Since we’ve been living in Hamburg, we’ve traveled through London Heathrow a lot – on our way home, on Ken’s way to Cali. But finally we decided it was time to actually exit the airport and check out London. I’ve now been to London twice in the past year, and a few months ago Ken and I were joined by our dear friend Cindy in London. I thought it was finally time to share our adventures.




My first trip with my girlfriend Michelle was a perfect girl trip. We went in October 2013, and were incredibly lucky with the weather which was mild, and a little wet. We spent our first day checking out the famous Portobello Road market (where I lovingly skipped down the street singing “Portabello Road” from Bedknobs and Broomsticks). The Portabello Road Market is a street market where the local shops spill out onto street, along with rows and rows of antique and vintage dealers, knickknack stands and tschotsckes. Once we got off at the Notting Hill tube station, we had to problem following the streams of pedestrians walking towards the market. Earlier in the day we were on the other side of town visiting the Spitalfield Market which had artisans and designers selling their wares.



The following day we spent the entire time shopping. We shopped at Top Shop, the Jamie Oliver store, the Moomin Store and every supermarket in town. The highlight for me was going to Liberty London.  I have never seen a store so artfully curated, and the building itself (a Tudor revival) is stunning. For two packaging designers, it was heavenly.



We stayed at a not-recommendable hotel in a great little corner of South Kensington and were able to walk and take the tube everywhere. We lucked out and had fairly good weather for our two walking tours – a short overview of the city and then later that evening a Jack-the-Ripper walking tour. On our final day we visited the Tate Modern, which was just packed with artists both well-known and obscure. It was interesting to see the new vs the old and find all the small little nooks and crannies in London.




With Ken and Cindy, I experienced a very different London. We spent a day inside the Tower of London. The Tower of London is a massive complex with a lot of history dating from medieval times through now. Having watched and read plenty occurring around the time of Henry VIII, it was interesting to see the last holding place for so many English historical figures before being beheaded (ewwww). In addition to the stories of torture and beheading which were elaborately depicted by our Beefeater guide, we saw the old armory holding all the different battle outfits from Henry VIII on to later times. Henry VIII was truly a very large man…with a very large metal cup to protect his “crowned jewels!”



We then took a boat cruise on the Thames to Greenwich to visit the old Royal Observatories and the location of the Prime Meridian.



In addition to the Tower of London, we went to see Matilda at the original West End theater, and spent every evening to a different pub for fish and chips, shepherds pie, beer and cider. We visited the Maltby Street Market and chickened out in the face of the scotch eggs (I did take a photo though).


One evening  we treated ourselves to high tea and crumpets with clotted cream and jam. I was stuffed after one helping, but could hardly resist the rich cream and yummy variety of jams and breads. On our final London morning, we finally had a full English breakfast which did not disappoint. We stayed this time in Chelsea, which was a lot more quiet than S. Kennsington. While it wasn’t  very close to a working tube station, we found that taking taxis and the bus all over London was even faster than the tube, and we could explore more of the city from our top level double decker bus.



On our last full day in London, Ken and I made our way to Camden town which reminded us a lot of Atlanta’s Little Five Points. It was kitchy and touristy with super cool storefront windows and clear plastic London umbrellas. And it poured…like…poured. We almost bought an umbrella, but for 10 pounds, decided to run instead.


London is an incredibly cool city with a small town feel, plenty of shops and events to keep you busy. Like most cities, each neighborhood has it’s own personality and flair, which makes it seem like a place you could return to to discover new things again and again. Luckily for us it’s only a 1 1/2 hour flight from Hamburg. Maybe we’ll go back soon for some more tea and crumpets – Yum!