UK and Ireland 2014: Here in swinging London…

I would liken the past week to a whirlwind, but that wouldn’t do it justice. We’re definitely going to need to apply the plural here and say “whirlwinds”. The moving whirlwind swept away any plans I aspired to of having an empty apartment by Friday. The trip-planning whirlwind danced in and kept me up into the wee hours (appropriate language given my locale) as I hastily attempted to map out our adventure. Most prominently, the work whirlwind straight-up decided to have a gladiator battle with me. While I emerged victorious, it was in no way an easy win.

The above is just life.

“Whirlwinds” happen and no one is immune to them. If everyone were a dorkus like me and allocated time to writing down their “problems”, we’d all have a novel with many of us garnering a Pulitzer prize or two. I bring up my tribulations of the week not to complain and certainly not with the mind that you are interested. However, I do want you to take away from this the following: regardless of your current circumstances, you will eventually be doing something great. “Great” is ambiguous on purpose; you are to never limit yourself to your own possibilities.

Enter our UK trip.

As I may have, hopefully have mentioned in a previous post, my friend and I are embarking on a trip to London, Scotland, and Ireland from May 24th to June 8th. Many of you know I’m a solo traveler, in part due to flexibility, in part due to my inexplicable “extro-introvertedness”, and in part due to my individual time-off situation. This time, I’ve hand-picked some of the cream-of-the-crop in terms of travel partnership in my dear friend, June. Say “hi”!

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Speaking on that further, knowing a little about us will likely make the recount of our journey more interesting. We indeed have a lot of similarities. You see:

We’re both amiable, friendly, and kind.

We both have no problem meeting new people and engaging in deep, extensive conversation with them shortly after our introduction.

We both love to exercise and find ourselves attempting to turn any movement into exercise. Our favorite choice? Dancing.

We both can be extremely spontaneous and love to do things off the beaten path.

We’re both flexible and accommodating to what other people want or need (sometimes to our own detriment).

We have similar jobs and can therefore relate enormously well on that level.

Most importantly, June and I both have an ongoing infatuation with food and use any excuse to be around it more often.

Our differences are not negatives, but in fact make our time together all the more interesting and mutually beneficial.

While I love to plan, book in advance, and Yelp/Urbanspoon/Trip Advisor the life out of everything I do, June likes to find things on the go.

While I wear my emotions on my sleeve and send subconscious signals of my feelings that probably reach Pluto, June is contained and expresses emotions when appropriate.

While I’m still amidst the dating world, June has been married for some time and has learned wisdom on the subject of romance. I turn to her for a lot of advice in this area; she’s my roadmap in that way.

Oh, and – June is definitely a better dancer than me. I can admit it.

Day 1 

The flights from LAX-BOS and BOS-LHR were essentially half-sleeping, half-slap-happy-exhausted conversation. We hung out at LHR airport for a few hours before making our way to our flat in Southwark right near Borough Station and London Bridge (pronounced : SUTHerk, kind of like how Greenwich is pronounced GRENitch). As London was more of a stopover, we didn’t plan on doing much, but we ended up making a good time with our short journey.

Where we…

Slept: A shared flat in Tabard Street in Southwerk. Recommended as a safe, quiet, and convenient location as long as you don’t mind taking the Tube/buses/taxis a couple miles away to SoHo/Camden/Brixton for a more bustling feel. The restaurants within walking distance are largely pubs, but we were lucky enough to be directly next to a great Indian restaurant, Simply Indian.

Indulged: The Wetherspoon bar in LHR for breakfast, The Roebuck for lunch, and Simply Indian for dinner. See here and here for reviews of our lunch and dinner, respectively.

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Adventured: The London Bridge and near the Westminster Tube station. Near here we have a few notable attractions including the London Eye, the aquarium, and Westminster Abbey to name a few. We ended up walking around and taking pictures in front of monuments to feel like normal people for 5 minutes.

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After dinner, we ended up taking at taxi at around 12:15 am (in true European-style fashion) to Bar Rumba in SoHo. While it was not necessarily the least sketchy place I’ve been to, their combination of hip-hop, reggaeton, and dancehall jams made our dancing agenda on-point. What “some guy attempted to give us a suspect drink” experience? We owned it.

Learned our lessons: 

  • Buying “attraction packages”. I cannot accentuate the need to be careful and cognizant of limitations on these enough. We purchased a ticket to the Aquarium, London Dungeon, and London Eye for about 57 pounds. We only ended up using the aquarium one, as the London Dungeon stopped showing at 6:00 pm (we bought the tickets at 7:00) and the London Eye had an insanely long line at Sunset. Always be cognizant of the time you truly have to do things prior to buying tickets, as these are nonrefundable.
  • The Tube schedule. The Tube closes around 11:00 pm for most stations and doesn’t open back up again until 5:00, which means that relying on it for your quick and easy midnight club fix isn’t really going to work. Best to go out to dinner around 9 or 10 and go straight out from there, followed by a taxi home unless you can TRULY hang. The busses do run 24 hours a day, but using them will almost double your transit time.
  • Using Yelp for nightlife. Uh, not the best option, as hours are often misrepresented and events are usually not showing. I was in charge of finding a club to go dancing at last night and caused at least a 1-2 hour delay in out departure time. We were fortunate enough to have had an amazing night anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, our short rendezvous with London turned out to be exactly what we wanted: a brand new bite of a dish we had both already tasted. While we had both already visited London, we got to see another light of this bright, eclectic, international city. And rest assured, we will be back for more.

– H

Thought of the day: Be determined to have a good day, every day.

1 thought on “UK and Ireland 2014: Here in swinging London…”

  1. Love this! Sounds SOOOO much better than when I visited London…basically POURED rain on us and the food we found was sub-par and CRAZY expensive…but that’s what happens when you’re 21 and have just left the country for the VERY FIRST time…you make really stupid decisions about everything

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