Heading in to London from Loughton
Waking up in our Campervan Airbnb on Saturday morning in Loughton, a suburb outside of London, we were refreshed and rejuvenated. After having spent the entirety of the previous day travelling we were excited to start our vacation and explorations. With 10 days in Southern England, we were allowing our trip to be completely dictated by Couchsurfing, a community-based website where people offer to host travelers in return for company and meals. Our very loosely based itinerary was based on where hosts had accepted us and therefore included London, Devizes, Lacock, Bradford on Avon, Bath and Bristol (click on any of links to read about those special places!).
We planned on spending the next two nights in London with Dev, our very first Couchsurfing host! Having never before used the website we were quite excited and nervous to see how our trip was going to unfold.
After a delicious (and cheap) breakfast at Sprays Bakers and Confections in Loughton we caught the Central Red line on the Tube into London (each of us purchasing an Oyster card (£5) and loading them with £10).
Couchsurfing in Zone 1 London
As we approached Dev’s building, our jaws dropped and we hastily double checked the address. There was no way that this was where we were going to get to stay for the next two nights. Located in a beautiful building in Zone 1, a block from Brick Lane we incredulously buzzed up to the flat. Dev warmly greeted us at the door and our nervous energy quickly dissipated as we settled onto the couch and took up easy, interesting conversation. A born and raised Londoner, Dev was intelligent, funny and enjoyed sharing his knowledgeable opinions as well as was interested in ours. Before long I looked at my watch with surprise – we needed to get out exploring! Smiling we made plans for dinner and left the apartment with a long list of Dev’s favorite London activities.
Falafels + Exploring on our London weekend break
Starving we got falafels from a tent right outside – £4 for the fattest, most delicious falafel. Needless to say, that meal was not far from Dalton’s mind for the rest of our trip.
For the rest of the day we eagerly wandered a long loop throughout the city, finishing the day with sore feet and exhausted legs.
The Secret bars of Brick Lane
That evening we cooked Dev dinner. Our conversations flowed easily and we sipped on delicious white wine. Again we had to tear ourselves away from the table to venture out into the trendy London Brick Lane nightlife. Our first stop was a lesser known, secret bar that only members are allowed to visit. Smiling Dev walked up to a closed, dark coffee shop and opened the door. Hesitantly Dalton and I exchanged similar looks of confusion, shrugged our shoulders and followed. We walked through a side door, down a staircase and slipped through a door at the bottom labeled with a foreboding sign. We stepped into a small, elaborately decorated speakeasy that only contained one other couple and the bartender. I was unable to wipe the smile off my face, this really had been such an incredible day in London.
Columbia Road Flower Market
The next morning we went on a quick, hangover eliminating run before getting ready for another day of exploration. Being Sunday, the only appropriate activity was to visit the plethora of markets. Once again, armed with invaluable information from Dev, we first made our way to the Columbia Road Flower Market.
Packed with an uncountable number of flowers and plants I couldn’t help but feel giddy and completely overwhelmed walking down the street. From herbs to tulips to Venus fly traps, I doubt there was a single type of plant not present.
Brick Lane Market
The next market on the agenda was the Brick Lane market. Full of musicians, designer clothing, light bulbs and food we enjoyed strolling down the slightly less crowded street. After thoroughly examining all of the different delicious street food vendors, we settled on paella and enjoyed lazing in a nearby park while we ate.
Old Spitalfields + SPUN Hard candy
Continuing on we quickly visited the expensive Old Spitalfields Market, the dirt-cheap Petticoat Lane market and randomly stumbled into a homemade hard candy shop – SPUN. We couldn’t believe it when the offered to let us come back and try the warm candy as they were shaping and rolling it, showing us exactly how they made the tiny, intricate final candies.
A Quick stop at Blessings
Needing to give our eyes and legs a break we made a pint stop at Blessings, an incredibly cute bar/café on Commericial street, before continuing on to be flabbergasted by the London Tower.
Naively we had both assumed the London Tower was just a tower – ha! Nope. It’s a massive ancient castle right in the middle of London. We enjoyed the rest of our afternoon munching on candied nuts and admiring the castle.
Rosa’s Thai Dinner
For our final evening with Dev we enjoyed delicious Thai food at a tiny café near his flat, Rosa’s. After another fun evening we all three were exhausted and secretly celebrated an early bedtime.
After a stunning sunrise morning run to Tower bridge, we packed up our bags and caught the bus to Devizes, the perfect English countryside getaway (click to read!)
Did we miss anything in London?! Anything else you would be sure to include on a London weekend break? If so, let me know in comments below!