48 hours In London

While studying abroad, I planned a trip to London and Amsterdam for a couple of days with some friends. We planned to spend 3 days in London and 2 days in Amsterdam. After a long turn of unfortunate events, we missed our flight (and then our bus) to Amsterdam. Besides the sour memory of missing my flight and staying in London longer than planned, I simply did not enjoy London as a whole. The weather was miserable, everything was expensive, and I did not feel the rich culture that I felt in Greece.

Five years later, my sister studies abroad at University College of London and I decide to give the city another try and to meet her in London for a couple of days. I arrived at London Gatwick around 11 am on Sunday and took the train to Kings Cross St Pancreas which was rather easy to figure out. Once I got there, it was freezing and raining but we had planned to go to Camden Market for lunch so we went. For a city that is constantly dreary and raining, Camden Market should have more indoor seating as people were standing under tents standing up eating, which is not an enjoyable time. The market has everything from Thai, to Indian, to Mexican, to Mediterranean quick bites there and it all looked really delicious. The food was good, but there are similar markets with food vendors in many big cities, so it’s nothing special.

While there, my one sister got halloumi fries topped with molasses and pomegranate seeds, they were absolutely delicious. They’re warm and gooey on the inside and delicious and crispy on the outside. I would definitely recommend this if you are a cheese lover. I wanted to find somewhere to sit inside and the only place I could find was Honest Burgers. I got the “burger of the week” which was a succulent burger topped with an onion ring, bacon, chipotle jam on a buttery, flakey bun. Each delicious burger comes with crispy, crunchy, rosemary salted chips “fries” which were also amazing.

After our hearty meal we decided to walk around a bit. The area around Camden Market is like many other tourist traps around the world, with fake Chanel sunglasses, fake Gucci belts, and I heart London t-shirts. If that’s not your cup of tea, there is not much else to see there and you can keep it moving, which is what we did.

After my beefy burger, I was exhausted so we went back to my sister’s apartment and napped. In the evening we went to Nomad Club London, near the Shoreditch section of the city. For a Sunday night it wasn’t horrible, besides the music. There was nothing but straight house music (unc unc unc!) with no words, which got real old, real quick. The club had a £15 cover charge which was definitely not worth the experience especially on a Sunday night where many people do not go out. Drinks were pretty weak, they measure out exactly one shot to put in each drink so its mostly soda. However, the drinks were £ 5-7, which was not a bad price for a shot and some soda in a nightclub. We partied the night away with some British Guidos and called it a night around 2 am.

The next morning we were hungover from cheap vodka, and we needed something to cure the hangover. Vitamins? Water? Nutrients, you might ask? No, of course not! A fatty American breakfast containing hundreds of calories did the trick. We went to The Breakfast Club, which is like any American diner through out the USA, but 10x better tasting. There is almost always a wait, and it is almost always worth it. I had the “huevos al benny” with the fried chicken, which is one of the best eggs Benedict I’ve ever had, and I get benny every time I go out to breakfast. The chicken was crispy on the outside but moist and tender on the inside, topped with 2 poached eggs and velvety holindaise sauce.

After we stuffed our faces, we went to the Sky Garden. The Sky Garden is described as “A unique public space that spans three story’s and offers 360 degree uninterrupted views across the City of London.” This is free and open to the public as long as you reserve tickets online in advance. Even though we had tickets, we waited in line for almost 45 minutes to get up to the top due to the security and elevators. When we got up to the top we were extremely underwhelmed. Whoever said The Sky Garden offered “uninterrupted views” must not understand how London’s weather works. We got up there and all we saw were grey clouds.

We booked the tickets to see the wonderful views and to take pictures, like any Instagram addicted millennial would. We planned our whole day around the Sky Garden only to look out and see nothing but fog and clouds. My suggestion is, if you reserved tickets and it is crappy weather, just skip it all together – you are not missing anything.

After our miserable experience at The Sky Garden, we walked to the Tower of London and the London Bridge. The area is swamped with tourists and you are stuck dodging umbrellas and selfie sticks right and left. There are options to go into some of the landmarks and monuments, but we decided to skip that. We took some pictures, sat by the water for a while, and then headed home.

My final day in London I was finally blessed with good weather! I started my morning by heading straight to royalty, Buckingham Palace. That thing is massive and you have to be down the block to capture the whole palace in one picture. Up close it really is beautiful with all the gold accents. I would definitely recommend stopping by and watching the changing of the guards.

After that I walked to Piccadilly Circus which is basically the “Times Square” of London. There are many American food chains like like TGI Friday’s, Bubba Gumps, and McDonald’s. Although Times Square in NYC gives me a headache, something about Piccadilly Circus made me happy. I’m not sure if it was the little pieces of home or how many of us are experiencing similar things even if we are halfway around the world. All thanks to capitalism (insert sarcasm here!).

Overall, London doesn’t do much for me as a city, it reminds me of a dull, gloomy, NYC. If you have 48 hours in the city, you can hit a lot of the main attractions like I did and move onto a better part of Europe (no shade! Okay, maybe a little shade). Just make sure to pack your umbrella!


Finding Francesca


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