London has been one of the places in the world I’ve been desperate to visit ever since I was young. I don’t understand this fact but somehow, everyone who’s ever known me is convinced that London is the place for me. It’s not hard to see why. For some reason, despite it being my first time, everything about it felt so natural to me.
P.S. This whole blog will be in series because I am spending a total of two weeks in the United Kingdom and I am 100% sure I will not be able to fit all my feelings in one post. Also, I will be in three different cities, “really amazing ones,” I’ve been told, so I can’t wait to share my adventures with all of you.
Before even getting in the country, waiting in line around customs was already exciting. They had the most random British things playing on their screen, (eg. Ed Sheeran, The Royal Wedding, David Beckham, etc.) everyone working around you looked very diverse and all spoke in different accents, and unlike America, the people stamping your passport are actually nice.
After getting settled, my British friend Peter who I haven’t seen in more than a year, picked me up from my AirBnb to go to lunch. I didn’t even bother to rest in an attempt to immediately adjust to the timezone.
I got in the city at around 10 in the morning and we managed to squeeze in lunch and a little bit of sightseeing until work started for him. It was a Sunday, so we went to Brick Lane at Bethnal Green, where they have this sort of flea market on Sundays. The streets were closed off for food stalls and little kiosks that sold random accessories and special things.
It also happened to be Mother’s Day in the UK, so a couple of the little trinkets they sold in the streets were mother’s day themed. We tried to find Pete’s mom a gift from one of the little handcraft stalls.
It was so much fun just walking through because it was known to be such an artsy street. Hidden in the different stalls were a lot of graffiti and really cool architecture that I was so engrossed in my surroundings. I’d like to think farmer’s markets are pretty similar all over the world, but Brick Lane seemed like it’s own different world. It was such an exciting and colorful place to walk around in. The community was very upbeat: everyone was talking to everyone, the food smelled amazing, and there were street artists and performers in every corner. It was overwhelming to the senses, but it was the kind of chaos that I welcome.
We sat in a small park to eat and catch up. I felt lucky because it was such a nice day, and apparently, you don’t really get a lot of those in London.
Afterwards, we went inside this place called Nomadic Community Gardens. It was sort of hidden from the hustle and bustle of the flea market. I honestly thought he led me towards the wrong direction, because the outside made it seem a little dodgy. I mean it probably was in the past because as I read through the history of the place, it said that it used to be this derelict space that was transformed into what it is now.
Being inside was a completely different story. The NCG was probably the coolest and the trippiest place I’ve ever been to. I wouldn’t have minded getting lost and staying there longer. There was so much graffiti and all kinds of sculptures, and non-functioning everyday items that was transformed into something beautiful. They were all plastered around and in between this little secret garden. It has become this fusion of nature and grunge art installation. In the middle of it all was a big performance space, and it was filled with a lot of really cool and interesting people.
We ended our little adventure in this really cool bar called The Cocktail Trading Company. I didn’t really get anything from there, but I looked at their drink menu and I was sold. Also, despite only being there for a few minutes, I would vouch for their service because they employed one of the kindest people I’ve known in my life.
I don’t remember my walk back to my Airbnb, I’m not even sure how I knew where it was. But as soon as I got into my room and saw my bed, I finally allowed my jet lag to consume me. My first day in London was a smash. I can’t wait for the next!
See you in the next post!