November 24th, 2019
- Columbia Road Flower Market
- Natural History Museum
- Food & Drink:
- Blanchette (Shoreditch breakfast / brunch)
- Brick Lane Sunday Market
- Spitalfields Market
- Crosstown Doughnuts (famous for their vegan sourdough doughnuts)
- Chai Guys (try the Kashmiri chai!)
London has MANY markets, and each is more colorful than the next. In our attempt to visit two particular ones, we accidentally found several others. We returned to the Shoreditch area for the Columbia Road Flower Market, which is only open on Sunday mornings. This made for a beautiful experience – though the market is slightly crowded, it is incredibly vibrant with all kinds of botanicals. Tulips! Black roses! Christmas wreaths! Succulents! Take your pick! If I had more time in London, I would definitely have brought a few (or many) plant babies home.
And of course, since it was Sunday, Jacky and I just HAD to get brunch. There are several trendy and unique spots we found in the area (many of which require reservations or a wait), we ended up at Blanchette, a small French restaurant on Brick Lane. No regrets there at all – very vegetarian-friendly and body positive with lots of naked lady imagery, which we loved. They had the COOLEST wallpaper out there. While Jacky enjoyed some fresh yogurt and granola, I got some squash and feta harissa toast (so good!)
The next destination we had in mind was the Old Spitalfields Market, but on our way there, also ended up hitting the Brick Lane Sunday Market, Backyard Market, and Upmarket. These are a series of markets full of international food and craft vendors along with several buskers providing beautiful live music. Take a lap around and you’re sure to able to try dozens of samples like gyoza, ravioli, desserts, and more. There are also specialty items like handmade clothing and jewelry as well as vintage goods and artwork. There’s something for everyone and after grabbing our fill of samples, we continued to walk until we reached Spitalfields Market.
Here, we made several excellent discoveries. First, I had to check out Crosstown Doughnuts, a spot that I’ve been following on Instagram for several years. All their flavors are extremely creative, including several vegan and seasonal flavors. I ultimately decided on the winter fruit crumble doughnut – vegan, seasonal, AND delicious. Tasted like Christmas in a fluffy dessert!
On our hunt for a hot drink, we also found Chai Guys – which ALSO had vegan options! You can opt for a more traditional chai or a more indulgent and creamier one. The chai guys will let you sample their beverages, and we each decided to order a Kashmiri chai. This drink is so unique – it’s vegan, SAVOURY, and PINK – so weird but SO GOOD. The saltiness is strange at first, but the second sip is heaven. We also picked up some dank Christmas sweaters (updates to come).
At this point, we headed over to the Mayfair, which is an affluent neighborhood with plenty of higher-end dining and shopping. If you’re trying to shop for luxury goods and nice teas, like T2 (which is technically Australian but still incredible), Mayfair is the place to be.
After strolling for a bit, we worked our way to the Natural History Museum, which is so rich and grand. I personally love natural history museums, and this might be the best one I’ve ever been to – I had a field day. They’ve got the most complete stegosaurus skeleton out there, a beautiful whale skeleton, a huge collection of fossils, and of course a killer gift shop. There’s a ton to see, and the museum is free, so this is definitely worth a visit.
Following this, we visited the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (which was a little bit of a disappointment honestly, but more on that later!) By this time, we were starving, and were desperate to find some (reasonably priced and healthy food). Though we went to Dishoom the previous day, I love South Asian food enough to want more of it, and we ended up heading to DUM Biryani House, which is a small basement restaurant. Completely different vibes from Dishoom, but especially after a long day, I think I almost liked it more. The puff pastry on the biryani is smooth and buttery, the rice is spicy and flavorful, and the curries and chutneys are perfect on the side. A low-key and sassy spot – come here! The perfect way to end the day on a full stomach