Vive la France

Around London Town

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Covent Garden and West End Wanderings

Around London Town

As much as I’ve made my love of East London apparent, the West End has its charms too. In fact, it’s where I spend much of my time. In some ways it’s become my neighborhood. Although I live a bit outside of the area it’s where my class is held so I usually find myself there at least once every day.

The Covent Garden area is exceptionally charming and the market has been dressed up in the most beautiful holiday decorations. If you’re like me and missed the apparently magical balloon clouds (not their technical name, I can assure you) that inhabited the market a few months ago, the new decor is a great consolation prize.

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Outside of the Covent Garden Market, are quaint and quiet streets intermixed with streets full of hustle and bustle. In the West End you can find it all. It’s all completely picturesque and dreamy.

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The Tube and double decker buses in this city are iconic, but at the end of the day if your legs can handle it, a long walk home is well worth it. The best way to see the city is by foot, especially with the way they light it up at night.

From Covent Garden and Seven Dials you can wander into Leicester Square and make your way up to Piccadilly Circus…

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And on to Regent Street with the decorations that make the sky sparkle…

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Then back out of the madness to the side streets, which give Regent Street and Oxford street a run for their money with the decorations.

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All this, just when you thought London couldn’t get any prettier …

221B Baker Street

Around London Town

If that isn’t one of the most recognizable addresses in history I don’t know what is. Home to one of the most famous characters in literature, film, and television the address is now occupied by the Sherlock Holmes Museum, and naturally I couldn’t resist.

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As you walk up the narrow stairway and step into Sherlock’s bedroom and study it feels like Mr. Holmes and Watson have walked out of the room moments before. With such attention to detail as a half full glass of wine at the bedside, candles burning, and a warm fire roaring in the fireplace it feels more like you’re a guest in their home rather than a visitor to a museum. Nothing feels curated. That’s what really stands out in this bit of the museum. It genuinely feels like you’re getting an inside look into someone’s private space.

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Once you exit Sherlock’s apartment you head upstairs where you’ll find the oddest collection of things. From (borderline creepy) wax figurings depicting various stories, to notes written by fans including a menacing note from none other than Moriarty, there’s every bit of Sherlock memorabilia a life-long or new Sherlockian could dream of.

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When you’ve finished making your way through the many floors of the museum pop back down to the ground level for the souvenir shop. Usually souvenir shops are generic, but this one is a real gem. Full disclosure, my suitcase will be weighed down with all types of Holmes merch.

Fancy a bit of an adventure? 221B Baker Street will have you ready to search one out in no time! If it’s more of a Sherlock pilgrimage you have in mind I have a couple of other pointers for you here. Off you go then!

Guy Fawkes Night

Around London Town

“Remember remember the 5th of November.”

As soon as the I heard that quote I knew I recognized it, but couldn’t put my finger on why. With nightly fireworks for the last week I asked my friend Julia if I was missing something and she happily explained that Guy Fawkes Night also called Bonfire Night was just a handful of days away and the celebrations had begun. With the final celebration taking place on the 5th of November.

All week long we searched for places to go for a proper bonfire, but it seemed the vast majority of celebrations were just firework shows so we decided to pass on celebrating. Instead I decided to spend the night at a cafe working on a project. Masses of police officers kept coming in and out and along with a general buzz that was brewing I asked the people around me what was going on.

The Million Mask March, a protest in conjunction with Guy Fawkes Night, was set to commence shortly. Naturally my interest was piqued so I made my way just a stone’s throw away, to the starting point in Trafalgar Square to see what it was all about.

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It started right on time and peacefully. Although even in the peace of it all the masks sent shivers down my spine. Soon the masses began their march towards Parliament where things ultimately got a little rowdier, but still contained.

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As the hours wore on the protesters were getting gradually more rambunctious, but still maintained a certain sense of peace and control. Of course as with any good protest, the crowd eventually went rogue, veering off the strictly set up paths and taking the surrounding areas by storm as well.

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Heeding the advice of my friends at the cafe earlier in the evening I made sure to head home before 9p.m. when it notoriously gets rowdier and more violent. Just as suspected things did get a little out of control but I was luckily safe in my cozy bed by that time.

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This marks the third protest I’ve found myself in in Europe. My first day ever in Europe I wandered into a peaceful protest in Madrid. A couple of months later an equally calm event in Rome, and now several years after both of those, London. Perhaps it’s being the daughter of a flower child, but I absolutely love the trend I’m seeing.

Borough Market

Around London Town

In a city known for its markets I’ve been trying to make my way around to tick them all off the list. With Spitalfields and Portobello markets under my belt it seemed only fitting that the famous Borough Market would be next. So far I’ve found it to have the most variety by far and loved exploring the area around the sprawling market which happened to be just eerie enough to feel right on target for Halloween.

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Within the market there is a sampling of anything and everything under the sun. If you go, take a stack of cash and a big appetite because the temptations are everywhere.

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I indulged in some delicious Indian street fare and some sinfully amazing gluten free deserts from Free From (not pictured as they mysteriously disappeared before the camera could catch them).

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The market goes on and on and to be honest I wasn’t quite sure where it ended at times. The area just around it is adorable though, so wandering up and down the surrounding streets as you go isn’t a bad idea.

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Just based on the convenience of getting around I haven’t spent a ton of time south of the Thames, but after this trip I think I’ll be making more of an effort to go explore the various neighborhoods. It’s incredible the variety that can exist in a single city.

What’s Your Sign?

Around London Town

I’m completely obsessed with astrology and all things zodiac related. So it will come as no surprise to anyone that when I discovered Selfridges had spectacularly done up their windows in the zodiac theme to accompany their Astrolounge, I went absolutely bananas.

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Twelve signs, twelve windows, and twelve completely magnificent displays to grab the attention of even the grumpiest holiday shoppers.

Aries

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Taurus

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Gemini

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Cancer

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Leo

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Virgo

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Libra

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Scorpio

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Sagittarius

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Capricorn

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Aquarius

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And of course they saved the best for last, as always, with Pisces.

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Before you head back to the chaos of Oxford Street you have to take a few steps back and look up. The whole place is breathtakingly beautiful.

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