Christmas is a magical time of year and especially around London as the festivities start early and just keep on going. In between work and play, I found some time to indulge in it all…after all it is the most wonderful time of the year!
At the beginning of December, all the Christmas lights had already been put up and officially switched on. I had a free afternoon during which I strolled around Regent St, Oxford St and Carnaby St to check out the Christmas lights as they are always impressive..they ranged from the glitter balls and elegant angels to the carnival theme which I particularly loved!
I spent a great weekend visiting a friend up in Manchester..it had snowed in the few days before my visit so my train journey was so scenic. We started our weekend with a prosecco brunch at Rosylee in the Northern Quarter and then onto the Manchester Christmas markets to get into the mood. Shout out to the super cool girl at the Pringles stall who had us dancing and playing games for freebies. It did start to snow again during the day which got me even more excited for the 25th!
Back home in London, I kept discovering pretty decorations and lights around central London.
A slightly less festive tradition I have developed with one of my childhood friends is to go to a London Lions basketball game in the Olympic Village during this time of year. We stopped at Westfield’s Stratford this time to have dinner..we ate at The Real Greek which had a heated terrace to sit in and we had a nice view of Santa’s Grotto and the fake snow whilst we ate delicious Greek food.
If you’re into basketball then I would recommend going to one of their games. The tickets are so reasonably priced that we were sat at the front. The crowd was lively and it had a nice family feel to it. Perfect opportunity to experience the copper box arena and stroll around the Olympic Park.
The Saturday before Christmas was a super indulgent food day. I was once again living my best life now that I was free of work for the holidays!! It started with brunch at Maloko..it’s a quirky cafe in Camberwell, South London. I grew up around here so it amazes me how trendy it has become recently.
The menu features savoury and sweet crepes and caters for vegetarians, vegans and those who are gluten intolerant. I had the incredible goats cheese and mushroom one with a banana, coconut and lemongrass smoothie.
Later that day, I went to Selfridges with my family for afternoon tea..yo sushi style! The chefs had made a special menu for this which was so well presented and delicious. Selfridges was beyond festive with the disco balls and live gospel choir singing on the designer floor..pure bliss.
Our final stop was Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. Now this is a classic Christmas location to visit but I hadn’t been for a few years so there were quite a few new attractions and it seemed bigger than before! You can visit Santa’s grotto, go ice skating, go on multiple rollercoasters, view London up on the viewing tower, eat food and drink beverages from all over the world, shop at the lovely market stalls and more!
Christmas Day started in a less than traditional way for me this year. One of my friends suggested a morning bike ride around the city on a rented Santander bike (lovingly known to Londoners as a Boris Bike, named after our previous Mayor). There would be no public transport and streets would be emptier…we could actually enjoy being tourists in our own city. London gets a bad rep for cyclist safety and having never ridden along these major roads before, I was intrigued to see what it would feel like.
It was grey, very windy and busier than expected but we had turned up in our matching raincoats from Peru and I had on tinsel, Christmas jumper and Christmassy earrings to get me in the mood! We started our journey at Elephant and Castle which is the closest pick up location of Boris bikes to our houses. For anyone who hasn’t used a boris bike before, the first half an hour is free and then it only costs £2 to rent for 24 hours!
(Additional note 18/01/18 – the £2 is taken at the beginning and in order to avoid extra charges, you should return your bike to the nearest docking station every 29 mins..and take another one out 5 mins later if you need it..otherwise you’ll be charged £2 for every half an hour you use it!)
Surprisingly, there were cycle lanes for most of our journey..and where there wasn’t, we could use the bus lanes without competing for space!
We rode past the Imperial War Museum, Lambeth North Tube Station and St Thomas’ Hospital to Westminster Bridge where we had our first stop. Here we took a few snaps by London Eye…not the Houses of Parliament though as Big Ben is currently under construction so not so good for pictures for the next few years guys!
Next was 10 Downing St, the horse guards parade (we had no chance of getting close to the horses) and up to Trafalgar Square.
Our tour continued up to Regent’s Street and Piccadilly Circus…which was eerily quiet. The floating statues were still at work though even with very few people to entertain.
We rode on to Leicester Square and then to Covent Garden.
Finally we rode across Waterloo Bridge to Waterloo and back to Elephant and Castle where the tour ended…total time of 2 hours.
What an amazing way to start Christmas! I was ready lunch after all that cardio and had a super chill and lazy rest of the day….I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas too. Do leave comments below on how you spent the season, whether at home or abroad!
I’m really excited for 2018 as I have so much travel and culture discovering planned…I can’t wait to share them with you all! In the meantime, I will be publishing articles on my previous travel from the last couple of years to whet your appetites…