BRICK LANE, LONDON.
I’m still not sure how to begin telling you how wild my last day in London was, but I’ll do my best.
After an early morning alarm & a quick face wash, Q and I left for the YMCA. The last Friday of every month is “free friend Friday.” Friend: me; gym: free. A short workout to roll out some travel kinks and stiffness (as well as give my muscles some of the iron its been itching for) before a pit stop at Monmouth Coffee, where I indulge in a delicately prepared drip while Q – the sophisticated young buck he is – samples a few beans.
The next thing I know, I’m on the tube headed out to the highly prestigious Wimbledon Championships with one, simple goal in mind: a photo for my parents. Being from a tennis family my mom and dad have always dreamed about going to see Wimbledon (+ the other grand slams); but for the last 24 years have put these and other dreams on hold so that my sister, brother and I could attempt to reach all of ours.
Our parents are the two most selfless and generous individuals I have ever been worthy to know – my mom drives herself insane being a caretaker in more ways than one; my dad once gave up a catapulting career because I had entered their lives. Every now and then, they will ask for something (read, never explicitly ask, but “throw the idea out there,” so to speak). My siblings and I do our best to provide, as they have and continue to provide for the three of us.
When we all realized that I was going to be physically present in London during Wimbledon, it occurred to my parents that I was the closest shot they have ever had to living vicariously to the hundreds of thousands that frequent the grounds every year. And so, the idea of me paying a visit in their stead was thrown out there.
I will admit, I did not take this idea so easily, and the entire experience was, in a nutshell, stressful. I was already on a time crunch and a ~45 min trip out one way was not ideal. When you arrive via the tube, you still have a ~15 minute walk to even see the courts – and that’s even if you can get around the masses trying to do exactly what you are. Oh, and when you get there, it isn’t helpful if you don’t have a ticket. Thus, the poor man’s Wimbledon experience looks like this:
By the time I made it back to central, I’ve had some to realize (and let my heart rate settle down) that as badly as i wanted to exclaim, they owe me for this, all I had truly done was given up two extra hours of sleep to say thank you for 24 years of their sacrifice for not one, but three kids. In short, I owed them this.
Sorry it’s not much, mom & papa, next time I’ll get a better picture: with both of you…on the other side of the gates.
Then, I grubbed. Hard.
Q took me to Camden Lock Market, also known as the more grunge, more colorful, eclectic side of London (read, my part of London). We only had a short amount of time to spare, so, naturally, we didn’t waste any.
After rounds of salivating smells and samples, I settled on a food tent that prepares hunted game – in a really satisfying way – where I ordered venison (aka deer) from a friendly Polish man! Amazing. So, so, so amazing.
And WHAT is a food market to a foodie if she does not
stuff her face indulge in dessert!? ESPECIALLY if dessert is a plate of Dutch pancakes drizzled with copious amounts of Nutella!!? What, I ask you.
With hazelnut spread all over my mouth and powdered sugar dusting my scarf, we rushed back to the tube so I could make it to my Harry Potter Studios tour (where you can read about, here).
Minus a few bumps and bruises, the afternoon is a blissful blur.
Around 1800, Q and i ventured out to Brick Lane – where each man’s experience is unlike the rest. Each restaurant/ establishment sends out one of its employees to man the streets and convince passerby’s that their food & service surpasses the next. Marketing at its finest, really. It wasn’t until we hit Eastern Eye Balthi House that a young man convinced us to give up our “reservations.” (To be fair, the New Yorker in me responded to every approacher with a casual leave-me-alone retort. Without Q’s genuine interest, we may have never enjoyed the dinner we did! *Read, we didn’t have any reservations.)
A starter, entree, rice, & naan for 10 quid each, you say? Free papadoums? BYOB? Sold.
We started off with 2 samosas (meat & vegetarian), chicken tikka, and our Stellas; followed by spicy prawn palak & spicy chicken jalfrezi; and instead of rice we substituted naan…so four loaves of naan accompanied our meal. #howwedo
After dinner we went to this really comical night spot called the Big Chill, a bar that sported a delicious underground vibe. Well, there’s only two things to say about this magnificent place, (1) the DJ only played some serious old school, and (2) despite not knowing most of the songs, Q showed everyone up on the dance floor.
When we couldn’t find a local with good recommendations for another spot, we decided to wing it. We met a girl named Tia who tried to
steal our organs convince us to come to the night club she was promoting. Figuring our organs were going to be relatively vital to both of us in the near future, we had a YOLO moment and got beigels down the street. Yes that’s B-E-I-G-E-L, not B-AG-E-L. Not only did I get a photo op with the masterminds behind the masterpiece, I found that a doughy treat is much more satisfying without the A 🙂