Monday, April 18, 2016

Best Things I've Tried in London, England, UK!

Seeing the actual place once is so much better than seeing it on TV or hearing stories of it a thousand times!
This entry has been delayed for the longest time! It's been due to the fact that I have been going places and also been unmotivated to start typing and writing. I haven't even touched my laptop for almost a month! Well now that 2016 has started, I'd like to talk about my trip to Europe last 2015! There were too many places to write about so I decided to separate each one by blogging about the food in each country I went to.
The best investment I ever made in my life was to travel and see the world! It's made me so happy!
Now UK does not have the best reputation for delicious food, but there are some places in London that are worth going to! I was lucky enough to try some of it such as the ever so famous fish and chips, steak and ale pie, and British scones. I am a fan of tea though. Take note that London is a very diverse and multi-cultural area. Because of its influence in the entire world with former British colonies and what not, the diversity of races and cuisines in UK is huge. I have always wanted to live in a diverse, multi-cultural society. More than one race in one place I mean. My time in UK was short but sweet.
The very beautiful Westmister Abbey! You really have to stand there and appreciate its beauty!
For the places to go in England, there are the ever so popular Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, London Bridge, and of course, Buckingham Palace. London may not have the best weather in the world due to lack of sunlight, but there are plenty of places to see there! One of the things I noticed there was the diversity of its employees. You may think that London has only British people serving you, but the majority of its employees come from a different cultural background! From the airport, to the hotels and restaurants, I got to meet people from UAE (Dubai), Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Russia, Ukraine, Italy, India and even Philippines as their employees!
Oh the rain never stopped! HAHAHA! But still I'm glad to see Buckingham Palace!



I was very fortunate to have gotten the chance to go there because London is notoriously an expensive city to be in! The currency rate conversion is insane at 1GBP=70-72PHP. And you can imagine that everything, even a bottle of water, starts at £1 GBP. Average snacks will cost at £2-6 GBP, depending on the variety, and average meals will cost at £10 and up. You do the math! =) Luckily for me, I was able to bring some meal replacement formula while I was there, so I did not go hungry. Also, one thing that I liked about London was the fact that they have fruits that are normally expensive, really affordable there such as strawberries, blueberries and figs! The amount I would get in a supermarket in Manila at around 300-400PHP cost me more or less 140-210PHP when converted from GBP! That's a relief because I adore strawberries and they were sweet and delicious in London!
British strawberries: sweet and delicious! One of the few things I am thankful for that's affordable in Great Britain!
One thing that was a bit of a shock for me in London was the weather. Well, not much of a shock since I was warned beforehand, but just overwhelmed by how gloomy the weather was. I only got to see the sunlight there ONCE. And that is very shocking since I come from a country where sunlight is excessive and at times, unbearable. I wish we could share some of Philippines' sunlight with London and the rest of UK! When we started our first tour around the Changing of the guards, Kensington Gardens, and Buckingham Palace, it started to rain a little. More like a drizzle. I asked the tour guide if the weather was normally like this in London. And then he said, "YES. Welcome to London!" Thank goodness for coffee shops such as Costa Coffee to make us feel better!
A trip to London is incomplete without a trip to Harry Potter Universal Studios!
We eventually ended up purchasing a mini umbrella with the UK flag in it due to the fact that the raining was too much. We got to see Westminster Abbey, London Bridge, London Eye, Big Ben clock, and the gigantic church where they did the Harry Potter movies! Of course while we were around in that area, we decided to visit a random pub and order some beer and grub. It was very rainy, cold and wet outside, which is why inside was considerably warmer. Thank goodness because the weather in London was so depressing, which is probably one of the factors towards why people can be moody and sad at times.
Steak and Ale Pie with Chips and String Beans! Never knew savory pies could be flaky and delicious!
If there's one thing the Brits are good at aside from having amazing musicians (Adele, Sam Smith, Clean Bandit, etc.), it's their savory pies! I never knew the flavors of beer and beef would be good together! British food has had a reputation for being "bland and tasteless", but there are a lots of food in UK that break that stereotype! London is a melting pot of many countries in one place, so you can definitely see many cuisines here with a touch of British influence! Another pie that I would recommend here is Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie. If these pies seem tasteless for you, you can always add salt and pepper to it, along with a beer on the side! Go visit a random pub while exploring London, and see what dishes you can fall in love with!
Here we are in Diagon Alley! What a beautiful sight it is! 
Other things I enjoyed in UK were seeing the famous monuments such as Big Ben, London Eye, and London Bridge. You can really feel the history and power behind every monument in London. It is so amazing to know that the most powerful empires were there in those exact spots in London. Another thing I admired in London was the accent. The accent was infectious! The English, Scottish or even Irish accents were very beautiful to listen to all day! It sounded so refine, mature and attractive! I am not saying that other accents are not, but I just grew up watching Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver on television, so to hear that accent being used all day was very beautiful to me! 

This Turkey Milanese was surprisingly different but good! I recommend it!
Speaking of which, while in London, we decided to try out Jamie Olivers restaurant in Covent Garden, London. It was called Jamie's Italian. We got three dishes from there. The first was their famous Prawn Linguine. Now in this restaurant, you get the chance to have your dishes either in small size or large. We ordered large size since we were 4 people and just shared it. This dish was spicy, but everything we expected from a good quality pasta: fresh hand made pasta, fresh tomatoes, and lots of shrimp that's not too overpowering. The next dish we ordered was Turkey Milanese. This dish was composed of a free-range turkey stuffed with prosciutto and provolone cheese, coated in breadcrumbs and topped with a free-range egg and black truffle mushrooms. It was smoky, moist, salty and crispy all in one piece! I loved how they added greens on the side to make it more appealing. The last dish we ordered was called Ji Super Food Salad. It contained avocado and roasted beets with beans, grains, kale, pomegranate, toasted seeds, harissa, and cottage cheese. This dish was my favorite because it was new to me, refreshing, and healthy. I never knew something healthy could taste that good! Definitely something worth trying when you're in town!
Look at the size of that seared tuna in that salad! This salad is a must try here!
A place I recommend visiting in London is Harry Potter Universal Studios! I personally feel that JK Rowling and Harry Potter's books and films have made a permanent impact on British culture and society, being the most sold books of all time! So with that incredible impact and reputation, I strongly urge you to visit Harry Potter Universal Studios! These are the actual movie sets and production that they used for the Harry Potter films. I was able to see the studio for the Hogwarts dining area, the Hogwarts train, and even the area of Diagon Alley! Even if you're not a fan of the Harry Potter series, it is still an amazing feeling to be there and see it all. Have a pulled pork sandwich and Butter Beer while you're there to complete the trip! The public transportation to get there is a bus which leads to the main train stations. Google maps is very useful here! But if you're going as a group there, I suggest using Uber to go around as many of the trains in London can be quite expensive per person at around £10 per ride or 700PHP! =P
This serving of fish and chips is good for two people, but some ate it all for themselves!
It was at Harry Potter Universal Studios area that I got the ONE TIME to see the sunlight in London! I literally ran outside and took a picture of it and said thank you, Lord! I guess that day was a good day because sunlight is so rare there. After that trip, we went straight back to the main city area in London and decided to take the bus and train around the town to Oxford Street. One thing that surprised me was how affordable Marks and Spencer was in London! Maybe it's because of the fact that it originally came from London, but I remember my sisters and I staying there for a long time just walking around, trying out clothes and buying them! There was even a cake shop in one of the shops and I got myself some cake since it was my birthday when I went there! I got myself a strawberry shortcake and red velvet! The woman who sold it to me was from Barcelona, Spain. I swear the moment she said that, my face got completely excited and I started to speak to her in Spanish! I can't explain it, but I just feel so excited every time I hear someone speak Spanish because it is such a sexy language to me!
I was really happy to see Lukasz there in London! Really nice and open-minded friend here!
I got to meet two of my friends in London! The first was Lukasz from Poland! Such a character. His girlfriend was one of the many friends I made from doing internship in US. He was working in Leeds so he went to London just to see me on his day off! We had really good beer in one of the pubs there, and I got to taste this dark colored beer called Stout. It was good! The flavor of it had notes of coffee and cocoa in it! Another beer I got to try was Guinness. Also another great tasting beer! If you're in town here, do it like how the Brits would do it during their break from work: have a drink, socialize, and have a good time! 
Over here, we have Vanilla Bean Creme Brûleé, Tarte au Citron, and Chocolate Lava Cake with ice cream on top. Heaven!
At night, we ate at this very delicious French restaurant called Côte Brasserie in Covent Garden. Yes, again quite expensive, but taste and presentation was absolutely world class! To have fine wine along with it was such a wonderful combination. I felt as if I was living the good life there. We had several dishes from seared tuna salad to lightly sous vide lamb loin, shephard's pie, and three desserts! As you may know, I am a pastry lover so I just had to try the good stuff! This place may be French cuisine, but it still carries a bit of British class in it! This place is one of the most memorable parts of my time in London and I urge you to indulge and try it for your selves!
After so many years, I was so happy to see you Elena! If you come visit Philippines again,  you can always call me and we can explore together!
Later that night, I got to meet one of my school mates from middle school and high school. Her name is Elena. A British girl with an Irish background, I have not seen Elena for almost 8 years! We just kept in touch on Facebook. I was so happy I got to spend time with her! I'm happy that I grew up in an international community because wherever I go, I always know how to make friends and meet those who I have not seen for a long time! Anyway, we were supposed to have beer there, but Elena was doing a campaign by remaining sober for October at that time, so we just decided to drink non-alcoholic stuff around London and then talk about what has been happening with our lives! We walked around several places until we got to see a very hidden pub, where we got to socialize with other Brits. I eventually found out that the pub I went to was a pub that the late Amy Winehouse used to attend to! Really, the things you discover when you just explore around the city more often. I miss it already!
This is an absolutely hip and modern pub! Those artworks of Michael Jackson are being sold by the artist! Quaint and intimate pub right here!
In the morning, my siblings and I went to this well known food district in London called Borough Market. It is a food fair, with so much selection from steak, seafood, pies, pastries, and even other cuisines! My personal favorite there was a stall that had a baking school company based in it. It was called Bread Ahead. Along with that food stall, I also tried this place that was run by a couple from Argentina. They sold to me a croissant with dulce de leche on top. I spoke Spanish to them and their pastry was divine! This place is for the people who love to eat! It is very diverse here as there were cuisine very foreign to us reaching as far as even Iceland!
Absolutely fantastic pastries right here! Their doughnuts and pastry selections were so tasty!
After London, we went straight to the Eurostar train station area and waited for our next trip, which was our train ride from London to Paris! The wonderful thing about Europe is that many countries are connected, so exploring one country to another is not such a hassle! You can ride a train and even drive to another country! During this time in the train station area, we got to try scones from Marks and Spencer and had coffee in Costa Coffee! Wow, their coffee was very good, and I got to try this British Confectionary called Belgian Chocolate Tiffin. It was like a crunchy chocolate ganache as it had bits of digestive biscuits in it, with dried fruit, maltesers, and chocolate ganache. This was definitely the most memorable pastry I tried in Costa Coffee, and to this day, I still keep looking for it or trying to make it!
These Vanilla Bean pastry cream and Blackberry creme doughnuts were so divine! A must try at Borough Market!
My next trip to Paris, France will be next! London, UK may be hassle for other non-Europeans like myself to visit, more so a Filipino citizen, but it is worth the effort to get the UK visa needed for this! If I could do it, you can too! London may not be everybody's cup of tea, but it is worth experiencing at least once in your life because this place has so much life and history in it! Don't let the little sunlight and pouring rain intimidate you. You can always budget out and experience a bit of London. My time there was short, but sweet. I only hope that I will keep finding more places like that to explore again soon! And I hope you start exploring this world soon! You only live once so go see the world while you're young. It all starts with getting up on your two feet and doing it! =)
You only live once so go see the world while you're young. It all starts with getting up on your two feet and doing it! =)

10 comments:

  1. Ah London, it's like every Filipino's dream. I'd love to go there myself someday and have my photo taken at the Hogwarts Express.

    I've a friend in London, she said that many people there get depressed because of the weather and whenever they see the sun, they would all go out and sunbathe. While here we are in the Philippines, complaining every summer that we have too much sun haha...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't plan on coming back there anytime soon hehe! It is so expensive there! But yes very beautiful despite the weather and constant light rain. I wish Philippines could share some of its sunlight with the rest of UK! Yes Harry Potter Universal Studios is a must! The Hogwarts Express train is a lot smaller than I imagined it would be. But still amazing! If I do go back, I want to explore other cities now like Manchester, Essex, Edinburgh and Leeds!

      Delete
  2. What an interesting trip! I have so much fond memories of London but I don't think I've done enough touristic activities. This will be a great guide. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww Thank you for the sweet words Trisha! I really, really, REALLY do hope I can make it to Brazil, Peru, and Colombia like you did! I have been wanting to go to Brazil for the longest time, even to the point of trying to cook Brazilian and Peruvian food at home so that I could get a taste of it! Hahaha!

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh wow! I can't wait to visit London. I heard London is pretty pricey to visit but Switzerland way more expensive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha! Yes super duper pricey for generally everything from dining to public transportation! Almost everything starts at 10 GBP or PHP700 for a meal. Switzerland I have yet to explore there! Hopefully I can be able to survive there hahaha!

      Delete
  5. Would love to visit London, maybe when the budget permits. Will use this as our guide, hehe! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the support! Yes it is really expensive in London, but it is a place that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime! So much history and culture there!

      Delete
  6. I can't think of Someone who doesn't want to visit London.. I love the architecture of this country, the British accent and adele!!! Woooo! I'm hoping that someday I can visit this country too. Need to save moore money it seem like everything is expensive there... Unless I want to eat food everyday. Hahaha

    ReplyDelete