This past weekend, Joe and I took a little trip to my old stomping ground for a mini-break. London was calling our name!
We got the train on Saturday morning, which took three and a half hours, and I read my Kindle the entire way whilst Joe watched some Netflix. It was actually really relaxing and nice just to be able to sit and read without feeling guilty for not doing something more productive. Our hotel was near Paddington and when we arrived from the tube, we saw a colourful cafe barge and I couldn’t resist snapping a little picture. Seeing this barge made us so excited to be in London and despite the rain, I was practically skipping towards the hotel.
Because this was a cheap and cheerful getaway, we stayed in a cheap hotel called The Alexandra. It looked great from the outside and we were thrilled with its central location (a stone’s throw away from Hyde Park); however, the interior needed a serious update and the bathroom left something to be desired. To be honest, we didn’t mind too much as it was only a place to crash our heads for the night and grab a bite to eat for breakfast in the morning, which thankfully was included in the price. Although this hotel is rated a *** on Booking.com, both Joe and I agreed we would have rated it a **.
Once unloaded our stuff, we headed out to Oxford Street to do a bit of shopping in Primark, and of course, we had to stop by the Disney Store. We weren’t really in London for a shopping trip though so we soon headed to Piccadilly Circus to grab some food from Pizza Express before heading to watch Les Miserable. The food at Pizza Express is always so reliable, and we had some Tesco vouchers to use, which made it a bargain. To start with, we ordered the Dough Balls Doppio to share, and for mains, I got the Leggera American Hot – my usual – and Joe got the Calabrese. For dessert, I ordered a small brownie, which came with a hot drink (I chose a decaf cappuccino).
After dinner, we had some time before the show, so we wandered around China Town and Leicester Square. As we walked past M&M World, I couldn’t help nip in to buy some treats for myself. Following this, we watched an amazing young street musician who was singing acoustic covers. I didn’t catch his name but he was great. Then we went into the Lego Store. This is the first time I’ve been in it and we were both so impressed: the quality of the lego-made sculptures were amazing and we both had to restrain ourselves from reliving our childhood by buying some Lego.
Finally, it was time to watch Les Miserables. This was the sixth time I’ve seen it – five times in London and once on Broadway – but it was Joe’s first and I was extremely excited. It did not disappoint. From the opening chords I was a blubbering mess. The cast was fantastic and our seats were amazing – four rows from the front. Everytime I see this show it thrills me so much: Valjean and Javert’s journeys fascinate me and the music astounds me every time I hear it.
We woke up bright and early ready to explore London some more. We had planned on going to Joe’s favourite church in London – HTB Brompton – and I was super keen. This is the church where the Alpha Course began under Nicky Gumbel and I wanted to experience it for myself. Our hotel was on the north side of Hyde Park and we were heading to the south side of Hyde Park, in Kensington, so a little stroll was in order to start the day.
As we walked through the park, we came across the Peter Pan statue, which I have loved ever since I was a child when me and my Aunty Linda searched for it to satisfy my Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen obsession (they featured it in Winning London). Despite the cold temperature, it was still a glorious day and the sun was shining down, warming our souls and putting a spring in our step. The walk across the park did not take as long as we anticipated so we were far too early for church; therefore, we decided to have a mooch in the V&A museum, then headed to the HTB crypt coffee shop to relax in the warmth.
Following the amazing service, we met up with my friend Rachel for lunch and an explore around the science museum. It was so lovely catching up with her and hearing all about her London life. The science museum was fun, although not as interactive as I remembered it being. It’s great for a free visit though, and I do hope London keeps its museums free as it is such a great thing to do when you’re on a budget.
Once we left Rachel, we walked to Harrods and spent over an hour just exploring the many floors it has to offer. It’s a great place just to wonder about: there’s something for everyone and it’s almost like a museum. After we were fed up of walking the halls of Harrods and getting lost several times, we caught the tube to Covent Garden to have some dinner at Zizzis. For starters, we had an amazing sharing board – the Antipasta Grande Board – that had all of our favourite things. I would recommend getting that; we shared it but it would easily stretch to four people sharing. For mains, Joe ordered a calzone and I ordered the Strozzipretti Pesto Rosso. Mine was lovely but unfortunately, Joe had to send his back as the middle was cold. Not only did they heat it up, they very kindly took the cost of the calzone off the bill.
That evening, we were going to the cinema, so to kill time before this, we ducked into a pub for a quick drink. The film we saw was ‘Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri’, which is up for loads of awards this season. The film stars Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson, all of whom gave an outstanding performance. My only issue with the film was that it contained lots of dark humour, which isn’t really my cup of tea. Joe liked it though and it was entertaining, and a bit different than the usual type of film I go for.
After checking out, we caught the tube to Notting Hill to explore Portobello Road Market. I adore this area and don’t know why I didn’t visit it more when I was a London local. It’s such a colourful place with some unique and weird stalls. Cute coffee shops are scattered amongst the stalls, although we ended up going to the small chain Joe & the Juice, which did have a nice charm to it despite it being a chain. There was also a good selection of charity shops, which aren’t really my thing, but Joe loved them and bought himself a farmers-style shirt. I’d love to come back for Notting Hill carnival one year to see what it’s like; I bet it’s a photographers dream.
I hope you enjoyed this rather lengthy London recap post and all the pictures that have come with it (they’re not very edited as I am more of a snap-and-go kind of ‘photographer’).
Until next time,
Sarah Louise xx
Have you ever been to London?
Where’s your favourite place to go in London?
What other cities would you recommend visiting?