted to Instagram a photo with that caption. Basic thinking, yes I know. Buut now that I think about it, I’m probably going to still Instagram something with that caption. Haha, I’m the worst.
Anyway, I’d like to quickly thank everyone who made my birthday so wonderful. I remember thinking on my 21st birthday that I would be so annoyed if people sang TSwift’s “I’m Feeling 22” song to me for my 22nd birthday, but you know what… I secretly enjoyed it. As much as I wanted to fight the urge of basic-ness, I couldn’t help feeling that just maybe there was a reason why TSwift needed to write this song. Turning 22 was actually super fun and memorable!
With that being said, thank you again to everyone for sending me birthday wishes and celebrating with me! I know that I was super slow in responding to everyone, buuut I really did appreciate all of your kind messages 🙂
Ok, so moving on to my London/ birthday experience.
Britt takes on the Tube
Arriving in London was a bit of a trek for me. I had the option of taking the train to London, which would take 1.5 hours… for around $300. OR. I could take the bus from Lille to London for a total of $60.. but get there in 5-6 hours. Being a study abroad student with a dwindling bank account, I opted for the bus ride. Honestly, the 6 or so hours weren’t so bad though. The buses were equipped with wifi, so I was able to get some work done on them.
Once in London, I scouted out the nearest Tube station which was only a block away. Score. I rushed on over and was immediately shocked by the fast-paced Londoners hustling to and from. At that very moment, I remember thinking “sh*t”. I was terrified. Not going to lie. Everyone around me carried a look of determination and purpose. There I was, a relatively short blonde girl wearing a gigantic backpack stunned by the hustle and bustle around me.
I had no idea what I was doing, but I found a ticket machine and bought myself an Oyster card (metro card that you can reload). Not wanting to disrupt the flow of traffic, I hustled through the station with absolutely no clue where I was headed. I eventually ended up on a platform that I believed to be mine.. but I wasn’t really sure. As the train approached the platform, I braced myself and decided to guess that it was my train.
Within seconds of me hopping on the train, a couple asked me if I needed help. At that moment, I realized how pathetically confused I must have appeared. I was relieved by their concern though, so I asked them if I was on the right train. To my surprise, I had indeed hopped onto the right train. Go me!
Once at the hotel, I was greeted by a huge huge that nearly knocked me over. My dear friend Maddie, flew all they way from California to celebrate my birthday with me in London! Pretty sure all of the people in the lobby stared at us as we squealed and danced around. I would have stared too I guess.
By that time, both of us were starving. We quickly threw our bags in our room and headed out in a search for food. That is when I saw Whole Foods. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Whole Foods is my absolute favorite place to go to back in California. I would grab coffee there with my friends and convince everyone that their burritos were better than Chipotle’s.. just so that they would get dinner with me 😉
So, after 3 months of me not having Whole Foods, I needed to go. So we had dinner at my favorite place in the world. Already off to a great birthday weekend.
Saturday morning started off with me realizing the Michael Buble’s newest album has been released (it’s amazing, go and listen to it! I am obsessed..) and me eating bacon for the first time in 2 months and oh my gosh I was happy. I really missed bacon guys. I also realized that becoming a vegetarian is probably not possible for me..
After devouring our breakfasts, we headed out to Soho. This time, taking the tube was super easy.
We then met up with my friend Sydney (she lived next door to me in Lille) and her friend from back home, Emily.
In an effort to find an easy meeting point, we decided to meet up at Liberty London. And oh my gosh guys, the department store was ridiculous. Their displays were incredible and made me want to design someone’s home. Their visual merchandising team must be incredible, because I wanted to take a photo of every single set. Damn.
Not to mention, they had a Christmas section and I nearly died. All of the beautiful lights and decorations had me running around like a 5 year old in a toy shop. I think it’s funny that I am now 22 years old, considering how excited I was to wear Christmas glasses. Sad to say, I did not buy them 😦
(Emily and Sydney)
(Straight outta) Camden
After walking around Soho and realizing that it was mainly a shopping district, we headed over to Camden to explore the Camden Markets. But first, we needed to make a coffee stop.
Maddie was feeling a little jet lagged from her flight the afternoon before, and I was sleepy from traveling and taking a final exam. So naturally, we needed an afternoon pick me up.
We decided to sip on our coffee and relax in a cute coffee shop called Falla and Mocaer (yelp link here). I loved the atmosphere and all of the plants they had everywhere. There is just something about plants guys.
(Me looking tired but happy about coffee)
After our much needed caffeine dose, we headed out to the markets.
And oh my goodness, there were so many people. It was absolutely crazy and slightly overwhelming. I am not really a crowds person, so I felt myself weaving in and out of people. We probably should have gone in the morning.. but sleep is nice.
As for Camden itself, it was a very interesting place to visit. There were interesting acts being performed on the streets and tons of little shops. Each shop seemed to sell t-shirts and other knickknacks. I avoided going into a lot of the stores because of how crowded they were, but I absolutely loved the market itself. There were so many local artisans selling unique handmade jewelry and home decor. If I had more time.. and spare money, I would have definitely picked out a ring or necklace for myself.
After Camden, we hopped on the Tube and explored Covent Gardens. Like Soho, Covent Gardens was rich in shopping. However, it had a cozier feel to it. The shops were extremely expensive but quaint in appearance.
By the time dinner rolled around, we decided to find a place to celebrate my birthday. After walking around for an hour or so, we stumbled upon Polpo. We thought it looked super cute and cozy, so we decided to give it a try.
I am glad we decided to give this place a shot because the food was so good! Compared to American restaurants, the portions appeared A LOT smaller buuut their portions were perfect. I usually can’t finish my plate in the States without feeling sick, so it was a pleasant surprise seeing that I could finish my plate and feel great!
I also loved how cozy and warm the atmosphere was. It made spending time with my friends so enjoyable and relaxing 🙂 I would definitely go back there if I am ever in the area.
As for the rest of the evening, we spend our time clubbing 😉 T’was a fun time.
Sunday morning, we woke up and walked through Kensington Gardens to get to the next hotel (that Maddie’s dad reserved). It was approximately an hour walk, but I loved every minute of it!
And of course I couldn’t help busting out some weird poses.
But the park was absolutely gorgeous. I am a HUGE fall person, so I was very excited about all of the changing leaves. Honestly, I will never forget how wonderful Kensington Gardens was. There were children and dogs being walked and the fall crisp air felt so wonderful against my face. I love going on walks and fall, so it was a perfect combination.
We even snapped a few photos, because well, I liked the leaves.
After walking through Kensington Gardens and checking in, we stopped by Harrods. To be perfectly honest, I just wanted to go for the Christmas decorations. Yes I know, it’s not even November, but who cares.
And the Christmas decorations most certainly did not disappoint 🙂
The rest of the day we spent wandering Covent Gardens and sipping coffee in Fitzrovia at a cute shop called Kaffeine.
Once I arrived back in Lille, I realized that Kaffeine was number one on 17 London Coffee Shops To Visit Before You Die. I had no idea when I was there, but their coffee was pretty good!
** LONDON Highlights **
A guide for those of you who hate reading:
Areas to visit: Soho, Camden, Covent Gardens, Kensington Gardens + touristy sites
Food to try: Polpo (Italian restaurant)
Coffee: Falla and Mocaer + Kaffeine OR any coffe shop on this list
Clubs: Tiger Tiger (buy ticket ahead of time/ on your phone, it’s cheaper)
Shopping: Liberty London, Soho area, Covent Gardens, Camden Market, Harrods, Fitzrovia
Thoughts on London:
I would go back in a heart beat. I loved the variety of shops and restaurants. The tube was incredibly easy to use after downloading the Tube App. I highly recommend downloading that app if you plan on using the Tube. I also really enjoyed being able to not worry about speaking a foreign language. It was so weird hearing people around me speaking the same language as me. I missed English and British English was fun to listen to.
As for prices, London is EXTREMELY expensive!! I went waaaay over my budget in London, but it was my birthday.. so I feel a little less guilty. Regardless, if you plan on visiting London, be prepared to watch your bank account dwindle. The currency rate really sucks.
Lastly, I had more time to do anything in London, I would spend more time in Kensington Gardens. There was so much that I didn’t have the chance to see! I think it would also be a lot of fun to people watch there.