After almost a year of waiting to leave for our dance intensive in London, we finally boarded our flight to Gatwick Airport. Arriving in London was one of the most confusing experiences of my life as I had just stepped foot in an entirely new country and had to find my own way to my flat with a 70 pound suitcase and company. Once we finally made it by train, tube, and taxi (with multiple locals laughing and mocking our American giveaways,) we had to lug all our bags up 10 flights of stairs to our flat. We then explored the immediate vicinity of our neighborhood in the quite posh district of South Kensington. Every street is a beautiful sight with identical stucco façade homes and shops.
We visited the local shops to get everything we needed to live here for almost three months. We purchased food from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, and health products from Boots pharmacy, similar to a CVS. A few of us grabbed lunch at Bella Italia, a small well-priced option. I would recommend the Caprese Salad, the Margarita pizza, or the giant calzone.
The next day, we all slept in until nearly 1 p.m. from the inevitable jet lag and also pure exhaustion from travelling and culture shock. We walked to Gloucester Road to get coffee and a small brunch from Paul Café. We stopped at a traditional red telephone booth to take the stereotypical, but obligatory tourist photos.
Next we took out first bus ride to High Street Kensington to search for local phones and international sim cards from Carphone Warehouse. We had a good laugh about the old Nokia cell phones with solely T9 texting capabilities, which we had minor difficulty remembering how to use! We explored the High Street area which is bursting with shops, cafés, restaurants, and boutiques.
On our third day, we went to Afternoon Tea at Fait Maison Salon de Thé, where we sipped on Earl Grey, the spiced apple, and rose teas. We took the tube to explore Harrods, a huge department store, which is truly a sight to be seen. When we entered, we almost fell over at the number of designer clothes and shoes and their heavy price tags. Still, visiting Harrods is part of a true London experience. We also walked to Oxford Street which is lined with shopping for every taste and style. We ate lunch at Pret A Manger, a recognizable chain, with amazing food. My friend had the most delicious chocolate chip cookie (I also highly recommend the cacao nibs and ginger cookie. Overall, I would recommend Pret when you can’t find anywhere else to eat, as they are as frequently found as Starbucks in America, and you can find quite a variety of foods for a great price. We explored Soho Square, a quaint and slightly hidden gem. I had fish and chips for dinner with a friend at Garfunkel’s in Gloucester station. If you’re looking for really authentic fish and chips, I wouldn’t suggest trying them at a chain restaurant, although it was still pretty satisfying. That, my friends concludes our first, and quite eventful weekend in London. Stay tuned for Dance Conservatory and sightseeing adventures.