Friends, hello! I am exhausted to the point of narcolepsy today after a most adventurous and go-go-go weekend in Scotland that I'll tell you about later this week (sneak peek: Edinburgh completely ran away with my heart, so I am currently without one as I'm sitting here "writing essays"...).
Oxford is the most wonderful little town and I love everything about it. But when the weekend comes along, we like to escape to the hustle and bustle of London and absorb the big city splendor as much as suburb-raised kiddos possibly can.
Two weekends ago, Lauren, Nick, and I had grand plans.
Firstly, we asked Nick to take a picture of us and our fancy pants outfits before kicking him out so that we could have a girls' night involving sangria, scrumptious pub grub, and a marvelously WICKED time in West End.
My roommate back at school, Cassandra, counts Wicked as one of her top three favorite things, so obviously I had to make the pilgrimage to the London performance and make her GREEN with envy.
As it turns out, the show quickly won me over in its own right and I am now absolutely obsessed. Karma bites, man. The music, the acting, the humor, the outfits, the story... I was enchanted. Most definitely one of my favorite memories of London, thus far (thank you, Mrs. M!).
Afterwards, the two of us found Nick and his buddy, George, and we pub-crawled (to two pubs... epic, right?) before calling it a night well spent.
The next morning, we were up bright and early. If by bright and early, you mean "10 am," which is apparently the one time you shouldn't make your way over to Portobello Market (as it's when the tourists descend in masses). But we decided "you know, whatever, we're tourists too" and squeezed along with the rest of the crowd through the delightful little market full of silver trinkets and vintage goodies.
Both Lauren and I purchased the most adorable, illustrated (modern) map of London. Which is, you know, exactly the thing that you should be acquiring in a market known for its antiques.
I did enjoy Portobello Market, very much so. However, if you are only able to make it to one London market and you like food at all, I recommend Borough Market instead. Portobello Market's very touristy and crowded (although to its credit, we did go at 10am on a Saturday which we were strongly recommended NOT to do), but still a great sight to see. Borough Market, on the other hand, is
For lunch, I insisted upon Shake Shack, because how quintessentially British is that? Hint: it's as far from quintessentially British as you can get. But I've been craving milkshakes and crinkle fries from this place since I last left NYC two years ago, so I cried and whined until I was obliged.
My friend, Sarah, had just arrived in London with her boyfriend for a quick European adventure, and we agreed on meeting up for lunch. Good friends, good food, AMAZING MILKSHAKE, it was hard to go wrong! (Except for the stupid, idiotic, moronic pigeons that kept trying to steal my fries. I hate them.)
Full and happy, Nick, Lauren, and I decided that we needed to make a detour to King's Cross and find Platform 9 and 3/4. Here we are, after waiting in line for a good 30 minutes.
The camera guy commented that we looked "deliriously happy" to be there - out of all the people in line from all over the world and of all ages, we were the ones he commented on. A bit ridiculous and sad, but I'm also a little proud.
At last, it was time to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum, which has been so highly praised by bloggers, locals, and TripAdvisor alike. It's an awe-inspiring museum - the fashion exhibit is beautiful! And you really appreciate the fact that you no longer need to have a practically non-existent waist, especially after feasting on greasy burgers and fries and cheese and milkshakes. Thank you, 21st century.
The really killer part of the museum is the garden and the cafe - very peaceful and glamorous at the same time, especially at sundown!
And finally, for dinner, we met up with George again at a really great (and fancier) pub called The Orange. It was a bit of a splurge, but those bellinis and mussels were well worth it.
Blogger confession: there was really dim lighting in the restaurant, so of course I made everyone turn on their cell phone flashlights so that I could document these mussels. Because pictures or it didn't happen, right?
- ONE WEEK LATER -
Our program grant makes it mandatory for us to attend a few cultural events (tough gig, I know), including one big trip (ours was to Scotland), a few smaller events like symphonies and plays on campus, and for us, a show in London. Originally, we were to go one in the Apollo Theater, but last year, the ceiling collapsed, soooo.... that plan got scrapped.
Instead, we attended Jeeves and Wooster, which stars Matthew Macfadyan (who played Keira Knightley's Mr. Darcy in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice). The show was hysterical, very British, and very enjoyable, albeit quite long. But you know what made the evening even better?
Dinner at Wahaca with great company. I've been separated from quality Mexican food for way too long, and it was the biggest blessing when our program coordinator told us about this place. I might have shed a tear or two of gratitude at the first bite of the insane fish tacos.
Or actually, maybe full-on sobs.
And Shake Shack shakes for dessert. Because, duh.