As we’ve already establihed on this blog, London is one of my favourite places in the world. It has always held a special place in my heart and felt like a second home. A year never rolls by without a trip or more to the Capital and with Ash informing me that he had never been, I took it upon myself to introduce my two loves.
Surprisingly for London and surprisingly for December, we managed to book it really cheap. RyanAir flight from Belfast for £9.99 each, landing at Gatwick and jumping on the train to London Bridge for £10 each (avoid Victoria, prices are extortionate), three nights in a Travelodge for £136 and train home from Kings Cross to Darlington for £10 each in the Virgin Trains East Coast Black Friday sale. Total cost of transport and accommodation under £196 for three nights and non-return flights. Now I must say myself, that’s pretty decent for London.
After wandering aimlessly around London Bridge looking for a counter to buy Ash an Oyster card, we eventually made it to Hanger Lane tube station, our base for the trip. Now don’t be fooled, when it says Travelodge Wembley you might think you’re staying in Wembley but actually not. You’re staying in a slightly dodgy residential area a 20 minute walk from the tube station. When we got off the tube it was raining, typical England and Google maps sent us in the wrong direction, typical Google maps. When we eventually were heading in the right direction, we were greeted by ridiculous amounts of litter and a surprising amount of smashed up or burnt vehicles. I picked an absolute gem of a place to stay. Once we made it to the hotel though, once again Travelodge didn’t fail with their comfortable, spacious and affordable rooms. Plus despite first impressions, the location was never a problem during our stay.
Once we settled in, it was getting dark and we headed to Hyde Park to spend our first evening at Winter Wonderland. We browsed the stalls, sipped hot chocolate, nibbled n hot dogs and had a gloriously festive time. We then took a nice romantic stroll down Oxford Street taking in the Christmas lights, even dipping into the narrow passageway of St Christopher’s Place before jumping on the tube back to the hotel, ordering a Domino’s and having an early night.
After a nice lie in on day two, we headed to the Natural History Museum which was a choice of Ash’s. I’ve been a few times before but it’s still a nice way to spend a day and there are always changes to exhibits.
For the evening, I managed to bag tickets to Ballie Ballerson. A new London bar which with nostalgic cocktails and an adult ball pit was proving to be popular with videos and articles doing the rounds on Facebook. Despite it selling out almost every night, I managed to get us tickets so we hopped on the overground to Dalston. The venue is cool, albeit small and it isn’t well advertised, I only noticed it by looking up and seeing a bag of plastic balls swaying in the wind. There is a cool vibe there and everyone is there for a bit of fun.
The drinks menu is full of childhood, based on favourite sweets. First round we opted for a Skittles and a Palma Violet cocktail. They were served up with a cute little bag of sweets pegged to the side of the glass but for the £9 price tag, they were very small. Mine was nice enough but Ash’s was a bit unusual because he hadn’t read the description properly and you wouldn’t expect a cocktail based on Skittles to come with a large topping of cream. Our second round proved better with more for your pound, Ash’s incredible choice of a bubblegum based drink and my delicious Wham Bar concoction. I would still expect a little more for the price tag but then again, this is London after all and London combined with novelty bar is expected to be expensive.
The ball pit itself was an experience. A few years ago at uni, I experienced a bouncy castle for the first time as an adult and couldn’t believe how difficult it was to do. A ball pit is no different. Your childhood memories are a complete constrast to how it actually is as an adult. You have to use all your strength to pull your way through the balls, you get sucked under and it’s a mission to stay upright. We had a bit of fun for a while throwing balls at random strangers but after a while, the novelty wore out. It’s a fun idea but it is just a novelty and after five minutes, you’re done. It’s hot, sweaty, people are standing on you through the balls, throwing themselves at you as they dive in, people are losing shoes, credit cards are found and it just doesn’t have the same enjoyment as it did when you were six years old. It was an interesting night for the experience and I would have regretted not giving it a go. I think you need to be fairly drunk to find the true fun in it which we weren’t. Back to the hotel and another evening order of pizza.
Day three was my choice of activity as I wanted to visit Camden, a place in London I’ve never visited before. I loved it. It’s hip, quirky, unique and just has a great vibe. We had a nice little wander through the markets, along the canal and stopped for a late breakfast at Cereal Killer Cafe. Another place filled with nostalgia with shelves full of cereal, walls lined with vintage toys, decorated with retro posters, tables set up as childhood bedrooms and even an old school arcade game. I opted for the Marshmallow Submarine cereal cocktail which was a delicious mix of Lucky Charms and Golden Nuggets whilst Ash went for a nutty breakfast. We then had a wrestling match on the arcade game in which I won the first round but lost best out of three.
After a little Camden exploration, I took Ash to see the sights. There was an incredible sunset behind the Houses Of Parliament whilst we took in the views of Big Ben and The London Eye before making our way through Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus before stopping for dinner in Leicester Square. That evening we went to Christmas At Kew which was a little disappointing before heading back for our last night in the hotel.
For our final day, I had left it open for a catch up with a good friend and didn’t really know what to do when plans were cancelled. With our train not til 7pm and being weighed down with bags, there wasn’t really a great deal we could do so we just stopped for lunch at Westfield before setting up shop in a Starbucks in Kings Cross and booking our trip to Gambia. An uneventful day but full of excitement for us never the less.
It was great to share a place so special to me with Ash and to show him old favourites aswell as exploring new avenues. I loved getting to know Camden a little and will definitely be spending more time there in the future. We had some great experiences, some slightly failed experiences but all in all it was a lovely little trip away. London, you know I’ll be back.
This blog post is not sponsored or endorsed in any way. All opinions are my own and just that: opinions.