London Town. Chaotic, dishevelled, dirty, beautiful. As a Mancunian born and bred, I cannot get enough of the hustle and bustle of life in the country’s capital. It’s like my hometown but magnified beyond belief. The streets sprawl out wider and the buildings stretch out taller; the taxi’s beep and the market sellers holler louder in a deafening crescendo of pure metropolitan chaos. So, when it came to reuniting with some of my best friends, where else would we spend a long weekend of catch ups with cocktails?
10am on a Saturday morning in May. I rock up to the station in my new skirt with a pull along suitcase full, primarily, with pre-mixed cans of G&T. An essential to the start of every girls weekend, right? It’s only a fairly short two hours direct to Euston and we soon arrive in the capital; two girls, two hours and several gins later to the chorus of “It’s 5 o clock somewhere!”. On arrival, and after being reunited with some of my best friends from around the country, it’s time to navigate the tube for the first time. London Underground is no place for the faint hearted, particularly those with no sense of direction and a pull along case. However, after being rescued from the grips of a ticket barrier which threatened to confiscate my suitcase for leaving too much of a gap between myself and it, we made it to London Bridge and the lunch destination of choice: Casa do Frango. The cuisine is Portuguese, the decor comprised of wooden tables and exposed brick walls draped with hanging plants and foliage. It’s bright and calming. Just like the interior, the menu is so simple but each item is so authentic and cooked perfectly. My recommendation: the grilled chorizo with black olive mayo.
From the meal, we checked into our Air BnB (after a more successful tube navigation) in the Greater London suburb of Highgate. The flat was spacious and bright, spread across 2 floors and even had a garden for us to enjoy the slightly brighter than normal English weather. Now to cover the large wooden floors with bronzer, eyelashes and outfit choices as we glammed ourselves up for a Saturday night in London City. The bar on the agenda for the evening was Nikki’s. The self-confessed ‘nightmare girlfriend’ of the Shoreditch bar scene. On arrival, we were shown to our table and the cocktails began. The bar itself is every girly twenty-somethings dream: decked out entirely in shades of bubblegum pink and playing bangers from Beyonce, what’s not to love? The instagrammable icon of Nikki’s however, is the bed. Yep, a bed. For some reason, the revellers here share their dance floor with a fully kitted out king size bed. The novelty and reasoning may have been lost on us, however, it didn’t stop us from having a full on 15 minute photoshoot on its covers. From here, the cocktails continued, the dance moves became more flamboyant and the city lights became a little bit of a blur.
Admittedly, the second day of our long weekend commenced with a rather slow start. Little sleep and too many cocktails meant that our duvets were just too inviting for us to see the right side of 12 o clock. Instead we slept away the cobwebs and were eventually ready for a day in London at approximately 3pm. Better late than never. We decided to venture to Camden for the afternoon. It’s unique, quirky markets were a perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday. There’s nothing quite like eating Chinese food from a market stall to the sound of tattoo guns and the smell of incense. Our final pit stop in Camden Lock was the piece de resistance of the market however; a shop called Cyberdog. If you are around Camden, it is more than worth seeing this masterpiece. Passing a 15 foot robotic man at the entrance way, you dive into a world of complete insanity. Disco lights flash incessantly as you make your way down the escalators, past dancers on podiums, to the sound of thumping techno. Underground, the neon clothes hangers with their neon clothing bring to life some sort of secret underground rave. But be careful which turning you take as amidst the neon and netting, there is a hidden 18+ shop which is probably not for the faint-hearted.
As sunset approached and golden hour dawned, we decided to take a somewhat different approach to the evening. We swapped the streets of Camden for the south bank of the river Thames. We found ourselves an outdoor riverside bar and sat to enjoy the sunset behind the skyline of central London. The fast pace of the city seemed to sort of slow down and we serenely sipped on our wine and watched the sun fall away. Once the building lights of evening began to appear and twinkle, we headed back to our flat, curled up on the sofa together and watched Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, like all sophisticated graduates in the city of London would do.
Up bright and early, we checked out and headed for Kings Cross station. We couldn’t let the weekend end so soon though, there was still time for brunch and one final glass of rose. We chose the Lighterman in Granary Square where we were able to sit outside with our drinks and soak up what was left of the long weekend’s sunshine. And plan for our next weekend getaway, of course!