I have a new favourite thing in London: pop-up bars!
They are basically bars, set up temporarily in strategic locations, generally during summer I suppose.
Look mum no hands in itself is a unique coffee-bar. Their permanent outlets can be found in Old Street and Mare Street in London, and it is designed for cyclists. They show films and cycle sports on their big projector screen, and they hold workshops and have mechanics to fix bikes.
The pop-up bar can be found in Southbank, right under Hungerford Bridge. I remember I was walking by the River Thames, weaving through the tourists while ‘My Heart Will Go On’ was being played by the street musician.
And then right there, just opposite the musician, tucked in a corner under Hungerford Bridge was Look Mum No Hands pop-up bar.
Whoever wrote this post about the miserable Copenhagen must have hacked into my WordPress account and written an entry in my name. No one in their right mind would ever hate Copenhagen.
I mean, how could you not love it when the people there are so nice? When I desperately needed some coins to change, a shop attendant went around the department store to find someone who had some coins for me so that I could buy my metro ticket from the machine. Or the friendly guy in Baresso who did not mind when I paid him using 1000 kroner note for a 48 kroner ice-blended chocolate drink and he ended up using up all his change for that morning. And he kept assuring me it was fine and wished me a great day after that!
On a beautiful day, you will be treated with a view like this right in the city centre at Nyhavn, which happened to be my favourite harbour in the world.
Note: I am in the midst of writing a very happy post about London, but really have to intercept with this little ranting just because I was having a very bad day. And publishing it to the whole world to see somehow makes me feel better. Strangely.
Perhaps it was because my closest friends here have moved out. Or maybe because the guy in the ticket counter was not friendly. Or maybe because my Airbnb host here was not responding to my messages at first. Or maybe because no one helped me in the bus when I could not pick up the umbrella I dropped because of my hefty luggage. Or maybe because it rained when I had to drag my suitcase down the street to find the correct bus stop. Or maybe because nothing seemed to work in the badminton stadium, from the WiFi to my own internet. Or maybe because the TV screen in the bus had to freeze and I ended up missing my stop and had to walk all the way back in the rain. Or maybe my heart has not quite settled from saying bye to some people dearest to me in London.
But Copenhagen seems to have lost its charm to me.
The metro seemed all too crowded for my liking and the facilities did not seem to hold for the growing number of people. The rain seemed much drearier than in London even though it was rarely sunny when I was there. The people seemed a lot less friendly than how I remembered them. I am watching badminton, my favourite and most well acquainted sports in the world, but everything and everyone seemed so foreign to me.
I’m starting to sense a pattern here. Whenever I discover something accidentally, it is normally when I’m in a pursuit of food.
It happened again last Sunday. I was getting hungry after having a nice lie-in, and I stepped out of the flat very sure of one thing: I would like to have a hoisin duck wrap from Pret-A-Manger, a fruit smoothie and possibly a high-fibre muffin. So I set off, with the firm purpose in mind, to look for the nearest Pret-A-Manger.
But soon I got distracted by the thumping noise that seemed to come from just down the road. Since I did not know where the nearest Pret anyway, I decided to just follow the noise and see what was happening and turned back to take the tube from the station I normally go.
Except that I lost my bearing as soon as I walked a different way. When I chanced upon the street map, I seemed to have already veered pretty far from where I was supposed to go (and I still had not found the source of the noise by the way). So I decided to go to the nearest tube station shown on the map, Royal Oak. By that point in time, I was already very hungry and could not wait to see Pret.
As it turned out, Royal Oak tube station was closed for the day, and I was told to keep walking to the next tube station, Bayswater. Grumpily, I kept walking, not realising that I was walking right into the Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest street carnival in Europe!
When I finally figured out what was going on, I got really excited and decided to explore what was happening in the carnival.
Watching Changing the Guard at the Buckingham Palace is probably one of the most touristy things to do in London. And when I say touristy, it really felt like all the tourists in the city were gathered there to watch the men in red and tall hat march.
I only managed to will myself to do it during this trip, which is already my fourth in London. It did not even occur to me during my previous three trips to check on the days and timing of this seemingly important every-other-day occasion. It was only this time that I found it rather obligatory to have this ticked off my London to-do lists.
As it turned out, I totally underestimated the number of people who were going to be there. In my mind, I was thinking that this could not have been THAT popular anymore since everyone must have seen before? It somehow did not occur to me that London still remains one of the most visited cities in the world and all new tourists are probably keen to see this as first on their list.
Because of this very mistaken assumption, I did not arrive there early and only turned up right before the whole ceremony started. Unsurprisingly, I was seriously lost when I got there, not knowing where I should be standing, where I should be looking. Throughout the whole time, I could not see very much what was going on (although I doubt there was much anyway) apart from hearing the marching band playing. So to make you avoid making the same mistake, this is how the Changing the Guard looks like if you don’t plan to reach there early.
Sometimes the best things in life come unexpectedly. This is why I love travelling and not planning in too much detail into it. I would normally have a rough idea or two of what I want to do in a city, leaving room for surprises.
When we planned the trip to Interlaken, I did not know what we would do in the city itself apart from heading to Jungfraujoch early in the morning for the second day.
So in the afternoon, we decided to take the Thunersee Lake Cruise departing from Interlaken West. The journey itself was beautiful, cruising along beautiful mountains and cottages nestled along the slopes.
But what was waiting at the end of the journey was equally wonderful. I had never even heard of Thun before this. When we took the train from Bern to Interlaken, I only brushed it off as one of the train stations in the middle of nowhere. However, it was actually a pretty little town with population of about 42,000 people. There were hardly any international tourists there – it seemed much more widely popular with the locals.
There is something about sunsets that is entrancing – the blue sky tinted with orange streaks before turning into complete darkness. The sky is always beautiful when you see it from just about anywhere. And when you watch it from the hilltop at Schindellegi, accompanied by the fragrant smell of fresh grass and an unobstructed view of Lake Zürich, it is infinitely more charming.
It is my last day here in Paris after 2 weeks of awesome family holiday (which I still have a lot to write on), and I have some time to spare before my train from Gare du Nord to London in 3 hours’ time. It is lunch time and raining – a sensible person would have taken this opportunity to go to a nice café to sit and have some proper lunch before catching the train.
Unfortunately (or fortunately in this case), I’m not a sensible person. I went to a nice café alright, but instead of having a sandwich or salad like a normal person would, I decided to have dessert for lunch.
Café de la Paix was recommended by a friend of mine and his exact words to me were: “If you have the time and money to spare, please go to café de la paix and order a millefeuille.”
I did have the time and just enough money to choose between a salad or a millefeuille for lunch. I obviously chose the latter.