London, England, United Kingdom

Can you believe that of all the places I’ve been, I had never set foot in London, let alone England, let alone the UK ? Not even an airport. Most travelers—especially Americans—make the UK a destination early on in their travel life, or you’re an American college student and you study for a semester or two in the UK. I can’t explain why it’s taken me so long to come here, nearly a whole passport’s lifespan…but I’m here, and I’m loving it.

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Union Jacks around Piccadilly

But, like Reykjavik, I unfortunately have a limited amount of time in London. And, it was quite rainy, with a downpour during my last day here. Did that stop me from having some fun ? No ! Not really.

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London

Because London is fun. And being here on a weekend really helped, as did spending the bulk of my time in Hackney/Shoreditch and Southwark. The London I always wanted to visit—and did just now—wasn’t full of union jacks or changing of the guards or royal palaces. The markets, the architecture and design, the fashion… those were the draw. I wanted to feel London’s pulse and I got what I came for… Stumbling upon the Borough Market on our way to the Globe, spending the afternoon in vintage stores around Brick Lane…

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Colors in Shoreditch
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The Globe

…going up to the top of the Tate Modern for a view of the city, walking around the Barbican…

 

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Beautiful floor at the Tate

…watching merchants wrap gorgeous flowers in brown paper at the Colombia Road Flower Market…

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Flowers at the Colombia Road Flower Market
Sure, I did eventually venture over to Westminster and saw Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square, but that was also the day it rained and plans were shifted. I ended up at the Tate Britain to sit out the rain instead of roaming around all the parks and gardens. As someone who doesn’t typically go to museums, I was grateful that both the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain were free and had interesting exhibits. I ended up enjoying both.

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Big Ben, obviously

It was fascinating being in London right before the Brexit vote. There were so many posters and signs and stickers on people… mostly for the Remain camp. The newspapers were 60/40 Brexit/Eurocup content. We didn’t talk to too many people about it, but it was looming over everyone. (Fast forward to now… I was shocked that the UK voted to leave the EU, but then again the demographics of London would have biased me to think that the majority wanted to remain as well. Sigh.)

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Fruit in Shoreditch
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Bobblehead Queens form the Union Jack.

So, the food. How much food can you cram into a weekend? A lot, apparently. Perhaps English food doesn’t inspire people the ways that French, Italian, Japanese, Indian cuisines do… it’s hearty, utilitarian, fuss-free comfort food. Except for afternoon tea; there’s a little fuss to afternoon tea. But it’s good food, and that’s what I wanted. Good, English food. In pubs, in markets. Fish and chips and chicken tikka. Next to pints and cups of tea. (See photos below.)

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Fish & Chips and peas

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