Settled in the City / by Nadia Fallahi

London is beginning to feel more homely as I have started classes and put myself on a schedule.  While I only have class two days a week, I am becoming more comfortable with the area and setting into a routine.  Also, I finally found a gym, so a few of us been tryna get that cake up and stay on track.  I may miss my beloved Equinox (they have a location here that’s just a mere 280£/month — no thank you), but this isn’t terrible, and it’s better that I’m doing some kind of activity than sitting around and eating all day.

I am missing school and LA, but London is still so amazing.  I love being able to do something different, basically, everyday and see so much of a city I really enjoy.  My stomach is happy and my wallet may be not too happy with me, but it’s all part of the experience, right?  I am hoping to travel more, but we are just kind of planning things spur of the moment, so stay tuned.

Here are a couple new (and some old) spots and things that I have been doing in the last week or so!

 

FOOD

Bang Bang Canteen

We actually were told about this jaunt from Camille’s mom who found it online.  I dieeeeee for Vietnamese food, and who doesn’t love a good bowl of Pho?  We originally tried to go in a group of about 7 or 8 during a Friday during lunch (probably like 12:30/1 PM).  It was a fracking zoo and they had no guarantee of time of when we would sit, so we ended up going to a Persian spot down the block.  Attempt #2 was on a Monday afternoon at 2 PM, and we even made a reservation (even though we were only five this time).

The food came out super quickly, and I think every was generally impressed.  Joanna and Caroline had never had Pho before, so it was fun watching them experiment with it all.  I got the (surprise) Pho Ga, which is Pho with chicken, a pork belly bao (I cry every time), which is a little stick bun thing (NOT like a cinnamon bun) stuffed with vegetables and pork belly (they also had chicken and a different kind of pork) and dressed it with Siracha, and finally, a matcha bubble tea (even though I didn’t drink the tapioca).  It was about 18£ for the Pho, bao and matcha. 

 

Coffee, Cake & Kisses

I think this was originally a house or something because the inside is just like a big kitchen you would find in a home.  Conveniently located next door to Bang Bang, we hopped in here after our jaws dropped at the plethora of cakes, pastries and other desserts.

Five of us ordered three different slices of cake to split (as we were very full from Pho but still wanted to try the desserts).  We got a piece of carrot cake, red velvet cake and this salted caramel cake (get it warmed up!!).  All were freaking delicious, and I honestly could not tell you my favorite because they were all THAT good.  I think it was about 3-5£ or so a person to split three pieces.

Sketch

This is probably the most basic spot, but that is not going to stop anyone from going, tbqh.  Known for their afternoon tea, pod bathrooms and pink gallery amongst several other quirky rooms and elements.  I visited Sketch over the summer when I was here for ICS, yet I was still very excited to return. 

Over the summer, I went for dinner and sat in the gallery.  This time, I met up with Delanie, my old boss from MATTE BLACK, and we went for tea and sat in the gallery.  I got the jasmine tea and Delanie got a vanilla one (I think) and we were given the arrangement of finger sandwiches, pastries and other intricate little things.  Everything was unlimited (tea, sandwiches, etc.) and it was 50£ each.  The passion fruit desert, pistachio puff pastry and grilled cheese were my favorites.

I visited the Richmond location with Nima and his friend before the Fulham FC game, but it is basically a gourmet (duh) burger chain with locations all throughout London.  They have a ton of different options, from simple burgers to intricate beef burger, chicken burgers, veggie burgers and some specialty burgers as well (like a Persian lamb burger!!). 

I got the most California thing on the menu was the Bacon and Avocado Burger with a fried egg.  I added ketchup and hot sauce to the burger as well.  I also got the truffle cheese fries that were immensely disappointing, as I was hoping for ones more like the truffle fries from Umami Burger.  I also got a lemongrass and ginger fizzee soda thing that was good.

 

Benito’s Hat

Walking to class one day, we passed this little spot that looked super cute from the outside, much like many other spots along Goodge Street.  We decided to go there for lunch one day around 1 PM and the line was out the door (and was even longer as we were leaving).  It’s basically like Chipotle but they have some speciality items as well as make-your-own.

The featured item on the menu was this like teriyaki steak burrito, but I guess the steak they use for it is different and was not prepared at the time.  I ended up getting a steak burrito which was subpar and I wish was spicier.  All the meals automatically come with chips (yay!).  This was not the best burrito I had, but I wouldn’t mind returning, and I probably would during their “happy hour” time.

 

Amorino

The first time I had Amorino was over the summer in Paris, but I quickly realized there is also a location in Beverly Hills next to Sprinkles.  It’s basically yummy gelato that they present in this like rose, flower way (but only if you order in a cone!).

You can order as many flavors as you want, but I usually get two.  I like the speculoos with the caramel or the lemon sorbet with the strawberry sorbet.  Also, they have this amazing mojito (non-alcoholic) when I went in Paris, but the Chinatown location in London is shleep.  The small cone and cup are 3,50£.

 

 

 

 

LIFESTYLE

Abbey Road

In my experience, this is another basic activity that people are generally not jumping to do if they are not huge Beatles fan, but after they go and take the pictures, they are really excited and happy that they went.  This was my third visit, yet I was still equally excited.  We went on a Thursday afternoon (apologies to everyone as I accidentally took us to East London, haha) around 2:30/3 PM.  The lighting was great so the shots came out well.  I had to use Snapseed to brighten the foreground so that the balance was brighter and more even, and obviously, finished it off with a little VSCO edit.

We also went and signed the wall outside of the studio and went into the gift shop.  The lighting in the walkway to the alley was amazing, so we snapped lots of pictures (I even got a new profile picture, T G).  The store had lots of great Beatles and Pink Floyd (as they also recorded at Abbey Road with one of the Beatles’ old techs) merch and albums.  I ended up getting two postcards and a coffee mug.

Fulham FC Game

Fulham is a little suburb in southwest London, and they have their own football (soccer) club with a stadium (which is the only stadium left in the UK with wooden seats, I learned).  The game was on a Saturday afternoon around 3 PM and was chilly but not terrible.  It was a great experience, as I prefer other things (concerts, museums) to soccer matches, but it was fun all the same.  It was also fun to go with my brother, who is a lot more passionate about the sport. 

The team is like a B-league team, so big names (Chelsea, Man U, Man City) will not usually roll through here.  If you just want to be able to see a match and not drop too many coins, then I would suggest going to one of these games or pick another smaller team.  Also, the guys that go are really hot, so it’s fun to gawk. We bought the tickets the week of and sat in the second row for 25£/ticket. 

 

 

The British Museum

Luckily, a bunch of us are in a class at our uni here that lectures for the first hour, and then takes you to a different gallery or museum every week!  Our first week’s visit was to The British Museum, which is in central London, very close to our flat and Oxford Street.  I was mostly excited to go and see the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon friezes, amongst other ancient artifacts (as I noted in my Berlin post, I loooooooove this stuff).  I was immensely disappointed when my TA spent about half of our time there in this tiny room talking about Mexico and drugs.  (I mean, hello!!! The Rosetta Stone is around the corner!!!!!).

We saw two pieces from Mozambique that were made from old gun pieces and one of the Easter Island statues and then looked at three pieces in the Mexican part — all which took about two hours.  I was upset about this since I was really hoping to see the ancient art more.  I ended up getting to the Rosetta Stone and other things I wanted to see, but I wish that we had spend more time there.  Entry is free, so definitely go check it out!!

 

Richmond

Richmond is another little suburb outside of London, a little past Fulham.  My brother is going to school there, so I went to visit him for an afternoon and then we went to lunch there before the Fulham FC match.  The afternoon I spent there, we had lunch at Wagamama (which was great until I dropped my new iPhone in Nima’s ramen) and walked around while he ran some errands.

Richmond is beautiful and quiet, yet bustling.  It has a bunch of great little restaurants, pubs and shops.  I would recommend going during the day for lunch and shopping.  It’s really beautiful to just walk around.  Definitely go to Richmond Hill, which looks over Richmond Park and the Thames.

 

 

NIGHTLIFE

Tonteria

Delanie invited me to join her, her boyfriend and some of their friends to celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday.  We got to the club around 11:45 PM on a Saturday night, and just kind of hoped for the best.  We waited about an hour to get in (ugh) and the entry was 20£/person.  

The club is really cute (and tiny!!).  The ceilings were low but the environment was not too terrible.  It has a “Mexican” theme to it, and they serve a lot of tequila and frozen margaritas, and you will not be able to turn around anywhere without a sugar skull greeting you somewhere on something.  As we had gotten in there kind of late, people were turnt and it kind of began to feel like a frat party (still not sure if this is good or bad).  The music was great and I would definitely go again — just maybe with a promoter this time.

 

O’Neill’s

O’Neill’s is a popular spot for USC kids in London and is also known at the 9-0 of LSE.  I went to O’Neill’s one night over the summer with some friends from SC who were also in London for the term.  The bar is two floors and is pretty spacious.  They have live bands and DJs, so the music is generally good.  

Be sure to go to the location in Chinatown!!! There is no cover (at least from my experience), not really a line to get in, and the drinks weren’t too expensive.  We will most likely end up here frequently.  

 

 

 

Ice Bar London

I was a little hesitant about going to Ice Bar after our attempt in Rome over the summer, but I decided to give it another go.  One of my friends from SC was visiting for the weekend from Paris, so he kind of organized a get together for some SC kids at Ice Bar.  We went around 10 PM on a Thursday.  You have to make a reservation online and pick the time you want to go in.  It’s about 16£/person, which gets you a special coat and a drink upon entry.

The drinks were good and it was fun to take pictures.  This is a good spot to start your night out at!

 

 

 

Matcha Had Me...falling more in love with London and anxiously waiting to do more (and also really excited about my Instagram flow).