In 2007, I studied abroad in London for 5 months. In those short five months, London quickly became my home. I had favorite pubs, bartenders at martni bars knew my name. I learned where every Sainsbury’s and Tesco was in a few block radius. I learned to stand on the right side of the escalator. I navigated the tube like a complete pro. Studying abroad completely changed my life, and I’ve always dreamed of going back to London where my most amazing adventures began. Now that my dream is a reality, I’ve been making a list of all the places and things I can’t wait to revisit. Drum Roll please!
Yes. I have completely fallen in love with a specialty sock store. From the moment I saw the Tabio store front on Neal St., I knew it was a match made in heaven. Living in California, Alabama and Florida, I never had a need for long socks or tights. But when I moved to London, I quickly realized that socks and tights were all the rage (plus it was cold as hell). There’s so much to choose from at Tabio: wool tights, pattered tights, knee high socks, thigh high socks, even leg warmers! Yes, the socks and tights at Tabio are a little pricey, but the quality is well worth it. To this day, I still have all of my socks from Tabio and break them out every winter. I can’t wait to stock up!
2. Strongbow Super
I’ve always had a long, outstanding affair with Strongbow. Yes, Strongbow Cider is available in America. But is Strongbow Super available? Sadly, no. While I was in London, Super Strongbow was a staple. Each can has a whopping 7.5% alcohol, and definitely gets the party started. Many of my hazy London memories began with cans of Stongbow Super.
Bodean’s is an American BBQ food chain restaurant, something I found pretty unusual for London. But what made Bodean’s special was that the restaurant showed American sports (including football!). As a girl who loves her college football and the NBA, Bodean’s was a godsend. The place was always packed with American expats, and they had FREE REFILLS. If you’ve ever been anywhere in the UK or Europe, you know just how amazing a place is when they have free refills.
Sure, Harrod’s is largely a tourist attraction, but damn, it’s awesome. I could seriously spend an entire lifetime there. I don’t know if it’s still there, but the teddy bear Globe Theatre display is one of the coolest fucking things I’ve ever seen. Each floor is gorgeous, the food is delicious, and I loved hanging out in the couture departments and pretending I could actually afford a $700 Burberry trench coat.
5. Dirty Martini Bar in Covent Garden
Dirty Martini is the home to the most delicious chocolate martini I’ve ever had in my entire life. My girl friends and I went to Dirty Martini so much, the bartenders knew us by name and gave us free drinks. Being in London around the time when the dollar was the weakest it had been in ages, free drinks were very much appreciated. Not to mention the fact that the drinks were insanely delicious. Another one of my favorites was the Berry Blast: Absolut Kurant Vodka and creme de mure muddled with fresh blackberries and raspberries then shaken with apple juice, lemon juice and a dash of vanilla syrup. Yes, I’ll take 4.
6. TopShop on Oxford Street
The first time I stepped into TopShop on Oxford Street, I almost dropped to my knees and praised the fashion gods. It’s hands down the most amazing store in the world (to me). It’s HUGE, and has everything a fashionista like myself could ever want. You can even get your nails done, or a blowout for your hair! Part of the reason I’m trying to find a part time job is so I can have a shopping spree there .
I LOVED PizzaExpress. The pizza was delicious, the wine was awesome and the ambiance was to die for. I always went to PizzaExpress whenever I wanted an inexpensive, but nice meal before going out for the night.
8. The Crown
The Crown was the pub I spent the majority of my time in while I lived in London. It was located near a small university, so it was one of the few pubs I went to that actually had people there around my age. Not to mention they offered £5 burger and pint combos all day, every day. At that price, it was cheaper to go to the pub than it was to get a value meal at McDonalds! They also served pitchers of liquor, and a pitcher of rum and coke became the staple in me and my classmates lives. Some of my fondest (and drunkest) memories are at The Crown.
It’s so nice not having to rely on a car to get around. In London, everything I needed was within a few block radius. I walked to Covent Garden, Oxford Street, The West End, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square. And the places I couldn’t walk to, there was the tube to take me there. Being in LA, the most expansive fucking city EVER, it’s pretty damn near impossible to get around without a car. Some days, I swear I spend more time in my car than actually getting anything done. I’m looking forward to toning up my legs by walking everywhere.
10. Dionysus Fish and Chip Shop
If you were ever anywhere drunk in the West End, you’ve surely heard about Dionysus. Yes, I know Dionysus is closed, but it wouldn’t be a proper post about London if I didn’t mention it. Dionysus was home to the best drunk after the club food ever. After 2am, the line was around the block, but totally worth it. Fresh, hot chips/fries topped with cheese, Greek style chicken, and some type of garlic/vinegar/delicious sauce…I can’t even count how many hangovers Dionysus prevented. I heard rumors that they might re open somewhere else, and if you have the deets, please let me know!
What are some of your favorite places you like to go when you revisit your favorite city? Let me know in the comments!