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In my twenties, before getting married, I traveled back and forth, lived in different places for long periods of time, alone and independent. I loved it, coming to a new place on my own and finding my way.
Once I had my own family, I became a part of a unit, the spontaneity of deciding to go somewhere and just be in the moment, was gone. Instead, I became an organizer, meticulously planning family trips that are right for families with young children, making sure all of their physical and emotional needs are taken care of. Don’t get me wrong – family trips are great, and when planned right, they are so much fun! (read about that here) but I sort of lost track a little bit, of the wanderer I loved being.
For my fortieth birthday my thoughtful husband bought me a trip to London, just for me, he was to stay home and take care of the kids. My best friend joined me and we had a ladies only trip, no planning ahead (other than booking flights and hotel), no schedule, just enjoy the energy, beauty and freedom to choose for ourselves where to go, when and for how long. No Disney stores, no dinosaurs or teacups carousels, Just us doing what WE want.
So off we went:) London in the Fall is beautiful, all decked out with lights and holiday season decorations.
We woke up on our first day there, in our elegant hotel room (fantastically cute hotel Melia white house), no alarm clock, just woke up on our own. We had a cup of coffee in peace and quiet, no frantic morning routine, it was such a break from reality. We hit the wintry streets and just loved every second of it. We walked for hours just wandering around, no one destination in mind, finding sweet corners of the city that made us stop and enjoy them.
This is going to sound silly but it was the little things that had us stopping and to take pictures – small flower booths with sweet colors, an ice cream shop that looked like a painting, random but pretty streets. It all made me so happy.
We spent the second day at Notting hill walking around Portobello road. As a huge fan of the movie (yes, I can completely do the dialog in full while watching it) it was especially fun.
There are small antic shops all up and down the road, where you can find gems that will make your heart melt. I especially loved “Alice’s“, where you can find everything old, whether it’s a boat wheel, teapots, or kid’s antic toys (my favorite!) the small shop is like a treasure box.
The whole experience of the market is pure fun, the Christmas booth, the hat shops, the colorful shops and houses, I could spend a whole week just roaming the streets there.
Our last day in London was spent in Camden town. When you step out of the underground station into Camden town streets, you feel like you have arrived in an entirely different city. The feel and vibe are louder, noisier, more rugged and less refined. That is where you find alternative fashion, cheap accessories, and second-hand shops.
The best part of the area is the Camden Market that is located within what used to be horse stables.
Wandering around the market alleys is a truly fun and interesting experience thanks to an interesting mix of quirky stores. There are vintage inspired fashion stores like The Collectif, Period costumes shops like the Tainted Prince that is something between a costume shop and a Gothic fashion store, second-hand books and much more.
For our final chord, we wanted to do something we will never do in other circumstances. Something my friend and I could share and create a memory that was unique and just ours.
As we are both fans of, period British movies and TV shows, historical romance and anything Victorian, we wanted something that related to that. We found this interesting photography studio where you can choose period costumes, have your makeup done, and then have a photo shoot with props and features. I hate having my picture taken, but this was fun, something I would only do with my BFF and we loved every second of it.
It was an unforgettable way to end our trip. Thanks to that photo-shoot I also developed a tremendous appreciation for current day fashion, let me tell you, corsets and crinolines? make sitting a not so comfortable thing…
The nitty gritty:
Flights – EasyJet – always check and compare your flight prices on a comparison search engine – I love using Jetradar.com, it gives me the most extensive results.
Where we stayed: Melia white house hotel – it was perfect for us, elegant, quiet, in a very safe neighborhood so felt comfortable coming and going at night and has tube and bus stations all around.
From the airport to the hotel – we ordered a shuttle weeks before, the driver waited for us with a sign, it was comfortable and not too expensive as we shared the shuttle with other travelers from our flight. We use this tool to search and book transfer wherever we land (when we don’t use a rental car) intui.travel.