Europe Summer Sojourn 2013: Day 1 - London

19 days, 11 cities, 8 countries.

Here I am, almost one year later (seriously, the procrastination), still unable to believe I really ended up taking that trip halfway around the world.

Aside from being a 'summer break', it was a belated graduation trip of sorts. For those who are new to the blog, I graduated in mid-2012 but had no real graduation trip plans as I didn't save up enough. So once I started working in late 2012, I kinda saved up, got my plane tickets to London in early 2013 and then planned my trip.

Part of my trip was taken with Topdeck,  a youth tour operator that specialises in European and American tours. I chanced upon them while wandering around NATAS travel fair in March 2013 and was impressed enough by what they offered that I made a booking the week after. Things that made me choose this over their competitor Contiki:
And so I set off for London, right after a long work day, with my bags all packed and a heart ready for adventure! It was a 13-hour direct flight (and my longest ever). It felt odd to be flying alone for the first time. It helped that I was sitting next to an elderly couple that kept moving out of their seats to stretch, so I wasn't disturbing anyone when I left my seat for drinks or the toilet.

The suitcase I would be living out of, for the next 2.5 weeks.

I arrived in London at about 5am, got my bags and had my first taste of Costa while I waited for the trains to start. It was pretty straightforward - get the subway ticket (£5.50), straight line down to King's Cross (25 stops). It took me an hour odd and the train was quite empty, thankfully.

When I got to King's Cross, I met JY (for the first time in a year!) and she brought me back to her place at Nido's King's Cross. It's a student accommodation situated really conveniently from the station. We rested for a bit and then headed out for my very first meal in London.

She brought me to Covent Garden, which I absolutely loved. For a weekday, the place was crazily packed. We headed for Shake Shack for some burgers and beer. I've heard raving reviews about Shake Shack before, but in all honesty, the burger was pretty mediocre. The fries, however, were good.

Smaller-than-usual eyes cos' I was obviously still very tired. ):

We then walked around Covent Garden and popped by Monmouth Coffee for a post-lunch cuppa. According to JY, this is possibly the best coffee in London. The shop was simply-furnished, quaint and wasn't very crowded either. We popped in, ordered a coffee and got it within 5-10 minutes. As the shop was pretty packed, we settled across the street and had our coffees.

My verdict? Loved it. And so we sat there with our Monmouth cuppas, people-watching and catching up on the past one year. We walked around the vicinity and explored most of the sights in the area on foot for the rest of the afternoon.

St-Martin-in-the-Fields Church

Leicester Square


Time passed pretty quickly and after shopping around for a bit (got some nice studded flats at Aldo), it was time for our reserved dinner at Belgo's.

Mussels, glorious mussels!

Loved how the place charged based on the time you went there, so the earlier you have your meal there, the cheaper your food is. We loaded up on mussels and then walked to the nearby Cambridge Theatre for the evening screening of Matilda.

I was pretty jet-lagged so by the time it was time for the show, I was mad tired. But Matilda is a classic and I've heard rave reviews from my sister (the theatre/musical fanatic) so I knew it was something I had to watch. True enough, it was awesome! Having last read Matilda in primary school, my memory of it was pretty hazy, but once the musical started and the characters came onstage, all my memories of the book came back. I loved the songs and could not believe how talented the young cast was. This was also my first ever musical I caught on West-End. (There were plans to catch more when I returned back to UK in the later leg of my trip.)

Given that we had to be up bright and early the next day for our Topdeck tour, we rushed home the moment the show ended, packed our bags and snoozed, in anticipation of our European adventure the following day.

Shake Shack
24, Market Building, The Piazza, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RD, United Kingdom
Nearest tube station: Covent Garden

Monmouth Coffee
27 Monmouth St, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9EU, United Kingdom
Nearest tube station: Covent Garden

Belgo Central
50 Earlham St, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9LJ, United Kingdom
Nearest tube station: Covent Garden

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