On the first day in a new city, walking around is the best, low- cost way to feel the vibe of it and more importantly, get your bearings. London is a sprawling city with many different sections. BC and I are lucky enough to stay in Soho, near Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus- centrally located to most things and on many different underground (subway) lines.
Having lived in London one summer in college put me at an advantage. I had seen a lot of the touristy sights and knew my geography. At King’s Cross, Platform 9 3/4 didn’t exist yet when I lived here. These days they have a special wall recreating the walking-through-the-wall scene and a Harry Potter gift shop. A long time ago my friend and I just pushed on the wall near platform 9 and wished for a magical change of my Muggle status.
The British Museum is about a half mile walk from King’s Cross Station and is the home of the Rosetta Stone among other worldly treasures. Rosetta Stone:
The British Museum is free to get in and so vast I could easily spend a few hours here without getting bored. The Egyptology section is phenomenal and is easily my favorite part with their collection of statues, tombs, and mummies.
It is very crowded though, we went really early to avoid a lot of them but the Rosetta Stone viewing was jam packed. The atrium is huge and filled with natural light and a great escape from the hordes of people.
Free WIFI is another perk. Find a bench and take it all in.
Alas, we had places to go and terrible football games to watch. We are actually in London to watch the NFL game of our Baltimore Ravens play Jacksonville at Wembley Arena outside of downtown London. The underground takes you right there and we met our friends for what was was supposed to be a fun game. However, we were so god-awful that we ended up leaving in the 4th quarter when the score was 44-0.
The best way to heal after a crushing loss- spicy, Chinese food! We had a beer at the game but no food so we were more than starving once we made it back to Soho/Chinatown area. Yelp and Google led us on a wild goose chase around Chinatown before we finally found a Barshu– a Sichuan restaurant with good reviews and no line out the door.
We did some crazy ordering with spicy Old Woman’s tofu (really, that is the name!), a tofu noodle salad (my surprise favorite dish of the night), sweet and sour spare ribs, and dumplings.
My mouth was on fire but reminded me of my 3 week trip to Chengdu, now many years ago. This restaurant was legit and led to our complaints about how Baltimore doesn’t have much in the way of good Chinese food.
In all we walked over 20,000 steps on our first day in London and had a fantastic time doing it (minus that whole football game).
More from London soon!