The Paperblog Brief Guide to Food and Book Lovin' London
(TPBGTFABLL, for shortsies)
|The British Library|
The British Library is just great, you guys. Not only is it right next to King's Cross station, if you want to go and creep on the Hogwarts stop (good luck, Muggles), not only is it totally free to the public (except for special exhibits) but it is home to more antique books worth a billion dollars than individual pixels in this post worth nothing. I saw Queen Elizabeth and Queen Elizabeth's handwriting! I saw the Magna Carta (spoiler alert: there are tens of Magna Cartas; apparently they are as inexpensive as a ladie in ye olde Cheapside - heyoooo), some important codices from like...toga times, AND original Beatles song lyrics. I also enjoyed a delicious ginger cookie and tea - IN the library.
|I love this bookcase.|
The only downside?
There are many treasures housed here - it's very much a researchers library. Check the website if there is something you want to see. While the mini-museum has some great stuff, you should not go expecting to see everything. There's a process to see many of the rare items. The other problem? Why does your gift shop have next to nothing with images from the gorgeous book tank? What a huge revenue loss! I totally was hoping to get some notecards or postcards or something!
|The Library Bar at the Lanesborough Hotel|
You know what is delightful? Many leather-bound books in a library themed bar that smells of rich mahogany. I'm pretty sure it's where good librarians go when we die. Guys, this place is POSH. The waiters are super French, there are doormen, a live jazz pianist, the drinks start at an economical 15 pounds (HA - there's even a James Bond which prices in at like 34 pounds to get you some of that moonshine), and I'm pretty sure there was a Russian oligarch across the room. Awesomely, the drink menu comes in a faux book binder, and the first page is all library themed cocktails. I had the library sour, and it was delicious. Your drink will come with a complimentary tower of snacks, so enjoy both the ambiance, and your sesame sticks - you've attained book nerd nirvana.
|Library bar menu!|
The only downside?
Just ask your travel budget.
3. Harrods (Tube Stop: Knightsbridge)
Guess what? I'm about to share a big secret and lay some knowledge on all two of my avid readers. I'm going to assume you've heard of Harrods, the giant department store of very pricey things, formerly owned by the shady guy whose son died with Princess Diana? Long story short, I think it is now owned by Qatar. As in the country. But I could have been drunk on perfume fumes and the leather smells rolling off the expensive purses clogging up my Pinterest boards , so you can disregard that. But I digress! Let's return to the moment where I drop my super secret on you. You ready? Brace yourself. This is big.
|800 pounds cheap|
While there are racks on racks on racks, floors on floors on floors, and it is easy easy easy to get sucked into oogling things you most likely can't afford (especially with that exchange rate, you Yanks), there are a couple of stops you should strive to find. You should most definitely visit the Pet Kingdom. As in, the ridiculous pet store that has a whole bakery and pet clothing section. The in-department pet salon is nicer than my person salon. I'm not exaggerating.
|A clothing department. For your pet.|
The only downside?
The tourists. (Touche?) Plan to go early, around when it opens, and before it gets crowded in the afternoons, or downright zoo-y on the weekend.
|The Borough and the newest|
member of the London skyline,
4. The Borough Market (Tube stop: London Bridge)
I love the Borough Market. I'm both devastated there isn't one in my town, and thrilled, because there's no way I would be able to exercise any sort of self control. The Borough Market is a souped up farmers/artisan food market. When I went, in winter, there were two sides, the kind of prepared foods side and the meat, produce, etc. side; I imagine it may become a little bit more expansive in the summer and fall growing seasons. There is food of all ilks, all varieties, and for all palates. I sampled Turkish Delight, whiskey soaked cheeses, blood sausage chorizo (meh, stick to the real deal), olive oils, breads...you get the idea.
|Those meringues were huge. |
The only downside?
The crowd. It's not a secret that this is like the greatest thing since we learned how to slice and toast bread. Lots of people go to here, lots of people work around here, and all people like lunch, or bringing home nice things for dinner. Generalization? Whatever. Truth? Definitely. Go earlier on week days if you can. Have lots of small change and bills to ease the process, and most importantly, GO HUNGRY!
|Perhaps you will be hungry enough for a real horse meat burger?|
Many of the national museums in London are FREE. Sure, they have great special exhibits that you have to pay to see. But why bother when you can spend hours looking at other really great, totally free things (donations encouraged). They are also all over the city, so there's no excuse for not finding at least one! Even better (Paperblog Pro Tip here:), you can use the bathrooms for free. I salute you, Tate Modern. I might not have really cared to see your modern art, but I did care for your bathroom! The other Tate, the Tate Britain, is near Westminster, and generally has some cool exhibits.
|Stone tablet, meet digital tablet.|
The only downside:
NONE. They are free. Get on it, tourists.
Bonus: Literature, literature, everywhere.
Initially, I had big plans to do something literary every day. This more or less happened, but backhandedly. London, you see, is filled to the brim with literature. You just need to pay attention. You might, for example, in the course of a walk between the British Museum and Library, stumble across a sign posted on a house telling you that some guy named Charles Dickens lived there. Or you might stumble across one of the many public libraries scattered throughout the city! I bet they have free bathrooms too...
Half of the city of London appears as a setting in books, so try to contain you cool facade when you get to Kings Cross Station, home of the Hogwarts Express. You might even stumble across a lane filled almost exclusively with antique book shops in the Charing Cross/Trafalgar Square neighborhood, on a pedestrian side street called Cecil Court, between Charing Cross Road and Upper St. Martins Road.
|Cecil Court, London|
|That is one good looking team!|
|Ready? Set? Where's Wally/Waldo!|
|Waldo? Harry Potter? A USA football fan (worst jersies ever, btw)?|