There’s such a great vibe in London I’m not sure I can explain it and give it justice. Despite it being the tail end of my vacation and feeling like all we did is walk all over Europe, this city instantly gave me a rush.
It’s like a caffeine jolt but with a side of oatmeal. And I love both! It fuels me. And it fills me up. Just when you think you know the city, it surprises you… here were a few little surprises and some big ones too.
Our hotel was in Trafalgar Square… can’t beat that location. So central! But what I love most is our Canadian presence in this magnificent square… The newly designed (interiors) of Canada House sits with such prominence on these historic grounds. Makes me proud. You know what they say… location, location, location! Well ours stood out with those beautiful red and white flags swinging in the wind. Sigh…. Did I say how proud I was??? It also made me miss home tremendously.
And then we veered up Regent Street where we realized something was different. Something had overtaken this street. Something very American. Football. The very American version of football. The National Football League was in town and this street was lined with Red/White/Blue flags (both American and British). American tourists sporting their favourite team paraphernalia walked in droves around the city. It was actually quite funny. Like what I’d imagine the Superbowl would be but less tailgating and more hip hip hooray!
In keeping with the colour theme… I had to stop at Hamley’s Toy store to pick up one of these little guys for a very special someone… she’s going to love it one day! The one and only, Paddington Bear. What better iconic figure to bring home?? I spent quite a bit of time, picking out the perfect bear. I mean, really… I spent a lot of time!!! LOL
The newest (new to me at least) little neighbourhoods that I stumbled across was an area called Marylebone. Kind of like the new Notting Hill before Notting Hill became Notting Hill. Before the movie. :) Marylebone is full of beautiful, traditional architecture and there seemed to be a surge of new life to polish it up and make it special. New shops and cool cafes. Even this little pub seemed shiny and new. I love it. We need to celebrate traditional design just as much as modern design. It’s all good. In fact, it’s all great. It was definitely one of the highlights of this trip.
And then there’s this… the secret passage to a hidden gem… St. Christopher’s Place! It’s a tiny laneway (if you can even call it that) just wide enough for a person to pass through. Took a little time to find it but once we did, we were so excited! I love that it was decorated with these hanging disco balls… like a little party just happened just because you found the secret passage! And then it opens up to this…
Several shops, cafes and restaurants all sharing this traffic free patio. It had it’s own sound system pumping out music, filtering the noisy street traffic outside it’s boundaries. In the middle of this bustling city, this Place was a little oasis.
Another little oasis is Neal’s Yard… hidden away, this triangular courtyard wall full of people sitting around a central tree, surrounded by wellness spas and studios, specifically the world famous Neal’s Yard shop. I love their lip balm… just an FYI. But I stumbled upon this little courtyard and was surprised to see the plaque just between these colourful windows, full of greenery and flowerboxes… the home of Monty Python! Imagine that!
I’d never been to Paddington Station… we happened to change trains while riding the Tube and I couldn’t resist… So very much London. Apparently, there’s new changes coming to the area surrounding this station. A revitalization of sorts… a surprise for next time!
I’d never been inside the Tate Modern… So as we walked along the south bank (one of my favourite things to do in London), we stopped inside and marveled at the architecture. An old power station was turned into a huge modern art gallery. I was surprised to see the main Turbine Hall. I love the idea of reusing old buildings and making them new again.
As with the first photo… this one was taken along that same walk of the South Bank… one of my favourites as well… Tower Bridge. As lovely as ever. I love when some things just don’t change. But it’s amazing to me how much the city skyline has changed… and there’s no better place to see that change from this side of the river.
London… it’s like a jolt of caffeine with a side of oatmeal and I love both things equally!