Published: September 24th 2012September 23rd 2012
Taxi ride to our flat in London
Taxi ride to our flat in London
This is my first attempt at a travel blog since Landon has come into my life. My last blog was when I was 6 months pregnant in Australia. Even that one was more challenging to complete (I fell off somewhere around Surfer’s Paradise)- due to pregnancy brain. Just kidding, I think it was more to do with the fact that it finally stopped raining the last part of our trip, but anyways . . . I’m finally blogging about the first two weeks of our six week adventure in London. Let's just say, between work and play, it's not as easy as it used to be to sit down and blog these days.
Since we live in Los Angeles now, we took advantage of the fact that I had some work with Reebok outside Boston and traveled from Boston to NYC for a week. This way we could fly from Newark to London with a 17-month-old - only five hours instead of the ten from LA. The key was definitely taking the red eye. Landon fell asleep moderately quickly and so did we. We landed in London early morning and grabbed a cab to the flat we were renting on
Wells Street, right off of Oxford Street. We had made our reservation through www.airbnb.com
. I was feeling a little tentative because the only person I knew who’d used www.airbnb.com was my British friend, Anthony, who’d unfortunately had a horrible experience. About a month before our trip, he had rented a room in Santa Monica that was so bad I insisted he come stay with us. So let’s just say we were hoping for the best . . .
By the way, I seriously love London taxis. Why can’t our cabs in the US be as cute and the drivers be as jolly? They are super easy with a stroller too. You can just load the entire stroller into the taxi. Plus, after a week in NYC, Landon had also learned to love cab rides - probably the freedom of not having to sit in a car seat.
The location of our apartment really was unbelievable. Oxford Street, the main shopping area in downtown London, is about 4 short blocks from our flat. Charlotte Street, a strip of amazing ethnic restaurants is around 3 blocks away. Goodge Street & Oxford Circus tube stops are within a ten minute walk,
and Regent Park is less than a mile away. The set up was great too - 2 bedroom/2 bathroom flat with living room/dining room, kitchen and washer/dryer. I highly recommend this place if you are traveling to London with a small family or a few friends (look up 48 Wells on www.airbnb.com). There is even an extra mattress in the living room, which Landon loves using for reading, snuggling, tumbling and wrestling matches.
As soon as we arrived at our flat, all three of us crashed for extensive six hour nap. When we finally got up, we immediately headed out to explore our new neighborhood. This was the night we discovered the glory of Charlotte Street - it's like a mini Hell's Kitchen in New York City with all kinds of delicious ethnic restaurants (though not the most kid-friendly of all blocks, as it was a little challenging to find a place with a high chair). We ended up at an Asian fusion place called DIMT, and immediately shoveled down our food. Needless to say, the night ended pretty early, as we were still feeling the effects of jet lag.
It took us almost a week to find
our groove - a combination of jet lag and recovering from some intense weeks of working crazy hours before we left. Landon, thankfully, seemed to be on the same page as us, so our days started late and ended late. We mostly explored the neighborhood and ate at different ethnic restaurants each night (One of our favorites we would recommend is a Greek place called Andreas on Charlotte Street). Our location reminds me a lot of our years of living in NYC - just with cobblestone streets and a lot more British accents.
On this trip, we have a series of visitors. Our first was Miss Stephanie Brown, one of Landon’s favorite friends and someone who I could not live without (She’s one of my old dance students who is on her way to an amazing singing and dance career in LA. She is also my choreography assistant, hair dresser, make-up artist for photo shoots, and one of Landon’s babysitters). Sean and I don’t care a lot about cars, houses, or “stuff” in general but we do love our freedom, so Steph arrived in London, so we could have some fun at night . . . so here comes
one of my favorite stories . . .
The first Friday night we were here, Sean and I headed out to explore the nightlife. We had already discovered the area we wanted to go to in Soho. Brewer Street feels like pub central . . . but I really shouldn’t be saying that. London as a whole is pub central. It’s pretty insane. I don’t know how they all stay in business, except for the fact that I swear the British just start replacing water with beer after 5 pm. Starting at around 4 pm, they cluster outside with their mugs - chatting, laughing, and downing their beers like it’s New Year’s Eve (In fact, today as we left London for Manchester, it was raining, and they were still out there - with a few umbrellas floating around). Anyways, it’s awesome, and we couldn’t wait to join in.
So we got our first round of drinks at one of the Brewer Street pubs and quickly realized it was dead compared to the bar across the alley, so we walked (with our beers) to the other bar. Sean noticed my eyes darting around the bar and immediately called me
out, “You are on a mission to meet people tonight.” I was. I love meeting locals when I travel. It’s the best - to find out where to go, what to do, and just enjoy the people who live there. Almost immediately, a guy lingered by our table, so I asked him if he knew the rules about walking from bar to bar with your beer. He told us this was definitely not allowed (oops!), and then proceeded to tell us that he was visiting from Norway for the weekend with his ten buddies - their yearly “Man Trip.” BINGO! We'd found our party bus. This was just the beginning . . .
Next thing we knew, bottles of wine were being passed around (a mistake for Sean and I since we had been drinking beer), the conversations rolling, and all of us were becoming instant friends. About an hour later, we had moved down the block to The Warwick (our new favorite hangout) and were dancing up a storm. Of course, there are all sorts of funny stories that would only really make sense if you were there - super fun Norwegian Flea (not sure what his name
was but he looked like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Irvin the party starter (he was the original Norwegian we talked to and dragged us all out onto the dance floor), creepy tall British guy who forced himself on anyone and everyone, and the list goes on.
What I really love most about London pubs is that they are casual bars (jeans, tank tops, etc.) until about 11 pm when chairs are kicked aside, the floor opens up, the music starts pumping, and a dance party is instantly created. No scene - just jolly good fun. Needless to say, it was a great way to start our trip - so a big shout out to our Norwegian friends!
When the bar closed, Sean and I left the The Warwick and began our hunt for a midnight snack. On our way, we discovered another pub with jamming music, Gem. We were lured in by Michael Jackson’s “ABC,” and proceded to completely exhaust ourselves on the dance floor. From there, we caught a pedi cab to the only place open - Piccadilly Circus (basically China Town & the porn district) for lamb shawarmas - the perfect way to end a fun night. Weekend One was a success and an incredible way to kick off our London festivities. Cheerio!