I’m not a London virgin anymore
I know this might sound weird, but that’s what my friend Caro always used to say:
Nirina, how can you still be a London virgin?
And my answer: I don’t know. The opportunity never really presented itself in the past until about 3 years ago, when I wanted to travel there with a friend from college.
We actually already booked our trip until we realised that Great Britain isn’t in the Schengen Agreement and my friend doesn’t have a German citizenship and would’ve needed a visa for which it was too late and too expensive to apply for.
So, we had to cancel everything which was a bummer, but we traveled to Brussels instead 🙂
But back to the point…
Finding the cheapest travel option
As you know, I’m a bargain hunter when it comes to, well, everything besides food and special events and experiences.
I’d rather spend my money on things actually contributing to my overall happiness and the way of traveling isn’t one of them.
So, naturally, you would think about flying. Currently, there are enough airlines that offer cheap flights.
But still, there are restrictions like the amount of luggage you can check in or take with you.
And I’m all about taking photo equipment and outfits for different photoshoots, so hand luggage only just wouldn’t do.
Next thought, bus.
And to my surprise, there actually is a direct connection from Duesseldorf to London. With 2 pieces of hand luggage and one bigger luggage. 11 hours drive for as little as 14 € per trip (28€ total then).
I paid 50€ total just because I had to arrange my arrival according to my friend’s schedule and I also didn’t want to drive through the night (disruptive sleeping pattern, hello?!)
But what’s the best, the bus destination is directly at Victoria Coach Station, so you’re really IN London and further connection couldn’t be better.
From Heathrow or Stansted, there’s still an hour drive to leave behind until reaching the centre of London.
So bus – WIN, WIN and WIN.
For accommodation I can’t give you any tips since I stayed with my friend who believe it or not, lives super close to the Victoria Coach Station. Did I say: WIN?! 😀
DAY 1: EXPLORING TOURISTY SPOTS
I’m gonna start by saying, I got the most untouristy experience ever for a first time visitor, but this is exactly what I wanted.
We started the day with taking the tube to Oxford Circus and explored the areas around there, including Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street.
We had breakfast at ‘Detox Kitchen’, where I had a smoothie bowl which sadly came in a paper cup and definitely wasn’t photographworthy, but it tasted good!
From there we strolled a bit around Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and then ate at ’26 grains’ which was hands down the best food I’ve had in London, so check it out!
Utterly satisfied we then took some pictures in front of the London Eye, saw Westminster Abbey and Big Ben and made our way to a cinema in Brixton and watched ‘The Shape of Water’. I didn’t know anything about it beforehand, but it’s worth a watch. A little Sci-Fi, definitely great actors and good music. Brutal, yet romantic.
At the end of the day we saw the Millennium Bridge and Saint Paul’s Cathedral and also looked at the Somerset House for a bit.
DAY 2: VINTAGE VIBES
As we didn’t take too many pictures the day before, I was set to change that for my 2nd day.
We started by visiting on of the absolutely most favoured instragram blogger destinations which is ‘Peggy Porschen’ in Victoria.
We only snapped a pick, because for breakfast we chose to go to ‘Daylesford’., where I had an amazing Apple & Carrot Muffin.
We then explored the area around tower bridge, saw ‘the Gherkin’ and visited Borough Market, where we ate at an Indian streetfood place and damn, that was good too!
Afterwards we took the tube to Shoreditch, the art scene of London where we tried on clothes at cute vintage stores like ‘Rockit’ or ‘Serotonin’. Funnily I found a coat in my favourite color (bordeaux red). Must have been fate 😀
At ‘Yumchaa’ we rested a bit in between walks and we both had a vanilla roiboos iced tea.
I can spoiler you, if you are into artsy stuff, Shoreditch will be your favourite area too!
DAY 3: FREE SPOTS & CONCERT
My friend had university that day, so I had to prepare a plan for the meantime. London doesn’t have to be expensive. A lot of things are for free!
Even though I was alone the majority of the daytime, we decided to have breakfast together at ‘Juice Baby’ and seriously, the Açai Bowls there are to die for!
From Sloane Square, I then took the bus to Knightsbridge where I took a look at ‘Harrod’s’, the not so infamous department store. Honestly, I was in there for 5 minutes, because the weather was just too good to spend it inside a building of expensive brands I knew I wouldn’t buy anything from anyways.
So I took a walk to the Victoria & Albert Museum and almost saw everything. Yes guys, I just spent over 3 hours in a museum, but I like sculptures, paintings, photography, jewellery, metal work, architecture, fashion and ceramics. And almost all of the collections are for free.
From South Kensington my way went on to High Street Kensington where I just bought a sandwich at M&S and walked to Notting Hill afterwards.
Notting Hill is just like I have imagined it to be, cute, colorful houses, perfect background for outfit shoots, but well, I was alone, so I went to the Portobello Road Market instead.
I met my friend Caro back at Sloane Square and after having dinner at Leon, we just experienced the highlight of the trip: VANCE JOY live in the O2 Academy in Brixton.
For Caro’s Birthday back in NY, I planned a whole surprise day, including cakes at a cute pastry shop, a dinner at a vegan restaurant we always wanted to try and a Tom Odell concert.
Little did I know who the opening act was. And then out of the blue while Vance Joy was singing on of his songs, I screamed: Holy Shit, I know him (you have to know I can’t remember names of artists or songs, but melodies and lyrics), and went mental, because he’s an Aussie artist I knew from the beginning of his career.
That was about 4 years ago and he hasn’t been in Europe for 3 1/2 years.
So proud of you James!
Yes, I sang my lungs out. It was over way too soon and I can’t wait for November to see him again 😀
DAY 4: BEAUTY OF BOTANICS
I love nature. Tropical vibes experiences throughout the whole day.
For breakfast, we decided on ‘Muriel’s Kitchen’ where I had porridge and scones with clotted cream and jam.
From South Kensington to Kew Gardens the tube needs roughly 30 min.
And Kew Gardens is a true nature lover’s paradise! We got lucky and could see the Orchid Festival that took place that time.
Lovely greenhouses, such a big variety of flowers and trees and honestly a top photo location.
Below are some pictures, we took on the treetop walkway and inside a greenhouse!
Sadly, we couldn’t stay as long as we would have needed to see the whole gardens. But we’ll definitely return in Summer when it must be even prettier!
We had to get back to the Waterloo Station, because we spontaneously decided to go to the ‘London Dungeon’ the night before.
Honestly, I was zero scared and wouldn’t go there again. For a one time experience it’s ok. I learned a lot about London’s history without it being boring. But it comes with a hefty price tag: 24 pounds.
For dinner we tried ‘Deliciously Ella’s Deli’ and I loved her recipes beforehand anyways, so I wasn’t surprised that the food was good!
As a great closing experience we tried our look to get into ‘sketch’ to take pictures, because the location is just insane! It’s a mix of royally girly or tropical rooms reminding me of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. And the bathroom are pods containing individual toilets. SO artsy 😀
Did you like my London post?
Were you in London before? What did you like best?
Comment below! Maybe you have suggestions for some awesome travel destinations 🙂
Love you guys,