London Travel Diary
When one of your all-time favourite bands announces a tour that’s no where near where you live, you do what any rational fan would do - fly across the other side of the world to go see them! Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly rational - in fact, it’s kind of crazy - but we aren’t just talking about any band here, we’re talking about the Spice Girls! The band I grew up with, the band that was my first music love and the band I once did a Year 5 assignment on. After two attempts and two hours in total spent nervously waiting in online queues, I was headed to the Spice World 2019 Tour in the UK and got tickets to see them live in London! It was my second time in city (I first visited seven years ago when I went travelling around Europe for six weeks) and while my first time was spent doing a whole lot of touristy stuff, I felt like I had kind of made myself at home for a week this time around. Having so many friends in the UK, there was something comforting and familiar about being in London, but the downside to the city? That typical British weather! (Spoiler alert: I complain about the weather a lot in this post!).
Not only did I get to tick a childhood dream of mine off my bucket list during this trip, but travelling overseas solo had been something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now too, so it was an experience like no other and one of the best times I’d ever had in my entire life. To recount my trip, a personal and detailed travel diary felt the most natural to me as that’s always been my writing style and I felt as though something like a city guide would’ve been too restrictive (I hardly think I’m in any position to “guide” people either!). I did make a trip to Paris after my time in the English capital and that’s another travel diary to come, but for now, here’s all that I did, saw and ate during my six days in London.
Day 1 - Tuesday 11th June
After 20 hours in transit with a stopover in Dubai, I landed in London on Tuesday afternoon. I had booked my ticket for the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station a few weeks prior (living in a small city with pretty shit public transport, it didn’t even occur to me that one of the regular train lines takes you into the city, but in the end, I didn’t mind paying more for a quicker and less packed train), so as soon as I got my luggage, I hopped on the train and made my way to my hotel in Holborn (side note: how bloody expensive are Oyster cards?!). I chose to stay in Holborn as it was walking distance to Covent Garden and a short train ride to Oxford Circus, while also not being absurdly expensive. My hotel, Premier Inn Holborn, was only a six minute walk away from Holborn Station, but as my trip progressed, it wasn’t long before it felt more like 60 because of how sore my feet were by the end of each day! Apart from that, it was a nice, standard hotel.
As soon as I got to my room, I was desperate for a shower! A long haul flight followed by carrying a 20kg suitcase on the hot and sweaty Tube (which I would later love for how toasty warm it was!) left me feeling pretty gross, to say the least. I also couldn’t wait to put on some makeup because my flights broke me out like crazy! I don’t wear makeup when I fly, so I really wasn’t looking and feeling my best at all, but once I got on some fresh clothes and makeup, I perked up instantly and couldn’t wait to head out and explore!
At this point, I didn’t feel jet lagged in the slightest, but I think that’s because I slept most of the way there. Usually, I can’t sleep on planes, but I think it was a combination of it being a night flight, a long, busy day prior to leaving and the in-flight entertainment being pretty rubbish that helped. It made the time go by really quickly too! Anyway, I didn’t venture far as I didn’t have long until I had to meet Divya at Holborn Station, so I briefly checked out Covent Garden, popped into Next, then spent most of my time browsing around Superdrug. I wanted to stay inside the shops because it was so bloody cold! I guess that’s the UK for you though!
I met Divya at about 6pm and it was so wonderful to see her again! It’s crazy and kind of odd to think how we first met in Melbourne when I was still living there and she was in India, but now I’m in Perth and I met her in her new home of London! Same Internet friend, so many different parts of the world! She took me back to her house where she and her husband Rishi cooked me a beautiful dinner consisting of an Indian coriander and pepper chicken dish served with rice, roti and spiced yoghurt. I loved it so much, I was too full to finish my dessert!
We sat around chatting and drinking G&Ts and I was happy to have a chilled night in as opposed to going out. It meant I got to check out Divya’s amazing candle collection too! Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to have met such kind, intelligent, beautiful people through my blog. Like, not even people I consider just good online friends, but my good friends in general. After a lovely evening, the jet lag finally kicked in around 10pm (I’m surprised I even survived this late, but we got so carried away talking, I probably didn’t even notice how tired I was!), so I got an Uber home (I was way too tired and cold to catch public transport!) and called it a night.
Day 2 - Wednesday 12th June
Sleeping through my flights and then being awake enough to stay up and go to bed at a decent hour meant that I got onto London time instantly. This was what I was counting on before I left and it worked out perfectly! The last time I was in Europe, my best friend and I lost a whole day because of jet lag, but this time around, I was up by 7am ready to get my first full day in London underway! I spent each morning getting ready to Everybody Loves Raymond and Frasier on TV and that was kind of like a nice slice of home because I’ll often sit down to a cup of tea and watch them with my mum on weekend afternoons. Being on my own, I liked the background noise, plus we all know I love my ‘90s sitcoms. It was either that or potentially get addicted to Love Island.
My first stop was breakfast at The Breakfast Club as I’d heard a lot of UK bloggers talk about it and I’m not going to lie, I love the movie of the same name, so I was drawn to it for that reason too! They played great music inside the café, though I was disappointed Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds wasn’t one of the songs! The Breakfast Club in Soho was the closest one to me and to where I was going next (there are a few franchises all around London), but as it’s a popular café in a popular area, you do have to wait in line for quite a bit. I waited for about half an hour, which seemed to go by relatively quickly and the great thing about London is that there’s free Wi-Fi just about everywhere, so that’ll keep you occupied too. I ordered the hot chocolate with marshmallows and The Club Burrito with halloumi both of which were amazing! I’d even say they were worth the wait!
After my big breakfast, I made my way back to the train station with a pitstop to Primark. I have no interest in cheap fast fashion stores, but it was on the way and I know they do a lot of Friends merchandise, so I wanted to check it out for that! I didn’t buy anything, but now I can say that I’ve been and I’ve satisfied my curiosity. From Soho, I took the train to Notting Hill, which was absolutely beautiful, but unfortunately, kind of ruined by the rain! I was walking along these pretty streets lined with stunning houses and lush trees and all I could think was, ‘Imagine how much better this would be if the sun were shining?!’ lol. The gloomy weather made my photos look a little lacklustre too! Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t let it damper my time there, but I think I would like a redo when I come back one day. It wasn’t just the rain, but I lost time there due to waiting in line at The Breakfast Club and there was scaffolding around a lot of the coloured houses, so I missed out on some great photo opportunities! I think it’s definitely an area worth exploring more.
After a lot of walking around checking out the houses, I briefly popped by the Portobello Road Markets, though I didn’t stay for long. Markets aren’t a priority of mine when I go travelling, plus I didn’t want to stray too far from the train station as I was meeting up with Divya again, this time to enjoy a lovely afternoon tea at Sketch London!
I met up with Divya at Oxford Circus Station and from there, we made our way to Sketch. We were walking along Regent Street and I just couldn’t tear my eyes away from all the buildings; the London architecture is simply breathtaking! I don’t know if that’s something that means as much to anyone else, especially if you’re from Europe, but when you’re from a young country like Australia where the majority of the architecture is quite modern, you really pay attention when you visit these countries so rich in history. I fell completely in love and now it’s my absolute favourite street in London! Even for how gloomy and miserable the weather was, it was still so beautiful.
When we arrived, we were taken to The Gallery, which is where they hold their afternoon tea. Being the lover of the colour pink that I am, my eyes naturally lit up and it was even more incredible than I imagined! The waiters were all sharply dressed, there was a man serving caviar in a pink suit and there was also a string band playing! Even the toilets were amazing! They had Diptyque candles lined up along the stairs to them and you do your business in one of these futuristic-looking pods! Very chic!
There are a few different options that you can choose from on their afternoon tea menu and even the cheapest one that we chose (which was still quite expensive lol) was absolutely heavenly with so much to eat and drink! The option we went with allowed us two different teas each, so I went for some sort of fancy variation of my favourites; jasmine green tea and English breakfast. In addition to our tiered cake stand, there were a couple of other savoury dishes they brought out for us, as well as cake and scones to finish off. For how small the food is, you really don’t think it would all be so filling, but by the end, I could barely get through half a scone! I definitely felt food FOMO afterwards because it was all so delicious!
Our plan was to spend the rest of the afternoon shopping, but because the weather was so heinous and the atmosphere in Sketch was just so dreamy, we decided to stay put for a good few hours and make the most of our time there. It’s definitely an experience to be savoured and regardless of price, I would go back in a heartbeat. I can’t imagine afternoon tea getting any better than this!
When we finally left, we hit the shops, first popping into Anthropologie. This store was high on my list as I absolutely love their homewares and I’ve only ever been able to buy them online since we don’t have Anthropologie in Australia. Unfortunately, it didn’t really make much of a difference because all the things I loved were glassware and way too delicate to travel with! Nevertheless, the physical store was absolutely beautiful to have a browse around! After Anthropologie, we stopped into Boots and being the beauty lovers that we are, we naturally went to town looking at everything and swatching everything! There wasn’t a whole lot there that we can’t get in Australia, but I was excited to finally stock up on Liz Earle and check out Fenty Beauty for the first time (there are no Sephora stores in Perth)!
Not long after, I unfortunately had to say goodbye to Divya as she was off to the airport to fly back home to India. I wish we could’ve spent more time together, but with the way her trip worked out, I’m just grateful we got to see each other at all and I had so much fun! After seeing her off at the train station, I continued on the shopping, this time going into another store that had been high on my list - & Other Stories! I can see why all the bloggers talk about this shop so much, it’s a really beautifully laid out store, particularly the beauty section with its sink and brass taps! The clothing and accessories didn’t really do much for me though. I initially just bought some hand creams as gifts, but then I went back and got one for myself!
From & Other Stories, I headed into Topshop. I was hoping to get some mom jeans, but they didn’t have a whole lot of options in their petite range and I didn’t find anything that felt like “the one”. I liked them, but I didn’t love them. I still walked out with a couple of really nice basic ribbed tops though. I then went next door to Urban Outfitters, but it was rubbish and pretty underwhelming compared to their online store. It was the same situation the last time I was in London too.
By this time, it was starting to get dark, my feet were sore and I couldn’t stand another second in the rain! It was becoming a real struggle to manage my umbrella, my camera and Google Maps on my phone all simultaneously! I really just wanted to put my feet up and chill out, and since I was still quite full from Sketch, I opted for a light, fresh dinner consisting of individual snack tubs of raw salmon salad, mixed olives and mango from Waitrose to take back to my hotel room. It sounds sad, but I really enjoyed it! I watched Family Guy and American Dad on TV (again, mostly just for background noise while I played on my phone!), then went to bed.
Day 3 - Thursday 13th June
SPICE GIRLS DAY! Truthfully, I didn’t feel as excited as I thought I would be when this day finally arrived, but that’s only because it didn’t feel real! I woke up to yet more miserable weather (what else is new for London?!) and as soon as I left the hotel to start my day, I immediately went back in to layer up with a jumper! A mere denim jacket just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Honestly, I could’ve even done with a coat! You kind of get thrown off because when you’re inside it’s all toasty warm even without heating, so you think to yourself, ‘Oh, it’s not so cold today!’, but when you step outside, it’s a whole other story!
My plan was to spend most of the day at Covent Garden, which was about a 10-15 minute walk from where I was staying, so on my way there, I popped into Fabrique for some breakfast. A cute little pastry shop I’d pass by to and from the train station, I went for a pain au chocolate and English breakfast tea. I thoroughly enjoyed the hot drink as I looked out the window onto torrential downpour thinking, ‘Fuck, how do people actually live here?’ lol. It was only one week until the start of summer, yet it was like a Perth winter at its worst!
When I got to Covent Garden, my first stop was All Saints where I was hoping to find a real leather jacket (my six year-old pleather Topshop one was coming apart). They had some really nice ones, but like the mom jeans, none of them were perfect and if I was going to spend £400+ then it needed to be the greatest thing in the whole entire world. I had to stop and think, ‘Wait, this is POUNDS, not dollars!’. It’s so easy to get carried away when you’re enjoying yourself on holiday and you forget about currency conversions!
As I was walking along, I saw another & Other Stories store and I decided to pop in just because. It’s always exciting visiting those places you hear so much about! From there, I made my way to Brandy Melville as that was another shop I was super keen on checking out. It seemed right up my alley, but it was actually a bit of a let down, to be honest.
I don’t whether it’s all the talk surrounding fast fashion or the fact that I’m a lot smarter with my shopping these days, but I really didn’t find anything appealing. I mean, it’s not a bad thing and I really only buy clothes if there’s something specific that I’m after anyway (like the mom jeans and leather jacket), but I guess it just wasn’t all that I thought it was cracked up to be.
After Brandy Melville, things got a lot more fun when I finally visited Space NK! I was really bummed out that I didn’t get a chance to go here during my last trip. I actually think Mecca is better, but I wanted to check it out for the brands we don’t have in Australia and also because I’m into beauty, obviously. I feel like I didn’t buy a whole lot, but either way, I guess I spent enough money to receive a £5 voucher, so that was a pleasant surprise!
Because I’m an idiot and should have known better than to only give myself 15 minutes in a beauty store, I was a little bit late meeting Anna for lunch, but being the lovely former beauty blogger that she is, she of course, understood! Since Anna is vegan and I had by CHLOE. on my list of places to eat, we met up at the one in Covent Garden and I had the best time ever talking my head off with her and eating delicious food! I ordered the Freshly Brewed Iced Tea to drink (I fit right in England being the tea lover that I am!) and to eat, the Mac N’ Cheese made up of sweet potato cashew cheese sauce, shiitake bacon and almond parmesan, which was incredible! You never would’ve guessed it was entirely vegan; it tasted exactly like the real deal!
Although Anna doesn’t blog about beauty anymore, it was insane how much we had to talk about! There are a lot of us who have become more lifestyle-based bloggers now and as I mentioned to Anna, I think the reason why we stay following them is because we're interested in them as people rather than simply what makeup they’re into and you establish friendships and connections far beyond that main common interest. We talked about all sorts of things such as feminism, music, religion, her passport debacle and our respective country’s culture (Australians and English people basically both just love drinking); stuff we’d never had conversations about online! We talked for about four hours straight and honestly, we probably could’ve kept talking for four more! The only reason why we didn’t was because I had to go get ready for the Spice Girls! I left feeling super grateful for all the wonderful blogging friends I’ve made and the fact that Anna travelled all the way from Northampton just to see me too.
From by CHLOE., it was a mad dash back to my hotel to do my hair, touch up my makeup and change outfits before the Spice Girls. Well, I was going to get changed, but I felt like a moron wearing a sparkly pink crop top in 13 degree weather… and even with my layers still over the top! There was just no point! I was a little disappointed I couldn’t dress up all ‘90s for the Spice Girls, but if there’s anything I can’t stand in this world, it’s being cold!
Since my sister could unfortunately no longer come on what was supposed to be our trip together, I put up on Instagram Stories that I was giving away her Spice Girls ticket and Lauren was the lucky person who ended up snagging it! I probably could’ve very easily have sold it, but at the time, I was more concerned with having someone to go with than making my money back. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to a ton of gigs on my own and would’ve done so again, but I think seeing a band like the Spice Girls is definitely an occasion worth sharing with someone! Having been blogging friends with Lauren for a few years now, it was so nice to meet her and especially since she’s from Perth too (she now lives in London).
Before the show, Lauren and I got dinner at Five Guys as it was a burger place I’d heard a lot of and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t realise they put two patties in every burger, so that made it a struggle to get through and we barely even touched our chips! It was tasty and I enjoyed what I could eat, but I probably wouldn’t go back. I’d be more inclined to check out Shake Shack or Honest Burgers the next time I’m in London.
After dinner, we caught the train to Wembley Stadium. During the walk from the station to stadium, everyone was singing their hearts out and I was amazed at the people who braved the cold to dress in skimpy Spice Girls-esque outfits! I don’t know how they did it, but I was certainly impressed!
Once we got in, Lauren and I weren’t all that fussed on seeing the support act, Jess Glynne, so we hung about chatting over a few drinks before we took our seats. When we did, I was in sheer awe at the size of the venue and it was incredible to watch it slowly pack out. With a crowd of 80,000 people, it was the biggest gig I’ve ever been to and the biggest gig I’ll probably ever go to!
Just before they came on stage, the show was introduced with the screens displaying, “We welcome all countries of origin. All gender identities. All abilities. All ages. All sexual orientations. All races. All religions & beliefs. Welcome to Spice World” and then showed an array of flags from all different countries. It gave me goosebumps and I felt as if my heart could’ve exploded! It was so empowering and made me feel so proud to be a Spice Girls fan. Immediately after, the crowd roared as they opened with Spice Up Your Life and I felt like I was nine years old again!
I was kind of expecting a nostalgia trip back to the ‘90s with the super short dresses, crop tops and platform shoes they used to perform in, but I suppose they needed to feel a little more comfortable on stage being in their forties now! Geri even poked fun at how much older they all were, but that they were doing this all for us! While their costumes were modernised and more grown up, it still felt like them and there were still a few outfits to take us back to the good old days. Geri’s iconic Union Jack dress got a classy update as it became floor-length, Mel B wore plenty of leopard print and the outfits they wore while performing the closing song, Wannabe, were the same ones they wore in the music video, only more jazzed up and blingy!
To keep up the energy, there were plenty of dancers on stage, all grouped into houses named Baby, Spice, Ginger and Sporty and obviously dressed in similar respective costumes to them. They would also perform and keep the audience entertained during their costume changes. I won’t go into too much detail about the actual music as I’ve documented this well on Instagram Stories and there’s not much I can say other than I loved every song and the setlist was perfect! 2 Become 1 was obviously the standout as that’s always been my favourite and when Emma hit that top note, it brought the house down! Mel C getting the crowd to sing along to Say You’ll Be There was another highlight, as was everyone clapping in time and turning on their phone flashlights to Mama. If there was anything disappointing about the night, it was that Victoria wasn’t there, but the four of them put on such a powerful show, it was difficult to miss her. They made a few nods to her throughout the night and that was really sweet!
One thing I didn’t record was during one of the costume change interludes when they showed a clip on the screens of Geri, Emma, Mel C and Mel B all talking about Girl Power and what it means to them, which took everything in me not to start crying! As a kid, I remember going around doing the peace sign and saying, “Girl power!” and looking back, I feel so lucky to have grown up with this wonderful band, who at the time, was too young to even realise how much of a positive impact they’d have on my life and the lives of young girls all over the world.
When the show finished, Spice Girls were playing on the loudspeakers outside the stadium and there was more singing from everyone as we all walked back to the station. When I returned to my hotel, I took off my makeup and got changed into my pyjamas so I could get comfy in bed and watch all the videos I took of the night. This was when it finally hit me that I actually saw the Spice Girls live and I burst into tears. This was something I’d always dreamed about as a kid but never thought would actually happen and now that the flood of emotions have passed, I still can’t believe this was real life. Music is one of my biggest loves and if there’s anything that could get me to spontaneously travel across the other side of the world, it was the band that started it all for me.
Day 4 - Friday 14th June
After having a bit of a late night, I decided to let myself sleep in this morning (it felt so nice to do this while on holiday!) and as I had the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour starting at 11:30am, I figured there wasn’t much I could get done before then, anyway. Before I made my way to the train station, I popped into my local Pret a Manger for breakfast as I regularly see UK bloggers talk about it. I was a little bit sceptical at first and I thought maybe I was wasting my time going to a franchise that’s literally everywhere, but it was actually amazing and I became instantly obsessed! I had the most beautiful cheese and tomato croissant (it wasn’t made with just regular tomato slices, but this fresh tomato sauce type thing!) and a Ginger Shot, which was the thing in particular I’d heard most about from Pret and I loved it!
For the Harry Potter Studio Tour, I had to meet my tour group at a bus stop at King’s Cross Station, but unfortunately, I couldn’t for the life of me find the right bus stop anywhere! 11:30am came and went and although it was kind of annoying to have paid for it and then miss out, I actually wasn’t all that mad because it meant I had the day to myself. As the tour wasn’t going to finish until 7:30pm, I didn’t make any plans with friends and I took it as a chance to enjoy London just on my own. I honestly had the best time ever being in my own company for the whole day and I felt like missing the Harry Potter tour was meant to be!
Seeing as though I missed out on the tour and I was already at King’s Cross Station, I decided to check out The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9¾ where I ended up buying some lollies and chocolate. I contemplated getting my photo taken with the trolley at Platform 9¾, but I didn’t have the patience to wait in a massive queue with screaming kids. I am not a big enough fan to do that! From King’s Cross, I caught the train to Oxford Circus and decided I would spend the whole day shopping!
My first stop was Liberty to check out the iconic shop front with all the flowers and of course, their beauty hall. For all the beautiful luxury brands they carry, I was most excited about their amazing range of Essie nail polishes! Priceline’s stock is rubbish in comparison and so I treated myself!
With floorboards and wooden staircases throughout, it has a real charm to it unlike any other department store and the next time I’m back in London, I’d love to have a proper browse through. I had a look around the beauty, jewellery and stationery sections on the ground floor, but my feet were sore and I was getting too hungry to have the energy to check out the other levels!
When I left Liberty, the sun came out for a bit and dare I say, I was even feeling a little warm! I can certainly see why the Brits lose their shit when the sun comes out now because I was definitely feeling the same way! I got lunch at Pastaio and decided to go for the carbonara (it’s my favourite kind of pasta), which was absolutely beautiful! I’ve had some really bad carbonaras in the past, but this one was one of the best and I really enjoyed the hollow pasta noodles too! I paired it with an Aperol Spritz and hung out for a bit to rest my feet and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi.
After lunch, I wandered and walked around the Oxford Circus area and it was so nice to just do my own thing without any real plans. I knew I wanted to check out Selfridges, but I wasn’t in any rush so I took my time just to take in the city and enjoy some blue sky! As I was walking along, I checked out Carnaby Street, saw a group of British policemen wearing those cute police hats and came across Fenwick, a department store I’d never heard of, but decided to pop into anyway simply because I was there. In hindsight, it was pretty standard (it’s comparable to suburban Myer stores) and John Lewis and Debenhams, which you hear more about, are a lot nicer (I visited them on my last trip to London), but they had the most amazing Nails Inc. section and I thought it was the best thing ever! I’ve decided to do a London and Paris beauty haul blog post, so I’ll talk about what I bought in more detail there, but like I did in Liberty with the Essie nail polishes, again, I treated myself!
After my little splurge in Fenwick, I was in the mood to continue on the shopping so I finally hit up Selfridges! From the moment I stepped inside, I was in complete awe and said to myself, ‘Okay, so this is why no one talks about Fenwick!’. It was beauty heaven! I’ve spent a lot of this year feeling completely unenthused about beauty, but Selfridges totally reinvigorated my love for it and in a weird way, kind of made me feel like myself again. I did a scan of the entire ground floor and not only was the beauty department incredible, but the confectionary and food hall too! My family loved the fancy lollies and chocolates I brought back for them! From there, I went to the Charlotte Tilbury counter because although we can buy her products online, there’s no where we can buy them in-store in Australia and since I was after complexion products, I figured it would be worthwhile to buy them in London where I can get colour-matched. It turns out I didn’t need to because I colour-matched myself online exactly right, but nevertheless, my makeup artist was super lovely and I had a great time chatting to her. I overheard her talking to her co-workers about me after I left because I was with her for so long!
By this time, my feet were feeling sore again (Converse are really not good walking shoes!) and I contemplated having a look around the other levels of Selfridges, but my poor feet just couldn’t do it! I wanted to take a break at the beautiful Dolly’s café, but it was so packed and I couldn’t be bothered queueing up. The next time I’m in London, I’d definitely spend half a day there because it’s just so beautiful and the restaurants and cafés inside look divine too. Selfridges was definitely one of the highlights of my entire trip!
Since I didn’t go to Dolly’s, I decided to go to Pret instead and there I had another Ginger Shot as well as a chai latte. I stayed there for quite a while and afterwards, I was going to visit Westminster Abbey as Divya recommended I do so (from reading my blog post on my first London trip, apparently I’ve already been, but I don’t at all remember this!), but I just wasn’t in the mood to trek it there. I think it gets like that with travelling though. You plan out these full on days to make the most of it, but then your body eventually catches up and you feel like you need a holiday from your holiday! Maybe that’s just me though or the fact that my shoes weren’t comfortable enough! I didn’t want to call it a day just yet though, so I remained around the Oxford Circus area to take some photos. Every step I took felt like pain, but I’m glad I powered through!
I decided to go back to Liberty as the flowers were just too pretty not to photograph and while I was there, I popped inside again. This time I wandered around the fragrance and candles section and everything was so dreamy! I didn’t buy anything, but it’s just so much fun to wander around these beautiful department stores. They make Myer and David Jones look like Kmart!
From Liberty, I continued on walking, stopping to take photos and then I found myself outside Arket. It wasn’t on my list of shops to check out and I had a feeling it wasn’t really my thing, but I decided to pop in anyway because why not? I was right though - it was rather underwhelming and I don’t think it’s worth the hype the way & Other Stories is.
By about 8pm, I’d had enough and I needed to get off my feet! I didn’t feel like staying out for dinner, so I grabbed something to eat from Pret on the way back to my hotel room and I had a nice, chilled out evening in. I got mac and cheese and a salad for dinner and again, it was amazing! I love Pret so much!
Day 5 - Saturday 15th June
My plan was to start the day at Borough Market (another Divya recommendation!) to grab some breakfast, but I’m really not a morning person and I just couldn’t get myself out of bed early enough! Instead, I opted for a packet of chips (or as the Brits say, crisps!) I bought the day before from Pret and a cup of tea in my hotel room while I got ready (to my favourite episode of Frasier!). Definitely not the fanciest, but since I was going to Dishoom for lunch later on, I figured it was probably best not to get too full up, anyway.
During my last trip to London, the famous London landmarks I visited were Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and Trafalgar Square, so this time around, I wanted to check out St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge (not to be confused with London Bridge! Luckily, I had shown Divya my list and she corrected me!). I caught the train straight to St. Paul’s Cathedral from my hotel and it was absolutely magnificent! It’s amazing to me how such grand architecture like this exists in the world and I think because I was so taken aback by its exterior, I didn’t even think to go inside! I wasn’t all that fussed anyway, but if you’ve been inside and you think it’s worth it, please let me know so I can make a note of it for next time!
By the time I was ready to leave, the sky was looking very ominous and of course, London being London, it began to rain. Living in a city where you’ll only find a consecutive number of days of rain exclusively in winter, I was getting frustrated by this point (my weather app had even said it was supposed to be a clear day too!) and it totally put me off going to Tower Bridge. Instead, I decided to go to Piccadilly Circus since it was closer to where I was heading next and I was wanting to get some more shots of the main city area too.
When I got to Piccadilly Circus, the sun kept coming in and out, which made it difficult to take consistent photos and none of them turned out all that great! All the tourists didn’t help either. I actually briefly came here with Divya when I met up with her on the Wednesday, but I couldn’t really enjoy it as it was bucketing down with rain and I just wanted to get inside somewhere as soon as possible! I had a much more pleasant experience this time around and although I hate tourists, I appreciated how lively the area was.
From Piccadilly Circus, I walked to Covent Garden to meet Jaye and Isobel for lunch at Dishoom, an Indian tapas-style restaurant. This was a place I’d heard so much about and I was eagerly anticipating eating here! Unfortunately, they don’t take bookings so you will have to wait in line for a while, but they serve you free hot drinks while you wait (we were served this really beautiful mint tea, but Divya told me they do chai as well), which was especially nice seeing as though it was freezing cold out!
We didn’t have to wait too long before we were seated (maybe 20-30 minutes?) and since Jaye is a bit of a seasoned Dishoom goer, Isobel and I let her do all the ordering! For drinks, Jaye recommended we have the Hoppy Butter Paanch, which she said tasted like Butter Beer but better and it was absolutely delicious! I’ve never tried Butter Beer before and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to doing on the Harry Potter tour, but after experiencing this amazing drink, I didn’t feel like I had missed out anymore! The best way I can describe the taste is like a creamy ginger beer with a beer aftertaste (not in a gross way though. I’m not even a fan of beer and I still loved it!) and the creamy foam on top feels like drinking a cloud! It never evaporates either, so you have delicious, creamy, light, airy goodness right until you get to the bottom. The other drinks on the menu looked really good too, but I would go back just for this. It was pure heaven!
As for the food, we certainly had ourselves a good old feast! As I mentioned, Jaye did the ordering and she most definitely picked well. We got the Vegetable Samosas, Chilli Cheese Toast, Gunpowder Potatoes, Chicken Ruby, Masala Prawns, Biryani with Awadhi Lamb, Raita and Garlic Naan, all of which were amazing. As it’s tapas, the menu is a little overwhelming to look at with there being so much to choose from and whenever I’m back in London, I really want to try the rest of the menu! It was one of the food highlights of my entire trip and I can see why it’s so raved about now!
Naturally, we were stuffed and way too full for dessert so from lunch, we went for a wander around Covent Garden, stopping to check out a few shops here and there. Being a Saturday, it was grossly overcrowded and we couldn’t even get into the Deciem store because there was a line! We paid a visit to the standalone NARS and Charlotte Tilbury stores though and it was so much fun to fangirl over makeup together, especially since our love of beauty is how we all met!
Jaye wanted to check out Petersham Nursery, so we popped in there for a bit and it was like a flower lovers dream! The weather may not have been the best during my time in London, but at least it lined up with peony season and I absolutely loved seeing them everywhere!
With the £5 voucher I received on Thursday that I needed to spend, we also paid a visit to Space NK and I may have bought more than I initially intended! Those minis just suck you right in though!
When we were done at Covent Garden, we caught the train to Knightsbridge Station to go to Harrods! I never made it there on my last trip and I was super keen on checking it out seeing as though it’s so iconic. Being both a department store and a tourist destination, it was an overwhelming experience, to say the least! The crowds of people combined with all that was to see was like a sensory overload and as the layout of the store is a little bit confusing, it’s very easy to get lost too! The fact that my feet were non-stop sore by this point in my trip (am I really old or do Converses and Vans just really suck for walking in?!) didn’t help matters and I think it was a little bit too much for me. I much preferred Selfridges and if I do go back to Harrods one day, I’d probably do so on a weekday.
Despite all that, I really enjoyed wandering around all the beauty counters and at Harrods, they are just next level! The food hall was also amazing and I had no idea you can buy actual groceries there! Like, imagine having that much money to burn to do your weekly shop at Harrods! Jaye and I picked up some doughnuts from the Bread Ahead counter, which I had for breakfast the next morning and it was so good!
I don’t think we were there for very long until I told the girls I needed to sit down again (I felt like such a boring grandma!), so we took a seat at Harrods Café for a drink. The prices were absolutely insane! A juice was £10.50, meanwhile my rose tea was £5.50! If you’re going to spend those kind of prices, I think you’re much better off going to Sketch, but my tea definitely was lovely and I suppose it was all part of the Harrods experience! I think you can justify splurging a bit when you’re travelling too!
After Harrods, Isobel and I said goodbye to Jaye as she headed back home to Bournemouth while we spent the rest of the day together. As I was still on the hunt for a new leather jacket, Isobel came along to Topshop with me, but again, nothing was quite right. From there, we went for a little walk around Hyde Park and then took the bus to Oxford Circus. It was my first time on a red double decker bus and I definitely enjoyed the novelty of it!
When we got to Oxford Circus, I wanted to go into & Other Stories for the 15 millionth time (it’s just so pretty!) and then not long after that, we got dinner at Breddos Tacos. The Guacamole and Queso Fundido (three cheese dip) were particularly delicious, but it was hard to enjoy the tacos when I realised just how full from Dishoom I still was! Being a Saturday, I would’ve loved to have stayed out with Isobel for longer, but the weather was just so damn miserable, curling up back at my hotel room sounded like the much more appealing option! All in all though, I had the best day with Jaye and Isobel and I’m so glad I could finally meet them both! I find it really interesting meeting Internet friends for the first time because it feels as if you’ve already met, you just haven’t seen each other in a long time. I mean, when you think about it, an Internet friend you’ve never met is still kind of a complete stranger, but when you finally meet, it’s weird how not weird it is, if that makes any sense!
Day 6 - Sunday 16th June
It was another gloomy start to the day and by this point, I was so over wearing the same clothes as nothing else I packed kept me warm enough! Despite constantly checking the weather before I left, silly me got too hopeful and packed summer outfits I never even ended up wearing! I mean, I know I’ve only got myself to blame, but I didn’t think the weather would be that unbearable to need a coat, plus the room in my suitcase was reserved for shopping! Nevertheless, it was my last day and it made me feel super grateful to live in sunny Australia! The next time I travel to London, I am determined for there to be warm weather!
The first thing on today’s agenda was the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Just after I moved back home from Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria held The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture exhibition and it really bummed me out that I had missed my opportunity to see it. When I heard there was a Dior exhibition currently being held in London, I knew this would more than make up for it and I was actually super lucky to have snagged a ticket. It’s been way more popular than expected that not only did they extend the exhibition, but also open the museum early on Sundays exclusively for it. I managed to get my ticket for the last available time slot left on my last day, so it was like it was meant to be!
The exhibition itself was incredible. Focusing heavily on the fashion designer’s relationship with England, you’re first greeted by a stunning dress he created for Princess Margaret, followed by over 200 rare Haute Couture garments all alongside accessories, fashion photography, film, vintage perfume, makeup, illustrations, magazines and Christian Dior’s own personal possessions. I gravitated towards the more classical-looking designs with a softer colour palette (they reminded me of Marie Antoinette!), though there were also loud, bold and colourful garments too. It was all very eclectic and showcased just how imaginative Christian Dior truly was.
From the Dior exhibition, I paid a visit to the Natural History Museum seeing as though it was right next door. The queue was miles long and filled with screaming kids (no, I do not like kids!), which was super off-putting, but I joined in when I saw how absurdly quickly it was moving. It was a great way to escape the rain and I had quite a bit of time to kill before my lunch reservation too. You only have to pay a small donation of whatever amount you like to get in and as it was my last day, I took it as an opportunity to get rid of all my pounds!
The museum had all your typical natural science stuff and there was so much to see and learn, I found it all so fascinating and even quite overwhelming! I didn’t know how to take it all in! The evolution and dinosaur sections were my favourites and even though I wasn’t expecting it to be, the geology section was pretty interesting too. I think I was mostly just attracted to the pretty gemstones though! After wandering around for about an hour or so, I left to head to lunch and when I stepped outside, I was simply amazed by the museum’s exterior (I entered through a different way). It was so intricate, so detailed and my eyes couldn’t quite believe it! I absolutely love London’s architecture and it makes Australia’s look so basic in comparison!
Lunch was at the beautiful Clerkenwell Grind where - I’m not going to lie - I wanted to go simply for the beautiful interiors! I supposed to meet up with Faye there, but unfortunately, she could no longer make it and so I went on my own. I got the Eggs Florentine to eat, a Pornstar Martini to drink and the Hot Apple Crumble Sundae for dessert, all of which were super delicious! The menu was just as beautiful as the restaurant itself!
Located in the central business district area of London, it was a bit out of the way to get to compared to anywhere else I went (it took me 40 minutes to get there from the V&A and the only thing worthwhile close by to it is The British Museum), but it was totally worth it and I would definitely go back (or even check out Greenwich Grind instead). I’m sure 40 minutes travel time is nothing to a lot of people, but in my small city, any where that takes longer than 20 minutes to get to is deemed “far” lol.
After lunch, the weather started clearing up and it was a much better day to check out Tower Bridge. There were even rare moments of blue sky! It only stayed around for a few seconds at a time until it was back to being overcast again though and my photos didn’t turn out all that nice. I didn’t have the best view of Tower Bridge from where I was either, so like Notting Hill, I would like to have a redo one day when I’m back again.
From Tower Bridge, I decided to go to Selfridges (yes, again!) for one last browse around the beauty department and also to check out the new Pat McGrath section (I have no access to the brand in Perth because it’s only available in Sephora), which I forgot to do on the Friday when I was there. It was all very beautiful, but I wasn’t interested in buying anything. Not long after, I returned to my hotel room to get some packing done, but I ended up resting my feet, playing on my phone and watching Beethoven instead lol. That killed a couple of hours and then I met my old LiveJournal friend, Soph, at NAC for dinner.
Before I found blogging, I was an avid LiveJournal user during my teens through to my early twenties, so I’ve known Soph for over ten years now and it was so surreal to finally meet her! We became friends through our love of the same music and although we don’t talk as much as we used to during our LiveJournal days, it felt like picking up right where you left off when you haven’t seen an old friend for ages. To eat, we shared some olives, the Charred Honey Sweet Potato, Flamed Aubergine, Ahi Tuna Poké and Crushed Burrata, then to drink, we both got the Le 55 made up of tequila, cucumber, chilli and lime. We got so carried away in conversation, I ended up staying out a lot later than I intended and I didn’t get to bed until about 1:30am due to procrastinating with packing earlier on. It was all worth it for the lovely last night in London I had though and I was too excited to care about sleep for I was headed to my favourite place in the world, Paris!