Old spitalfields

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My winter time wench coat screams ‘In this episode of ‘I Was A Teenage Orange Hawker,’ Christabella Divers hauls her baskets of wares, fruits and pies to Old Spitalfields Market on a crisp November morning in 1758 but not long after, she is approached by Sir Octavius Octavo who escorts her, by boat, to his Greenwich townhouse with plans to make her a sensational actress on the London stage.’

How to: spend a chilly day in London

It doesn’t matter how many winters I have lived through around the world, cold weather is still a surprise to me – the way it chills my bones and numbs my skin. 

About once a day as I walk outside, I say to myself, “I didn’t sign up for this,” even though I knew full well this was what I was signing up for. I’ve come to truly appreciate scarves and the pom-pom hat I got in Amsterdam. 

I spent all yesterday in the comfort of my warm bed, so today I had to do something to get me moving, so I headed into London. 

Even though it was super cold out, I ended up having an awesome day trying to keep warm in the best ways possible. 

1. Old Spitalfields Market 

After arriving at Waterloo, I took the tube to Liverpool Street to hit up yet another market. This market, however, is covered and surrounded by restaurants, so it’s much cozier than going to Portobello Road on a cold day like today. 

Depending on the day, there are different themed stalls like vintage or art. Sundays have a little bit of everything, but sadly not as much food as I was hoping. 

I’ve come to realize all the markets in London basically have the same items, so you go to them for the environment. This one had a more commercial vibe because its chain restaurant surroundings. It had a much more family-oriented, refined vibe 

2. Pho 

I was planning to go back to my udon place, but as I was heading to the tube station, I happened upon Pho across the way from the market. I love pho, and the restaurant was packed, so I decided to try it out. 

I loved the vibe and appreciated the communal table. 

For those who don’t know what pho is, it is a Vietnamese soup with flat, long noodles that comes with sprouts and herbs on the side. 

I got my pho with thinly sliced beef and added a ton of Hoisin sauce, fish sauce, cilantro, sprouts, lime, sriracha and basil. 

Eating it all is such a process, though, because the bowl is so big. I started with the noodles, so my stomach wouldn’t get falsely full with broth. I recommend getting water with it, so you can appreciate the flavors and not overheat. 

3. Guildhall Art Gallery 

Whenever I find somewhere online I should go to, I add it to my “LONDON” list in the Notes app on my phone. Often I forget where I found out about things – like the Victorian exhibit at the Guildhall Art Gallery. 

Guildhall is located over the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater. I realized that after walking out of the Victoriana exhibit. Glass panes looked over ruins in a dark basement area with the silhouettes of people made up of lazer pattern reenacting gladiators. It was like an eerie historical lazer tag place. 

The Victorian exhibit was pretty awesome. I wish it was more extensive because I could have spent all day looking at the pieces. There was everything from steam punk-inspired helmets, a chair with a back filled with taxidermy fox, a room filled with jasmine-scented cherubs and pictures of women with animal heads. I loved every single piece in the exhibit. For the 5 pound ticket, it was worth the trip. 

N for Nicole! 

4. Bea’s of Bloomsburg 

Post-all things Victorian, I was craving a cupcake, so I headed down the street to a popular afternoon tea spot. I got a table and ordered a caramel cupcake and hibiscus-black currant tea. The set up was so cute, and the surroundings were super chic, but I just couldn’t like the cupcake. I, however, couldn’t get enough of the tea. I’m obsessed with hibiscus things. The cupcake was really dry, and the frosting was too buttery. Alas, I still enjoyed myself.  

5. Southbank 

From Bea’s, I decided to walk to Waterloo – best decision of the day! The walk was the perfect London at nighttime route. I went past St. Paul’s for the first time then over the Millennium Bridge. On the bridge, you get the best view of tower Bridge, the Shard and the Globe all in one. Getting off the bridge and going to the right, I walked along to the Thames to Southbank. I walked through the Christmas market there then went to the Real Food Market, which was just closing up. 

Everyone was lined up at a stall selling pork sandwiches, One guy was making the sandwiches to order while another was pulling the pork from a huge chunk of pig. As I was waiting in line, people were lining up for seconds. I don’t blame them. The sandwich was better than any pulled pork sandwich I’ve had – and I grew up in the BBQ capital of the world. This sandwich was different because the meat was so moist and tender, there was fresh apple sauce spread on ciabatta and arugula {rocket} gave it a nice peppery bite. I want another now just thinking about it as I write. 

So despite the shiver-inducing cold, I had a really awesome day checking out new things in London while keeping warm. I live for these days out by myself, and I am really going to miss them. My time here is almost coming to an end. Ahhhh! Let’s not focus on that! Instead, let’s focus on what I have coming up next: 

  • Thanksgivukkah in London – I have some fun plans up my sleeve! 
  • A possible trip to Brussels to see a family friend 
  • More Devon Days in London 
  • More Christmas markets in London