London is for Queens. And Tourists.

If I can summarize London in one character, it would be this:

$

This place is really expensive.

Luckily, after years of saving for this trip and, thus, deliberately living as a broke person in DC and Boston since 2007, I am well-versed in Making Cities Work With Almost No Dollars.

I packed my own water and snacks, bought lunch at grocery stores, sneaked into hotels to use their lobby bathroom (learned that trick when I lived in DC!), and walked everywhere I could instead of taking public transportation. And I still had a good time, and it was still an adventure, and I didn’t once pay money to use a public toilet in London – F that! So, that’s how it’s done, folks. Thanks to my mama for teaching me how to work the system…(my mother has been a pro at disregarding both cost and authority since the 1970’s).

Anyway, my final day in the city began with a short tube ride to Notting Hill, where I discovered Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Recipease. I couldn’t really afford anything, but Jamie Oliver is a famous chef, and his restaurant was really awesome inside, so I caved and ordered coffee and a smoothie for breakfast:

Latte and a berry-oat smoothie. Expensive. Delicious. Worth it.

Inside Recipease. Kitchenaid and cookbooks everywhere…I was in heaven.

After eating, I wandered to the (apparently) world-famous Portobello Market and checked out the people and the wares for an hour or two.

Pastries for sale at Portobello Market

Lots and lots and lots of clothes.

Fresh fruit for sale.

London has a ton of markets. It’s a great city if you love to shop, or have money to shop, or don’t have to carry any of your purchases across half the globe for the next four months. None of these facts apply to me, so London was not my favorite. And there is nothing else exciting to write about my morning, so let’s do the afternoon:

I tubed to Charring Cross and walked through the National Gallery, to Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace, taking pictures all the way. Here are some things I saw:

Westminster Abbey.

Big Ben and pretty sky.

Houses of Parliament

Another photo of the Eye, with clouds rolling in…

In front of Buckingham Palace

Surrounding Buckingham Palace. The Queen does NOT f*ck around!

MY FAVORITE THING EVER. Unicorn vs. Lion. Rawr! Sparkleneigh!

So, yes, it was cool seeing all these beautiful and intricately decorated building exteriors, but ultimately, I found myself missing the mountains and fjords of Iceland, and anxiously awaiting my chance to go climb things again, like rocks and hills and volcanoes. (Though it was really fun entertaining myself by practicing my British accent on total strangers throughout the day. LITTLE DID THEY KNOW!!!).

My 9th rainbow of the trip! Either I’m really lucky, or Europe has a lot of rainbows.

After Wilson got out of work, we headed out to Shore Ditch, where we had drinks at one of his favorite pubs and then went dancing at a reggae/rap/blues/r&b show at Passing Clouds.

Good live music. The British rap scene is a bit different from America…(cue very pale, redheaded white kid rapping really well)

I really enjoyed our time at Passing Clouds: the music was great, the people were great, the beer was organic and great. Also, I love dancing, and miss having my solo dance parties in my tiny Boston apartment, so I was particularly happy to be able to experience this not-at-all-solo dance party in London.

Written in the loo at Passing Clouds. Preach, bathroom wall. Preach.

On our slightly tipsy, several kilometer trek back to his flat, Wilson forced me to take this photo:

It’s not even one of the good phone booths. Whatever. I reject the fact that this photo happened.

And so ends a very short stopover in London.

As I write this, I’m on a train to Edinburgh to visit my dear friend Robin, who I met years ago when we were both living in Kenya. While I was in London, I missed the mountains and natural beauty of Iceland, and I’m hoping Scotland will take me back into the hills. At least there are sheep there:

‘ello, Scottish Countryside!

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