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Monday, January 19, 2015

Snapshots From North London

If I could move anywhere right this moment, I'd probably move to London. I have been in love with this city ever since I first started obsessively reading some London-based blogs a couple of years ago and have spent a good chunk of time wanting to experience it myself. I wanted to check out the food scene and eat some great street food at Borough Market. I wanted to go shopping on Regent Street and stop by the V & A to admire cultural objects. And I wanted to wander through the streets in awe of the history of my surroundings.

I've been to London a couple of times over the last eighteen months now, but there's just so much to see and do that I feel like I have barely even scratched the surface. One of the areas that I would especially love to spend more time in on future visits is the north of London: My boyfriend was living in the south of the city and so making our way Camden, Primrose Hill or other areas in North London was always a pretty big trek. But the one time we did venture out on a walk there, we made sure to take in as much as possible and discover some hidden gems in London.

Regent's Park

Since the English are known as masters in garden design, seeing a park while you are in London is kind of mandatory. Regent's Park is one of the Royal Parks in London, but it is not quite as known as many of the others and consequently a whole lot quieter. Located just north of the infamous Madame Tussauds on Marylebone Road, it made the perfect starting point for our walk and because the grey clouds gracing the skies probably didn't exactly inspire most people to head out, we had the place almost to ourselves.

There are two factors that make it especially surprising that Regent's Park is not more popular with visitors: For one, Regent's Park is pretty huge. Not quite Hyde Park huge, but definitely big enough to make you feel like you're not in London any more. On the other hand, Regent's Park is also beautifully laid out: There are green spaces designed in the French style that line the paths, fountains that wouldn't look out of place in a palace and olive trees that convey a bit of a mediterranean vibe. It's different from other parks in London that follow the classic English landscape gardening style more, but that's all the more reason to check it out.

Primrose Hill

The main incentive for our walk was actually to visit Primrose Hill. The term Primrose Hill can basically refer to two things: The hill Primrose Hill and the neighborhood Primrose Hill. They're probably technically the same thing, but distinguishing between the two just makes my blogger job a little bit easier. The hill Primrose Hill is a small green space that almost seamlessly connects to Regent's Park and from which you have a pretty awesome (& different) view of London. There were locals walking their dogs, going for runs or pushing strollers through the crisp air and while some non-Londoners (like me) had come out to enjoy the view, the place was refreshingly tourist-free.

The neighborhood Primrose Hill which is right next-doors to the hill Primrose Hill is one of those hip neighborhoods which fancy Londoners call home. It's a little bit like the other hill across the city (aka Notting Hill) minus Portobello Road, but a whole lot quieter, even though its boasts a similar type of colorful townhouse architecture. A type of architecture, by the way, that immediately makes me want to live there - just look at the streets!

The Canals

I've got to be honest: For the longest time I didn't even really know there were canals in London. I had heard of the area Little Venice before - side note: When will people stop calling every place with canals Venice? - but it was never a place that was on the forefront of my mind. I guess I just didn't think it would be an interesting experience. Once I did stumble upon the canals, though, the little houseboats lining up on the water and the narrow paths with the occasional walker made for a truly unique scenery.


Camden is another hip London neighborhood, but where Primrose Hill seems proper and elegant, Camden feels gritty and edgy. Colorful street art and sculptures of ultralarge shoes adorn the walls, masses of people wander on the sidewalks and there is a constant sense of life and noise. Camden can be quiet overwhelming the first time you visit - I definitely didn't fall for it immediately - but once you have given yourself some time to get used to the chaos, it's one of the most fun places in London.

Hungry from our walk, we ended up at the street food section of Camden Lock Market for some Crepes and Falafel. London is just amazing for food: I mean, I can't really claim to know anything about the fine dining scene, but as far as street food and other more budget-friendly options are concerned, London really is hard to beat.

What's your favorite London neighborhood? 


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