London Calling

There's a reason I'm talking about London today instead of poetry, and we'll get to that in a minute, but first I wanted to tell you a little bit about why I adore the city so much.

In 2002, I lived in London for 6 months as a student with the University of California. As a literature major, I was drawn to the program for the single-semester option, as well as the course work. "Literature of London," taught by a King's Cross professor, took me inside the city in a new way. Instead of reading Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf in Santa Barbara, where I lived at the time, I was able to wander through the actual streets and squares that my favorite writers had. It was mystical and inspiring and I loved every minute of it.

I spent a lot of time getting to know London. I rode the bus, visited all the major attractions, spent afternoons in museums, went to the theatre, and took weekend trips to Dublin and Paris. But what I didn't do while I lived there was pay close attention to its shopping scene. I was on a student budget, after all, and my purchases were limited to the essentials: a sweater from TopShop, a new umbrella, hand soap from Boots, and a weekly latte at my favorite cafe in Bloomsbury. I purchased groceries at Sainsbury's several times a week and mostly cooked meals in my flat. When I did venture out, the restaurants were far from memorable, and I had not yet developed my love for cooking with fresh and local ingredients.

So, on to the reason I'm sharing these stories with you. The lovely app Shopikon that curates the best of shopping in cities around the world, is hosting a blogging contest, and the winner will receive a trip to London to explore, shop and dine for 3 days. This post is my entry, and while I'm unsure what my chances are to win, I thought I could make a good case for myself.

Photo credit: Shopikon

If I were to visit London today, I would have a very different agenda. My goal would be to try as much good food as possible by visiting local shops and eateries for the most gourmet experience London has to offer. After spending the morning browsing bookstores like Daunt Books to pick up a new volume of poetry and some colorful notebooks, I would very much like to stop by Paxton & Whitfield, a cheesemonger since 1850, to gather picnic supplies. Then I would stroll into Regent's Park, find a comfortable place under a tree, eat my cheese, read my new book, and enjoy the afternoon. What about you? Do you have any favorite London spots that can't be missed?

Photo credit: Shopikon