MIFM in Europe: London

Ready to head back to Europe for a bit? After 5 days of either being sick myself or nursing a sick kid, I know I am. (But I am very grateful that it’s not sick kids, plural).

As I’ve already mentioned, we were only in London for about a day and 1/2 (two nights), but we hoofed it pretty much that entire time (minus about 12 hours to sleep), and we crammed a fair bit of fun into that short time period.

We arrived at King’s Cross/St. Pancras station a little before 2 PM and dragged our luggage to our rental, which was blessedly close.

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(That black and white, graphic print wrapped building was pretty much the first thing we saw when came out of the station; it was under construction and was definitely the coolest “work zone” I’d ever seen}

The guy we rented from lived in the downstairs apartment and was there to meet us, show us around the space, and give us some helpful neighborhood pointers, starting with directing us to Charlotte street for food.

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{We found some awesome food there, but even without it, it was a charming neighborhood}

Sujoy (our host) is a native Londoner and was the one who pointed us to Camden Markets, which turned out to be our favorite (remember the world tour of food?). But more about that in a minute.

We had been traveling and site-seeing in Greece so much that, by the time we got to London, we really just wanted to veg for a bit. We decided the perfect way to do that would be to see a movie, and Sujoy recommended either the Odeon or the Empire theaters in Leicester (pronounced “Lester”) Square, since those are London’s premier cinemas where they host all the, well, premieres.

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We walked to Leicester Square from our rental, which would have taken about 20 minutes if we hadn’t stopped to eat and wander a bit along the way. (Sujoy said he could have made it in 15 doing his “London walk,” and we proceeded to refer to walking fast as a “London walk” the rest of the trip).

When we got to the theater, we discovered that they were having a premiere THAT NIGHT!

Only, rather than a real live sighting of Angie and Brad, it was a rather disappointing satellite chat with Kevin Spacey about some movie I’d never heard of.

You’ll be super-surprised to know that we didn’t stick around for that. Instead, we saw Edge of Tomorrow in REALLY LOUD surround sound on their IMAX screen. Honestly, it was the perfect way to reset after a long day of travel. (Other than the REALLY LOUD part).

When we got out of the movie, it was raining—the only rain we saw on the entire trip—and we didn’t have an umbrella or any British pounds to buy one from the souvenir stand nearby.

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{It wouldn’t be a trip to London without a shot of folks hustling to get out of the drizzle, right?}

After we’d huddled under the movie theater awning for a while, it let up a bit, and we decided to venture out.

We spent the rest of the evening viewing all of the usual London sights.

Trafalgar Square…

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{Majestic lions!!}

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{Giant…blue chickens???}

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Big Ben…

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Buckingham Palace (I don’t know if we just saw a bad shift or what, but we were both kind of surprised by the fact that the famously stoic palace guards were whispering back and forth and noticeably out of synch with their drills)…

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The London Eye…

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and the River Thames.

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My mom and I were in London 10 years ago for several days (although I don’t remember very much except being so jetlagged that I fell asleep every single time I sat down), and then I was there (briefly) on the other end of the same trip with my mom, my brother, and Shaun when we all met up before my bro, Shaun, and I headed to Spain.

During that time, I did a lot of the touristy stuff you’re “supposed” to, so since I’d already done it, and Shaun and I aren’t super touristy sorts, we were satisfied with our informal evening walking tour of the “must-sees.”

We didn’t make it back to our rental until almost 1 in the morning, so, as you can imagine, we crashed right away.

The next day, we spent the early morning in St. Pancras station, eating breakfast on a bench and people-watching. We both had expected Londoners to be “posher” than they were (meaning, more elegantly dressed on a work day; instead, everybody was pretty “normal-looking,” even by East Texan standards), so we (okay, I) made up a game where we gave ourselves 5 minutes at a time to each peg the best dressed person in the station and then see if we agreed. I realize this sounds like a ridiculous way to spend your time, but it was actually really fun (and, strangely, one of my favorite memories from the trip), and ultimately, out of about 4 rounds of this, there was one particular standout that we both agreed on—a girl with a voluminous braided bun whose outfit was perfectly coordinated from her immaculately coiffed head down to her gold-sandal clad toes. Even Shaun, who doesn’t care about fashion and isn’t interested in pattern mixing, had to agree that she had nailed it.  (And, yes, I wish I had a picture, but this was a train station, so these people were moving).

Afterwards, we set off for Camden Markets, taking our time as we wound through various neighborhoods.

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{“HOPE”…love it}

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{I also love that you can just walk down the street and randomly stumble across a cool-looking church like this}

When we finally got there, we worked our way deeper and deeper into the maze of shops.

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Everywhere you turned, there was something unique and eye-catching and just flat-out cool.

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Between the browsing and that food market I mentioned the other day, I think we spent about 5 hours there.

IMG_2783   IMG_2608   After we’d finally gotten our fill, we headed to Granary Square, which is a rather new development. Honestly, it doesn’t have too much to offer, unless you’re a mama of littles who wants to let your kids run through the ground fountains or a foot-weary couple who just needs a bench to lounge on for a while.

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{Of course, lounging with your head on your husband’s lap as you gaze into a blue, blue sky is hardly something to sneeze at}

There was a college on the edge of the square, and we decided to saunter inside the commons area, where we discovered to our delight…

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PING PONG!

We both love ping pong. So, when we saw that they had several public tables set up with paddles and balls provided, we spent about an hour there playing 6 games (Me: 4, Him: 2…because I know you wanted to know ; )). Honestly, I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to go to London to sit in train stations and people-watch or watch movies or play ping pong in random universities, but all 3 of those are memories I cherish. So, I don’t guess I mind that it wasn’t the typical London thing to do.

After ping pong, it was back to our rental to change before heading to Notting Hill, which is known for its charm and good eats (oh, and markets, but sadly, they were all closed down by the time we got there).

We walked through several beautiful, tree-lined neighborhoods full of townhouses until we finally settled on Finch’s Dining Room for dinner (which I told you all about in my London eats recap).

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{I spy a cute boy eating cheese!}

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{Nothing like hanging a giant teapot outside your establishment to attract attention}

In both Notting Hill and the Camden Market area, they had All Saints stores, which are decorated with hundreds of Singer sewing machines.

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{Hol.y. Cow. And that’s only one wall}

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After our jaunt through Notting Hill, we caught the metro back to the rental to sleep a few hours before we took the Eurostar to Paris (at the crack of dawn).

But more on that another day.

Hope you enjoyed our rather unconventional London adventures. We sure did!

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4 thoughts on “MIFM in Europe: London

  1. I have really been enjoying being a part of your travels through your blog posts! I love your blog & can’t wait to see some of the amazing places you have recently seen! Keep up the amazing work & I hope your family is feeling better soon!
    -Becky with Choose Happy

  2. It’s so fun to explore different cities, especially with your favorite person! Enjoying all your trip reporting!

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