The musings of a southern girl's adventures during a summer in central London.
Greenwich was a nice little getaway from the city, even though it is still technically in the city. There were lots of little shops and whatnot, and the entire area had a very “maritime” feel….obviously. I mean, Greenwich ( Or Gren Itch, as phonetics would have it) is the site of the Royal Naval Academy and the National Maritime Museum. We got to see the equestrian arena for the Olympics, where the scooter scene in Winning London was filmed, and small scenes from many other films.
Obviously, you can see that my priorities lie with Mary-Kate and Ashley. Typical.
Anywho, so the stores of this area really did appeal to a wide range of people. My favorite shopping part of Greenwich was the market. It was a smaller market than the others that I’ve been to, but I felt like the products were really varied. Most of them were antique/vintage, which I was absolutely obsessed with. There were some early edition books that I fell in love with… and didn’t purchase. I’m trying to practice some sort of self control so my luggage doesn’t explode in the airplane. And there were various little jewelry booths that had rings I adored.
I was absolutely parched so we stopped in a health food shop within the market so I could find something to drink. The store was jam packed with kosher meats, tofu hotdogs, and all that jazzy stuff that has little caloric value, thus I stay away from it. We found an organic ginger ale that seemed to be suitable for drinking… so I purchased it for a pound (they think A LOT of their ginger ale). So I popped the top and tried it… IT WAS SPICY. It was the most bizarre and horrible thing I had ever tasted. So Lauren and I wrestled with the idea of snacking at one of the food stalls in the market so I could get the horrendous taste out of my mouth, but settled on a Mexican restaurant instead.
On the way out, we stopped in a little tourist store called Historic London to pick up a few items… one of which was my Union Jack boxers aka my new favorite pajamas. This was probably my favorite tourist store, because it was clean, easily navigable, and decently priced.
Gran Itch was a nice and varied shopping area that I would definitely like to visit again in the future.
Notting Hill is infamous for the movie, Notting Hill… which I have never seen all of the way through. So unlike most people, I really didn’t have much of a clue as to what to expect. I had heard that there would be lots of antiques, and first-edition books which I was super excited about.
Lauren and I decided to venture to Portobello market on a lovely rainy morning… Terrible decision. We got off at the tube station and followed the crowds of people assuming that they were all going to Portobello market… which they were. The open-air market was set up along Portobello Road and literally had so many different things: furs, watches, jewelry, books….and most importantly crepes. You guys know how much this girl loves some crepes.
I found another lovely Union Jack sweater to wear on the flight home, but it was ridiculously overpriced. So, as my mother would have me do, I haggled with the salesman until we found a price we could both agree on. So I am now in the possession of two Union Jack sweaters…. I mean, you can never have enough, right? But this one does have sparkles. And I love anything sparkly.
Getting through Portobello on this rainy Saturday was pure torture, and poor planning on our part. Not only were we fighting the huge Saturday crowd, but we were fighting the rain and various umbrellas as well. This was one battle I wasn’t willing to endure for long, so our visit to Portobello was cut short so I could go to Camden, again. But not before I could find my greatest treasure of the trip… a first edition hardback copy of Gone With the Wind…. in BLUE. It will be the perfect addition to my blue book collection in my room and something I will cherish forever.
You people probably think I drink a lot of wine… Notttt as much as one would think. Promise, Mom.
So class today wasn’t until late so I took my precious time and took a nice long shower…because I never felt fully clean in Paris. I had a lovely time, but I feel NO desire to go back anytime soon. Because once you’ve been in London for a while, you kind of get used to not stepping on cigarette butts and beer bottle caps…and not getting hit on by greasy old men. Hence, why I constantly felt dirty. But that’s just a personal preference. Anywho, while being a complete and total idiot, I gashed my leg wiiiiiiideeee open and blood was just everywhere. I know you probably don’t want to hear about it, but it took a good hour out of my day, so I feel like it merits at least a sentence in my blog. It was quite traumatic.
Once I recovered from the incident, I got ready with a quickness and headed to class which was in Camden…aka my new favorite place. I’m pretty sure I could spend my entire life’s savings there on some fake Beats, sweaters, and printed jeans. I’m definitely going back at my earliest convenience.
Haley and I hurried back home to meet Lauren, because we had serious plans to go to TK Maxx (yes, I spelled it right. It’s TK here, not TJ… weird, and completely arbitrary, in my opinion) so I could buy a new bag because my poor blue Steve Madden one had gone through hell and back. Ink stains, ripped seams, and scratched leather were literally all that the poor thing could bare. Haley didn’t feel well, so Lauren and I jumped on the tube and made our merry way toward High Street Kensington. We had originally planned to head to Brick Lane for Indian after our shopping adventure for dinner… but then we saw it. PIZZA HUT. Now I know everyone wants to hate because we have Pizza Hut in America… blah blah blah. But after a month with no queso, chicken wings, or RANCH DRESSING I had to give in to something. Besides, the prospect of possibly having ranch dressing was far too tempting to pass up. So we went inside, ordered our pizza (half pepperoni, half peppers, stuffed crust… happy for both the carnivore and veggie) and made our way to the salad bar. Of course, there was no ranch dressing… but they did have some nice bacon bits and croutons. Lauren and I were sooooo happy when we got our pizza… I guess when you don’t have something for so long, it just tastes THAT much better.
Then we visited the TK where I found a lovely green bag, (which Haley had almost bought a couple of weeks before) and Lauren got a nice blue carry on for the plane. This made me think about packing, and in turn, made me quite nauseous. That will not be something to look forward to in the slightest.
Even though Southwark didn’t have many stores, it did have the wonderful Burough Market. Even though we didn’t go on a busy day, the stalls that we passed still made my mouth water… extensively. The decor of the market was very agrarian. The meats and rice dishes all smelled and looked delish, and I instantly regretted eating lunch before attending class. It was a terrible shame. I really wish I would have had the opportunity to go on a busier day though, solely so I could eat lunch for free… aka walk around and sample every food at every single store. But hey, maybe my waistline will thank me!
One of the fun parts about this class was that I got to play one of the random pianos that have been set up throughout London in the Borough Market. I didn’t do well, but hey, it wasn’t too shabby for not having a lesson since 7th grade!
We got the opportunity to see the Millennium Bridge from Harry Potter up close… I couldn’t muster up the courage to actually walk across though, because all I could envision was it ripping in half.
The shoppes at the Wharf were some of the neatest shops I have seen in London. There were cute clothes, shoes and jewelry… all of which I wanted to buy. All of the shops were pretty girly, and the area was somewhat deserted, which made me think it was one of the best kept secrets in London. But all of the items in the stores were unique and unlike items I had seen in London before.
Even though there weren’t many stores on this walk, I got to experience a completely different feel for London. The stores that we saw felt very touristy and local at the same time… which makes little to no sense, I know, but that’s the best way to describe it. “Local” may even be better… they were small, but still appealed to the masses.
ONLY MY FAVORITE PLACE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
So now that you know my overarching feelings about Camden, let me tell you the details. It’s kind of the artsy/hipster/hungry/broke girl’s heaven. There’s cheap food, great clothes, wonderful music and great views. I absolutely fell in love.
The exteriors of the stores leading to the main market are nothing short of artwork. There are tattoo parlors, and punk/goth stores as far as the eyes can see. One of the store fronts have HUGE Dr. Martins on the front, and some of the tattoo parlors actually had sculptures on the outsides. If you want to buy a fake/”real” (I use the term loosely) pair of Beats by Dr. Dre, this is the place to go.
One of my favorite parts about Camden Town is the random girly shops that pop up. You could walk past 20 punk stores and then all of the sudden, the girliest boutique will pop up out of nowhere with long flowing skirts, pastels, and SO MUCH LACE. I love that Camden literally has something for everyone.
Once I got to the actual market, I was having a hay day. I was so excited. On my second trip to Camden, I bought wayyy too much. I bought a Union Jack sweater that I had been wanting ever since our first week here, and a Union Jack scarf. Apparently, I love Great Britain, in case you were wondering. I also bought some clock necklaces for my friends, and some Chinese food which was only five pounds and amazing. Once again, obsessed with food.
The best thing that happened to Lauren and I in Camden was Cyber Dog. We walked in, just thinking it was a rave store, with all of the flashing lights and techno music. But then something occurred to me… all of the clothing looked familiar. MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY went there in Winning London to try on all of the funky outfits that they wore! We immediately ran and found dresses to try on in the dressing room, but we were informed that you have to put down a monetary deposit to even try on anything in the store. My hopes of wearing a neon blue bubble dress were shattered, but I still felt pretty awesome. So we settled for checking out the collection of electro/dance albums and Hamburger phones instead. I really want a Hamburger phone, but that isn’t a feasible item to squeeze into my carry-on.