Thursday, January 5, 2017

London | Days 1-5

Hello! Welcome back.

Curious as to what the first few days in London have been like for me? Just keep on reading...

-Day 1 | Arrival-

Upon arriving in London, we headed straight for the hotel. It was 1:00pm after we cleared customs and retrieved our baggage.

We arrived at the Sheraton Skyline by the Heathrow airport (Heathrow Airport, Bath Rd, Harlington, Hayes UB3 5BP, UK) where we stayed during out time in London. 

After settling in, we went to dinner at Bocca di Lupo (12 Archer St, Soho, London W1D 7BB, UK). I had the Paccheri with gurnard, tomato & basil. The portions were small, but the pasta was well cooked, and the sauce tasted good. 

A quick stop at Boots (drugstore akin to Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs) for shampoo, body wash, face wash and moisturizer and some snacks, all under £5! I have noticed that facial cremes/ moisturizers aren't really a thing here, as the one I picked up was the only one along the drugstore price range. Facial cleansers/ face wash isn't a thing either, I was seeing a lot of miceller water or other products that you apply to the face but don't wash off. 

-Day 2 | South Ealing- 

After sleeping in late, we decided not to go into London since it would be late by the time we arrived and it was also New Year's Eve, meaning the city would be busy. 

Instead, we went to a town called Ealing, a stop along the Piccadilly Line. 

We stopped at a cafe right outside of the tube station called L'amandine Cafe (London W5 4QB, United Kingdom) for breakfast. I had eggs benedict! Yum! 

After breakfast, we headed for their high street to hang out until dinner time. 

Old Fire Hall
2 St Mary's Square London W5 4QX, UK

St. Mary's Church
St Mary's Rd, London W5 5RH, UK

Some building along St. Mary's Road

While shopping on the high street, I went into Primark. I had been watching lots of Primark Haul videos on YouTube before arriving in London because everyone raved at how inexpensive everything was! I needed to check this store out and see what it was like, plus I needed to get bedding for my student housing. The inexpensive price in Primark's case means inexpensive quality (I have been told it's along the lines of Walmart by a co-worker), but for a college/ uni student it's perfect! Here is a cost breakdown if you were interested:
  • Duvet- £8
  • Duvet cover set (comes with duvet cover and pillow case)- £9
    • for a plain duvet cover set- £8
    • for a more elaborate duvet cover set- £11
  • Sheets- £4 
Other home type items that Primark sells (for reference):
  • Pillow case (set of 2)- £1.80
  • Body towel- £3.50
  • Face towels (set of 3)- £1.70
  • Hand towel- £2.50

We went back to the hotel for dinner as neither one of us were hungry for dinner when the shops closed at 6. I had the pene pasta arrabiatta. The portion was quite large and it was a no-frills pasta, just what I needed. 

-Day 3 | Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral & The Royal Courts of Justice-

We hit all these locations as they were convenient to go to when traveling from point A to point B. We started by traveling to the Tower Bridge (Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP, UK) and continued until the Royal Courts of Justice. We charted a course to Buckingham Palace, but as it was New Year's Day, everywhere around Trafalgar Square was crowed, and we couldn't get around. So we switched directions and headed to Oxford Street to end the day. 

Watch my Vlog about the day here: 

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Tower of London

Tower of London

Tower of  London

St. Paul's Cathedral 

St. Paul's Cathedral

-Day 4 | Notting Hill, Hyde Park & Buckingham Palace-

We decided to hit up another part of the city and get away from downtown London. We hopped on the tube and went to Notting Hill. My father and I both described it as a Kerrisdale type town. Upon arrival, you can tell by the architecture that it is much different. Gone are the run down brick buildings that are who-knows-how-old, replaced by a plethora of white-washed tall stone buildings with black painted metal gates.

It is definitely worth a visit and a walk along the shops on Holland Park Ave/ Bayswater Road just outside of the Notting Hill Gate station.
We stopped at the Westfeild mall to have a look around and from there we took a bus to Hyde Park.

I thought Hyde Park was going to be impressive, but it was not. Maybe it was the time of year we happened to be there... The park was pretty bare, trees were scattered around, making the park look scarce (hence no pictures). When we were there, a theme park was open called Wonderland. That area of the park was busy because of it.

After a walk through Hyde Park, we made our way to Buckingham Palace. Racing against daylight (to take photos) we walked along the very scenic street, Constitution Hill to reach the palace.

Honestly, I thought the guard's hats would've been taller.

For dinner, we walked around looking for a place to eat around Buckingham Palace. We stumbled upon Greencoat Boy (2 Greencoat Place, Victoria, London, SW1P 1PJ). I had the fish and chips (cod). The fish was HUGE! So much more fish than the ones at home! I only took me 4 days to have a British classic. The fish and chips were nice. There was a good ratio of batter to fish.

-Day 5 | Carnaby Street, Savile Row, Regent Street-

Today we decided to take it slow. We took the tube to Oxford Circus and wandered around for a place to eat breakfast. We picked this place called Frankie & Benny's (1 Argyll St, Soho, London W1F 7TB, UK). I had the waffle with fruit. 

After filling our stomachs, we walked over to Carnaby Street (as suggested by my dad's friend). It has a completely different feel from the rest of SOHO. Note the pictures below. Some of the buildings were colourful (from the '60s) in contrast to the rest of the city. 

Savile Row was interesting. A lot less exciting than what I thought it would be. The shop windows looked very impressive from the street, but the area wasn't busy. When I walked up to the Alexander McQueen, I noticed that the atelier was in the basement of the building and the shop was on ground level. They had patterns scattered on the table and an unfinished blazer on the dress form. Way cool! 

Regent Street like Oxford Street is a place for the serious shopper. If you hit these two streets, you'll hit every shop. 

Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street

Me casually standing in front of the Savile Row Alexander McQueen 

Regent Street
For dinner. we walked into Chinatown and ate at a Singaprean/ Milaysian restaurant called Rasa Sayang (5 Macclesfield St, London W1D 6AY, UK). It was pretty dang tasty. I had the char kuay teow (a dry noodle not spicy) with roti canai.

Some tid-bits:

  • I have tea everyday
  • Lots of American music gets played 
  • I may have found some decent looking Chinese/ Asian restaurants, but I have yet to find a decent looking sushi restaurant that sells rolls for reasonable prices (the places I saw today were selling California rolls for £6.50- £11 ( ~$10.80- $18.40 CAD) RIDICULOUS!!! Guess I am spoiled coming from Vancouver) 
  • Also, Pret A Manger's are everywhere! You seriously can not get away from them in the city. Every corner you turn, you will see one! They are far more common than Starbucks. 

Well, that's all for now. Check back for more updates!

x Chels x

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