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city trips places I love

London: of craft stores, stately homes and an English summer – part I

London! Europe’s biggest city. Always busy, always worth a journey.

My first trip to London was back in 1999. Back then, my English class from grammar school (Gymnasium) decided to go by bus to London for the weekend (when Rainbow Tours still did their bustours to various towns across Europe). It was the funniest journey ever but we didn’t see much of the city.

Since then I’ve come back to London several times. On my own, with friends, to visit friends. There are always places I haven’t been to yet, or a play I want to see. This time it was a visit to Highclere Castle in Newbury (an hour or so by train outside of London) that led to the three day short trip to London.

Day 1 – arrival, sunshine and craft stores:

london eye
London eye from a different point of view. We could even see it from the window of our hotel room.

From Berlin you can take multiple airlines to fly into London. I decided to book a British Airways flight this time because they fly from Berlin Tegel (which is close to where I live) to Heathrow. And Heathrow is super easy to reach by tube (Picadilly Line). For me, this is the easiest and most comfortable way to travel to London. BA also allows you to take two pieces of hand luggage with you on the plane and a cabin bag  – or a large, checked in suitcase up to 23kg. I also prefer BA because there is enough room for my very long legs.

In London we booked a room at a Travelodge hotel because these are always affordable, have very comfortable beds there is always one available within walking distance to the important London sights. We got a room at the Waterloo Travelodge this time. It is close to the Southbank where the  London Eye is situated and the wonderful Southbank Centre/Royal Festival Hall. From there it is only a short walk to the Houses of Parliament or the Strand for some shopping (in case you prefer to explore London on foot).

For our first day we had planned to visit some craft stores. We are both very creative people with a love for calligraphy and lettering as well as stationary stuff. So after some lunch and yummy iced tea, we started our quest for the day: the huge Paperchase megastore on Tottenham Court Road. It took us at least two hours to browse the store. But it was totally worth it. We also found another really great and classic art supply  store just around the corner. You should totally pay it a visit should you be interested in everything artsy: Cornelissen & Son in 105 Great Russell Street.

The most beautiful shopfront - Cornelissen & Son
The most beautiful shopfront – Cornelissen & Son

Once inside it feels like you’ve travelled back in time. The floorboards creak, the shelves are full of the most wonderful things and the staff knows what they are talking about and are happy to help.

And because two stores aren’t enough yet, we also popped into a smaller subsidiary of Cass Art that we happened to pass by. All of the mentioned stores are roughly in the same area so we walked everywhere from our starting point at the Southbank Centre.

Before we headed back to the hotel for the evening, and a much needed rest from all the walking and the sunshine, we had to stop by the huge Waterstones bookstore at Picadilly Circus and the fabulous Crumbs & Doilies for some cupcakes. The Soho shop is a bit tricky to find. It is situated in 1 Kingly Court „in the cobbled passageway between Kingly Court & Beak Street“. There we picked up a tiramisu and a Snickers cupcake for the next day.

Our evening „in town“ ended with a meal of pulled pork burgers and sweet potato fries at Waterstones Picadilly store restaurant. Situated on the top floor of this huge bookstore, you have a marvellous view across the city. And the food is delicious there. Of course we also explored the store itself and would’ve loved to buy all the books! In the end only one found its way into my bag. The next time I might buy a few more….

London isn’t always about the famous sights. Sometimes it’s craft stores, cupcakes and taking a long walk.

  • to be continued

 

 

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