48 Hours In London

 

No, you’re not dreaming I’m back and here with a very long and also very relevant post. Ive missed blogging so much over the last few months and actually wrote this post before but when I published it there was no writing (happy days 🙂 ). Anyways, hope you all haven’t forgotten about me too much. Enjoy!

Exams finished, sun shining and a trip to London ahead of us you would think we should have been bouncing off the train carriage walls with excitement. However, Amy and I felt overwhelmed by emotions silently drowning us in our seats. We had tickets to go and see Ariana Grande only a few days before, but after the tragic events in Manchester she cancelled her concert at the O2 in London. So, consequently we found ourselves in London with no plans whatsoever. I suppose you could say we ‘winged it’ which may have been a bit of a risk but we weren’t going to let anything ruin our long planned weekend (not even terrorists).

 

We left on the Friday morning only an hour after both of us had completed our final AS exam so it was timed almost perfectly. On top of that the weather was glorious but maybe edging on slightly too hot. As a true Abedonian at heart I have learnt to appreciate a mere 15c as the Costa Del Sol, so as soon as the mercury tips over past 25c all of a sudden, I am a melted caricature of the Wicked Witch of The West. I’m sure any fellow Brits can relate to this, as we are all very much aware of how enthusiastically we complain about the weather when it’s cold but as soon as it becomes ever so slightly too hot us Brits don’t hesitate to complain profusely about this too, launching ourselves towards the beach and an ice-cold cider. Thankfully the air-con on the train prevented us from baking like potatoes in the heat so we made it to London in one un-baked potato piece.

A taxi ride later and we arrived at what seemed like our almost rural hotel – which was particularly unfortunate, as this meant we were a 30-minute tube ride away from the centre. However, that night after a long time trying to get our heads round the spaghetti Bolognese that was the tube map we enjoyed running around all the sights when everything was eerily empty. Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly (disappointingly lacking the lights) and Westminster. Westminster was particularly eerie because we were aware of the terrorist attack that took place there so recently. It was hard to wipe it from our minds especially after what had happened in Manchester. Somehow, it made us feel both fearful and brave at the same time.

The next day my friend, her parents and I consolidated our ideas about what we could do that day because we had not a slightest clue and we each of us had one thing that we wanted to do: Amy wanted to visit a Louis Vuitton, I wanted to visit the big Lush on Oxford street and finally, Ellen wanted to visit Portobello Market in Notting Hill. Quite a mission for the day, I know ,but have you ever been to London and not had an itinerary the length of the Bible?

 

Our first goal for the day was Lush, so we got on the tube after an absolutely gorgeous breakfast at Carluccios (best porridge I’ve ever eaten by the way) we darted for Oxford Street and practically ran through the waves of people into the gargantuan shop. I work for Lush so ran around like a madman sniffing all the exclusive products until my nose packed in. It was also so lovely to speak to some of the sales assistants there to find out what it’s like to work in such a huge store. As well as this, I couldn’t help feeling rather smug when assistants asked me ‘Have you ever used our bath bombs before?’ or ‘Do you visit Lush often?’. I ended up leaving with an abundance of goodies like a gorgeous Twilight body spray and a couple of iconic bath bombs.

Carnaby street was next on our to do list, as we all wanted to go to a couple of shops down there like Liberty and Brandy Melville. It certainly wasn’t quiet down the quaint backstreet that lies behind Oxford Street because there was a rather large protest outside of the MAC store against animal testing which added a bit of excitement to our shop.

Our final two destinations for the day were Portobello Market and Bond Street which I think we all enjoyed just as much as each other even though they were exact polar opposites. Bond Street in Mayfair is plastered with luxury brand shops such as, Chanel, Dior and Gucci not forgetting the dozens of Lamborghinis and other fancy, fast cars parked sporadically outside each shop like the owners were just popping in for a newspaper. While Portobello Markets charming pastel houses and humble second-hand shops sandwich you in the hustle and bustle of the hordes of locals and tourists gawking at the food and tat out for sale.

 

We strolled self-consciously down New Bond street first and eventually managed to build up the courage to go into one of the glamourous shops, so we (feeling rather out of place) walked into a huge Louis Vuitton and were greeted by the doormen as we walked in. It all seemed friendly for around a few seconds until a metal detector was waved over us which came as a bit of a shock, but maybe this was just an extra precaution due to what had happened only a few days before. Surprisingly, we were actually in Louis Vuitton to buy something. It always annoys me when shop assistants don’t treat you the same as another older customer just because they don’t think teenagers have enough money to buy anything. This, clearly, was the outlook the assistants had on us so we were expectedly neglected for around five minutes, which was as equally awkward as it was annoying. Long story short a lady did end up trying to help us but showed little interest helping us further when she found out what we wanted was out of stock.

 

An unsuccessful trip later we gave the luxury shops one last shot to win us over and we visited Tiffany’s which unsurprisingly was my choice because of my mild/severe Audrey Hepburn and New York addiction (you can read about my previous Tiffany’s experience here!). The façade of the store was absolutely stunning and had an almost Victorian vibe to it and when we went in, I instantly remembered why I love this company so much. We were greeted kindly by the door men and various staff and when buying necklaces my friend and I were treated just like everyone else (which was refreshing for once). The Elsa Peretti floor (where I did some damage to my bank account) was almost as elegant as how I would imagine Buckingham Palace would look like. The spiral staircase wound up the walls like ivy and very worryingly expensive paintings were hung on the walls. There was also a REAL letter from THE Audrey Hepburn from 1987 expressing her love for the jewellery which successfully convinced me to splash out. I fell in love with a different but gorgeous bean looking necklace that I knew I just had to buy as soon as I tried it on. The sales assistant was so knowledgeable and kind when she was helping me which really differed from the experience at Louis Vuitton, so I left Tiffany’s with my card silently crying in my purse but with a smile and a beautiful necklace.

I suppose I’m more of a ‘buy it new’ kind of girl because Portobello Market didn’t really appeal to me. Although, I did enjoy immersing ourselves in a less artificial and more raw part of the city because I think all of us felt like outcasts in Mayfair. I always knew that Mayfair was the best property you can own on the Monopoly board because I never ever managed to own it, but I never knew that it would be that upmarket in real life! It was therefore, almost inevitable that we felt more comfortable in what would be the equivalent of the brown coloured properties on the board. Compared to Old Bond Street the people here were so lovely and definitely took a less serious and judgemental outlook on life because whenever we were served at a stall or inside tiny little antique stores the owners were always so helpful and actually wanted to have a genuine conversation with you, rather than snigger at the fact it may have looked like we couldn’t afford things. The atmosphere was far from dismal, with people dancing in the street to jazzy saxophone players and Caribbean-style bands echoed feel-good music up the busy streets.


Personally, I think it was really interesting to visit both places in one day just because they were so different. On the other hand, it did stretch our itinerary possibly a bit too optimistically for the day, which was quickly signalled by our aching backs and rubbing shoes by around four-o’clock. If you ever visit London in the aim to go for a serious-splurge-shop then it is certainly worth visiting Mayfair, of course depending if you are the right age and look like you own a helicopter and a private island off the coast of Italy. Whereas, if you are after more of a true London experience with a great atmosphere and less luxury shopping then I would definitely recommend a visit to Portobello Market in Notting Hill, but don’t surpass the excellent Instagram opportunities that the rainbow, cosmopolitan homes almost yearn for.

 

Looking back at this journey we all took to London now after the current 2 more terrorist attacks that have happened plus the horrific Grenfell Tower tragedy it is definitely strange to think how we thought the worst was over. I was so glad that we went and I would never regret it, as we didn’t let the Manchester attack stop us, which is an approach I think we all should take after anything like this, but when do we draw the line and actually hide away? That’s the problem. We simply can’t live hiding behind the sofa and let the terrorists get the better of us because this is what they want, but there is no way of knowing what could happen next in any situation and I think that’s what we all need to remember. None of us know what’s around the corner and that shouldn’t interfere with our daily lives. Don’t let it stop you and live life like there’s no tomorrow.

Much love ♡ – Ali

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