Tag Archives: London

London in 500 Words or Less

That should probably be “500 words or fewer,” but who’s going to report me to the grammar police?

All of my London summaries are nearly identical, but I can’t help it:

1. Get off the bus.

2. Get overwhelmed.

3. Get on the bus.

4. Get into pajamas and admit it, you’re a country mouse.

Walking around Oxford Circus (London) reminded me of being in Manhattan, fighting my way upstream like a salmon in a sea of people. I didn’t stop for pictures, but I did stop for some Urban Decay eyeliner in House of Fraser. And a new bike lock in Sports Direct.

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We made our way to Borough Market, which was nice but overhyped (/-priced). A makeshift lunch of local/organic/all that semi-elitist foodie goodness plus a nice olive pepperoni baguette hit the spot, and I bought some tomato-chili jam to enjoy back home, plus some Jerusalem artichokes that are very funny-looking but promise to be tasty. And persimmons/Sharon fruit, my latest obsession. I ate the four-pack one by one, on top of the windy London Bridge with juice dripping down my jacket and later, perched on a table in Pret as we drank some caffeinated beverages.

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Riding the tube brought back memories of my 2007 (that long ago?) semester in London. I keep saying I’m going to stop by Kilburn Park, but haven’t, and didn’t this time, either. 

We then tried, unsuccessfully, to find a decent Mexican restaurant. There appear to be only Chipotles and Chipotle-wannabes in London, and although half the reason we went to the city that day was specifically for Chipotle burritos…well, we weren’t feeling it after all. Luckily we found a charming “Beirut street food” place tucked away in a Soho side street, and we were early enough to snag a table. I had to get the chicken livers (named one of the top 100 dishes in some sort of Time Out feature) and they lived up to their hype. Seriously, I say “chicken livers” and can see you click the little “x” on this site, but something about it just worked (I think the frying, plus the pomegranate molasses). Then we shared this for dessert # 1 (dessert #2? Cadbury mini-eggs and creme eggs. Because I needed a full-on sugar coma).

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It was a nice day out, but nothing beats coming home to tea and House of Cards, and that pretty much sums up how the rest of the weekend went. 

London, finally

When I began telling people about my impending move to Oxford, a common reaction was, “Oh, you’ll have fun in London!” Or, “Oxford…that’s in London, right?” Really, I can’t blame anyone for thinking that. Oxford is known for its famous university, and probably not much else. Even after proving to some that Oxford is, in fact, an actual city, it was not uncommon to hear, “Oh. Well, you can still go to London on the weekends!”

I spent a semester in London during college, and knew I’d love the chance to return. What I didn’t expect was that I’d fall in love with Oxford as its own entity, considering it much more than just a suburb of that famous metropolitan city well known for its clock tower and falling-down bridge. I didn’t expect to find Oxford satisfying enough to, well, not really be tempted to leave at all.

But the temptation finally arose this week, after finding out my aunt and uncle would be in London for a few days while my cousin attended an English School course. They came into Oxford for the evening; we had dinner, and enjoyed surprisingly gorgeous weather. The next day,I got to leave work a few hours early to hop on a bus and head into the other city.

As soon as I stepped off the bus and into the crowds of Marble Arch, I sort of…regretted it. That sounds pretty terrible. Maybe I’m less of a “city person” than I thought I was, but I had a similar reaction to whatever I feel when I visit NYC. Sure, I like getting out and exploring an exciting place, but there’s something about crowds, busy people pushing their way as they rush rush rush from here to there, that’s just too overwhelming for me. Maybe I’m just getting old.

Oh, happy belated birthday, self– you have to remember you’re 27 now, not 26, which was finally starting to roll of the tongue, effortlessly. I’m 27: saying it will make it seem true, right?

I don’t want this to sound like I hate London. I like it. I particularly like where I am now, in a Harry Potter-esque castle, waiting for my cousin to come back from his school excursion into city centre, battling the same traffic we fought to get here. Funny story: Bought 2 bus tickets –> Sat on bus and moved maybe 2 blocks in 40ish minutes –> got off bus –> Did the smart thing and went underground, £30 poorer from topping up Oyster Cards with a sum that sounded reasonable.

Anyway, this makes me think: did I really love London all that much when I lived here, 6 years ago? Sadly, I was too wrapped up in early-twenties angst to fully enjoy it. Maybe the busy-ness, the sense of overwhelm, was a good distraction at the time. Maybe I’ve just gotten better at filling my days with enjoyment and reflection, engagement and confidence, a sense of self that isn’t a complete embarrassment.

This is getting a little too heavy for what was meant to be a light travel post, but I guess what I love best about being here in London, right now, is that I’m learning about myself. Learning about change. No, the best thing is seeing my family– that emotional crap comes second. Of course, it’s also kind of scary to think that the last time John and I were in London together was after a few months of dating. He visited once, then came back for a second time. I never pictured this kind of future for us, or myself, but I guess the unknown is what keeps life exciting.

And with that, it’s time to get bak to enjoying London, to the fullest extent.

Even if that means taking a break, or a nap, when needed.