Christmas in London – Definitely the Best
I have had this burning desire to be spend Christmas in London for about 30 or so years. We spent five glorious days and it was all I imagined and more, definitely the best time ever.
I found a great little flat through VRBO, conveniently across the street from Earl’s Court Station where we could “tube it” everywhere easily. One day, before going out, I heard singing coming from outside. I could see the entrance to the station and there were four guys singing Christmas songs—all day. They were there everyday.
I think it’s so easy getting around in London, after you figure out how the subway works, and my husband has mastered it. But you can also walk, walk, and walk some more. We walked to Notting Hill. It’s been on my bucket list ever since I saw the movie “Notting Hill” way back in 1999. It was enchanting—the streets of beautifully coloured houses standing all in a row. The perfect pink door; the passion purple house with the scarlet red door; the brightest greens; the many shades of blue—stunning.
All the while I’m wondering what the inside looked like. How much fun it would be to live in one of these unique houses, but I am quite sure they are a little over my budget. Also in this area is the Portobello Market, which of course we had to walk through. Its claim to fame is that it is the worlds largest antique market selling every kind of antique and collectible you can imagine. But, it’s also a haven for lovers of unique fashion, food, books and music and full of character and treasures.
Another day we ventured to Borough Market, one of the oldest and largest food markets in London. Some say it dates back to 1044. We were overwhelmed—first by the number of people, and second we were taken aback by the displays of food, fresh vegetables of anything you can imagine. And you could see Christmas everywhere, as evidenced by some of the pictures here. It was also an olfactory overload—fresh baked bread and sweets, bacon, pork pies, pastries, everything. I felt like one of those little bobble head ornaments, I didn’t know where to turn first. We couldn’t decide which of the delectable delights we should try and ended up with some calamari. mmm’good
We took in afternoon theatre at the Apollo Theatre, Kinky Boots. And then met a dear friend at Oxford Circus, which is rumoured to be the busiest place in London on that day. I think the rumour is true; wall to wall people rushing here and there getting last minute Christmas shopping done. As beautiful as it was when the lights went on we were glad to get away from the crowd, and back to our quiet flat.
There is so much great art in London in museums and galleries but this time we decided to explore a different kind of art—in East London. Shoreditch, which before the war was home to the Jewish refugees, today is emblazoned with creative graffiti art by famous names such as Banksy or Stik. We went on Sunday and found the Brick Lane Market showcasing vintage everything you can imagine. Along with the market is this eclectic multicultural hub of curry houses, along with so many quirky shops and restaurants. Like the Cereal Killer Cafe, serving what else, cereal. Or the Beigel Bake, paying homage to it’s previous Jewish residents, open 24/7 and serving the tastiest bagels in London.
Christmas Day itself was very quiet, because we found out on Dec 24 that London pretty much shuts down for Christmas—no trains, no buses, no subway. We had plans but they were quickly squashed. So instead, we went for a big long walk, through Brompton Cemetery, one of London’s oldest cemeteries. Now who would think a cemetery would be interesting but it was—with some headstones dating back to 1840 and some of them complete works of art. I think we may have been lost at one point but we walked all the way down to the River and then of course had to find our way back. I think we walked for three to four hours. Then we had to find a place to eat but our pub on the corner took us in.
But the highlight of the trip, especially for my husband was the soccer match at Wembley Stadium. For him, the anticipation of seeing his favourite soccer game and his favourite player was over the top. It was a noon game and we were told to get there early and we did—about two hours early. But we had a grand time checking out the stadium and shopping for our Tottenham Spurs gear. And course having a pint and yet another pork pie. The game itself was amazing. The fans are over the top singing “When the Spurs come Marching Home”; Harry Kane got yet another hat trick and was the hero of the game; and of course the Spurs won. I too am a soccer fan now. We had heard so much about the rowdiness of the games and to be careful but there was nothing to worry about. When the game was over we shuffled our way along with the rest of the crowd to the tube station, found our way home and crossed one more adventure off the bucket list. I think it might have been our most fun day of all.
Everyday was a new adventure for us. I would say my first Christmas in London was a success; it was definitely the best time ever. We arrived back home on Dec 27, exhausted but with life long memories. Now, where to next?
Have you ever been in London at Christmas time? Please share your experiences with me.