We had originally booked our trip to London to visit the embassy and obtain our visas for Vietnam, but luckily on the 1st of July the visa regulations for UK citizens changed so tourists can obtain a 15 day visa on arrival.
We were still keen to visit London as my boyfriend and I both love the city. Being on a strict budget as we are saving for traveling, which is just 8 weeks away, we were struggling to find any cheap accommodation in a central location. We then came across unirooms, which is a fantastic website which advertises unirooms which are free during summer, Easter and Christmas holidays. We found a great unirooms accommodation situated in Central London, just around the corner from Victoria station. It cost £65 per room per night which for central London I thought was a bargain, we had a double ensuite room and also had access to a shared kitchen.
Arriving in London the sun was shining, we quickly dropped our bags at the accommodation and headed for the tube station, we took the tube to Camden, it was a short ride about 20 minutes. Having been to London and Camden many times before and loving it, I knew my boyfriend would also love it. We arrived in busy Camden and my boyfriend was gobsmacked, so many people, so many markets it was just crazy. We explored the markets which sold everything from bags, watches, clothes to the more whacky things.
We then decided to grab some lunch, there was tons of food stalls with every cuisine possible, we wandered the stalls trying to decide what we wanted, each owner trying to entice us with a small piece of their food. I opted for Mexican, a burrito which was delicious and Conor went for Polish pierogi – yummy.
We were going to have a drink in a bar in Camden but decided not to and made our way back to the tube station and headed towards London Bridge and The Shard. I visited the Shard 2 years ago when it first opened and visited the viewing platform but this time we were heading for the bar! There’s about 5 different bars at The Shard but we visited Aqua Shard. We were greeted by multiple members of staff, at the main entrance, at the lift and the top of the lift then a member of staff greeted us at the Aqua Shard, he explained there was no reservation needed and we could make our way to the bar. We followed his instruction, it was really busy so there weren’t any tables available, we quickly flicked through the menu then were lucky enough to grab two seats at the bar – which was the best location I think. We were greeted by a really friendly French bartender, he was really experienced and got chatting to Conor, who’s also a bartender. He recommended two cocktails for us and really made it into a show – making them, putting all of the ingredients into the shaker and then really shaking them, setting them on fire and all sorts, it was really fun. My cocktail was so strong it took me ages to drink and in that time Conor had finished his cocktail and ordered another. We stayed at the Aqua Shard about an hour and a half in which time we had had three cocktails, priced at £16 each- eek! When the bill arrived it also had a service charged added on, over £50 for three cocktails – that was heart-breaking. We couldn’t take off the service charge either as the bartender had been so friendly.
We escaped the Aqua Shard before we ordered any more drinks and headed back to our accommodation, earlier on we’d bought some groceries from the Sainsbury around the corner. We cooked salmon, potatoes and green beans for dinner, we’d also bought a cheap version of Pimms. It was a Monday night, we searched google to see what was going on in the city that evening, a few things popped up. We then found a Blues Bar in Soho which had music on until late, we got the address and headed there!
We took the tube to Piccadilly and followed the directions to Ain’t Nothing But Blues which we found really easily because there was a massive queue outside, we joined the queue but didn’t have to wait long. When we got inside the bar was pretty small and was packed, the music had already started and the atmosphere was amazing. We got some drinks at the bar and managed to get near the front of the stage. As the night went on we realised that all the musicians had turned up on the night, got stuck on a list and were being called up at random to play with a group of musicians they’d never met before. Each ‘band’ had two guitarists, a drummers, a singer, a sax player and a trumpet player, all of which were amazing, each band played about 3 songs then a new group of musicians were called up – it was great! The music played til about 1am and we left at about 1.30am, we managed to get a bus back from Piccadilly as the tubes stop at midnight.
The next afternoon we had already arranged to meet some of my family in London, we arranged to meet them at the Hard Rock Café on Park Lane. There was a large queue outside but my family were already inside so we skipped the queue. We enjoyed a lovely cocktail and some amazing food and a catch up with family then headed out to Green Park. We walked through Green Park and then over to Hyde Park which wasn’t far away. We strolled through Hyde Park, the weather was lovely again. We visited the Princess Diana memorial garden and saw the small man made lake with paddle boats on, as well as the public swimming area. We then headed into Kensington Park and visited Kensington Palace. After all that walking we were tired out and took the bus back to Victoria. We planned to visit an open air cinema that evening at Stratford but the weather was looking a bit dodgy. We then found out that there are a comedy fringe festival on in Camden. We decided we’d go there but then ended up both falling asleep and missing the whole evening, such a shame.
I think if we weren’t going traveling this year we’d be heading to London and possibly moving there. There’s so much to do and events on every evening of the week you couldn’t possible get bored but I think you’d need a bottomless wallet – it’s expensive!