Becoming a Foodie in London
Since we had wrapped up our Euro travels in Paris with our friend Nate from the States, I decided it was an opportune time to swing by London to visit our friend Ed from RexyEdventures. The idea that you could consider London as a place you can just ‘swing by’ when visiting Paris sounds a bit odd to me. But the truth is, you really can just swing by! Though Ed often scoffs at the idea of considering places that are hours apart as ‘close by’, for me getting to London from Paris is about the same as when I used go from Phoenix to Las Vegas – a quick 5 hour drive. I guess that shows the mentality of coming from such a large country.
Eating the East End: London Food Tour Video
While visiting my friend in London earlier this month we had the privilege to join in on a food tour of the city. The sister company of Rome’s Eating Italy, Eating London Food Tours kicked off this summer with a dive into London’s East End. I have done more drawn out, flavorless walking tours over the past two years than I’d ever care to do in my life. Some have been quite great. Others have been a three hour mind battle of pretending to pay attention. A food tour, however, sounded like just the thing to keep me interested because if my stomach is entertained, I’m entertained.
This wasn’t just food we were learning about though. I was pleasantly surprised by how much research when into the tour to give us a historical encounter of the East End of London that tied in perfectly with our foodie stops. These short bursts of information packed walks between the establishments were long enough to keep me intrigued and short enough to keep my mined from checking out.
I find that to be the main problem with three hour (non-food) walking tours. Nobody wants to listen to one person talk for three hours straight with only one 10 minute break. That’s what I loved about this food tour. Each establishment was given its time to shine simply by sampling its featured dishes. We stopped at eight restaurants (ignore the fact that I say 7 in the video) in all and you can watch me (with envy!) sample each delightful dish and find out which was my favorite.
Which dish would you want to try most?
We Will Rock You: A London Musical
I begged and pleaded with Auston to take me to a musical while in London. Once I proved to him that we could do it affordably, he allowed me to purchase the cheapest tickets I could find. Thus, our date night to see We Will Rock You. We didn’t know what to expect but surprisingly enjoyed it. Cheesy, but it made us laugh. Talented enough to make us sing along.
Free Hugs in London
One of the things I love most about couchsurfing, is that it’s not just about a free place to stay. It’s about getting to know people from all over the world. To us, that’s better than seeing the Eiffel Tower, taking a picture of Big Ben, or strolling through a national museum.
So occasionally I will see what sort of CS events are going on in a city we’re traveling to. Because even if you don’t stay with someone through CS, you can go to one of their many meet ups to hang out and partake in some sort of activity.
While in London, we decided to join some CSers who were giving out ‘free hugs’ at Trafalgar Square the weekend the Olympics started. At first we thought it sounded like a weird activity for a bunch of weirdos who do weird things. Then I realized that’s us! And off we went…
(Auston and I were a little behind on the jump)
It was fun getting to know everyone while trying to lure people in for a hug without seeming creepy. Of course it also had to end with some drinks at a nearby pub. Try as we may, we just can’t avoid an offer for beer.
We also decided to join everyone the following day for a picnic at Hyde Park and a little card game of Mafia. It was this game that made me realize my shortcomings in deductive reasoning.
London During the Olympics
We weren’t orginally planning on visiting England because there are just so many places to see in Europe and it simply didn’t make the cut. Like most of the plans we make however, this too was quickly changed and we scrapped our previously scheduled time in Belgium for a week in London.
Of course we knew the Olympics were in London this summer. But that they began the day after we arrived was, I embarrassingly admit, news to me. This clearly explained the difficulty in finding a couchsurfing host or decent hostel. In any case, we managed to find a reasonably priced place – a tiny, crammed, dysfunctional space with a slight odor (oh the joys of hostels).
We didn’t go see any Olympic events, but we did manage to run into the route for the road cycling just as the athletes went by. There was also an excellent (and by excellent, I mean mediocre) Olympic festival at Hyde Park. I think after a few years in Chicago, you experience some amazing festival life. So I’ll try not to hold it against London.
I think the best part of our time there, aside from experiencing the great sights, was doing everything without the challenge of a language barrier. After traveling for a few months without knowing the local language, it was actually strange to just walk up to someone and speak English. Quite the relief!
(click here for photos)