I just finished the first leg of my journey in London with my British twin Miriam.* I thought she would be a great kickoff, since our friends would describe us the same way: annoyingly positive and bit nerdy.
Ten days in London was plenty to see all that it had to offer. Rather than cram 10 days worth of activities into one post, I’m giving you the highlight reel (you can thank me later).
My three favorite things about London:
1. Little kids with British accents, preferably riding scooters
2. Pizza Express, because who doesn’t want to drink wine while they eat pizza?!
3. London dinner parties, which are not to be mistaken as classy events
Just kidding… I did more than just stuff my face with pizza and drool over British kids.
On Saturday and Sunday, Miriam and I took off early to hit all of the tourist spots in London via Boris bikes. We saw Westminster Abbey, Parliament, The Royal Palace, Big Ben, the Queen’s watch, Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, and St. James Park. Despite living in London, Mims is only slightly less of a tourist than I, so we let Google be our tour guide. ☺
Here’s the one fun fact Miriam knew about the statue of Churchill: it is electrically charged so that birds can’t sit or poop on it. I seriously debated sticking around for a bit to watch a bird get electrocuted. If I saw a bird blow up on a statue, I think I could call my entire trip a success.
Big shout out to Renwick, Geordie and Angus who were kind enough to take me to the Shard, Westminster Abbey, London Bridge, and… Pizza Express. (SO GREAT.)
Blue Door at Notting Hill & The Portobello Market
One of the days Mims was at work, I took off on a mission to find the oldest coffee shop in the world and the blue door from the British film Notting Hill.
I wasn’t even sure if the door existed, but it sounded like a great chance to get wonderfully lost in London, which is exactly what happened. I stumbled upon the Portobello market in Notting Hill and wandered around for about an hour before I finally found the blue door. It does exist!
Oh, and on my way back to the tubes, I stumbled upon the old home of George Orwell. You probably read his book, 1984, in high school. ☺
As for the oldest coffee shop in London? Never made it. I misunderstood Mim’s directions and ended up in the middle of London thinking I was in Oxford. Major tourist fail. Yikes. Maybe next time?
London Dinner Parties
Brits love their dinner parties. In my short time, I attended four dinner parties with Miriam’s friends. It was a great chance to meet Mim’s friends and now I’m fully convinced that Brits & Scots are the most lovely people.
Here’s the recipe for a great dinner party:
1 great meal
1 well thought out seating plan
Lots of wine & Pimms
Optional: Scots dancing around the kitchen with wedgies
Museum of London
I’m a history nerd, so this was my favorite spot in London. I made it a point to go alone so no one else had to watch me drool over the WWII exhibit…
The entire museum traces the history of London from when it was founded by the Romans (called Londonium at the time) to present. Right outside the exhibit was what was left of the London Wall. The London Wall was initially built as a defensive wall by the Romans around Londonium (the original city). It was abandoned when Roman rule of Britain ended and was left to crumble until the Anglo-Saxons were forced to retreat when the Vikings started attacking. The walls were rebuilt and London grew. During the Great Fire of London in 1666, almost all of the medieval City of London inside the wall was destroyed, but the wall still stood. It wasn’t until the Nazi Blitz of London in 1940 that much of the wall was destroyed.
Okay, enough with the history lesson. I found this story interesting since I recently read a book that examined why the Nazi Blitz of London failed to demoralize Londoners as expected. Here’s what Malcolm Gladwell wrote:
“Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all. Do you see the catastrophic error that the Germans made? They bombed London because they thought that the trauma associated with the Blitz would destroy the courage of the British people. In fact, it did the opposite. It created a city of remote misses, who were more courageous than they had ever been before. The Germans would have been better off not bombing London at all.”
The London Wall the protected the city for centuries fell, but London was left stronger? Londoners are tough.
The Best of British Vocab
Snogged/necked = To make out
Keen = (ex. are you keen to do something tonight?)
Dodgy = Shady
Tubes = The subway system
Glad rags = Nice clothes
You alright? = How are you? (used when you answer the phone)
Bloke = Guy
Bugger or Bollocks = Stand-alone expletive… similar to “Darnit”
*Funny story how I met Miriam: Miriam came to Columbia to work for her parent’s friends a couple of summers ago. Her host family, who knew many of my friends’ families, dropped her off with her new group of friends (us) much like a parent would drop off their child for the first time at school. First, we fell in love with her British accent. Then we fell in love with her (which really didn’t take long because she is an amazing human). She must have loved us back because she extended her trip one week to come to Colorado with us.
When all else fails… take the trolley.