London Weekend Break

Big Ben peeping through the old London buildings

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!). 

Campervan Airbnb outside of London

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.

Visit to Borough Market on a weekend trip to London

Tower Bridge - Weekend in London

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.

Columbia Road Flower Market - Weekend in London

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.

Blessings Bar/Cafe in Zone 1 London

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!)

View of the Sunrise on our run to Tower Bridge

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!

2017-01-05T13:52:36+00:00 May 2nd, 2016|England, Europe, Travel, UK|6 Comments

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  1. kathy May 3, 2016 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Such a fun adventure. Couchsurfing! What a great way to travel like a local. Can’t wait to hear how the other places work out.

    • sydpaulsen May 4, 2016 at 5:59 am - Reply

      It really was such a neat experience! The next people we stayed with in Devizes made me feel like it might be the “English version” of staying with you in Costa Rica! 🙂

  2. Linnea May 3, 2016 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Oh I love couchsurfing — and the secret bar sounds so cool! Excited to read of your adventures from Bath & Bristol; they are both old loves of mine! x

    • sydpaulsen May 4, 2016 at 6:00 am - Reply

      Thanks Linnea! Darn, I should have asked for travel advice before going. But we absolutely loved them- especially Bristol! Such a fun, great city 🙂

      • Linnea May 4, 2016 at 3:34 pm - Reply

        Yes Bristol is definitely one of my favourite towns in the world. Such an eccentric place, I love just wandering around there! x

  3. Devizes | Siempre Sydney May 6, 2016 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    […] Unknowingly we had planned our trip route from London to Devizes perfectly, getting to witness Avebury (the largest prehistoric stone circle in Europe) from the bus window on our way. Taking a National Express bus from the London Victoria Coach station to Swindon, we then hopped on the local 49 to reach Devizes. Immediately we were enchanted with the English countyside. Beautiful green rolling fields and quaint towns filled with charm that only age can bring. Devizes was no different and we walked off the bus filled with eagerness and excitement to explore this world so close, yet so drastically different than from the bustling city of London. […]

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