London, baby!

This year I did something a little bit different for my mum’s birthday. I brought her to London!

We flew from different airports in Sweden but arrived at Stansted at approximately the same time and from there we found our way pretty easilty to our hotel, Caring Hotel, in Bayswater. After checking in we took a walk over to Madame Tussaud’s which I must say was a lot more enjoyable this time than last time I was there, maybe due to my expectations being lower this time. After Madame Tussaud’s we walked to Tottenham Court Road and down to Oxford Street where we turned right heading towards Hyde Park. We didn’t get to Hyde Park right away though as we found this little alley that lured us in with its neon lights. The alley lead to a court yard with restaurants all around, we didn’t pick one of these though. Instead we walked around a bit before we decided to have dinner at an Italian restaurant, which didn’t really make that much of an impression on the outside but which surprised us immensely all through our dinner.

Friday was a walking day. Due to it having been rather warm on thursday when we walked around I made the HUGE mistake of not putting on a thick sweater the next day, which lead to me freeeeeezing for most of the day. We started off crossing Hyde Park and walked via Royal Albert Hall to Harrods and from there we continued our walk passed Buckingham Palace down to Big Ben and the houses of Parliament. From there we continued on to the river bank on the Tate Modern side of the Thames, and finally stopped for lunch at Tate before continuing over Millenium Bridge. We passed St Paul’s Cathedral and headed up towards Trafalgar Sqaure with a little detour at Somerset House where we stopped for a while to watch the ice skaters trying their luck on the rink. We continued our walk through Covent Garden to Leicester Square and on to Picadilly Circus before heading up to our restaurant for the evening, a Thai restaurant close to the theater at which we were going to watch Hairspray later on the same evening. I finally got my temperature up half way through the musical, after having spent about an hour with both my and my mum’s coat on me. After the musical, which was very good, we walked back to the hotel via Oxford Street.

Saturday morning we walked over to Notting Hill as my mum wanted to see the Portobello Market, unfortunately she wasn’t very impressed by it so we left it pretty early in favor of the area around Towern and London Bridge. From there we walked back with quite a few stops in different shops. I found these GORGEOUS shoes. They weren’t really my size but hey, I couldn’t keep myself from buying them just because they were a little bit too big. 🙂 After a few hours of shopping we returned to the Hotel and dropped our purchases off before walking over to Queensway where we had dinner at yet another Italian restaurant.

Sunday meant checking out from Caring Hotel. As our flights were not until later in the afternoon I decided to take mum to Camden Lock Market. The day before I had given her the option between Notting Hill and Camden and she had chosen the first of the two, but having a little bit of time on our hands before our departure I figured we might as well check Camden off the list as well. I have been to Camden quite a few times before and I remember it as being a little bit of a shady place, but there had been some serious cleaning up in the area since my last visit and I was actually very positively surprised by what I saw. Had it not been for us carrying around our luggage I think that the visit to Camden would have been quite costly, as it was now the only thing purchased was a coffee and a chocolate covered marshmallow stick.

After four very intense days with good food, good shopping, long walks and lots of sightseeing me and my mum returned to Sweden very content with our stay in England’s capital. I am pretty sure we will both return to this city at some point.


To a lot of people Lille doesn’t really ring a bell. In my opinion it is one of the hidden jewels that the north of France has to offer. It might not offer that many well known sights to visit but it is a perfect place to live in.

Admittedly one of the great advantages of Lille is the city’s location, which allows easy access to cities like Bruxelles, Paris and London. Not to mention a personal favorite of mine: Bruges, which can be considered the Venice of Belgium and is a MUST for those who, like me, love well kept old cities, romantic channels and cobblestoned streets.

Even if one of the great advantages of Lille is the fact that you can easily get from there to some of the big european capitals there are also places worth exploring within the city’s borders. I am a huge fan of old towns and Lille’s more historical area is no exception. It won me over in less than five minutes with its maze of alley roads filled with bakeries, restaurants, chocolate and gift shops, artist studios and a fascinating cathedral which can be found on Rue Jean Moulin.

When you are done with dreaming away in the old town the next stop on my city tour around Lille is the park of the citadelle where you can find something as luxurious as a free zoo! I found this little pearl early on during my stay in Lille and it quickly became a favorite when it came to taking sunday walks! The zoo offers a wide range of wild animals in a beautiful setting and is perfect to combine with a walk along the channels in the park.

Besides my fascination for old towns I have a soft spot for sweets, crĂȘpes in particular! I see it as a duty to eat as many nutella crĂȘpes as possile whenever I visit France. And Lille is no exception to that. However, I also got another favorite during my stay in Lille: the merveilleux sold at Carrefour. A chocolate lovers wet dream! Chocolate mousse and meringue, yummie!

Being a swede means enjoying to spend hours at cafĂ©s: having coffee, eating pastry and chatting with friends. In Lille I had a hard time finding a good place to do this as there didn’t seem to be to many cafĂ©s offering something to eat and drink without having to breath in a lot of second hand smoke. However, half way through my stay I found this one place called Le pain quotidien at Place Rihour that lived up to my demands, plus: they offered a white chocolate merveilleux! Loved it! (While writing this I found out that it is actually an international chain, no cafĂ©s in Sweden yet though..)

So, to conclude my little review of Lille:

  • Eat crĂȘpes, merveilleux and visit le Pain Quotidien.
  • Take some time to explore the maze of alley roads in the old town.
  • Visit the zoo and explore the area of the Citadelle.
  • Take advantage of the city’s location by making day trips to surrounding citites!