An English Escape
I think I’m in infatuated with London. There’s something that’s comforting about it, despite the fact that I’ve now only been there twice in my life. Perhaps it’s the language? Since living in Paris for more than year, being in a room with more than 2 native English speakers is a rare occasion. Our 4-day trip from Paris to London was a welcome change and delightful escape to a city and culture so different from my new home.
ps: I went on this trip in November 2017! Hahaha, I’m so good at drafting posts but never publishing them…it’s quite different from spontaneously writing in my personal journals. But funnily it’s this time of year again, so carry on!🎄❄️
We took the uber-convenient Eurostar train from Paris’ Gare de Nord to London’s Gatwick Station, bright and early in the morning. PS: First class seating on these trains is super comfy and you get the cutest breakfast or lunch tray! Plus, you can sometimes get first class for the same price as normal tickets (as we luckily did on this trip!) 😉
Once we got into London, we went straight for sight-seeing. Our hotel was about 10 minutes by foot from the Tower Bridge of London, and this time we took a little tour into the engine rooms below, and up to the top where they had a glass floor walkway looking down onto the water and bridge path!
Best of Both Worlds
I find it difficult to compare London to Paris because they are so different in so many ways. Not just the architecture and landscape, but the simple magnitude of London as a city is overwhelming. Paris is a beautifully foot-friendly city in that you can easily walk from one neighborhood to the next while observing the beautiful transition of buildings and design along the way. London feels enormous, but I also love the modern buildings and plethora of food markets and shops that you can walk about.
A Melting Pot of Culinary Adventure
Talking about food, my god, is it sinful if I said I prefer London as a foodie city over Paris?? In general, of course. I love the baguette and steak diet as much as any Parisian, but I found that London had a much more diverse offering of cuisines throughout the city. Their food markets resemble much more that of Taiwan (ready-made hot dishes of every cuisine imaginable served at each booth) rather than the Paris markets, which sell mostly fresh produce from local farms. I saw African, Brazilian, Chinese, Argentinian, and Mexican specialities, just to name a few…it was heaven!
London food markets have their fresh produce too though–check out these awesome fungi!🍄I wish I’d picked up some of those fresh truffles too…last summer in Menton, France I bought truffle-infused salt from a small artisan shop and that tiny jar has been a game-changer for my pasta, salad, and pizza dishes!
And the full English breakfast is a savory breakfast lover’s dream…shoutout to my friend Karen who took me to this local joint: Where The Pancakes Are. (Address: Arch 35a, 85a Southwark Bridge Rd, London SE1 0NQ, UK). Peep the match latte too…so trendy hehe!
From The Top
We went up to the observatory deck of The Shard and caught this spectacular view…for those nervous with heights, this may be a tricky one! While we were in London, I was determined to try Shake Shack because I hadn’t had it in 4 years–the last time being in New York City. And because of my homesickness in Paris, I was also craving a good hot dog like mad. I’m happy to say, I was not disappointed.
A ChopChick Never Stops Eating
Last but not least, I was super curious about the Asian food scene in London. I know that the UK doesn’t have an incredible reputation for its cuisine, but there are plenty of good options around London, you just need to seek them out! I ventured into an underground Japanese food hall of sorts (called Japan Centre), where they sold a variety of authentic Japanese ingredients as well as typical hot and cold dishes (sushi, ramen) for eat-in and take-out. On the same street, we got a quick snack and dessert at the izakaya-style joint Machiya (📍5 Panton St, London SW1Y 4DL, UK). I saw their matcha lava cake on Instagram and added it to my list of must-try’s for this trip.
Even looking at this picture now my mouth is watering…the matcha powder on top is the perfect touch, and the melty inside was so decadent and not toooo sweet (just how I like it). I tried making matcha lava cakes at home about 3 times last year with the ChopChicks and the texture always turned out not-just-perfectly (matcha brownies/muffins, anyone?), though the taste was still delicious!
Until Next Time…
I can’t wait to go back to London again soon–whether it’s a planned or impromptu trip. There’s so much more to see in England really, and I’d love to venture outside of the city to the countryside or stay in the suburbs to see what daily life is like for English locals.😍 The feeling of being around English-speakers in Europe (after moving away from the USA) always gives me a sort of comfort and joy. It’s nice to be able to communicate freely and confidently, without fear of being misunderstood or judged for my lack of French vocabulary and imperfect grammar haha. But, that’s all the more motivation I have to improve my French quickly! À bientôt, London…😘