EAST LONDON, SHOREDITCH
I booked The National Express Coach bus from Ipswich to Shoreditch. This is no chicken bus or even Greyhound. We’re talking leather seats, seat belts, tray tables, free wifi, cheery English drivers…luxury!
I changed buses at the airport, and my new bus driver informs me that we would only go as far as Stratford station due to some sort of rugby demonstration that had taken to the streets. Once in Stratford, I find a phone booth and call my friend to give him the update. Thankfully the phone booths accepts credit cards however, the 2 minute call ends up costing me a fiver!
My friend tells me to take the underground to Liverpool Street and meet him at the main exit and if not there, than at the statue with children. Okay. Once I arrive, I ask a police officer what he would consider to be the main exit since there are four of them. He said that I should call my friend. Great. So, I take a chance on exit number one. No sign of Luca. I head to the opposite end of the station and stumble upon the statue of the children. Luca eventually finds me, but I’m still confused as to which options would have led me out of the “main” exit.
Luca, Alexia and I were together for New Years in Mexico, and I remember Luca being very interested in the history of the ancient civilizations of the Mayan people. So much so that he researched quite a bit before his trip. His knowledge made it difficult for me to appear knowledgeable, but they were a lovely couple nonetheless. In true Luca fashion, he explains each buildings and surrounding areas on the walk to his flat. I learn that East London used to be rather run-down and unsafe, but in the past 15 years or so, it has been upcoming and no longer deemed dangerous. This was good news to me because it is Saturday, and I intend on staying out late. Following Alexia’s delicious pasta dinner, we all catch a bus to London Bridges. I am unexpectedly excited to be riding a red double decker bus in London. Spice World, anyone?
It’s around 11pm, and I head to the bar to get another round. Not only am shocked to learn the pub is closing, but also that we had missed last call! Apparently, if you want to stay out past 11 in London, you better be into proper clubbing. We decide to take a walk along the Thames River and get a look at London Bridges at night which was really beautiful. We manage to find one more pub open until 12, so we get one last pint in before heading home.
The following morning…
We head out for my first proper English Breakfast and it does not disappoint. However, I’m anxious to try the black pudding but mind over matter, right? I take a bite and like it for about two seconds before the matter takes over my mind. We finish breakfast and set off to explore.
Alexia takes me around showing me local markets, alleyways where Jack the Ripper made his kills and various neighbourhoods. We stumble around some waltz dancers in the street and it reminds me of being out in Mexico stumbling upon date night in the park; where there’s a live band and couples of all ages are dressed up and out for a dance. In this moment, I feel right at home.
After yet, another wonderful day, I say my goodbyes to Alexia and Luca and hop on a train over to Streatham to meet some other friends.
SUNDAY IN LONDON
I arrive in Streatham around 5pm just in time for a typical Sunday Roast at Gemma and Mark Gemark. The Gemark’s were on my very first Volcano Trail, which took us from Antigua to San Jose in 17 days, back in January 2012. They were newlyweds on that trip and now they had a beautiful baby girl, Elyse. Their new arrival made it extra special to see them again.
I crossed my fingers for a typical English Roast at “Casa Gemark, and I must say they outdid themselves, meaning we each got not one, but two Yorkshire puddings. Oh, and this was also followed by dessert! Even though I grew up having roast dinners on a Sunday, there was something special about having one in England.
Following dinner, we indulge in some wine and stare at baby Elyse until it is time to hit the hay.
We don’t get up to much the next day in the sense of sightseeing, and although I know Gemark is feeling bad about it, I am more than happy playing with Elyse in my comfy clothes with a spot o’ tea, some biscuits and the latest Batman movie. It’s a rainy Monday in London, and I feel blissful. Even the avid traveller needs a rest from travelling.
Many think travelling is like taking a vacation. Would you agree that this assumption is misleading? Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after travelling?
Also, be sure to check out Allie’s last post in her Adventures With Allie G series
This post was written by Allie G who is an adventure traveller, cultural enthusiast and sustainable tourism activist.