If you weren’t already aware from the blog posts I’ve been spewing out, I went travelling solo to London in late August last year. There, I stayed for three weeks: five days at my friend Erica’s, five days at my friend Tiffany’s and thirteen days at my friend Whitney’s. I’d never travelled alone, flown long haul or been to Europe. But I found cheap plane tickets, had my accommodation covered, so I thought, why not?
The cheap tickets ended up not coming cheap… but that’s another story altogether. What you need to know is by the time I realised I was short of a plane to take, I had already had my money ready and my accommodation organised. I did not want to cancel all my plans just because I needed to pay HKD$6000 more for conventional ticket prices. In fact, I ended up paying even more when I extended my trip and changed the date on my return ticket. But it was so worth it. Travelling solo to London was completely out-of-character for me… and it was the best thing I ever did for myself.
So without further ado, here are the reasons why travelling solo to London was the best decision I ever made, and what I spent my time there doing.
When I stayed in London, I got to…
Creep outside pretty houses
To me, travelling solo to London means seeing the everyday lives of the people there. Well, some of the people there anyway, who somehow are rich enough to afford pretty houses with pretty front porches. I did some hardcore
creeping research before flying and had areas, roads, mews and even specific street numbers listed down. When I actually found my way to those exact addresses, I upped my creeper status further by setting a timer on my camera and plonking down on the front porches to pose. I’m not a freak, I swear. 🙂
Visit amazing free museums
If there’s one fantabulously awesome thing about London, it’s the plethora of free museums. My favourites were the Tate Modern, the British Museum and the Natural History Museum – the first two more so for the physical buildings’ architectural aspects than the exhibitions inside, but the last one rightfully so for its content. I spent hours wandering around the Natural History Museum and still hadn’t completed a round, but it was already 4PM and I had to grab lunch. If I ever go to London again, I’m making it my priority to explore the rest of the museum.
Relax at huge outdoor parks
One thing I didn’t forsee about travelling solo to London was that I would spend large amounts of time just chilling out at parks. London is a city, just like Hong Kong… only much bigger. But this extra area that The Big Smoke (honestly, Hong Kong, not London, should be called The Big Smoke) covers means much more green space, a heaven-like urban oasis for any city folk. My city’s measly Victoria Park is nothing in comparison to Hyde Park or Greenwich Park. It’s an embarrassment to even put them together in a sentence.
Flash my Potterhead status
I am a hardcore Harry Potter fan. I freakin’ lined up to collect my preordered copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the morning it came out, spent countless summers reading and writing fanfiction, recreated the characters on The Sims… and so on. I was obsessed. When I went travelling solo to London, the first thing on my list was to visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. I mean, I’d bought the tickets for myself and my friend Tiffany before I even jetted off halfway across the world. I would gladly cough up all my cash just to get a taste of Hogwarts!
Shop at supermarkets
Travelling solo to London instantly meant I could shop at all the supermarkets I’d always dreamed of shopping at. Since I was staying in the city for three weeks, it wasn’t sustainable to eat out every night. Luckily, I am basically a grandmother and believe it or not, I actually prefer spending my time at wet markets than at H&M or the likes.
I got to go to Whole Foods, and even discovered the joy of daily grocery shopping at Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Marks & Spencer Food. In fact, I frequented my local Sainsbury’s so often that the staff recognised me. Apart from the typical supermarkets, I also stumbled across speciality grocery stores like Planet Organic and Daylesford, and at the end of my trip, I would buy fruits from the fruit stall on Goodge Street every day. Writing this makes me feel so nostalgic… about the cheap raspberries and strawberries in London. 🙁
Eat at healthy restaurants
If I had to write out every single vegetarian or health-orientated restaurant I went to while travelling solo to London, the list would never end. As I’ve mentioned in many previous blog posts, I’m not vegetarian in any way, but I do love my greens. That’s love with a capital L. I’m not going to bore you with the all the names of the restaurants – ask me if you’re interested – but I really loved the health-conscious dining attitude of Londoners. Salads are so expensive in Hong Kong and the portions served here are never enough, but they’re truly a bang for your buck on the other side of the world. If I had to choose, I’d say that I had the best salad of the trip at The Good Life Eatery and the best service at Wild Food Café.
Grab tea at cute cafés
Y’all know I have a thing for cute cafés, so it was natural that apart from veggie spots, I also had an inexhaustible list of trendy coffee shops to chill at. Actually, most of these overlap with the healthy food places, like Jusu Brothers, which had just opened up when I was travelling solo to London. I also couldn’t miss the classics such as Monocle Café and Pattern Coffee, and of course, the overhyped and overpriced but eccentric Cereal Killer Café.
See the Serpentine Pavilion
And the number one reason why travelling solo to London was the best thing I ever did in my life? I got to see the Serpentine Pavilion for myself! Do you have any idea how long I’d been dying to see the annual installations in Hyde Park? Last year’s design was by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and it was amazing to experience the space in person. Not to mention, the Serpentine Galleries hosted four Serpentine Summer Houses in 2016 as well. I got to see them all, and honestly, it was worth accidentally breaking my brand new camera there – a story I’ll leave for another day.
I’ve travelled a lot, but only in Asian countries like Shanghai and Thailand, so it was really an eye-opener to fly to the other side of the world to experience London like a local. I’m so grateful I got to really get a feel of living in the city as I stayed there for three long weeks. Time to time again, I’ll find myself pining to go back. It hasn’t even been a year, but it already feels like a dream now. One day, London, one day. I’ll be back.
Let me know in the comments below whether you’ve been to London and what your reasons for going were!
- Why Travelling Solo to London Was the Best Thing I Ever Did
- 4 Outdoor Parks in London to Brighten Up Your Day
- Why You Absolutely Cannot Miss the Serpentine Pavilion
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