Moving to London from the US has made me realize how much there is to see in this fine city and how much simply cannot be seen during a single visit. Every time I have a guest in town, I’m overflowing with ideas of what we could see and do based on my own faves and their interests, but we can never cover it all.
But I’ll be damned if we’re not tryin’ this week! As I’ve been chronicling so far, this American expat in London and my good friend visiting from the States are painting this town red, white, and blue in the spirit of the Union Jack and our Star-Spangled Banner. Yesterday, we tackled the big stuff central to London tourism, and today we decided to get our shopping thang on in west London.
To start, the iconic red double-decker bus is always a nice transport option to have your guests try at least once, and make sure they sit up top! It sounds cheesy, but when you haven’t ridden on one before, you really do get a kick out of the elevated perspective as well as how those drivers manage to maneuver through the twists of these narrow streets. So I chose this option for getting to Notting Hill so that my friend could take in the scenery that one misses in the Underground. Hopping off at Notting Hill Gate, Portobello Road was my friend’s request to scope out the famous market and its antiques, fashions, and foods to be had. In addition to me pointing out the usual sites from the film Notting Hill (the fake travel bookshop, the real travel bookshop, the house that no longer has the little blue door…), my friend acquired a couple fabulous bags, a necklace, and properly hokey Royal Wedding souvenirs for friends and family. Score!
Given our not-so-early start this afternoon, we then decided to high-tail it to the British Library so we could see its manuscript room before it closed (my friend is a librarian in Los Angeles, so just as bookish as I am if not more!). The tube was our best bet for transport in this case: Central line out of Notting Hill Gate to Holburn, where we could connect to the Piccadilly Line to Kings Cross Station. Once you pass the impressive, almost Candy Land-ish St. Pancras station/hotel/London apartment building, the library is just at the next block, where you can see several stories of books (literally) on walking in, and across the atrium and to the left you’ll find the room of literary treasures that includes Jane Austen’s writing desk, Charlotte Bronte’s handwritten Jane Eyre, Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March,” the Magna Carta, back-of-the-envelope lyrics (again, literally) of The Beatles, star charts, and religious texts including the Gutenberg Bible. And it’s free.
But enough of the intellectually and culturally significant. It was time for more shopping. We returned to Kings Cross and hopped the Victoria Line to Oxford Circus for the famous Oxford and Regent streets—for an American frame of reference, I’d liken this area to NYC’s 5th Avenue and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Feeling a little peckish, though, we first bopped over to the Soho branch of Pho for some healthy Vietnamese cuisine and my previously-blogged-about weasel poop coffee. You heard me. And what can I say? It was on my friend’s must-do list!
Next on that list: Liberty of London. Ahhh…we spent such a nice amount of time there. Liberty has an abundance of beautiful, beautiful items—clothing, books, furniture, homewares, toiletries, crafts, fabrics (of course!), and on and on—but just being inside there is an experience, and you’ll likely find yourself suddenly desperate to purchase something tattooed in one of its famous fabric prints just to be able to carry a bit of that specialness home with you. It makes me wish I could bear blowing my nose into cloth so I could one day finally justify buying one of those pretty handkerchiefs… Bah! I just don’t think I could do it.
So, once again, we find ourselves home at my London apartment and kicking our feet up with a glass of wine to decompress from another day of covering a lot of London ground. What tomorrow holds the UK weather might just have to determine for us… I’ll be sure to keep you posted should you find any of our excursions remotely in keeping with what you might like to do yourself once you relocate to London!