Although I took my obligatory French Riviera vacation at the end of July, I was still itching to escape the quiet, hot north for a few days in August. Feeling a bit lonely and a bit blue, I decided to take advantage of various Eurostar deals and spend a long weekend (Thursday to Tuesday) visiting friends in London.
I go to London often– at least a few times a year. And I can now say with confidence, despite the shocking Brexit result, that London is my favorite European city. Perhaps its the change of pace and mentality from France; perhaps its the abundance of size and things to do and see and discover; perhaps it’s the fact that I have quite a few friends there now, and have really gotten to know the city.
Most of my trips to London these days include less tourism and more “local life.” I always stay with friends, and I usually just go with the flow and do as the Londoners do. I’m really, really lucky. I have friends from all walks of my life– Toulon, Valenciennes, Lille, and Waukesha– all of whom take the time to come and see and welcome me in London.
This time round, I stayed with my friend Jo in Brixton. The David Bowie mural is still full of flowers and remembrance.
I will unashamedly admit that the vast majority of this weekend was filled with (abundant!) sunshine, pubs, and parks.
A Sunday afternoon atop Primrose Hill in Regent’s Park.
Rooftop Bars in London are one of the best inventions ever.
Dinner with this sunset view, and £5 pizza! What could be better?
Of course, I cannot go to London without seeing a show– this time, Guys and Dolls starring Pitch Perfect’s Rebel Wilson. I did also buy the latest Harry Potter book (it’s more fun to buy it in London than on Amazon, am I right?) and take a photo in front of the Cursed Child Theatre (I tried DESPERATELY to get tickets!) One day… one day…
On Saturday afternoon, I ventured to the far west side of London with Jo and her friends, where we spent the day frolicking in Kew Gardens, the world’s most famous botanical garden.
Some shots of Kew Gardens- Be sure to check out the famous Bee Hive (photo on the right, middle line)
Because I was there during the week, I spent most of Friday and Tuesday on my own. I decided to play tourist and tour Buckingham Palace, as the only time you can do so is in August (when the Queen is not in!) Visitors have the option of viewing the State Rooms, Gardens, Royal Mews, and the Gallery. Each year there is also a special exhibition. This year, in the honor of HM the Queen’s 90th birthday, the exhibition feature’s Queen Elizabeth II’s wardrobe through the ages– from her Christening to her wedding to her Coronation to her 90th birthday celebration. It is really something to see, and as someone greatly interested in fashion and powerful women, I highly enjoyed seeing and learning about everything there was on display. Unfortunately you cannot take photos, but I highly recommend Buckingham Palace if you find yourself in London in August.
From left to right: The Coronation Mew, Buckingham Palace front, and the gardens
On Tuesday, I (finally!) visited the inside of Westminster Abbey. The entry price is a lot (£20), but I used my French university card to get a student discount for £17 (a tip to all you French expats visiting the UK!)
I also popped into the National Portrait Gallery, a museum I have never visited. I had a limited amount of time, so I decided to stick to the 1960’s to the present. It was (very, very) cool to see portraits of influences from today’s time: JK Rowling, Amy Winehouse, David Bowie, HM the Queen, Prince Charles, Maggie Smith, etc. One of the best things about expensive London is that almost all of the museums are free.
I fell in love with London slowly, and then all at once. If you are curious, here are some of my other London adventures.
- A February Weekend Jaunt to London
- Quintessentially British: Afternoon Tea, Indian Cuisine, and the Pub
- Mom and Pops do Franceland and Londontown
- Living Like a Local in London, Leighton Buzzard, Oxford and Beyond
- Strolling Along the River Thames in London
- Hogwarts Will Always Be There to Welcome You Home
- England at Christmastime
- London 2010
To be continued, as always, London. I feel as though we are meant to be.