When I first went to London in 2009, I really loved it. I’ve been wanting to go back ever since so it was at the top of my list of destinations for this trip.
I stayed in London for two full days and two half days (one was like 3⁄4 of a day, tbh). It was three nights in my Airbnb in Pimlico. The Airbnb was a really nice place, definitely the nicest of my whole trip. The owner lived there and rented out three rooms on Airbnb.
Upon entering for the first time, I was immediately greeted by an incredibly friendly cat named Nala (not sure on the spelling). She came right up to me and immediately started rubbing on me and crying for attention. I knew this would be a good place to stay based solely on this cat. There was also a second cat that was a little less outgoing and needy. Nala, though, oh boy did Nala crave attention. She’d run up in front of you and block you from walking through the house until you pet her.
My room was a small one that was actually under the sidewalk. Though, this was the same level with the kitchen and the walk out to the backyard so it wasn’t really a basement room. The room was more than fine for my needs, though.
Also staying at the Airbnb was an Australian woman named Greta. She was there my entire stay and we had a few really nice conversations over tea while relaxing at the end of the day. Incidentally, we also overlapped time while in Reykjavik, but we didn’t end up meeting up—though, we did connect on Facebook.
The location of the Airbnb was pretty decent and relatively central to a lot of things in London, but did require taking the London Underground to get to a lot of places. Though, that really was a non-issue as the Underground is fantastic and makes NYC’s MTA look like ameteur hour. The Underground is clean, efficient, and runs frequently.
While in London, I did two runs, which is what I had on the schedule, but they were for 7 and 5 miles and I, instead, did two 10k runs and shifted the days. It worked out in the end, but not exactly as planned.
The first run was along the River Thames from Pimlico up to Millenium Bridge, across the bridge, and then back. It was great weather for a run and there were a ton of other runners out. _Many_ runners were out with backpacks while I was in London. It seems like run commuting is very popular there!
My second run was a bit more of a sloppier route. I had mapped something out, but it was a bit hard to follow based on memory so I just when with the gist of the idea. This run was through St James Park, around the lake, past Buckingham Palace, over to Hyde Park, around the lake there, and then back. This run was a little earlier in the AM so it was a nice peaceful route without many tourists out.
While the England isn’t exactly known for its food, I do love me some fish and chips. So right after I dropped my bag off at my Airbnb, I set out for fish and chips. I ended up at The Sherlock Holmes which was near the touristy area in Westminster, but it seemed like there were a few locals there and it wasn’t a complete tourist trap of a place. The fish and chips were good and so was the beer!
My second day, I had lunch at Itsu, which is like a sushi and noodle chain “fast food” type place. My soup was very flavorful! For dinner, I had curry at the Brick Lane Brasserie. There was no way I wasn’t going to get curry on Brick Lane! Because I had idea which of the many places there to pick and they all had similar ratings, I just picked one at random. It also helped that a tour guide I had earlier in the day said “it doesn’t matter, they’re all good. You can’t go wrong.” My food was spicy and delicious! I finished it off with hot chocolate from Dark Sugars, right up the block.
Breakfast the next day was a pulled pork and mac and cheese amazingness from Borough Market. I followed that up with a doughnut from another stand and then a late morning beer at the Southwark Tavern. The best part of this morning was spending some time with my friend and former Tumblr coworker, Malika!
For dinner, I had a delicious burger and fries from CASK Pub and Kitchen.
On my last morning in London, I had one goal and that was to make sure I didn’t leave the city without having a proper pie. Another former Tumblr coworker (who is English) had been stressing to me how good the pies are so I had to do it. I went back to Borough Market and hit up Pieminister for a steak pie. It was out of this world good. I mean, fuck, that thing was good. Pies are good.
Lunch was at The Fence with Malika and one of her friends from when she studied abroad in London. We ate in this cute little shed in the backyard there. It was pretty neat!
For dinner, I just had a burrito from Benito’s Hat in King’s Cross Station. I was worried about not making it to the station in time for my train so I made that my first priority and then just got food from there.
Throughout my time in London, I drank a whole mess of flat whites. Regular coffee isn’t really a big thing there, everyone drinks espresso drinks. I love cappuccinos and lattes, but I decided I’d change things up a bit with some flat whites.
As you’ll see from these posts, I’m a big fan of taking walking tours to learn more about cities. They’re a great way to see a lot and learn a lot about the history and cutlure of a city. They tend to give you a lot of highlights and then you can go back later to explore more, if you want. Plus, I just like walking a lot.
My first day there, I did the SANDEMANs free walking tour with John. He was very British in his sense of humor, which I enjoy a lot. This was a great and fun tour that took us all over Westminster and all of the things to see there.
That evening, I did a Jack the Ripper tour from London Walks. This was utterly fascinating. I learned so much about Jack the Ripper that I had no idea about before. This tour took us around to all of the places of importance to the Jack the Ripper story and provided a lot of context for each. When I was in London in 2009, I did a self-guided Jack the Ripper tour following a guide I had found online, but compared to this, that was a waste of time.
The following day, I did SANDEMANs Alternative Tour with Trevor. This tour was based almost entirely around exploring the street art in Shoreditch. It’s everywhere and there is so much of it! Trevor told us about some of the artists and told us about the culture. He also showed us an original Banksy. This tour ended at Brick Lane which went nicely into my dinner that night.
One other tour I did while in London was a Doctor Who walking tour! This was so good! We toured a bunch of filming locations and things from the show, mostly from new Who, but a little bit from classic Who as well. Our guide was Craig and he was fantastic and super nerdy about Doctor Who. I loved it! After the tour, I rushed on over to the police box in Earls Court before catching my train to round out my Doctor Who experience for the day.
Aside from the guided tours, I did a lot on my own as well. I didn’t do Westminster Abbey or a few of the other more obvious tourist things since I’ve done them before. I mostly tried to stick with things I hadn’t done before. I walked through Old Spitalfields Market, explored the Churchill War Rooms, did _one_ floor of the Imperial War Museum (I had limited time 😕), walked through a little bit of Tate Modern (I’d been there before so I just did a few rooms), found Hodge the Cat because cat, closed out the London Transport Museum, and walked through Piccadilly Circus.
Overall, I really packed my time in London. I didn’t do much in the way of nightlife type stuff, but I did hit a few pubs and that’s what matters!
Below are my check-ins on Swarm. Some of them aren’t places I went into, but instead were just places I was at. Some places I was just stealing wifi or using a bathroom.