This is my third visit to London, and this time around I’ll be staying in the city for over five weeks for my study abroad program at Kingston University. Typically, in my Postcards From series I write one blog post per city/region that I visit. However, since I’ll be staying in London for such an extended period of time I thought that I’d break my time in the city down into several smaller posts, with this being the first! In this post I’m going to break down my first twenty four hours here in the capital of the UK.
One of my friends from college, Britney, flew into London to spend the week here with me before my course starts. We met at Paddington Station, and took the underground to our AirBnB in Kensington. We’re staying at a really great AirBnB with host Sadan. We have our own room with an ensuite bathroom, and access to her backyard, which is basically a carefully cared for garden with palms and ivy. Plus, Sadan is a lovely human who chatted with my friend and myself for a while about our interests in London and gave us suggestions based around what we wanted to see (bigger bonus: Sadan works in the field that Britney majored in so that’s exciting).
Read about my last AirBnB experience in York.
8PM: Dunbar’s + Bubbleology
Our first stop was a late dinner at Dunbar’s, an Indian restaurant near Notting Hill. The restaurant itself was sort of small, i.e. our kind waiter had to physically move our table out of the way so that I could squeeze behind it and sit, and then put the table back in place so that we could eat. Although it was small, the food was so good at Dunbar’s. I’m by no means an expert on Indian cuisine, but the lemon rice and roasted cauliflower I had was obscenely tasty. The rice had little flakes of lemon zest and lots of mustard seeds, and the cauliflower had a hint of spice that I couldn’t put my finger on.
Britney loves boba and one of her only requests was that we get boba while in London. She picked the Bubbleology in Notting Hill.
9PM: Photo Session in Notting Hill
Our walk back from getting dinner and boba turned into a mini impromptu photoshoot with some of the painted houses on Portobello Road. Most of the houses are painted in varying shades of pastel colors with a vibrant door out front. However, my favorite was the house painted in a deep purple and had a door the color of a pumpkin.
10AM: Farm Girl + Portobello Road
Britney and I both love experimenting with local farm to table and health food restaurants, so we decided to have breakfast on our first day in London at Farm Girl. Farm Girl takes a holistic and healthy approach to cafe culture, and serves a wide variety of dishes that fit within that framework. I got a turmeric latte with coconut milk, a salad with avocado dressing, and a vegan brownie. If you ever find yourself at Farm Girl, GET THE BROWNIE. It was so creamy, and chocolatey, but not too dense or rich. My non-veg friend even said that it was delicious, and couldn’t tell that it was made without dairy.
12PM: Kings Cross
I’ve already established how much of a Harry Potter fan I am in my post from Edinburgh, so it’s no surprise that one of our first stops in London was visiting the Harry Potter’s Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station. Platform 9 3/4 is a replica from the first film of the Harry Potter franchise when Harry runs through the magical wall between platform nine and ten to reach the hidden platform with the train that will take him to Hogwarts. There is a cart with luggage that sticks out of the wall where tourists are able to photograph themselves pretending to push their items through the wall. There is a pro photographer on hand who takes your photos, which can be bought at the attached store. As always there was a huge line at the actual picture taking point and in the store itself. However, we waited in line, browsed the gift shop, and made our purchases in all under an hour.
Britney studied abroad in Florence last summer, so her love for Italian cuisine runs deep, which is why we found ourself dining in a Vapiano that we passed on the street. I first went to Vapiano in Edinburgh, and loved the style of the restaurant—-and the food of course. How it works: there are various counters situated around the dining area where you can order traditional Italian cuisine (aka pizza, risotto, salad, and pasta), after your order is placed you simply swipe your cafeteria card that was given to you by the hostess when you walked in (the card stores the items that you ordered for an easy check out), then you dine on your tasty food (we got bruschetta, arribiatta, and bolengese), finally you present your cafeteria card to the hostess on your way out and pay.
If I lived in London (or anywhere that has a Vapiano) it would be one of my favorite stops! It’s so quick, tasty, and authentic!
8PM: Millennium Bridge + St. Paul’s
As a die hard Harry Potter fan, Britney wanted to visit Millennium Bridge as the site of one of the intro scenes from the Deathly Hallows movie. I, on the other hand, wanted to stand on the bridge and see the best views of Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The dome of the cathedral peeks out from behind the surrounding buildings, making the perfect vantage point on Millennium Bridge. We were on the bridge as the sun was beginning to go down, so the cathedral, the Thames, and the Bridge itself were all engulfed in a gorgeous hazy golden shadow.
Have you ever been to London? What was your favorite thing that you did in the city?