Everything about my trip was great, but obviously some things were super ultra great and stood out above the rest. Here, then, are the absolute highlights of my trip to the UK:
I really liked Shoreditch. Being from Vancouver, gentrification is comforting and familiar to me. Also, one of my favourite things to do is wander around with my camera and see what I can find, especially when there’s awesome graffiti about. Shoreditch had this in spades, and I wish I had spent more time there taking it all in. It’s a major art destination in London, so there’s a really cool vibe about the place that was only slightly intimidating – but mostly, there was lots to see. The picture below was taken on my first full day in London, and is probably one of my favourite shots from my trip.
o most holy patron saints of urban culture
I’m trying really hard to branch out of my shell and do new things, so when my friend asked if I wanted to go to Secret Cinema, I said “okay!” before stopping to find out what exactly I was agreeing to. This is a good thing, because I probably would have balked hard at the price tag (£70 holy shit). That being said – it was totally worth it. It was a crazy experience, and I loved every minute of it. No cameras or phones were allowed, so I have nothing to share .. but if you ever get a chance, go to a Secret Cinema production. Especially if you love the movie being shown. You won’t regret it.
I had planned to try to go to Highgate Cemetery, but a friend suggested I check out the cemetery along Old Brompton Road. It was really close to my home base, so I went for a walk on a gorgeous fall afternoon. I find cemeteries to be peaceful, reflective places, so as I walked I admired the crumbling headstones and mausoleums, thinking about the lives of those contained within. I didn’t catch the name of the old lady ghost who yelled at me, because she was sitting on her tomb and I didn’t want to get too close what with the danger of ectoplasm transfer and all, but she (and her forbidden fox) did add a lot to my experience.
not shown: ghosts, mean old ladies who may or may not be ghosts, foxes
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really “get” modern art – but my love of the Tate Modern has little to do with the art within, and more to do with the location. There’s a cafe on Level 3 with two balconies that overlook the river, and there are some great views of St. Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge. On this particular day, I was feeling pretty homesick and sorry for myself .. until I got to the Tate. There’s a busker in the picture below who was just awesome, and if I didn’t have to pee so badly I could have stayed outside for hours listening to his rock n’ roll stylings. I looked at art, tried to find penises (there weren’t any – last June the Tate Modern had some Mapplethorpe prints, but not this time), and went to the cafe to hang out on the balconies, where I instantly fell in love with everything all over again.
rock n’ rooooooll
I’ve already written about the Sky Garden and why it was amazing, but it was truly one of the highlights (no pun intended) of my trip. I had no idea this place existed, and literally found it on a Buzzfeed list or something the day before I went. It was pretty incredible, and something I would drag people to over and over again. I actually tried to go again before the end of my trip, but I specifically wanted an evening visit and none were available.
The Shard’s Bathroom
Yes, the Shard was very nice and pretty and technological, but the epic bathroom view was a sheer delight to stumble upon and utterly made my evening because I have a dumb sense of humour.
an exciting place to pee!
bridge! hi bridge!
The Roman Baths were cool and all, but it was the town itself that really wowed me. I had no idea the extent of the buildings until we were on the bus and driving away – next time, I’m going to explore the hell out of those hills. I’m truly sorry I only got three hours in Bath (and 2 of those were spent looking at old water), because I loved it there.
the hills are alive with old houses and shit
I’m still not thrilled about the guy who stroked my face and I was grumpy as all hell when I got there, but once I settled into the swing of things I had a really good time at Portobello (and surrounding) Markets.
hey it’s that place that it is
I’m a little sheepish about this one, because I am way too cool to fangirl – but I love love love the Kingsman: The Secret Service movie (mostly because it’s so very British but also for many reasons: the male stars are lovely to look at, the female lead isn’t just a love interest, and it’s just so very British), and one day in London I wandered down Savile Row to find the tailor shop that stood in for the Kingsman in the film. I took many pictures of the place, ignoring how dumb I felt – and was totally rewarded for my nerd ways when I saw the Kingsman logo on the windows of the shop as a nod to fans. SQUEEE! I actually watched the movie on the plane home, and was giggling at all the places I had just been. Totally fun.
manners maketh man
OWLS! I held owls. They were awesome. More owls please!
Loved it, as I was fairly sure I would. Still, my new goal is to get Ed to Scotland and explore it some more. Two days was not enough.
Camden Market/Canal Boat Ride
Another first. Loved it, except for the annoying and loud hen party happening at the rear of the boat. Still, would definitely do this again – total highlight.
Platform 9 3/4
This was fun, if weirdly commercial. In 2011, King’s Cross was under some heavy pre-Olympic construction, and Platform 9.75 was relocated. It was tucked away in a random corner, and much less of everything:
2011: no owl, no queue, no professional photographer, no nearby store to sell you all the things
2015. not shown: me
Look at this shit right here:
It was a good, good trip.