Published: January 29th 2012
January 25th 2012
In the background you can see London Bridge, the white building on the right is Shakespeare's Globe and the tall point is the almost-finished Shard.
London is an amazing city. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since it was more of a social visit than a touristic one. I have two weeks of vacation for the end of first semester and decided to do a London-France trip, even though January isn’t really the best time to be a tourist in London. At least the plane tickets were cheap. I really didn’t have any agenda or list of sites I wanted to see. I was more excited to see my friends and taste the cuisine of all the cultures that make London such an international and cosmopolitan city.
This was my first time in London, despite twelve years of telling my friend Catherine, who I met in France in 1999, that I would visit her. At least she came to see me when I lived in Morocco. So, it had only been five years since I had seen her. It was the first time I met her husband and I almost got to meet her first child, although I was a couple days early. Her baby was due two days after I left England.
Elka is also a friend from high school in France and
I hadn’t seen her since. She is Jamaican but has lived in London for ten years now and makes a fabulous guide since she knows the city so well.
I’m afraid I can’t give you much information about what to see and do in London, but I can tell you that the transportation system is fantastic and the food is even better. Elka warned me to get an Oyster card when I arrived at Heathrow, which you can put money on and quickly swipe going in and out of the underground or getting on busses. It was very practical and I highly recommend it to visitors in London.
As for the food, my first night with Elka we went to a restaurant named Giraffe, where we had Jamaican beverages, Chinese hors d’oeuvres, a main course of Indonesian noodles with Thai sauce and an English apple toffee crumble with vanilla ice cream for dessert. It was fabulous. The next day we started the tour of English bakeries, sushi restaurants where the dishes circulate along the counter on a conveyor belt and Indian restaurants on the famous Brick Lane. I had heard people joke about curry being more of a
The sign says: Welcome to the World's Longest Occupation. Began 15 October 2011. 3 months still going strong. Together we will be the change.
national dish than fish and chips, and now I believe them. Brick Lane was great, with most of the shops having Bangladeshi as well as Indian dishes.
With Catherine I got a more traditional British menu. I had my first English breakfast: scrambled eggs, toast, fried tomatoes and baked beans, (I skipped the bacon). It was definitely hearty, and exactly what I needed to start off a cold and windy day. Her parents invited us over for lunch, so I got to sample real English home cooking. In the evening we went to the neighborhood pub for my first pint. I went for the English bitters and loved it. English food might not be as exciting as the variety of international restaurants in the center of the city, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
One thing I loved about London was that the buildings weren’t tall, so I didn’t get that claustrophobic “I can barely see the sky” feeling that comes with being surrounded by skyscrapers. Most of it was delightfully quaint and so easy to understand – everything is in English!
It was a great start to my vacation, and wonderful to see Elka and
This was my first ride on a double-decker bus. Nobody was out and about on a Sunday evening, so we got to sit up front right over the driver. The tube might be cool, but the bus was fun!
Catherin again. All in all, it was a very good trip!
There are more photos below