The London Particular
London was absolutely amazing. It was impossible to run out of things to do. I was blessed enough to bunk in with an old friend, M, when I visited London about two weeks ago. He brought me around for the first 3 days, and I explored the city on my own for the next 3. The luckiest part? He brought me around over the weekend! If there's one thing you need to remember before booking your tickets to London, plan your trip over the weekend - unless of course bustling markets of food and vintage don't mean anything to you.
Borough Market, Neal's Yard Dairy, Monmouth Coffee Company
Day 1, Friday
Start your day at a quaint cafe nearest to you. In our case, it was the London Particular. The Brioche Pizza was as tasty as it looked! After a hearty breakfast (or a takeaway if you're pressed for time like us), take the tube to Tower Hill for the Tower Bridge (Don't forget to grab a tube map from the station). Next, walk towards London Bridge for a glimpse of it, even though it really isn't anything special. The good thing is, from London Bridge, you can easily walk to the Borough Market, which you must not miss. It was tinier than I expected, but chock-full of gastronomic gems. My favourite? An amazing Game Mix Baguette with Red Wine and Apricots from the Guildable Manor. The bread was ordinary, but the combination of well-marinated grilled meat and hand-made sauces was fantastic. Now it's time for coffee, which you have to get from the Monmouth Coffee Company, one of the best places to get Coffee in London, located just around the corner. After coffee, head to Neal's Yard Dairy (also around the corner) to gawk at the mountains and mountains of cheese in the store. Spend the late afternoon in the Tate Modern (a short walk from the Borough Market, don't forget to check out Shakespeare's Globe along the way) for inspirational displays of contemporary art. Just across the Millennium Bridge from the Tate Modern, you can walk towards Saint Paul's Cathedral. For dinner, take the tube to Queensway or Bayswater for the famous roast duck at either Goldmine or Four Seasons. I only tried the former since my friend said it was better - his conclusion was that Goldmine serves a more flavourful duck, but Four Seasons' duck has a crispier skin.
Goldmine Duck Rice, St. James's Park, Big Ben, Camden Town
Day 2, Saturday
Head to the Apollo Victoria Theater 15 minutes before 10am to get in line for the 24 Front Row stall seats to Wicked released at 10am every morning of the musical, priced at only £27.50. It's a steal. After securing your tickets, make your way to Buckingham Palace, and explore one out of the three parks in the vicinity - Green Park, Hyde Park or St. James's Park. After a lovely stroll, take the tube to Westminster to tour the Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Houses of Parliarment. Next, head to Camden, which will be bustling on a Saturday - lots of people, lots of shops, and very punk rock. There are even dining areas on motorbikes overlooking a scenic river. Fun. There will be lots of food/snack choices in the area. When you're done exploring, take the metro down to Oxford Circus. This is one amazing shopping street - I felt like I was in heaven. Unless you leave it to a week day, Saturday's a good day to work your way through the shops despite the crowds since they are closed early on Sundays. For dinner, I would find a place to grab fish and chips. At night, enjoy Wicked, one of the best musicals London has to offer.
Markets at Shoreditch
Day 3, Sunday
I would spend the whole day strolling the Sunday markets in Shoreditch. They were the highlights of my trip - I really enjoyed the artsy vibe of the area. Here you can find independent designer stores, and just about everything vintage. The kind of place where you can spend hours and hours looking through everything. It's just amazing. Grab a Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese Bagel from one of the Bagel Shops along Brick Lane while you're at it. The one I had was from Britain's First and Best Beigel Shop, where the bagel comes with generous quantities of smoked salmon and cream cheese for just 1.6 pounds. Delicious! There were also a few food halls where stalls were selling food from all over the world, and often you'd find stalls selling mouthwatering slices of cakes, brownies and cupcakes. For dinner, dine at a Gastropub (I dined at the Cadogan Arms but wasn't impressed at all. I'd suggest Harwood Arms, it seems to be getting raving reviews but you have to reserve in advance). Since it's a Sunday and shopping is out, if you want to make the most of the night, go bar hopping or head to China Town, where everything stays open till late.
And that's what I would do with another weekend in London, minus the requisite sights. Have I missed out anything?
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