I am finally home after 56 hours of travel.
Although I love traveling, it’s always good to be back home.
I did, however, managed to squeeze in a couple of hours in London between the 6 hour train ride from Richmond to New York, the 3 hours of subways, the 8 hour flight from New York to London, the 11 hour flight from London to Johannesburg, the 3 hour drive to our farm and the hours upon hours of waiting in between.
I wan’t planning on visiting London on this trip, but my tickets ended up leaving me with long layovers in London twice. So, I got a UK visa just incase I might want to leave the airport for some crisp Autumn air. I wasn’t sure whether I was actually going to use the Visa, I’m usually pretty tired after a long flight and could easily have stayed in the airport having a nap on my luggage, but I am extremely glad I did.
Coming back from New York, I had a 14 hour layover in London! Even though I had less than two hours’ sleep on the plane and I was a bit reluctant to go at first, we headed out to the heart of London. Taking the Heathrow Express train from the airport is the easiest way to go. It brings you to Paddington Station from which you can take the subway to almost anywhere in town. We got off at the Blackfriars stop and walked a short while to Borough Market.
Borough Market is where Jamie Oliver buys his ingredients from, and I can understand why! You can find the most incredible bread (which I definitely had a bit too much of), organic produce, fresh fish, cheese that looks a hundred years old (you know- the older, the better) and everything else you see in cookbooks that always seems impossible to find! But, what’s even better than the raw ingredients is the small individual stands of Fish and Chips, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Colombian Coffee, French Pastries, Spanish Paella, Thai Noodles, Greek Mezze and every type of cuisine that your heart may desire – all cooked by experts in their own fields.
Grab yourself something delicious to eat and drink, and join anyone at a table with a open seat for the feast you are about to have.
My tip for the Borough Market? Walk through the whole place first before making your food decision. You don’t want to end up with a food baby and the regret that you missed out on something.
We dragged ourselves away from this heaven and walked on the banks of the River Thames, making our way in the direction of the London Eye and Westminster Abbey.
Apparently the city only gets 2 weeks of sunshine a year (which I find pretty depressing… only 14 days a year? crazy), but we were once again lucky to have a sunny day in London. This meant that the River Bank was full of people, making the most of the 12th last day of sun they are going to have this year. We walked past the Tate Modern as well as the Tate Britain and made our way inside both times, feeling very proud that we actually made it into an art gallery in one of the three cities we visited!
I would recommend the Tate Britain. With it being smaller and not on the tourist route, I enjoyed the calmness of it. I could take my time with Dali and Picasso. The coolest part of the whole gallery was this room they had where they give you a A3 sized blank paper and a pencil and you can draw to your heart’s content while a video of the artist, Hockney, played on the walls. I made a quick sketch of my all-too-loyal camera and my water bottle, quoted with a sentence I heard while the Hockney-video was playing.
she never visits the lazy.
I just have a couple of tips for making a trip to the city when you have a long layover:
- Try to book your bags all the way through to your end destination. If you cant, there is a place that you can leave them securely for 11 Pounds per item. When you exit the arrivals after collecting you luggage, turn right, they are the last shop at the end of the building (right opposite a coffee shop).
- Don’t buy a ticket for the Heathrow Express at the baggage claim (they have a small stand there), buy it in the main arrivals terminal from where the train leaves – they give day travelers a special rate. Also, save yourself some trouble and buy your subway ticket here as well.
- Skip the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. It’s absolute chaos there! I actually got claustrophobic with the vast amount of people around me. Honestly, if you have seen these places of a Postcard, you have seen it all.
- Decide on one place or a small area that you want to see and savour every second of it. Don’t try to see the whole of London in one day. You have your next layover to explore a little more.
- On the 6th floor of the Tate Modern, there is a bar where you can have good coffee, tea, cake, beer, wine and small meals with an incredible view over London City.
- Save your hunger for Borough Market or some restaurant on the Thames between the Tate Modern and London Eye. There are some great spots.
- Make the effort to go. It’s much better than the airport.
- Lastly, wear comfy clothes for your flights, but pack a killer jacket for your day in one of the trendiest cities in the world.
About my outfit:
I have to be comfortable while I travel, especially when I have multiple legs on my journey. I was wearing a plain black top and plain black leggings with Adidas sneakers. In London, I had been in these clothes for longer than a day, so I just threw on the red vintage leather biker jacket that my bf, Pierre, found in a thrift store. I immediately felt like I was actually dressed up a little. Problem solved.
I will only be home ’til Wednesday. I am leaving for Namibia for my aunt’s 60th Birthday Party and will also be driving through Botswana with my parents for a couple of days after the party. I am looking forward to having my feet in the sand and dust on my face.
A B xx