The first time I went to London was exactly 6 years ago, and I fell totally in love with the city. It feels different, free and more accepting than Germany, at least to me. If you have ever been there you know that accommodation can be very expensive, even if you go to a hostel. Thankfully Emily, whom I met in Rome 6 years ago and which I haven’t seen in 3 years, moved there so I could see her again and she would show me her side of London. Ps: I just love it when a local shows me around their town! And all I wanted to do was to eat amazing vegan food, search for graffitis and look through second-hand shops, and obviously spend time with Emily.
First day: Travel and exploring London
As I have been more aware of the environment lately and know how bad flying is, I decided to go to London by train. You can take the Eurostar at a few stations in France, Belgium and the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Avignon, Brussels, Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Disneyland Paris, Lille, Fréthun, Lyon, Marseille, Paris, and Rotterdam) and it takes about 2h from Paris or 6,5h from Marseille. For me, it was shorter to go by train than by aeroplane if you include the travel to the airport, check-in time etc. I am not sure if it was cheaper than flying as I paid about 180€ but the price was ok for me, and I think you can find special discounts if you look in advance. Also, I thought it is exciting to go through the Channel Tunnel under the ocean. It is a freaking tunnel under the ocean! Ok, under the English Channel but still! I think you got my point. The tunnel is 50.45-kilometre long. The lowest point is 75 m deep below the sea bed and 115 m below sea level. At 37.9 kilometres (23.5 mi), the tunnel has the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world. The speed limit for trains through the tunnel is 160 kilometres per hour. ** (Info was taken from Wikipedia Channel Tunnel but it was also mentioned during the trip). It takes about 20 min to go through the tunnel.
Once arrived at St Pancras where Emily picked me up, we made a quick stop at Crosstown Doughnuts nearby at Kings Cross. Emily is a big doughnut lover and knows the best places, which also includes vegan doughnuts.
Refreshed and after some food, we went to Sacred Art Tattoos because who am I if I do not get a little souvenir while in London. Find out what I got in One of my addictions. After getting the tattoo, we went to Central London or more precisely to the Graffiti Tunnel which I knew from 3 years ago but the amazing thing with graffitis, they change the whole time! From there we went to Covent Garden, where we would just walk around like Neal’s Yard, go to some second-hand shops like Rokit and Beyond Retro, or went to The Shop at Bluebird which looks just amazing. I took about 1.000 pictures of English pubs, prove is my Instagram, but I just love their colourful facade and the flowers.
As we were supposed to go to see a play at 07:30 pm we decided to have dinner before as it would have been a bit too late afterwards which was a good decision as Mildreds always gets crowded, and you usually have to wait for a table. Whoever gets scared off by the queue, let me tell you that it is worth it! The food is amazing! I wanted to cry when I had the last bites of my dish. And the best part, it is all vegetarian or even vegan!
We had a little time left, so we bought some éclairs from Maître Choux. I know, I am living in France and I am having éclairs in England, and usually, I don’t even like them but these are really good and worth their price (they’re a bit expensive)! Emily had the Spanish Raspberry Pink Eclair and I took the Tahitian Vanilla & Pecan Eclair. Now as it was about time for the play The View Upstairs at Soho Theatre (watch the trailer here) which was just amazing. In short, it is about a gay bar in the 1970s. After the play I had again some space in my tummy, so we went to Pompi which you might know from “Do you only travel for food?” – Rome back in Rome it was one of our favourite places! With tired feet and a full stomach, we went back home, were actually the doughnuts from earlier awaited us.
Second Day: Brighton
6 years ago I went to England for a 3 weeks language classes, I had to decide between Bristol, Brighton and Bournemouth. I chose Bournemouth, I don’t really know why. Maybe because it had a beach?! Coincidence, 2 months later when I was in Rome I met Emily who is from outside of Bournemouth and this is how we bonded.
Find out about Brighton its graffitis, vegan food and second-hand shops in Brighton – Gay Capital of the UK & Vegan Paradise.
We came back to London in the evening, which took us an eternity because of some trouble with the trains. Once in Peckham, we met a friend of mine at the Bussey building rooftop bar, which is a lovely and crowded place.
Third-Day: Back in London, graffitis and more vegan food
In the morning we went to Alexandra Palace where The Monster was, which is a massive inflatable obstacle course. Apparently, English people are obsessed with bouncy castles and have it to kids parties etc. obsession I kind of share. So, why not?! It was great fun, even though I would have liked to do it a second time but anyways.
After a little walk we ended up in Muswell Hill, which is a lovely area and it was time to have some coffee, for which we went to Gail’s and of course we also had some cakes. By now you should know that this trip was a lot about eating. On the way back to Emily’s flat we stopped quickly at a pub she wanted to show me because it has a terrace which was full of flowers and plants. She knows how obsessed I am about flowers!
Showered and changed it was Doughnut time at Doughnut Time in Shoreditch. Their doughnuts are quite expensive but worth it. We walked around Shoreditch and looked for more graffitis, went to the Nomadic Community Garden, where you can find a little cafe with homemade food, loads of graffitis and areas to hang out. More (secondhand) shops like SWAG Store UK, Beyond Retro, Sugar + Style and we had even more vegan treats at Vida Bakery (I had a cupcake with skittles!).
Emily told me about some steamed buns which I did not know, so she researched a place where I could try one, and we ended up at Yum Bun. Even though it was a small portion, I was so full as we have only been eating these days. I would not have been surprised if my pants would just have exploded. So what is missing? Drinks! I do have a thing for rooftop bars, who hasn’t? Emily had about five addresses close by. First, we went to the Queen of Hoxton, which was quite crowded. Oh yeah, btw not only was I full but from all that walking my feet just hurt so much! All I wanted was to sit and as this bar was quite full, there was no free space to sit. So we went to The Red Lion Rooftop bar where we had some Pimm’s lemonade and important, seats! It was only around 6 pm and we still had a lot of things to do, but I was tired because we walked so much these past 3 days, went to sleep around midnight and got up quite early. So we decided to go home, watch a movie and rest, Emily made me a French Martini which is not french btw and I ate the Pompi Tiramisù I bought on the first day.
Forth and last day: Flowers, glitter & carnival and even more vegan food
And another early morning, my suitcase was packed, we put glitter on our faces (Tips & tricks, Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro) and were ready to go for my last hours in London. I am obsessed with flowers and markets, and apparently, the Columbia road flower market is a typically British thing to do on Sundays, so we went there. It was quite crowded but nice. I am not surprised that people living in London go there to buy their indoor plants as they had really good prices. I was tempted to buy a sunflower in a pot, but they only sold them by three.
From there, we went back to Brick Lane and Liverpool Street to finish the walk from the day prior, there are some pretty amazing graffitis by Mr Cenz which I just love. We walked past a vegan shop which had a jackfruit burger that just looked amazing but unfortunately, it was closed and actually, we already had planned to eat lunch at Redemption Bar. As we had a really tight schedule and I had to be at St Pancras at 3 pm, we had an early lunch at 11ish or a few minutes after they opened. We both took the buckwheat pancakes which were so good.
Whoever met me during this past year or who read Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro 2019 knows how much I love Carnival, so of course, we quickly went to Notting Hill Carnival just to have a look. Obviously, it is different to Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro as the Notting Hill Carnival is influenced by Caribbeans and especially Brits with Jamaican heritage. Find out more about the history here.
I think it is a perfect way to see, how amazing and mixed our society is nowadays because without Jamaicans or Caribbeans this event would not happen. How amazing it is that you have this mix of nationalities and cultures in one country. I do not understand how you can be against Caribbeans, black, Asians actually how you can be against any kind of human being. It is 2019 we should all know better!
In between music and me desperately searching for an ATM, we of course had some more vegan doughnuts, in this case, Happy Donuts as it was quite hot and the doughnuts had chocolate toppings they were melted but still good. Unfortunately, we could not really stay at the Carnival as we had to go back to Emily’s and pick up my luggage to go to the station. There we chased some last-minute souvenirs like tea, some food for the trip and luckily we had just enough time to have a vegetarian English Sunday roast at The Parcel Yard. Well, if you consider 10 minutes to eat the meal as enough .. while waiting I had one actually two Disaronno with coke as it tastes like Dr Pepper just with alcohol.
Still with glitter on my face and a really full tummy I took the train back to France. So if you like vegan food, graffiti, second-hand shops and theatres, London is your place to be! Special thanks to Emily for being such a good host and showing me London and feeding me a lot of vegan food.
Find out about my Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro 2019 (Tips & tricks, Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro)as well as Feminist Bloco Mulheres Rodadas 2019 and my First 8M march – Rio de Janeiro. You guessed it, I love Brazil “Finding my true love” – Brazil. More in Latin America in 3 weeks in Ecuador and their food Lets talk food Ecuador.