The first day of our 39-day Europe expedition began in the heart of England and one of my favourite places in the world, London. My mom and I touched down around 11:00 at Heathrow Airport and descended in wonder into the underground station to purchase our Oyster cards. Coming from a city where the transit system is always late and the bus schedule is eons apart, (not to mention the train stops at home are kilometers away from one another) I had such a fun time riding on the tube and therefore didn’t mind at all staying outside of central London.
Instead of taking the Heathrow Express which would have taken us to Paddington where it was farther from our Airbnb and would cost more than the standard fare for the underground, we took the Piccadilly line to Hammersmith station to switch trains. Since it was still early, we decided to stay in the Hammersmith area to mingle around a bit.
We emerged from the station and headed straight into a Starbucks for a cup of coffee to keep us going. As my mom and I sat inside the coffee shop and watched the busy Londoners go by, we saw a number of them walk around with this odd pastry-like thing in their hand. My curiosity got the best of me and I found myself going to investigate. It led me to a little booth in the wall of the station about ten meters away called “Hasty Tasty Pizza”. The shape of the pizza was oval and was served in a cardboard sleeve to make it easy for commuters to eat as they go. If I’m being honest, the mushroom pizza was a bit dry and didn’t have the most flavour however, if you are in need of a quick bite and you’re craving pizza, I would recommend it.
After our little stop, we took the Hammersmith & City line to Shepherd’s Bush Market station where our Airbnb was located and got settled into our little flat. Though it was a small flat, it had all of the things we needed for our ten day adventure in London. It was perfect for two people. We had two hobs for cooking, a microwave, and a mini fridge so we could save some money and cook ourselves.
From there, we explored the area we were living in and it felt safe to me. To be honest, it looked a bit sketchy on first glance but as we familiarized ourselves, it really grew on me and I quite enjoyed staying there. Many tube lines were available in the area with Shepherd’s Bush Market station running Circle line and Hammersmith & City line and Shepherd’s Bush station running Central line. Getting to Central London was extremely convenient and relatively quick with each journey averaging about 30 minutes.
We spent the rest of the day at Westfield London which was a mall located a fifteen minute walk from our flat. Let me tell you. This mall was GIGANTIC. The shopping centre is two stories with a stunning glass ceiling that lets natural light in. We couldn’t even get through the whole mall in a few hours.
The first thing we did was purchase a SIM card from 3 Mobile that offered unlimited data so we could access the web for navigation purposes for only £35. The plan itself was a pay as you go so when the 30 days are up, you can purchase another unlimited data add-on for another £35. The great thing is that this plan allowed roaming in Europe free of charge so I could use data as we traveled across the continent. The reception was pretty good with only a few minor issues so I would definitely go that route, again.
Now, this is when my mother and I discovered our first Primark. Cute, stylish clothing at low prices. They had options for every occasion. Work? They have sophisticated blouses and skirts. Lifestyle? They had a plethora of jeans and trendy clothing. Beach? They have swimsuits and cover-ups. My mother and I spent over and hour that day roaming and trying stuff on. I hadn’t even gotten through my first day in Europe and my luggage was already significantly heavier.
We strolled down the walkway with a whole bunch of restaurants and noticed a supermarket called “Waitrose”. We were beyond excited to see what Londoners eat and have available to them on a daily basis. It was one of the most interesting experiences I had there. They had intriguing flavours of yoghurt that I wouldn’t have dreamed of and we bought the most British things we could find. Jaffa cakes, ginger beer, tea biscuits, crisps, and so much more.
I have a deep passion for baking and the British have all the ingredients I wish I could work with but are not accessible to me. They’ve got double cream, crème fraîche, vanilla paste, coffee essence, gelatin sheets, and once again, SO MUCH MORE. I ended up bringing home 4 packages of gelatin sheets and quite a number of vanilla beans. I am excited to share the result of my baking when I get a chance to experiment with them.
Here is a weird thing I have to do everywhere I go. For every country I visit, I have to taste the milk. I know it’s strange, but I’m very picky about milk and the taste of it. So this is Mel’s Milk Review:
The milk in London tasted better than the milk in Canada. Maybe it’s a perception thing, but I felt like it’s more fragrant and tastes more like dairy. Like how milk is supposed to taste. 8/10
Overall, the first day was exhausting but absolutely incredible and it gave us insight on how Londoners live and the things that they purchase. The first day was how any first day in a new country should be; it got us even more excited for the real adventure to begin the next day.