London travels: the report

London travels: the report

You have seen the shoplogs (here and here), but of course I did a little more than just shop. Although I’m sure that if you go through those two posts you might have thought I didn’t. Nothing could be less true though. Apart from shopping my tail off, I spent 4 blissful days in London, going from exhibition to exhibition, threw in some dance classes at Pineapple studios and went on a 2.5  hours walking tour with London Walks. Excuse for the length of this post in advance. I will first provide you with a write up of my endeavors, followed by a few shots I took during the trip.

View of ‘the Shard’ on the train back to the airport

Now you should realize that this wasn’t my first time in London. So I didn’t hit up, nor took any pictures of, the usual tourist death traps. Instead I went to four different exhibitions: Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014 & Horst, Photographer of Style both at the V&A; Sherlock Holmes, the man who never lived and will never die, at the Museum of London; and Terror and Wonder, the Gothic Imagination at the British Library.

I saw the wedding dresses exhibition on day 1. The first afternoon I was in London, a bit delayed, because of the storm that had hit the UK and Holland the day before, but still arrived in time to squeeze in one exhibition. I set off to the V&A and got their around 3.30 PM. The wedding dresses exhibition was absolutely divine. Because the display encapsulated 300+ years of fashion you could clearly see how fashions changed through the ages. From flapper look fringe style drop waist dresses to Victorian highnecked modesty: it was all there. There were even some famous wedding dresses of recent times: Kate Moss’, Gwen Stefani’s and Dita von Teese’s dresses were all on display. Oh and they also had a marvelous little clip of royal weddings from the 40s right up to Kate & William.

Afterwards I strolled along the street and on to Harrods. Got some samples from Kiehl’s (which broke me out unfortunately) and went on to Harvey Nichols. They have an excellent beauty department which also stocks some lesser known brands and so I bought a few bits and bobs. Got the tube to Covent Garden and walked around until I found a restaurant that tickled my fancy. I ended up having a fantastic veggie burger at a place called Wild Wood. Friendly staff too. After food I was stuffed, so I decided to walk it off as the Covent Garden tube station was exit only during my stay. I walked North, all the way to Russell Square station. My hotel was near King’s Cross station so I figured it would be fun to find the Harry Potter platform 9 3/4, only to find it is now some touristy thing. I had fun with the two guys taking pictures though and went back to the hotel early because I knew the next day would be tiring.

Day 2 meant getting up early to go to Pineapple dance studios to see about signing up for dance classes. I got their around 9.30 only to find out you don’t have to sign up. Instead, I set off for The Strand and shopped at Twinings (my favorite teas!) and Superdrug (the best Superdrug in London I find). Made sure I had something small to eat before I went back to the dance studio. Then I danced for 2 hours. I took a general Jazz class and a Theatre Jazz class. Both were fun but I definitely noticed that I have a little way to go before I can claim I am back in shape. It was grueling, but it was a great challenge to take on and very satisfying to nail the routines right alongside the pros.

After two hours of hardcore dancing, I felt my body giving out so I decided to quit instead of doing another class. I left the dance studio around 2.30, and found Space NK and Urban Outfitters just around the corner where I shopped a bit again. Then, after two hours of stringent working out, I walked to Jamie’s Italian on St. Martin’s Lane to get some food into my system. Popped back to the hotel for a bit, to drop some stuff and change my bags and then went down to Bank tube station. Here I went on the 2+ hour walking tour of The Ancient City by Night by London Walks. I do one of their walks every time I am in London and they are excellent. We stopped at one of the oldest bars of London for a drink and afterwards I joined a few of the ladies on the tour for some curry on Brick Lane.

I was in bed by midnight and was exhausted. So next day, I took it easy. I bought breakfast (oatmeal porridge with honey!) from a kiosk called Giraffe’s, which serves Teapigs tea. And I’m in love, need to place an order with them soon. I brought it back to the hotel to eat it and then took my time getting ready. I was out and about by 10.30 AM and set off for the Museum of London for the Sherlock exhibition. It was again, marvellous. I loved how they had scene descriptions from the stories, right alongside pictures of Victorian London. It was great and if you like Sherlock, the stories, the series old or new and the movies then it is well worth a visit. It gives great insight into life in Victorian London as well as the world Conan Doyle inhabited and created around the famous character.

After lunch (I spent most of my time having meals at Pret a Manger, which is great if you have any dietary needs) I set off for Oxford Street to do some ‘real’ shopping. I went to Primark, New Look, River Island, Victoria’s Secret, Topshop and Selfridge’s, amongst other places. Around 6.30 PM, I was pretty much done in (and nearly broke, lol) and took the tube back to the Victoria & Albert museum to see the Horst P. Horst exhibition who was a photographer for Vogue all through the 30s and 40s. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was amazed. So many stunning pictures and ladies of the day. I spent quite some time perusing the exhibit and was back at the hotel around 10 pm, absolutely beat.

My final day in London was quite chilled. I checked out around 10 AM, grabbed breakfast at Starbucks (who knew they sold scrambled eggs there?) and went to St. Pancras station to buy my train ticket for that afternoon. Right next to the station is the British Library, my next stop for my last exhibition. My love for Gothic fiction is large. I took two courses on the genre when I was in college and I’ve always been obsessed with any sort of fiction that includes the mysterious, the macabre and the insane. So this exhibition was just my thing. There were original manuscripts on display from Frankenstein and other famous Gothic works. I was surprised to notice how many of the works mentioned in the exhibition I have actually read. Plus there are some more obscure works that are on my to read list and waiting on my shelves. Thoroughly enjoyed that.

When that was done, I did the last thing on my to do list: hit up Waterstone’s! One thing I have to do while in London is do some serious book shopping. And so I happened to set out for Piccadilly Circus on a Saturday afteroon (bad idea if you hate crowds). I was in there for almost 2 hours and came away with a few things which you will be able to see below. Then I set foot in Fortnum & Masons, which I’m sure is lovely but I do think that 3 PM on a Saturday afternoon, just isn’t the best time. Next time I’m in London I will have to plan to go there earlier in the day. And then it was time to go home. I purchased some last minute things at the airport and was home around 10.30 PM. Tired, but thoroughly satisfied.

Right, time for pictures!

Buh-bye Holland!

My small, yet comfy hotel room with excellent shower & bed @ Wardonia Hotel

South Kensington Station

Glass sculpture in the entrance hall of the V&A.
Love the contrast with the Medieval woodwork in the background

Unfortunately no pictures were allowed in any of the exhibitions I visited.
After the Wedding Dresses exhibition I also walked around the regular fashion exhibit the V&A has.
This is quintessential Dior: the New Look.

Mushroom ‘burger’ with halloumi @ Wild Wood in Covent Garden

Night time walks: Sicilian Avenue

St. Pancras train station

King’s Cross Station

Interior of King’s Cross Station

Only picture of yours truly taken on the entire trip.
I am such a happy bunny trying to get onto the platform. I remember this being just a sign…

Covent Garden market without any customers

Covent Garden market all up in Christmas decoration already!

Defunct train station, but still visible from the outside.

Pineapple dance studios

Lemon merengue cheesecake @ Jamie’s Italian
Absolute delicious food and nice atmosphere. I had a super friendly server who actually sat across from me to talk me through their menu and specials. Makes a lone dining experience a lot more fun.

Book ceiling in Laedenhall Market

London skyline at night from London Bridge

Old wine tavern unaffected by the Great Fire of London in 1666

The new and the old: 15th century church with the Gherkin.

Museum of London time. Again no pictures allowed.

Selfridges’ all decked out for Christmas

British Library (again no pictures allowed inside)

New calendar for 2015.
Waterstone’s does the best ones if you’re a bit nerdy like me!

Robert Galbraith – The Silkworm
Stephen Fry – More Fool Me (already finished that!)
F. Scott Fitzgerald – Tender is the Night (which I bought solely because I love the cover)
Moleskin 2015 diary

Ben Aaronovitch – Broken Homes
Ben Aaronovitch – Moon over Soho
(I have read the first two books in his series and loved them, will have to review them some time)
Alex Grecian – The Yard
Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl

And that concludes my rather long, but hopefully satisfying London travel report. This trip was in any case very satisfying to me. I just love popping over for a bit and just be away from Holland for a bit. Despite how tired I was afterwards, by now I feel revived and refreshed and ready to take on the rest of this school year. Here’s to 2015 and hopefully another stay in one of my favorite cities in the world.

What would you do on a trip to London?

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