Literary London Travel Guide

As you all will have recalled (because I expect you to memorize everything I write on this blog goshdarnit! — JK.), I set intentions for each leg of my travels this summer. My intention for England was to explore literature, as I was there to do a creative writing programme at the University of Cambridge. My three days in London allowed me to make the switch from writing to reading (to do a literary refuel if you will) by visiting copious amounts of bookstores and literary monuments…in other words, this is a post about why London is an English major’s heaven.

Daunt Books

Daunt Books is organized by country, which is insanely cool. I love a well-organized bookstore!

Persephone Books

Persephone Books is a publishing company with a storefront that sells books by Twentieth Century women writers. Their storefront also has an adorable section entitled “Books We Wish We Published.” (A feminist literary must!)

Exploring Cultures of Rest: Tea Time

Series Description: This new series of blog posts revolves around cultures of rest and what it means to take time out of the day – to pause and recharge – so that one can be their best self the rest of the time. I am not saying that the glorification of busy is unique to the United States. I am saying, rather, that being busy has been glorified in the United States and there are many cultures around the world that build rest into the day in a way that a 9 to 5 work schedule does not. They build rest into the day through culturally specific rituals. 

After my first trip to the UK, I wrote a post on this blog about just how much I love tea time. This second trip the UK did not disappoint and I fell in love all over again with this specific ritual of rest that happens from 2-5 (and according to this infographic, after as well).

Where to Tea Time in England

Fitzbillies (Cambridge)


Fortnum & Mason (London) 

Tea Time Checklist

  • tea
  • milk / cream
  • clotted cream
  • jam
  • scones or a baked good
  • a good book or good company

 

Yoga U.K.

This post is part of my EuroTrip 2016 series on the blog.

While in my 15 Minutes a Day post, I made clear that I did not go to Europe to do yoga (that’s what my Laughing Lotus unlimited membership in NYC is for), I did have to try the best yoga studio in each of the cities I stayed. Because duh. Because, when I first walked to the flat we were staying in in London, I saw that TriYoga was right across the street (like, a 30-second walk away). And I don’t believe in coincidences.

So here you have it, readers. Some mini-reviews of the yoga hot spots of two U.K. cities.

Meadowlark Yoga

Edinburgh, Scotland 

 

  • Location: 43 Argyle Place
  • About / From Website: “Meadowlark is so named because of its location at the Southern border of the Meadows, in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. As a concept, our community is built around the pursuit of health through Yoga, mindful eating, sensible therapeutic interventions, and going outdoors for enjoyment. Meadowlark is set up as a not-for-profit organisation, so we invest everything in the gradual improvement of our infrastructure and people in order to provide the highest standards to our clients and fellow practitioners.”
  • Teacher Who Taught: Nadine Watton
  • Class Taken: Gentle Vinyasa
  • Observations: Everyone was lovely. The teacher was extremely warm. The class filled up quickly. The gentleness of it all (as is part of the class title) mirrored the pace of the city.

TriYoga Camden

London, England 

 

  • Location: 57 Jamestown Road
  • About / From Website: “triyoga offers you a place that is dedicated to looking after you, and somewhere everyone can belong. Start or deepen your yoga practice here, learn about cutting edge personal development, yoga philosophy and meditation, or take Pilates mat + equipment classes. In addition, we have an amazing range of treatments with the best therapists. Whatever you choose, it takes place in beautiful studios or treatment rooms. We have designed an environment, class schedule and treatments schedule to nurture the health of every individual: men and women, babies, kids and teens, through to seniors – everyone triyoga!”
  • Teacher Who Taught: Eileen Gauthier
  • Class Taken: Mysore Ashtanga
  • Observations: It was very easy to just stroll on in and take class. The teacher gave the most adjustments I’d ever received in Mysore (a primarily independent practice). I am not sure, seeing as I only took one class there, but the studio does seem to specialize in Ashtanga. The studio itself was absolutely gigantic – very much so the Pure Yoga type. The locker rooms were beautiful, as were all the spaces in general. Definitely gets a lot of clientele.

London in Four Days

This post is part of my EuroTrip 2016 series on the blog.

Cheers from Edinburgh, where I actually have more time and less external stimulation to reflect on London, even when I experience a new place in the U.K. I thought that it would be nice, for the purposes of this blog, to take a categorical inventory of all the places I went to in London, with just a few words about each. That way, if any of you, readers, are planning a trip to the U.K. soon, this can be a quick + curated reference!

Without further adieu, here are the sights I saw, the art I experienced, the food I ate, and the libations I drank.

SIGHTS
Regents Park – I was impressed by the number of outdoor areas there are to experience in such a metropolitan city. Regents Park was an excellent first one and led us straight to downtown.
The Lloyds – N aptly described it as “what 1980s architects thought the future would look like.” The Lloyds are a series of banking buildings with cranes permanently lodged atop them. This architectural landmark literally looks like the guts and intestines of a building, with elevators and pipes on the exterior for all to see. 
St Paul’s Cathedral – Not too old, but exquisite to look at.


The Tower – Here began my tour of my beloved Philippa Gregory books. While the area around it was quite touristy, the sight itself was the pinnacle of well-preserved history.


The Thames – To exit the Tower, I proceeded to take a long, solo, contemplative walk along the River Thames. It was absolutely beautiful with grand bridges with even more historical significance.


Westminster Abbey – While I didn’t go inside Westminster, I did get a good vibe for its grandiosity and continued function to this day. The coolest part of seeing historical monuments in London is that they are living history; many of them are still in use! Seeing as it was a Sunday, I got to see the guard of Westminster lock the gate.

ART
British Museum – This is an ironic name for a museum because it is really a global museum of art from all around the world. I could go back ten more times and still not see everything.
National Portrait Gallery – I loved the small room Bronte exhibit that is going on until April, I believe. Located at a side entrance to the National Gallery, it is a very accessible and manageable museum to see a variety of focused art.
National Gallery – This museum was definitely on par with, if not larger, than the Met, if the Met had even older goods + art.
Victoria + Albert Museum – This was definitely our favorite because it was a museum of real, usable artifacts that spanned time periods. It all felt perfectly curated.

LIBATIONS
Fortnum + Mason – This unbelievable shop of tea, everything that could possibly be associated with tea, and beautiful stationery was actually the highlight of my whole London trip. Breathtaking + energizing = bliss. 
Foyles – While this was a five-story-tall bookshop, I spent most of my time there at the cafe, which was definitely the best bookstore cafe I’d ever been to! I had a delicious crushed ginger tea! Also, the cafe is right next to the bookstore’s art gallery. Very cool for book lovers, tea lovers, and art lovers alike!


Fifty-Five Bar – I got my first of two smoking cocktails there, called “The Zombie” (i.e. a flaming corpse reviver); this place is located in Camden Town.

FOOD
NOPI – One of Ottolenghi’s finest restaurants with unbelievable food. A highlight was getting to see the kitchen right from where we sat!


Hawksmoor – We ordered an insane full-on English breakfast for two there. When I say insane, I mean it was the fullest platter of breakfast meats (many of which I did not know actually existed) I’d ever seen! Like I said when I went to Cuba, I had to say it again…goodbye, vegetarianism.