London is the perfect weekend getaway from Paris — close enough to get there quickly, easily and (if booked in advance on Eurostar, or by the midnight Megabus) cheaply, but different enough to shake you out of your rut and make you feel like you’ve really traveled far. Just don’t forget the address of the place you’re going to, which is the first thing required by customs at Gare du Nord and of course the one thing that slipped my mind. As I stood on the platform desperately trying to connect to wifi (which never worked) and watching the minutes count down, every single street name I’ve ever known of in London was completely wiped from my mind. Fortunately another American arrived and was able to help me out. She had the same problem, but was armed with a French mobile and could phone a friend. With her help I made it onto the train just seconds before it pulled out of the station. Once there I met up with another American ex-pat to celebrate a belated holiday dinner. I was surprised at how many of her British friends were in to our Thanksgiving theme — but how much of an excuse does anyone really need to eat pie, turkey and mashed potatoes?
The day after the feast, my guide took me on a tour of her favorite markets, fleas, and arcades across the city. We ate our way from one stall to another, pausing to stock up on souvineers and goodies along the way. My favorite was the Brixton Market — a charming series of cozy little boutiques and restaurants; although the food stalls at the Greenwich Market were pretty unbelievable (and it had a fantastic flea market happening just a few blocks away where I bought nearly all of my Christmas gifts). I was shocked at how much cheaper the prices were here than in Paris — even with the exchange rate of the euro to pound, there were much better deals to be found. We made it to the Borough Market near closing time, but were able to snag some cheese and bread before all the stalls closed. This is one of the oldest markets in London, with stunning architecture, and I can’t wait to get back there during the day to snap some photos. For more details, Time Out London has a great guide to the markets for your next trip or day out.