Two Weeks in London

October 27, 2016

We recently had a two-week break to London. Should be long enough, right? Well it seemed to be long enough to leave the office, but too short to explore London. It was only enough for me to familiarize myself with Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, Piccadily Circus and the area, haha. Apalagi kami tipe yang kalo jalan itu santai, nggak ambisius, nggak bikin itinerary. Trus senengnya keluar masuk grocery, coffee shop dan nyantai-nyantai di taman. Oh iya, sempet juga 2 hari ke Liverpool dan Manchester sama ke Oxford! Duh mesti balik lagi deh ke Oxford, love love love the old college town atmosphere.

But it was the vacation we badly need because it's already 8 months since our last vacation, so we needed to refuel to get ready for what a lot of people predict gonna be a tough road for startup and business in general.

London was awesome, of course! The weather, the people, the scenery, the shopping, the poundsterling that keep on dropping, the airbnb apartment that we rent in, the underground system. It's only missing delicious coffee. Oh and it could use more playground for kids.

Anyway, just want to leave some notes from the trip for my future references:

  • Transportation: Oyster card is your friend. Need to familiarize yourself with the underground lines. Of course, we took the wrong train a few times, but that was part of the journey. I miss walking in and out of underground station and just looking at people walking in and out, everyone was rushing but it wasn't chaotic at all.
  • Food: We are not too crazy about food honestly, but a few food that we liked: Wok to Walk for cheap, fast and tasty chinese food. We also ate at Eat-Aroi Thai food near our apartment which was good. Everything in Cay Tre Vietnamese Soho area was good. And of course you gotta eat Shake Shack in Covent Garden. Some other suggested by friends that I didn't get to try was: Five Guys Burger (they are everywhere) and the duck at Four Seasons China Town. When we go overseas, we love going ot the market and eat from the stalls there. Puche suggested Kappacasein Grilled cheese in Borrough Market, I tried it and still can taste the melty delicious cheese in my mouth. We also went to Portobello Market and tried a few different food that taste yummy! Selfridges food area is also interesting. If you're looking for something that everyone will like, Nandos is always a good option. Ohh we ordered Papa Johns pizza as well!
  • Shopping for skincare & Makeup: Selfridges! I love their beauty workshop session dedicated for indie brand. SpaceNK has brands like Sunday Riley, Zellens, Aurelia. John Lewis Department store carries Merumaya, Liz Earle, Melvita and many more. Boots of course is always interesting, I found Hand Chemistry and Hylamide along with many brands I haven't heard. Liberty is fun to check out as well, you can find brand like Aesop there. Pixi store is just behind Libery. For more organic brands you can check Whole Food, the second floor in Piccadily store is dedicated just for that. 
  • Shopping for clothes: well this one varies depending on your budget and style, right? My biggest fashion find was a vintage Pringle of Scotland coat and Chanel scarf! I checked out COS stores a few times as well aand always loved it. If you are looking for designer items from previous season, check out TK MAXX. For outlet shopping, you can go to Bicester Village. 
  • Coffee: Well, like I was dissapointing for me, so different than the taste of coffee I'm used to in Jakarta, or the ones in Melbourne or SF/LA. But maybe it's just me. Anyway, here's the best coffee in London according to many people: Monmouth Coffee (the one in Monmouth Street is next to Orla Kiely store!) or you can try the one in Borrough market. The Attendant, Flat White, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Monocle. I found out they have TOM'S coffee right after I finished my cup from another store. I don't know if it's as good as the one in LA or not. My favorite when there is Cafe Nerro is always its hot chocolate milano! The first thing I drink at the airport and the last thing I drink at the airport before we left. 
  • Outdoor: The Obvious Hyde Park and Serpentine Lake, Regents Park which houses the zoo and Primrose Hills, Tower Hill area.
  • VAT: Unfortunately it's not 20% as the stores charge administration fee. From my experience: Selfridges give 7.8% back to us, Boots around 10%, Gucci almost 11.7%, John Lewis almost 10%. The highest I received was from Tyler & Gibbs which sell luggages and travel goods and that was 12%. So don't get too excited thinking you'll get 20% back :D

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