So. I’m jetting off to London. (And I totally love saying that. I feel so worldly and sophisticated, suddenly.)
And in all of my obsessive, daydreamy research, I’ve spent a fair amount of time educating myself on the myriad ways I can unload some serious pounds. (And while I could stand to stop eating Valentine’s candy and start thinking about getting in shape for holiday, I really actually mean British pounds sterling.)
Obviously I want to go spend some money across the pond. And come back with a case full of lovely prezzies for myself and my friends! (Wouldn’t they all love something from Fortnum & Mason? I’ll bet they would!)
So, where do I start? I’ve never been to London. As for spending in London (in spite of the corny “serious pounds” crack), I’m on a modest budget. I’ve spent enough money (and then some) just getting myself to London, so I can’t exactly justify going on a full-fledged shopping spree every day I’m there. (Which is one reason why I’m trying to win the VisitBritain Shop Blogger Competition by writing this post. The prize is £500! That’s roughly $760 to us yanks! A decent chunk of pocket change!)
The other reason I’m writing this post is because I want to talk about shopping. And my husband most likely doesn’t want to hear about it. (At least, not on the level that I’m going to talk about it here.)
We’ll be staying in Bayswater, near Knightsbridge. Modest budget or no, a trip to Harrods is in order. A nice (2 mile) walk through Hyde Park will get us there. (Might want to bring my Spare Soles. Or take the Tube!)
So what do I know about Harrods? Other than it’s an extraordinary department store filled with fashion, frivolities, and fabulosity? (Which I’ll never afford.) But visiting Harrod’s sounds like such a special occasion, that I’m already planning what to wear.
I’ve heard much ado about Harrods legendary window displays. I was particularly intrigued by their Disney Princess Display for the 2012 Christmas season. (My favorite being the lovely Princess Aurora.)
As much as I enjoy ogling fashion that rises well beyond my means, the crowning glory (for me, anyway) may just be Harrods Food Hall. I hear it’s rather Willy Wonka-esque.
In spite of my “modest budget”, this post is meant to be about my “perfect shopping trip in London” (according to the Visit Britain blogger competition), so here’s a quick illustrative aide in bringing this fantasy into my mind’s eye.
Yeah. I’ll never have that many green shopping bags. But it’s fun to pretend. 🙂
As far as department stores go, I wouldn’t mind checking out Marks and Spencer (a local favorite), Harvey Nicks (another local favorite), Selfridges (another biggie, like Harrods), Dover Street Market (heavy on creative displays), and last but not least, Liberty (a uniquely designed store with a mock Tudor facade, steeped in Art Nouveau history and stocked with carefully selected items.)
In all honesty, I am not much of a big-ticket spender, in general. (Although hubby might disagree.) When I do spend a little more on clothing, it is usually on indie fashions, or on my favorite splurge, Anthropologie.
While I rarely buy beyond the clearance rack at Anthro, it’s an experience just to enter and browse the store. Their displays are always incredibly creative and resourceful, and of course I look forward to checking out the displays at the Anthro on Regent street.
Regent Street and Oxford Street, much like shopping at Harrods, may be a little rich for my blood, but they certainly sound like they deserve a stroll and a looksie. (And worth braving the crowds!)
I will most likely want to pick up a blouse, jacket, or accessory at Topshop, a large, moderately-priced, trendy, youthful retail outlet. Because although I am now in my 30s, I am still aspiring to be “Forever 21.” (For as long as I can get away with it.)
In search of indie fashions, books, and records, it seems we’ll want to head over to Soho. While it is fun to look at gorgeous extravagances the likes of which we’ve never seen, the iconic Carnaby Street, filled with independent boutiques, “concept shops”, bars, and cafes, is a must-see.
While visiting the Tower of London, we must surely head over to Borough Market, one of the oldest, biggest outdoor food markets in London, to sample a smorgasbord of foods and drink, and maybe bring some back for later.
On the East End, Old Spitafields Market hosts Fashion Day every Friday, a good day to get away from the crowds and peruse clothes, accessories, and art. There’s also a record fair every first and third Friday, which sounds like hours of fun for both the hubs and me. Also worth noting and checking out is Rough Trade Records, an independent record label and shop, also in the East End.
Finally, back in the Notting Hill area, there’s the Music & Video Exchange, another great place to dig for vinyl, rare promos, cheap books, and more. (Hubby will love it.)
And we certainly ought to browse the famous Portobello Market for bric-a-brac, fruit and veg, street food, flea market wares, and boutique fashions.
Well, I’ve spent so much time planning my shopping agenda that I haven’t got very far planning anything else, other than a West End Show and possibly a cruise on the Thames. But that will all come. (As I mentioned in my last post, I am a bit of an obsessive vacation planner. Are you getting that idea?)
Bear in mind, this will be my first trip to London! I can only imagine all the lovely things to see and do, and all the wondrous and amazing stores are just the tip of the iceberg. I will see as many of them as time permits, but there are so many fascinating and important sights to behold. I’m not a big city girl, so I expect the London experience should be duly and delightfully overwhelming.