Tuesday, 9 October 2012


I had a great time visiting my friend Sara in London this weekend. A return bus trip to and from Oxford to London is only £10 ($16.20), so I hope to be making more trips in the future. I met Sara at Victoria coach station and we took the London Underground Tube to her apartment at the Cockfoster stop. The Tube is a lot like the NYC subway, but it’s a lot cleaner, less busy, and easier to navigate. Sara and I arrived to a surprise Birthday party and I was able to meet her roommates (from Belgium, Ireland, the US, and France).
Me & Sara outside of the V&A Museum (note the phone booth and bus in the background).

After a glass of champagne and a slice of chocolate cake, we headed out to a night club and enjoyed the nightlife of London. There are a number of ‘posh’ clubs that are more expensive, but that night we went to a more low-key club. On the way home I stopped by the good old American stand-by : McDonald’s. The quality of the food was no different.
Portobello Market (I will be returning to buy Christmas gifts)

The next morning we woke up and visited the open-air Portobello Market in West London. This 2-mile long market has everything from ethnic foods to tourist kitsch to vintage clothing. The goods and the people of this market place were extremely entertaining and colorful! I could have spent hours browsing through the vinyl, artwork, and other goods, but after a while we decided to hit up one of the free museums in London.

 Roman statues

 Old English Peter Griffin?
The Victoria & Albert Museum is the world’s largest museum for decorative arts and design. Its 145 galleries are organized by country/continent of origin, and cover 12.5 acres! Sara headed to a temporary exhibit on the development of ball gowns, while I headed to the European Renaissance and Roman sculpture exhibits. I took a few pictures of exhibits (which is allowed), so be sure to follow the link from this blog! One of my favorite pieces was an extremely old hymnal that had Gregorian chant written in the old music notation style.

Dale Chiluly 30-foot blown glass chandelier, a nice modern touch for the V&A Atrium. 
A courtyard in the V&A

After the museum Sara and I went back to the coach station and pick up our other friend Mel. From there we went to Harrod’s in Knightsbridge. This luxury department store has 7 floors and covers 5 acres, making it the largest department store in Europe. The store’s motto is, Omnia Omnibus Ubique—All Things for All People, Everywhere.  It’s a really big tourist attraction, but also a very versatile market. I was able to sample a £200 bottle of whiskey and gawk at a bottle of Louis XIII cognac (priced at £29,000 or $46,980). There was also cheaply priced items such as a £24 bottle of sparkling wine. After only making it through the first two floors in 2 hours (and viewing a £2,000,000 necklace) we decided to go out for sushi.
An egyptian themed room in Harrod's

Just wishfully holding some Dom Pérignon.

Louis XIII cognac (priced at £29,000 or $46,980)
 Harrod's does have some cheaper pleasures...like pastries.

We jumped back on the tube and headed to Yo! Sushi, near the Thames River and close to the  London Eye. It was beautiful to see the Eye and Big Ben glowing in the night sky and the different street performers kept us entertained with music and hip-hop dancing. I have yet to find a sushi restaurant in Oxford, so the sushi and view were a fantastic ending to my trip to London.
Sushi on a conveyor belt!

The livability of London was really surprising to me. I think NYC is too crowded and loud, but London is spacious and more relaxed. The people aren’t as gruff and the air just doesn’t seem as thick. That being said, I will definitely be returning to London before I die.

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