One of my favorite trips with Alex was when we spent 10 days in London back in February 2019.

At that time, we were still in a long-distance relationship. We knew we wanted to plan a trip to see each other after months of being apart.

No more Facetime calls, please! I’m tired of watching you eat your lunch before bedtime.

Why London?

We chose to travel to London because Alex had lived and worked there in 2008. He wanted to share his old stomping grounds with me. I had been to London on a whirlwind trip back in 2004, but hadn’t had a chance to savor its nooks and crannies.

We wanted a carefree, happy-go-lucky trip where we could truly wind down. Because we had already been long-distance for such a long time with Alex in Australia and myself in NYC, we wanted to do activities together that others might have found mundane, such as grocery shopping or staying in to watch a movie.

Of course, we also wanted to hit up London’s amazing museum scene, explore as per our usual meandering travel style together, see some historic sites and just revel in the local lifestyle.

But the important part was that we didn’t want to rush into any type of stuffed-to-the-brim itinerary.

How did we keep the trip carefree?

To keep the vacation a chilled out and relaxing one, we just let each day play out and unravel as it went. We only pre-booked two activities: one was at the Sky Garden for amazing free views and one was a side excursion outside London.

The rest of the time, we just decided on what we were feeling as we went along! We’d grab coffee throughout the day, walk around, look up food joints or opt to pick up some yummies to eat at our hotel.

We were ready for 10 carefree days in London to spend together!

A backwards itinerary

Since there was almost zero planning involved in this trip, we didn’t create an itinerary for our travels. We both just had some ideas in mind and knew we could easily fly by the seats of our pants.

There’s always so much to do in London that it was quite exciting and invigorating then anticipating the adventures to come. London is chock-full of the arts, fashion, iconic scenes at a head’s turn, diversity and so much more.

Just for fun, I went back through all of my old photos from our trip and narrowed down the locations of where we had spent time. I decided to map them out to feel like we were in a way traveling again! It was actually quite fun to reminisce, relive the trip and in a way, put together a “backwards itinerary” of our time in London.

Feel free to click through and see the destinations pretty much in chronological order of our trip!

You’ll see most of the places where we ate, the museums where we lingered, the historical sites we soaked in, the shops where we supplemented nights in and other miscellaneous joints where we created memories for one of the best trips ever.

Thank you, London!

Memories and stories in spaces and places

I wanted to share some of the meaningful moments we had in London. I often find that some of life’s best moments are found in le quotidien, those everyday interactions that seem almost commonplace.

We had a good ratio of touristy activities mixed with le quotidien. I couldn’t possibly recap all of the most memorable times, but I’ll share some favorites.

Welcome to Christina’s London Best.

Christina’s London Best: Top 12 London Experiences

  1. Taking our time to catch up and fuel up on coffee – even at the airport!
  2. Ducking out of the elements to find comfort food – thank you, taverns!
  3. Finding a free lookout spot for an amazing view of London’s best.
  4. Hopping from museum to museum to museum.
  5. Eating to our heart’s content – from heritage to local recos.
  6. Bringing our childhood best buds for a historical side excursion.
  7. Letting our imaginations go while perusing Liberty.
  8. Keeping it low key for some meals – from Valentine’s Day in to next-door convenience.
  9. Soaking up the daily humdrum for a chance to slow down.
  10. Basking in serendipity to meet family and a special squirrel.
  11. Still frequenting those iconic London settings – even while fighting.
  12. Indulging in extra dessert the night before our flights out.

1: Taking our time to catch up and fuel up on coffee – even at the airport!

After landing at Heathrow Airport, Alex and I were finally reunited! I had flown about seven hours, but Alex had been traveling for about 30 hours! He made sure to remind me of the time it had taken him versus my little overnight nap on the plane to wake up in London!

We hadn’t seen each other for five months, and that’s not the longest streak we’ve gone! I think the longest has been about nine months.

We just wanted to catch up, hang out together and take our time. Alex had the best idea – let’s not leave the airport quite yet. Why don’t we have a coffee first?

So in Terminal 5, there we were, sitting at the Costa Coffee outside the International Arrivals area.

Reunited in London

It was so nice to sit down and take our time. We didn’t rush to get out to “make the most” of seeing the city. Rather, we made the most by savoring the presence of one another, sipping our coffees slowly.

2: Ducking out of the elements to find comfort food – thank you, taverns!

Alex and I did a lot of walking in London. I would say that our daily average was about 17,000 steps. Whenever we got a bit tired or hungry, a cozy tavern was just the place for a comforting meal. Or a quiet beer for Alex, as he would say.

Alex felt right at home in the taverns. There’s something quite comforting to be able to go into one, knowing that they will have your staples and favorites. I quite liked stopping in too as they were welcoming and snug.

Lyceum Tavern

On our first day, after we had checked into our hotel between the neighborhoods of Soho and Fitzrovia, we set off on foot to explore.

It started pouring! You can see Alex’s curly hair became even more curly and I was freezing, wearing a sweater and a Uniqlo heat tech long-sleeved shirt underneath with a long coat.

We spotted a quaint tavern in Covent Garden’s theatre district and popped our heads into Lyceum Tavern.

Finding the warmth from the cold rain, ordering fish and chips to share and a meat pie with mashed potatoes, we were both so happy and relaxed. It was pretty funny because the mashed peas were served with the fish and chips, and not the pie!

We lingered in the upstairs seating for a while. Most people were downstairs, but we had the upstairs area to ourselves, with a bar! I think this picture is Alex going back for seconds on beer.

Fuller’s Kitchen – Ale & Pie

It’s not hard to stumble into a pub in London. And we just found that they were the perfect little place to stop in whenever we wanted a bit of rest. After exploring Westminster Abbey and the surrounding areas, we stopped in Fuller’s Kitchen – Ale & Pie for a bit.

Alex ordered a beer, unsurprisingly! And I charged my phone so that I could take more pictures.

The Swan

One day, we decided to take the double decker bus from London to Hammersmith, where Alex had lived in 2008. As memories came flooding back to him, he shared them with me and compared his thoughts and reflections of then and now.

As usual, we felt our stomachs grumble a bit, a signal to find food fast. Otherwise, the hangriness of Christina might come out! So inside The Swan, we went.

We couldn’t help ourselves and ordered two favorite dishes to share. Pie! Fish and chips!

Can’t go wrong.

Not pictured was the lemon tarte à la mode that we ordered and subsequently devoured. Let’s just say that I was taking spoon after spoon of ice cream. Usually, Alex eats quickly and I’m sometimes a bit worried that he will eat more than his fair share. So, I kept eating the ice cream, thinking I gotta catch up to Alex – he’s eating so much!

Later, Alex shared that he hadn’t had a single bite of ice cream. Apparently, I had eaten every single bite! Oops!!! My fear of losing out had taken over and I had actually manifested upon Alex my very own fear!

But it was delicious. And we just loved these warm, comfortable, inviting taverns for a break from that crisp and cold London weather.

3: Finding a free lookout spot for an amazing view of London’s best

I’ve always loved a view. Those rooftops, observation decks, high-rises and lookout points just offer such a bird’s eye view of a city.

Before we left for our trip, I looked up some of London’s best views. And I found the Sky Garden, a green oasis 35 floors above the city. It’s an indoor garden that offers a 360 degree perspective of London.

This was one of the two activities that we pre-planned, and mainly because you have to book tickets. But the great news is – it’s free! I was so excited to find this fun destination.

The day we went, we tried to time it so that we could catch the sunset. On the Sky Garden website, they even list out what time sunset is. I thought that was pretty clever.

As we waited in line outside, it started pouring buckets. It was super cold out, too! We were eager to get inside.

Alex and I found a spot to chill with a view. There were a lot of people with the same idea, just sitting and spending some time overlooking the city.

The rain did a bit of a number on my hair! It was messy, but I’ll always remember the feeling of seeking the indoors after a chilly, tough rainfall.

There’s also something about the rain that adds to the mood of a place. I loved seeing the views with raindrops collecting on the windowpanes.

Rainy, moody London.

4: Hopping from museum to museum to museum

London is full of amazing museums, with many being absolutely free!

Alex and I have always loved frequenting museums. There’s something about spending a few hours perusing, learning and dwelling in a space that takes you out of your current world and into another.

For Alex, he really loves the perspective on history the exhibits bring. It can say so much about a people, the victories had, the context of the times and the bridging of one period to another.

For me, I’m usually focused on types of materials, construction, the overall vibe, colors, textures and mood of the piece. I also like understanding functionality versus aesthetics and how they would influence the lifestyle of those in the past.

We can spend hours upon hours at museums, and our London trip was no exception.

We loved spending time at the National Gallery, the British Museum, the National Potrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum. Honestly, if we had more time, we’d go to all of the museums in London!

The National Gallery

With all of the visits, we did a ton of walking! In the first 2.5 days, we clocked in 50,000 steps! It was definitely worth it and a great way to spend our time.

I really liked the location of the National Gallery, being situated in Trafalgar Square. It made for some interesting people watching as well witnessing the street performers.

The British Museum

Alex and I spent quite a long time at The British Museum. I was first stunned by its exterior and then the contrasting interior. It felt like walking from an older dimension into a more modern world, architecturally speaking.

From the Rosetta Stone to Alexander the Great to the Iron Age to Tuscan Jewelry to Greek vessels, there’s something for everyone. I enjoyed walking around the main dome inside.

The National Portrait Gallery

Adjoining the National Gallery is the National Portrait Gallery, quaint in feeling but grand in its contents.

I really liked the marble pillars juxtaposed with damask wallpaper and the built-in art vibe of the building’s materials.

Whether you love Matisse like me or Turner like Alex, one can get lost analyzing the paintings and portraits at this museum.

We stopped for a long time in front of one of Alex’s favorite paintings, The Fighting Temeraire. There happened to be a group of school kids listening to a docent sharing the symbolism of the painting.

It is thought to be a symbol of the declining British Navy. Just as the sun was setting, so was the usage of warships, signaling the beginning of the industrial era.

We hung out for a bit at the museum to take in the hustle bustle of Trafalgar Square.

Victoria + Albert Museum

Alex was super excited for us to go to the Victoria + Albert Museum, or V&A for short. That’s because their focus is on art, design and performance, which he knew I would love!

I definitely enjoyed the experience, which was diverse in offerings.

I may have fallen in love with this chrysoprase snuffbox. I know it was used for storing tobacco on a table, but I’d definitely store jewelry in it!

Apparently the gemstone was one Frederick the Great’s favorites. Well, it definitely became one of my favorites as well.

I also found this 19th century necklace from Northern India to be particularly beautiful. It’s made out of pearls, green glass, enameled gold and emerald and ruby beading. Stunning!

Thank you for an experience equally informative as it was mesmerizing!

The Natural History Museum

The final museum we visited during our London stay was the Natural History Museum. Imagine dinosaurs, wildlife, oceans and more.

I could get lost in the imagination of living organisms like a kid at heart hiding out in a cool castle of a museum for the day.

But my favorite room was the gemstones and minerals room. Alex and I spent a while here!

Eventually, he said to me, “C’mon babe, you have one already!” referring to my engagement ring in a joking manner.

Such a stunning display of minerals from all around the world.

I could have stayed here forever!

5: Eating to our heart’s content – from heritage to local recos

Eating is an activity that always brings so much joy. Our times eating out in London were no exception.

Many places, we would find along the way while we explored and wandered around. When we went to Chinatown, the food just felt like home. For Alex, an English Breakfast always manages to hit the spot.

We also took recommendations from locals and so many said Dishoom was a must-try!

Dishoom

Highly-recommended was this Indian restaurant with many London locations and a twist on Bombay cuisine.

We were so excited to come here for brunch one day because of all the accolades we had heard about the food. It did not disappoint and I would say the vibrant colors of the food also delivered!

We ordered the The Big Bombay and the Sausage and Egg Naan Roll. I loved the tangy sauces and going from the soft texture of the beans to the salt of the meat to acid of the tomatoes was so mesmerizing.

I loved eating a bite here and there of different foods to change it up. I can say that our tastebuds were quite happy eating at Dishoom!

Kua ‘Aina

One morning, Alex and I got ready and decided to walk around until we found a brekkie spot that would speak to us. We stumbled upon Kua ‘Aina.

The interior looked inviting, with a neon sign in the back and a surfboard hanging on the wall as decor. We were excited to have a Hawaiian take on an English brekkie.

Alex had the Aloha Lava-Grilled Breakfast and I had the Aloha Veggie Breakfast and snuck some of Alex’s meat. Haha!

This was a morning where we were both so eager to explore and eat. It was a lot colder than we had expected and a sweater and sweatshirt weren’t quite enough to stay warm. But as soon as we dove into our flat whites, we were happy as clams!

The Breakfast Club

On another occasion, Alex and I sauntered the streets looking for breakfast once again. This time, we spotted The Breakfast Club and ate at their Soho location.

It was one of those leisurely days where we would take it easy and not worry about too much. Alex told me then that he loves my makeup free days because everything feels so simple and easy.

I think you can sense a theme here of what Alex likes for breakfast! He opted for The Big Monty, another English brekkie take comprising all his favorites, including black pudding!

Some people get grossed out after discovering what is in black pudding but I don’t mind the taste and texture of it. It’s definitely worth a try, at least!

I went for the Avocado on Rye with a side of smoked salmon! I loved the white beans on the sandwich and around the plate. I scooped them up onto my fork in my left hand with my knife in my right hand, English and Australian style.

Haha, this American was not eating her meal with a fork in her right hand! But, smack me in the head, I was eating avocado toast!

Lantana

For another breakfast outing, Alex did a ten minute research the day of and found an Aussie cafe! He was so incredibly excited because he has always said that the American cafe + coffee culture could never compare to the Aussie cafe culture!

Whereas American cafes can have a speedier pace, they often can lack quality breakfast choices and a lighthearted, fun ambiance where you can chill out.

Alex has always said that Australian cafes typically offer much nicer environments and a slower pace with better menu options. I couldn’t agree more. You’re able to not only get your cuppa, but you’re also able to find something absolutely delicious to eat as well. Lantana was amazing!

I ordered the Duck Hash and it was incredible. Notable was the burst of acid from the pickled red onions. Nom, nom. We ate slowly and supplemented our meal with many flat whites. SO fun.

Chinatown: Chinese Tapas House + 一品天下

One morning, we walked through London’s Chinatown. Instantly, I felt at home, steamed buns sitting in the windows and lanterns zigzagging above.

We popped into Chinese Tapas House (愛吃鬼小屋) and got a large steamed pork bun for the road.

One of the first photos we ever took together was in Taiwan, both holding steamed buns. I grew up loving these scrumptious pillows of heaven.

I love taking my fingers and gently pulling apart the first bite, usually just the bun with a bit of the residue from the filling. Just a small hint at first.

And then, bam! Take a bite into the bun and taste filling along with the plush, warm steamy bun! Gets me every time.

We spent the day museum hopping but then came back to Chinatown for dinner. It was funny because Alex’s strategy was to hold out and not eat anything between breakfast and dinner so that he would be extra hungry.

I couldn’t hold out and ate at the V&A Museum around 2 pm.

Of course, it was not even 5 pm and Alex became very hungry. I was not as hungry, but we ventured back to Chinatown to enjoy a variety of yummies.

Just a little slice of home.

Whether it’s Alex’s English Brekkie, my Chinese buns or the local cuisine of London, we just loved to eat and dive into these mini paradises of taste, flavor and texture.

6: Bringing our best buds for a historical side excursion

In the middle of our vacation, we had one side excursion to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Oxford University. Alex had booked this day trip for us.

We got up super early in the morning to catch the Tube to then grab a bus. And we brought our childhood friends with us. Doodance (the dog) and Grundy (the bear)!

Windsor Castle

It took about an hour’s bus ride from London to Berkshire to arrive at Windsor Castle. In Alex’s mini backpack, we carried some bread with us just in case we’d get hungry. It was a partly cloudy day and with a chill in the air.

It was here where our guide let us know if the royal flag was flown that would indicate a sovereign’s presence. We instead saw the union flag, so Queen Elizabeth was not with us on this day!

We did, however, see Megan Markle’s wedding dress in a special exhibit inside the castle.

The grounds were much more quaint than I had anticipated, with the grass in between a shade of Old Irish green and Leaf green.

We made sure our best buddies got to see the grounds, too! I think it’s safe to say they enjoyed it!

Stonehenge

From Windsor Castle, we hopped back on the bus to mosey on to Stonehenge. The trip took 1 hour 15 minutes. From our bus, we hopped onto another bus on the site which drove past some soft fields before releasing us a few minute’s walk from the ancient formation.

On the ride over from Windsor Castle, I listened to a pretty comprehensive recording on the history of Stonehenge. It was a lot of good information, but to be honest, I really only remember three main points about the site!

I learned that Stonehenge was likely used for burials, for a sacred type of healing and that each of of the large stones was over 20 tons!

It’s quite a wonder! Even though it doesn’t feel too grand in size, it’s so emblematic that many people see it and know it right away.

Doodance was excited to go to this site. He was ready to see Bonehenge. Let’s just say he was quite shocked upon discovery that it’s not Bonehenge, but Stonehenge!

Oxford University

From Stonehenge, we set off for Oxford University, which took about 1 hour 30 minutes. We toured parts of the university and surrounding areas and I’ve gotta say, I always love a college campus.

Seeing the buildings and streets and imagining the student lifestyle is something I often do. University is such a memorable time of a person’s life. I wondered how students would spend their time and what activities would call out to them.

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Architectural Obsession. ?? #oxford

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The English Gothic architecture was remarkable. I know it might be semi-cliché, but I honestly felt like I was at Hogwarts!

This day excursion will always go down in memory and never Obliviate!

7: Letting our imaginations go while perusing Liberty

When Alex’s family knew we had booked our trip to London, Alex’s mum and Alex’s aunt who are sisters both right away said to check out Liberty. Alex’s mum imagined looking around at all of the fabric collections and coming home with something special.

We decided to check it out!

From the household decor to the women’s fashion lines and to the fabrics area, I definitely fell in obsession with this elevated, eccentric and unique department store.

I loved the silk fabrics! The color saturation, the floral patterns, the sheen. So amazing. We may have spent a little time taking a peek to pique our interest!

We also spotted an odd painting and lingered a bit. Alex turned to me and said that he wanted to get this painting to hang up in our home one day.

He declared his love for it because it was so random that when guests would visit, they would be like huh? And he loved that. Hahaha!

We didn’t get the painting, but suffice it to say that shopping at Liberty, we both found objects of our affection that held our interest!

8: Keeping it low key for some meals – from Valentine’s Day in to next-door convenience

Having a carefree vacation was something that we were going for and taking our time to explore was truly amazing.

Part of it was just not planning anything, and being open to seeing where our next meal could be! We also kept things very low key by getting takeout or eating somewhere that was not a conventional sit-down spot.

Nice, carefree meals interspersed with delicious sit-down impromptu finds. Such was a winning formula for meals that delivered again and again on this trip!

Having a grocery store next to our hotel was key!

The hotel we stayed at was Hub by Premier Inn – near the Goodge Tube station and on Torrington Place. Its facade is very unassuming and I chose it for both the location and the price. It was affordable but close and within walking distance of a lot of restaurants and the Goodge Tube station.

We loved it there. The rooms are small and minimalistic but they have just what you need. The reception area has a lounge area where you can order food and coffee or refill on hot water. We had a hot water bottle that we’d carry with us and make tea and fill up at the beginning of the day with hot water. It was simple, but did the job.

We also discovered it was quite convenient for those moments when we didn’t want to eat out. Next to it was a Planet Organic, an organic grocery store with a lot of easy pick-up, to-go foods and a prepared hot food section.

Alex and I found ourselves often at our next-door neighbor to get something easy to eat to take back to our room, whether it be a salmon salad, or a wrap, or beans and vegetable side dishes. It was great and made for a very carefree time in London!

We decided to spend Valentine’s Day In

For Valentine’s Day, we were so incredibly happy to be in the same place together! In our just over four years of knowing each other, we haven’t been in the same place for many, many celebrations.

So we were quite excited to have a low-key, “normal” Valentine’s Day together! Finally!! We took a walk to hunt down some dinner and spotted The Japanese Canteen. We ordered a salmon bento box and also a pork katsu curry.

On the way home, carrying our hot meals, we also decided to supplement our dinner with something from Organic Planet. We picked up some juice smoothies and settled in for the night.

Our seal friends Sal and Finn joined in when we got to the salmon! It was such a nice, peaceful and fun evening. It almost felt like we were living together and the thought of long-distance disappeared for the evening!

It was fun to eat our takeout and we decided to watch a movie. We chose Johnny English with Mr. Bean’s Rowan Atkinson. It was silly but just what the doctor ordered.

We woke up to discover a food festival right outside

We happened upon another no-fuss meal one morning. We decided to sleep in a bit and Alex ventured off to buy some flat whites for us to enjoy at the Caffè Nero around the corner and across the street.

He came back from his mini excursion and was excited to report that there was a food festival happening. Getting ready slowly while enjoying our flat whites, we decided to check it out.

It was so worth it. The aromas luring our noses, the steam and smoke rising from the various tents, the food festival was just meant to be. I’m happy that Alex stumbled upon it and we ordered two curries to share.

We walked up a short flight of stairs to sit at the base of a church and chowed down.

London, thank you for so many impromptu and convenient, meaningful meals!

9: Soaking up the daily humdrum for a chance to slow down

One of the things we loved the most was how walkable London is. We often just fully wandered, se flâner sans destination. It was one of the best ways to allow for adventure to happen and to witness the tempo and pulse of the city.

I love observing how people live, what makes them tick and what the hot topics of today are. What is relevant, current, and now? How do people think? What is someone else’s perspective like? What happens when we ourselves just slow down?

We saw a Brexit protest in Trafalgar Square

One day while strolling, we happened upon a group of people protesting Brexit. Signs reading “leave means leave” and British flags abundant, the protestors were embodying their cause. It’s quite interesting how a single event can have so many steps and repercussions.

It was definitely interesting to see people organized and speaking their minds.

We chatted with our go-getter cab driver amidst the rain

On the same day as our visit to the Sky Garden, we also did a small amount of shopping. By the time we had left Marks & Spencer, the rain had started coming down again, hard. We decided to grab a cab.

It was a little bit of an ordeal walking in the downpour trying to locate our driver, but we’re so glad that we met him. He was telling us that he was working on a side business for IT recruiting and that he wanted to turn his side hustle into his main business.

He said that the second it started raining, he got in his car, turned on his Uber app to look for customers because it was important to him. To make his business happen, he said he had to “work at the right times.” And with the rain, it was the opportune moment.

Customers would be looking for transportation. He literally said to us, “when you see it’s raining, you get up, put your coat on and take customers” and we just loved his attitude.

I really enjoyed this rainy cab ride, as evidenced from my camera roll! It’s the mixture of lights, rain and the window and how the combination alters your viewpoint for a moment of inclement weather.

Thanks for a memorable cab ride, to the cab driver who was such a go-getter.

We stopped often at bookstores, one of Alex’s favorite places to be

Alex is an avid reader. One of his favorite things to do is to frequent a bookstore. He could stay and peruse the titles, read blurbs and indulge in knowledge all day long.

On this trip, it didn’t matter to us to go from destination to destination. Some of the best, and most quiet moments, were when we’d step into a bookstore, and step into a book to somewhere else.

We spotted Yoda swaying in the wind

By lingering longer in certain locations versus destination hopping, we also saw some of the it street performers. We noticed a common performer was the swaying Yoda. The first time we saw one, we were in awe.

The second time we ran into another Yoda, we realized that the Yoda was standing on a platform. I mean, obviously, he was not levitating or using the force. Or was he?

Finally, the third and final time, we saw Yoda humanized. The Yoda got up off his perch, took off his mask, revealing his human face and began to count his earnings for the day.

Our amazing Yoda was demystified.

Such is the fun of lingering and chilling and looking just a little bit longer in a spot. I’m happy we were able to have a chill trip and the chillness continued on.

We always took our time to stop for coffee

If you know Alex and myself well, you will of course know that we always love to stop for coffee and savor it. Stopping by a coffee shop always brought over a glimmer of excitement to us.

We both just love the taste, aroma and the experience of diving into a cuppa. It’s extra fun when we do it together and braving the London chill in the air, we loved the warmth it would bring.

Always remember to take a pause, sip slowly and enjoy yourself!

10: Basking in serendipity to meet family and a special squirrel

Serendipity.

This is a concept we’ve all likely experienced before. And our London trip proved to provide great serendipity.

Serendipity aided with a little social media allowed family to reunite

A few days into our trip, I checked my Instagram DMs and saw one from my cousin, Hélène. She had seen a few of my London posts and had wondered if we were in London!

She then mentioned that she and her boyfriend Laurent were heading to London from Switzerland for a short weekend and asked if we were free to get together.

We hadn’t seen each other in years, the last time having been in Taiwan. So we met up one day for brunch in Soho at a Korean place called Jinjuu. We are first cousins whose moms are sisters!

We ordered the Three Course Brunch Set and it was delicious! So many varieties of appetizers to share and it was amazing to reunite with family.

It’s really funny, because our grandpa often will chat with each of us separately and talk about the other. He had been asking me if I had been in touch with Hélène and would always encourage us to stay in touch.

I was so excited to chat with my grandpa and share a picture with him. In our call, I told him the story three times of how my cousin had contacted me and how we had met up. He was so happy and thrilled.

It was amazing to be reunited with family in a place that was not either of our homes. But being reunited felt like home.

A squirrel whisperer sensed my affinity towards squirrels

One day as Alex and I were meandering St. James Park, I spotted a squirrel.

For those who know me well, you know that the squirrel is my favorite animal. Naturally, I gravitated towards the little gal and went to observe her in her environment.

Suddenly, I heard a whistling man who seemed to appear out of nowhere! He handed me a morsel of food for the little squirrel. He then instructed me to stay down towards the squirrel and to wait.

Then he began to whistle to beckon the squirrel over. The squirrel just knew, came over to me and took the food out of my hand!

I was so ridiculously happy! Then, the squirrel whisperer man left and went along his way. I honestly couldn’t have been in a better spot and the moment was super coincidental.

Thank you, London, for allowing us to experience some of your serendipity!

11: Still frequenting those iconic London settings – even while fighting

Travel can often have the effect of being an escape from reality. That’s why we often look forward to a vacation from work, because it gives a time of relaxation from the everyday.

For Alex and myself, our trip to London was less focused on being a vacation than it was a time for us to reconnect and spend time together. So we walked, we chatted, we explored…and we fought.

Fighting on the Tower Bridge

There were two times of the trip where we headed to the area around Tower Bridge. The first time we were way too tired from walking to actually see it, so we set off on foot a different day to explore it!

And there we were. On the Tower Bridge, and a tizzy began to occur. A disagreement. A dreaded fight. I won’t get into the details of the fight but let’s just say that it fizzled no sooner than it had begun.

Because when you’re long distance, a fight can prolong itself by virtue of not having enough time to resolve it or due to time zone constraints.

But while on the Tower Bridge, a fight didn’t have to grow into a monster size. It was able to be resolved through face-to-face communication. As we continued to explore, we just reveled in being together in person.

Fights may happen, but in person, they were so much easier to just chat and hug away.

Fighting at High Tea

During our visit to the British Museum, we were tired after a number of hours exploring the exhibitions. So we decided to stop at the restaurant atop the stairs of the dome!

We sat at the Great Court Restaurant and opted for High Tea!

And actually, this was such a peaceful and fun meal…we didn’t really fight!

I’ll call it fighting over scones! Haha. I prefer English scones without raisins, or as Alex would say, sultanas!

Though we might fight over what the disputed dried fruit is inside the tasty bites, it’s actually the opposite of a fight because Alex knows me so well that he defaulted the plain scones to me!

And such is the beauty of spending more time with someone. Fights or no fights, it is all about getting to know each other and understanding each other better.

12: Indulging in extra dessert the night before our flights out

On our very last night in London, we were both so sad for the time to come to an end. It had been over a week of fun and exploration, of quality time spent together and new shared experiences.

We were off to one last dinner before we would leave this beloved city.

That day, we had just spent a lazy day chilling in our hotel watching TV. With us having been in a long-distance relationship, we just never really got to do that!

So it was fun to binge watch some cooking shows including Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. He had just worked on revamping two Italian restaurants, so we got into an Italian mood.

Off we went to search for an Italian restaurant. We found a few clustered together and looked at the menu for each before landing on Trattoria Mondello. Something about the yellow walls and convivial atmosphere just drew us in. It was packed!

We ordered grilled sardines and two pasta mains to share and were feeling pretty stuffed. But it was our last day. Last day together. Last day together in London, a place where we had created so many memories together.

And so we indulged on coffees. Yes, at night. Yes, with regular milk. And we ordered dessert. Yummy tiramisu. And not just one slice to share, but one slice for each of us.

And we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.

Thank you, London, for one of the best trips ever! We hope to reunite again with you someday. So much love to you!

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