Tag Archives: Primark

Sillyness around London, featuring Jack and Etana

8 Mar

The weekend before my birthday (Feb. 24-27) one of my (most good-looking) closest friends from home, Etana, came to visit Jack and me. She is currently studying in Amsterdam and has been all year so I hadn’t seen her since August. We had quite a lot of fun exploring the city on Friday. We mostly stayed around the Bloomsbury/Holburn area but managed to venture to Oxford Street so that she could experience the joys and terror that is Primark. She did manage to get a bargain, so it was worth it. And of course Jack and I took her to Pizza Express for dinner, where she also got to experience my favorite dessert, Banoffee Pie.

On our exploration we came across this gem.

I clearly am a child. But that's okay, I know I am not alone.

On Saturday we went to Portobello Road in Notting Hill. It was dreadful weather all day; it rained, and rained, and rained some more. But we had fun looking at the trinkets and we had some delicious Paella from a street vendor. We also found this store, which made us think of a certain friend:

Little Lauren would have loved it. And Madonna has been there apparently.

That night we went to Brick Lane for Indian food, which is quickly becoming my favorite cuisine. Brick Lane is famous for Indian food but I found this street sign, which made me think of yet another friend:

Yes, Patrick, it is a street named after your favorite food.

As for our dinner, I had Vindiloo, which is an extremely spicy dish. I can normally handle spicy food but I was reaching for the mango lassi (a yogurt based smoothie) and the naan (flatbread) to help cool of my mouth, which was ablaze. After dinner we went to a club in Picadilly called Rumba, which was fun but crowded. And at the end of the night I had to say goodbye to Etana (for now, Amsterdam, here I come…April 22). Getting to see her and Jack really makes me appreciate not only old friends but having really great friends relatively nearby.

After my weekend with Etana, I was greeted with another Monday. But this time, it was my birthday. My 21st birthday. It didn’t really feel all that special (although my Blackberry was quite exhausted from all the Facebook notifications by the end of the day) until the next day, when I went to dinner with Jack. We had some fabulous ravioli and a glass of wine and dessert at a place in Covent Garden . After dinner we went back to his flat to watch Clue and polish off two bottles of wine. It was quite the night.

But the birthday celebrations didn’t stop there. On Wednesday we went to our favorite little club, Opal, to dance and have a good time. Before Opal we went to the Union bar at Imperial College for a pint of cider. And at opal we ordered this:

The Giant Daiquiri. Serves eight, or five in our case. And Jack was more than able to keep up with the girls.

We also managed to take a shot (Jack, Sam, Matt, and me) or two (Jack and me). It was a night of good friends and great dancing. What more can you ask for at 21?

Jack and I on the dance floor, making everyone jealous of our sweet grooves.

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Camden Market: Where the wild mohawks are

17 Jan

First order of business for Saturday: sleep in. Once we finally dragged our tired bodies out of bed, Sam and I headed to the Camden Town Tube stop. We had to transfer lines but it was a cinch. Like I said, the Tube and I are becoming quite friendly.

Camden Town is home to Camden Market, which is essentially like a massive flea market. It is also comparable to Canal Street (Chinatown) in NYC. Basically there are hundreds of vendors selling everything from t-shirts and sunglasses to knock-off handbags and jewelry. Street food is also abundant.

We met up with a friend of mine from school back in the states, James, who lives just outside London. It was weird seeing someone from school abroad, even though this is technically home for him.

And so the three of us set out in Camden, into the hustle and bustle of tourists, bargain-seekers, and punk rock punks. I’m talking multicolored mohawks and giant spikes in the hair. On forty-something men. Who also wear plaid pants and combat boots. It was like going to a Clash reunion concert.

 

It's comforting to know that they spend more money and effort on their appearance than I do.

 

There was an entire store of gothic/punk clothing. It looked like a costume shop. Who needs a floor-length jacket with frilly sleeves unless they’re dressing as a pirate for Halloween?

 

This is where I plan to go back-to-school shopping for next year.

 

Navigating the stalls was a bit draining, mostly because there is so much to see and the people peddling “I <3 Justin Bieber” t-shirts tend to hover over you, murmuring prices and trying in vain to convince you to try on the hideous sweatshirt you just had to touch because it looked too ugly not to touch.

Eventually the racks of cheap, child labor-produced clothing part to reveal a lane of food stands. Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Italian… You name it, Camden has it.

Street food is wonderful for many reasons; it is:

  • Cost effective.
  • Delicious.
  • Messy.
  • Fast.

I had a messy, delicious, cheap, quickly made fajita which I devoured whole-heartedly. Chances are if there is cheese, salsa, and tortilla involved, I’m going to enjoy it.

After our jaunt through Camden we hopped back on the Tube and headed for Oxford Street, which, as I mentioned earlier, is a major shopping center of London. Aside from the obvious reason to go there, we went for a little (big) place called Primark.

Two massive floors of discounted wonderment.

Imagine a store that sells clothing for men, women, children and babies, linens, pillows, shoes, luggage… Kind of like a department store. Only cheap. And by cheap I mean dirt cheap. Think of Primark as Wal-Mart prices at forever21 or H&M. The clothes are surprisingly fashionable, completely synthetic, and in a year you’ll toss them out without feeling buyers remorse.

Now, we all know how shoppers get around low prices. People get greedy, people get frustrated, and people get rude. At Primark, people turn into frenzied animals, jumping about the store in chaos, grabbing faux leather jackets and 2 for 5 pounds pillows. Sheer madness. But, being Britain, though the people shop like fanatical beasts, everyone is still polite. There is no yelling or elbowing like in an American store. No eye-rolling or sneering. People just work around each other amicably. I thought I was in an alternate universe. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t seriously claustrophobic and on-edge, keeping one eye on the exits. In hectic places I like to get in and get out, and even though I snapped up some bargains, I was happy to get out of Primark.

After a full day of walking, Sam and I relaxed for a bit before heading out to a local pub, the Gloucester Arms, for a drink. I went with cider again, I’m thinking it might be my go-to drink. Cheers to that.