It's been over a month since Michael and I both left London. The past few weeks have been so hectic, we haven't had much time to reminisce and think back on our 2 years in the British capital. Last night, I did a quick "London" search in my Google Photos account. As I scrolled through hundreds of photos on my phone, all these amazing memories immediately rushed back into my mind. From marching along Regent Street during Pride to seeing CHVRCHES at Royal Albert Hall, it quickly became apparent that there is no city in the world as diverse and dynamic as London.
Don't get me wrong. I don't regret our decision to move back home. Everyone knows I love Dallas. However, London will always hold a special place in our hearts (as sappy as that sounds). Even though we only lived there for 2 years, we built a deep connection to London. I honestly wouldn't be shocked if we ended up moving back later on in our lives. Until then, Michael and I just wanted to share our individual experiences and favorite spots in London. Read on to find out what I love (and hate) about London!
What I love about London
I love how you can escape the city without ever leaving the city. London doesn't feel like a sprawling metropolis of nearly 9 million residents. Instead, it's more like this hodgepodge of quirky neighborhoods and towns, each oozing with character and history. When you're in Hampstead, you feel like you're in an idyllic, hilly English village. You quickly forget that you're only a few tube stops away from Oxford Circus. Walk through any of London's Royal Parks and you're suddenly transported to the English countryside. With that said, you can also easily escape the city by actually leaving the city! London is the perfect home base for jetsetters. You can pretty much get to anywhere in Europe (and the entire world for that matter) on a quick direct flight.
What I don't love about London
There's a certain level of convenience that Americans take for granted. When I first moved to London, it was really hard leaving behind 24/7 bodegas, late night public transportation, endless food delivery options, etc. When I want 50 rolls of toilet paper and General Tsao's chicken, I expect them at my door immediately. Everything (including the bars) tend to close a lot earlier in the UK. It's tough, but you eventually get used to it.
Breakfast: Dishoom. Start off with the house chai, then move on to the sausage and egg naan roll with a side of kejriwal (fried eggs on chili cheese toast). I'm getting hungry just writing this.
Dinner: Hunan. London may not be known for its Chinese cuisine, but this intimate restaurant in Belgravia is one of my favorites. The delicious tasting menu is authentic, inventive and filling.
Market: Columbia Road Flower Market. Londoners flock out to this street market on Sundays to stock up on fresh flowers. While the endless row of floral stands may be the main attraction, Columbia Road is also home to dozens of coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, shops and galleries.
Tipple: Scarfes Bar. I love a good hotel bar, and this intimate yet buzzy spot at the Rosewood is one of my favorites. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider swinging by around lunchtime for an afternoon cocktail and Indian-inspired snacks.
Coffee: Rosie & Joe. This tiny coffee stand outside St. Giles Church is the perfect break spot while exploring Covent Garden and Soho. It's not just convenient but also happens to serve up some of the best coffee in central London.
Street: Chiltern Street. The bold red-bricked buildings lining this historic street in Marylebone are home to a few of my favorite spots in London. Start the day off with a coffee and light lunch at Monocle Cafe before you drop some dough (or pounds?) at Trunk, Club Monaco, Sunspel and Cire Trudon. Cap off the afternoon with cocktail at Chiltern Firehouse.
Barber: Sharps Barber. This laid-back barber shop off Tottenham Court Road also happens to be one of the best coffee shops in London.
Retail Therapy: Goodhood and Trunk. Head east to Goodhood for some of the city's best streetwear or hit up Trunk LABS and Trunk Clothiers on Chiltern Street for classic yet modern menswear and accessories.
Running Route: Regents Canal. When I was preparing for the Paris Marathon, Regents Canal offered the perfect options for short and long running routes. You can opt for a quick jog past the London Zoo or run all the way from Limehouse to Paddington (10 miles). For even longer sessions, tack on a run around Regents Park and Primrose Hill Park.
Museum: Tate Britain. Tate Modern may get most of the attention, especially with its new Switch House extension designed by Herzog & de Meuron. However, my personal favorite is its sibling museum further along the Thames. Tate Britain's collection of British art spans 500 years and gives visitors a unique insight into the country's history.