Over the past few months of so called winter in Istanbul we have been weighing up the pros and cons of a trip back to the UK. On one hand we get the chance to pick up some hard to find kit, catch up with old friends and indulge in food and drink while on the other hand didn’t we just spend six months cycling from London to Istanbul? As the list of things we could achieve in just one day in London grew the argument to go finally won us over.
We had three primary aims for our trip:
- One action packed days of shopping and chores
- To see friends who we had expected to miss for the next twelve months
- To eat and drink at a variety of our favourite London establishments
Shopping & chore day
With only one working day in London, a new camera to experiment with and a lot of ground to cover this is how our day was organised:
07:30am – We eat BACON! + eggs for breakfast prepared by Graham. Yum!
08:30am – Justin leaves to collect new watch strap from Casio warehouse
10:00am – We head to Travel clinic for vaccinations
(I know not seeming too rushed so far)
11:30am – Leave travel health clinic with sore arm and lighter wallet
12:00pm – Visit Paramo shop to exchange Justin’s rain jacket
12:30pm – Visit various outdoor stores searching for Primus priming pads
13:00pm – Go to Stanfords to collect pre-ordered Mongolia and Russia maps. Pick up maps of China and a few phrasebooks
13:30pm – Justin buys new sunglasses in longest ever shopping transaction due to problems finding price of pair he wants
14:30pm – Lunch as we walk towards Oxford St where we part ways for a little while
15:00pm – Justin buys a new camera case while Emma is shopping for sports bras
15:45pm – Justin finally finds Emma after getting hopelessly lost in Marks and Spencers 16:00pm – We head to Velorution to test out a replacement Brooks saddle for Emma
16:45pm – Quick rest in HSBC comfy chairs after insurance cheque deposit
17:00pm – Emma heads to old work for Friday drinks and Justin is off to meet a friend for dinner
23:00pm – Both meet up at temporary home for a few quick games of Xbox Kinect
Catching up with friends
Having the opportunity to see our London friends again even if only for a few hours was wonderful.
We managed to squeeze in a couple of social evenings at pubs seeing different groups of old friends and between this we stayed with our good friends Cat and Graham, catching up on everything that has happened since they visited us in Istanbul in November last year.
Graham also arranged for us to head along to the Kinetica Art Show where we checked out all manner of weird, wonderful and movable art before racing across central London on the new (to us anyway) London hire bikes. The hire bikes made it a pretty cheap (£3 total) and quick (Fitzrovia to Notting Hill in around 40mins) journey.
Food & drink
It won’t surprise you that while we aren’t gourmet chefs we do have a liking for good food and decent beers. Over the last six months in Turkey we have been missing some of our favourite UK eateries and ales. Tasting our first pints of nicely settled Guinness we were surprised to discover that we had lost our taste for it a little. Other beers, ciders and ales sampled (in moderation) over the weekend were very much enjoyed however.
Eating wise in no particular order we managed to squeeze in the following eateries (plus of course some great nosh at mate’s places):
- Battered sausage and chip supper courtesy of Alex’s Plaice, Kilburn
- Indian curry in Great Missenden for Justin (Thanks to Laurie)
- Indian curry at Vijays, Kilburn for Emma (thanks Cat and Graham)
- Proper English Breakfasts (inc Eggs Benedict) at Nona, Kilburn (Thanks to Andy)
- Pork Burrito from Benito’s hat, Fitzrovia
- Pancake stacks at the Diner, Kensal Rise
- Asian style soups courtesy of Banana Tree, West Hampstead
It was a whirlwind visit but we returned to Istanbul happy we decided to make the trip. Post visit we are now wondering how our extra 10kg of new kit and food is going to fit on the bikes.