Rather than a full-on guide to London (since about a trillion of those exist already), all I want to share with you are a few highlights from when I last visited. I was in London to catch up with friends from high school, most of whom have grown-up Monday to Friday jobs, which equaled a lot of free time for me to roam around the city – which I was more than happy to do.
Victoria & Albert Museum
This was my first time visiting the V&A in London. In the past, my preference for modern art meant that Tate Modern was my museum of choice for creative inspiration. Although the extensive collection of paintings at the V&A was grand, it was the post-classical European sculptures in the Cast Courts that blew me away. I found the neutral tones of the sculptures, featured in bright spaces with similar color schemes, to be simply majestic.
Museums are the kind of places where I never feel out of place on my own. I spent almost a full day at the V&A getting lost among the count-less rooms, stopping to gaze at the wall-sized paintings, admiring the people who sat, lost in thought, sketching the artwork and the sculptures.
At the time of my visit the exhibition ‘Undressed’ was on display. Covering the evolution of underwear from corsets to lingerie on the runway today, the exhibition was a unique and refreshing take on how fashion and history are intertwined. Social and gender issues were illuminated: for example, during wartime when metal was not available for women’s underwear, women were outraged as they considered hosiery a necessity. Other highlights of the exhibition included mention of familiar brands and products: H&M’s David Beckham Bodywear campaign, lululemon and M&S, which was spotlighted for being Britain’s foremost retailer of underwear.
Tate Modern is my favorite museum in London. Like the V&A it is free to visit unless you want to attend any of the temporary exhibitions. This makes it an ideal attraction when you want to kill an hour or two, or an entire day, depending on your schedule. Tate always has something eye-catching on display. This time around I was most taken by the work of the Guerrilla Girls, particularly a series of black and white print images that highlighted the underrepresentation of female artists in society.
One afternoon I made my way to the colorful doors and houses for some one-on-one time with my camera. Having watched, re-discovered and fallen in love with the film of the same name, I now understand my mother’s quest to find the little travel-bookstore many years ago when we first visited the capital. With perfect pre-sunset lighting as my friend, I strolled through the streets admiring row after row of perfectly lined white houses.
Brick Lane & markets
On my last day in London we managed to visit three markets in one day: Colombia Road flower market, a vintage market near Brick Lane and Camden.
We started the day at the Colombia Road Flower Market, where I found the cutest little succulent. We had to fight our way through crowds among the flower stalls, so I would recommend going early in the morning. The market had all kinds of plants of flowers available, and I would have loved to transport the entire market to Glasgow every weekend so I could turn my room into a little garden. The market is open every Sunday from 8am – 3pm (ish).
We later spent a few hours strolling through the streets around Brick Lane, stopping to take pictures by the various graffiti walls. They have an abundance of vintage clothing shops and indoor markets, lunch places and other cute boutiques in this area.
Finally, we made our way to Camden market. It wasn’t my first time exploring this area but it is a classic anytime you visit London. Lots of food stands, bric-a-brac, tapestries, colorful alleyways – you’ll always find something to entertain you!
Fernandez & Wells
My flat mate had recently brought back the most gorgeous cookbook from this particular café before my trip, and I knew I had to stop by when I was in the city. In addition to an impressive range of homemade loafs and cakes, F&W also serve quality sandwiches, eggs and meats. Add good coffee and alcohol on the menu for the perfect lunch or brunch spot! They have a few places scattered around the city so there is plenty of choice.
This Sri Lankan restaurant came highly recommended, technically by a friend of a friend. Located in the vibrant Soho area there was unsurprisingly quite a wait when we went (Saturday at peak lunch time), but it was worth hanging about for a seat in the warm and colorful space. Order your choice of hoppers + dosas (rice pancakes) and karis (curry) for the best menu combo. There was such an incredible amount of flavor packed into each little pot of curry that made you carefully savor every bite. I would gladly keep recommending it to more friends of friends.
The long weekend was also spent wandering around Chelsea and Shoreditch – mostly for window shopping and barhopping, respectively – many dinners sharing bottles of wine, and catching up with travel companions and old friends that I do not get to see often enough. A warm thanks to all my wonderful hosts during this visit, you know I’ll be back again.