40 Hours in London

Sometimes you just have to book a flight and go. I took advantage of a 4-day weekend by booking a flight to London to see a good friend (and fellow traveler) that I hadn’t seen in over a year.  I knew it would be an insane weekend, but that’s usually how things are when Alina and I reunite!  Also, I have been to London a few times before, so I knew that we could spend quality time together exploring beyond the touristy must-sees.  

I booked a night flight out of Chicago and planned to sleep on the plane to maximize my time in London.  I normally sleep fairly well on planes, but I am even better at sleeping on planes when I fly business class. With a lay-flat seat. And a comforter. And an ice cream sundae before bed. But, I digress.  

After my ~8 hour overnight flight, I arrived in London.  After about a 1 hour and 45 minute tube ride, I arrived in Wapping, London.

Once Alina got home from work, we primped and went to dinner in the trendy, quirky, hipster-esque Shoreditch (or “Shortage” if you are confused like me by British accents).  Our romantic dinner at the The Boundary Terrace was complete with roses and candles.

Afterwards, we set out to Callooh Callay, a Alice in Wonderland type cocktail bar with hidden rooms and couches made out of bathtubs.  They had me with their bourbon drink (served in a red solo cup) and bathroom decorated with cassette tapes.  We had a great night chatting in the bathtub with her fiancé, and his friends.

 The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast and set out on a stroll.  And we got about 100 yards before ducking into a neighborhood pub (called Town of Ramsgate) for a pint.  It seemed like a normal, cozy bar until I walked out back and saw the amazing views of the Thames River.

After soaking it all in, we headed to meet her friend at St. Katherine’s Docks at one of the best-rated coffee joints in London, White Mulberries.  It was just as good as expected from a super cute coffee bar, located right on the water at the docks where the Queen herself keeps her royal boat.

From there, we roamed around, catching some sights on our way to Notting Hill.

We stumbled upon another pub, called The Churchill Arms, that also happened to serve Thai food. Umm, yes please! After our bellies were full with the most legit Thai food I have ever had (probably since I haven’t been to Thailand yet), we stopped downstairs for another pint.  And of course, tried to blend in by watching the football (aka soccer) game on TV.

After hitting up some other local pubs, getting some caffeine and having a photo shoot at a Notting Hill church, we decided to make the most out of our Saturday Funday and made way to Angel via a Double Decker bus (my first time!)

We made a pit stop for some tacos at Chipotle (who knew they were in London!) and met Alina’s friend at a bar that also happened to have a dance club with mirrors on the floor and ceiling.  After some whiskey at Wenlock & Essex (which also had a mirrored dance floor), we headed to Bar Prague, which had craft cocktails.  And absinthe. 25 flavors. I have never tried it before so I opted for a cocktail that also had some absinthe to minimize any hallucinations.  We then hit up The Old Queen’s Head before realizing it was 2am and our options were limited.  We pooled our money to get some late night bar, full of interesting sights, and decided to call it a night.  After all, I had a flight in 5 hours I needed to catch.

Speaking of, remember how I said it took me almost 2 hours to get from the Airport? Apparently it takes even longer when you are also using a bus and the tube is delayed.  And apparently security in LHR closes 30 minutes before your flight so if you arrive at the airport 20 minutes before your flight, you miss it.  And they make you may to rebook.  Not that I know that from personal experience…oh wait, I do.  The silver lining is that I got to spend some quality time in the AA First Class Lounge recovering from my hangover.  And convinced the AA Customer Service to waive the rebooking fees.

After an uneventful flight home, filled with 3 movies and another ice cream sundae, I arrived in Chicago.  Whirlwind weekend, but totally worth it!

It is important to me to seize every opportunity I have to travel, even if it’s a 4-day weekend that only affords me 40 hours in somewhere new.  I realize this post also makes me sound like an alcoholic, but it was the perfect weekend exploring London with great company through food and drinks!  If you ever need a tip on a bar in London, apparently I am your girl. Cheers! Or, Cheerio!

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