Earlier this month and my first weekend free, Caroline and I headed to London for a day to do some exploring. London is only a 35 minute train ride from Guildford Station to Waterloo Station. 6 hours free, how much could we do? Arriving into Waterloo reminded me of Grand Central in New York: parallels being drawn from individuals on their phones, and blurs of people rushing through the crowd. A different sounding crowd, of course. A quick walk from the station was Big Ben and the London Eye. It's an odd feeling seeing something in real life, after being so familiar with it on the television or in films. Hopefully one day I'll get the chance to ride the London Eye, but just the sight of it was enough for me that day. Big Ben is breath-taking. In my head Harry and his friends we're flying around it on their broom sticks. However, the only sticks present at the time were the numerous selfie sticks being swung around by tourists.
From Big Ben, Carolyn and I took a walk towards Buckingham Palace to see if our good friend Queen Lizzie was out and about. Although we were unsuccessful in catching a glimpse of her, we did manage to attempt to make one of the guards laugh. Unsuccessful in this as well. After taking a few photos of the Palace, we headed down Picadilly to get away from the masses of tourists. On our way to Covent Garden we stumbled upon Chinatown. With its bright red decor standing out of the muted overall greyness of London, it was hard to miss. We stopped for a few photos and continued on our way to Covent Garden. There, the streets were filled with buskers and street entertainers. The mix of locals to tourists had dramatically shifted to 50:50, which was nice. Seeing local shops mixed with international retailers was interesting to see. Between the street magicians and guitar players, a lively vibe was definitely felt.
Veering even further from tourist central, Carolyn and I caught the tube to Shoreditch. In Edmonton, Whyte Ave is the local musical and artsy neighbourhood. In Vancouver, it's Gastown. From my research online, Shoreditch seemed to be the alternative here in London. With gorgeous graffiti on every wall you looked at, Shoreditch instantly reminded me of Whyte Ave at home. Filled with cute coffee shops and privately owned stores, this neighbourhood definitely lived up to its artsy reputation. There weren't too many noticeable tourists, and many more locals. These locals looking like they were all a part of some sort of band with their stylish outfits and effortless street style. I did some research on Box Park in Shoreditch, and decided that I definitely wanted to check it out. Box Park is a shipping container-like, pop-up mall for independent and global, fashion and lifestyle stores and cafes. From artisanal home goods to hand-picked vintage thrift stores, it had it all! The second floor of Box Park was filled with food vendors where a vegan Thai restaurant caught my eye, and essentially my stomach. Carolyn and I both enjoyed the pad thai here and would definitely recommend to anyone visiting. For my friends planning to meet up in the next year, I will definitely be taking you guys here!
Our final destination of the day was Camden Market. This place was probably the most suggested spot by my fellow classmates and friends from uni. Camden Market is comprised of large retail markets in Camden Town along with products sold in stalls including crafts, clothing, and fast food. Already full from our thai food, Carolyn and I ate with our eyes as the street food here definitely looked tasty. From fresh juices, to paella, to crispy squid, to Arepas, to ice cream sandwiches, there was definitely something for everyone here. I'll definitely be fasting the next time I visit this place to just enjoy all the food they offer. Here are some photos I took during the day there. Hope you like 'em! Until next time London, I'll definitely be back to scour your city for some neat finds.