A few weeks ago I took my very first long haul flight. It wasn’t as scary as I expected it to be. You see I developed anxiety while flying a few years after I’ve given birth to my second child, Juro. I couldn’t remember any trauma that triggered this but riding a plane hasn’t been the same ever since. I tend to get anxious, panic even whenever there’s a faint mechanical sound (even when a seatbelt buckle drops on the floor warrants me of panicky reaction hahahuhu) or turbulence. So when I was offered to visit London for the Spice Girls concert, I hesitated but then again Spice Girls is a huge part of my childhood, so off I went to see them even if I wasn’t ready for the flight LOL.
We had an evening flight so I didn’t bother getting coffee while at the airport (which is what I usually do pre-flight) I guess it helped made me feel calm? Two days before, I was stressing over my visa because I feel like it was a close call and all the waiting made me anxious (my husband’s was released five days after we submitted requirements so imagine how stressful waiting for mine was hahahuhu). I think this preoccupied my mind more than the long haul flight. When my visa got released, excitement finally kicked in–I can’t believe I’m going to UK. Grateful for having the chance to travel and to see my fave childhood girl group so I guess the anticipation outweighs my anxiety? Another thing that helped me was Tisserand’s Total De-Stress oil which I got from www.amaraoilsph.com. This roller comes in threes (one for energy and one for sleep–both of which I also used while we were in London). Applied it on my pulse points and for some reason I felt calm. The longest I’ve been on a plane and not have any anxiety nor panic attack. I just enjoyed the movies I watched while onboard, the food served and even managed to sleep too. You can check out the three pack sale HERE.
The first photo I snapped as soon as we settled down and walked around our neighbourhood. Hey Manchester!
My first photo in Manchester. This corner alley is lit up (literally) in the afternoon just in time for happy hour. This is my straight from our plane ride, no ligo, no retouch look. My eyes says it all!
We arrived at Manchester in the morning so it was brunch time for us (even though we had dinner a few hours ago on the plane). We didn’t have any itinerary save for one day of watching Spice World Tour and another day in London to shoot with Sweet Escape. The rest of the days we were there, we relied heavily on Google as we searched for places to eat, places to see and things to do.
We ended up walking a few meters from our hotel and found Alabama’s All American Eatery. There was a line but since we had nothing else to do and we were craving for some American food, we ended up queuing for about 15 minutes. The menu was good and they have gluten-free & vegan options. I had an avocado toast while Jago ended up ordering steak. We shared the chicken and waffles plus rootbeer to wash it all down. Pretty sure most of the people who were there had to glance because we ordered food for three people. Again, I never over order. Hahaha!
That post breakfast smirk. I’m so full and sleepy! Hahahaha. We walked around to familiarize ourselves with the area. We stayed near Manchester University the area is pedestrian & bike friendly, so that’s a plus. The brick buildings and red buses give so much charm!
Walked around some more and went back in our hotel just in time for our afternoon nap but woke up and it was already seven o’clock in the evening! I was more jet lagged because the sun was still up and it feels like it was just three in the afternoon. We freshened up and off we went to explore Manchester at night.
We ended up at The Grand Pacific for drinks. I had Rose & Lychee Martini. While I usually would eat a full meal first before drinking, I was surprised I wasn’t hungry so we just had a platter of appetisers.
My date and his constant– Google! Hahaha. Searching for what to do/where to go for the next day.
Ordered another drink called The Peacock. A yummy cocktail made of Bacardi Carta Blanca, Blue Curacao, Pineapple, Kiwi & Lime.
Called it a night just before the clock striked midnight! The area was quite empty save for those who went out that night.
Woke up the next day and did my usual routine of working out first before having breakfast. Dragged Jago along with me!
Love Crown Plaza Manchester! They have gluten-free & dairy-free options so I was super happy!!! Their gluten-free bread tastes as good as the regular one!
The next day we went on full tourist mode and explored Manchester. We went around King Street, St. Ann’s Church, and The John Ryland’s Library to name a few. We didn’t ride the bus but we did took a cab once. Most of the time we just walked around, lucky that the weather was nice. It was cool but it wasn’t raining. I also made sure I wore something comfy. Wore my latest pair from Vionic shoes, this open toe booties is as comfy as my fave pair of Vionic boots which I’ve been wearing whenever I travel.
Capped off exploring Manchester at The Oast House. It’s a rustic-style pub offering international food with gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free options. I love!
Kale crisps, homemade hummus, and duck rillette. I had Bee Wild Sour–made of Manchester Wild Gin, passionfruit and peach.
It was raining during our last day in Manchester so we headed somewhere indoors and we found ourselves exploring a large indoor mall called Trafford Center. It’s about 2 miles and has over 200 stores! Ended up having lunch at Five Guys because we haven’t tried it. Their menu is simple and for your burger you can put any toppings of your choice.
Here’s my Five Guys burger. It’s got jalapeño and veggies like lettuce, red bell pepper and tomatoes. It doesn’t look as appetising but it tastes good!
The day we watched Spice World Tour was spent exploring Arndale in the morning. Shopped a little and walked around some more. Saving this day for a separate blog post with vlog too! Just give me time to edit it guuuuys. 😆
Street art performer. This guy looks like he was winded! Drop money on his can and he’ll drop his briefcase as thanks.
Capping off our Manchester visit with cocktails. Stayed connected and online with Apollo which I ordered from Jeron Travel.
Rode a train from Picadilly station going to London. I was taking a photo of Jago as a souvenir and a kind lady offered to take our photo.
Found this store at the train station. Loooove the free fruit or pastry for every hot drink you purchase! I was kinda amazed at the convenient stores and groceries here because they have a good selection of real food and they’re healthy too!
Arrived in London late in the afternoon and as usual, we went around our neighbourhood to get a feel of the place. We stayed at Gloucester Road, an area that’s near some tourist spots. Our hotel is also a minute walk from Gloucester tube station which is very convenient.
First meal in London was at Ceru. A Levantine restaurant that offers gluten & dairy-free options. In the photo: Crisp Apple, Mint & Pomegranate salad (so, so, so goooood!), Karides–Chargrilled king prawns with chermoula coconut dressing, and Orez Ceru–Arabic scented fried rice with crispy onions, sultanas and parsley.
Our main course was this lovely Lamb Shoulder–slow roasted for 5 hours in their secret blend of 12 Shawarma spices, with a pomegranate, fresh mint and pistachio sauce. Washed everything down with Cucumber Martini. This is one of the restaurants during our vacation that I truly enjoyed. Their food is bursting with flavour!
Started our first full day in London by visiting the National History Museum. While we like exploring a new city, we dislike the tourist crowd. We also aren’t the type who would pay for fees (unless it’s something that really interest us) so we went for places like NHM which has free admission (though I did give a £5 donation hehe). Thank you phone timer and window ledge for this couple shot. While I did bring my camera, I rarely used it during our trip and just opted for my phone.
I gotta say the architecture is breathtaking!
One of the longest escalators ever! On our way to Camden Town for lunch.
Reason number 894346 why I love London: so many healthy options! There are many vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free restaurants around London and I’m so, so glad it’s easy to find healthy food here!
Walked around Camden Market where the streets are lined with different kinds of shops. There’s also a bazaar area selling mostly handmade leather goods, vintage clothes to accessories and home item souvenirs. After seeing the place we ended up dining at this food area between the ferry terminal. Jago ended up trying Columbian food which is pretty good while I ended up choosing Curries No Worries (an Indiana restaurant).
My yummy lunch is dairy-free and gluten-free.
Took the tube to Piccadilly Circus to watch Book Of Mormon at Prince of Wales Theater. This area of London is all about musicals & plays!
Booked this show the night before and was glad there were seats available–pricey yet good seats! If there’s one thing I wanna do in London it’s really to watch plays and musicals. So I had to forego visiting Bicester Village (it’s a designer outlet haven that’s a hour train ride away ) because I spent most of my budget watching musicals & well, eating!
We definitely enjoyed Book of Mormon!
Walked a lot but also rode the tube a lot. We didn’t get Oyster card nor a visitor pass because it’s limited to off-peak hours and when we computed the number of times we took the tube, it’s better to get single journey tickets since we’re just exploring within 10 km radius of London city. Also most of the time, we just walked around because we noticed we can easily walk from one station to another. Hashtag this is why I workout. Heehee.
Capped off the day with dinner at Hoppers. Another Google recommendation that we enjoyed! We didn’t have a reservation but we were one of the first few who lined up so we were able to get seats.
Couldn’t exactly recall what we ordered but there was Hoppers, Fish & Black Kari, Deviled Squid and Lamb Shank Buryani.
Also helped myself with Hoppers G&T. So good!
Dedicated one day for shooting with Sweet Escape. Though it only took us 2 hours, we spent the rest of the day wandering around. London’s weather when we were there played between 10-20º so I layered and brought mostly light clothes and leaned towards wearing dresses. I only brought two coats–one duster coat which is lighter than the trench coat I was wearing in the photo. I got a handful of questions on where I got this dress, it’s by local Filipino designer Rosanna Ocampo. I’ve tried this on twice in her shop until they restocked it and chanced upon trying it a third time only to find out it was the last piece and in my size. I got it because third time’s a charm and I feel like it was meant to be. Heehee.
See some of the photos from our Sweet Escape London session HERE.
Walked around London Bridge but found it underwhelming because it was literally just a bridge compared to the Tower Bridge. Heehee. So off we went to Borough Market instead.
So overwhelmed with the fresh produce and good products at the Borough Market. If only I could bring these produce home, I would! They’ve got organic fruits & veggies which were cheaper than I expected them to be. There’s also a bunch of food stalls that I could only take instagram videos of. You know what they say, if you can’t eat it, just post and share it! Hahahuhu. I did bought a gluten-free and dairy-free brownie from The Free From Bakehouse–it was so good, I wished I got more packs!
Blackberries aren’t as common here as it is in London, so I bought to try. Though it was sour, I enjoyed it naman. Hello, it was only Php 80.
My face as I was eyeing on something I can eat after I devour my yummy shrimp wrap! Hahaha.
Not a fan of flowers but seeing a bunch of fresh ones in almost every street corner made me appreciate it.
Walked around Soho area and explored Carnaby Street. It’s got different stores from makeup to apparel.
Checked out Any Amount of Books because I’m such a book lover. Read the caption of this post.
We had early dinner at Burger & Lobster. A friend of mine commented aka my roomie Nikki, that I’ve been drinking every dinner while I was in London. I don’t know why but there’s something about the London air that made me enjoy drinking! Or maybe it’s the culture because drinking is such a common thing in London I’ve seen people enjoy their drinks as early as brunch!
The day I failed myself because I couldn’t resist that yummy lobster roll (hello gluten) and salad (hello dairy). But I’m not regretting because it was so good!
Ended the day watching yet another musical. This time we saw Waitress starring Katherine McPhee. I was supposed to book Hamilton (Rachelle Ann Go, a Filipino singer was casted to play a role) but my husband & I wanted to watch something light and fun (blaming Book of Mormon for this) so we ended up choosing Waitress and OMG it was one of the best plays we’ve watched. We didn’t even know Katherine McPhee played the lead role. She was amazing! The whole cast, the production, everything was very entertaining. I laughed and cried at the same time 😆.
Another place we went to was Notting Hill. There are so many places to see in London but we didn’t want to feel pressured to visit all the touristy spots (Harry Potter location lists, GoT location lists, Abbey Road, museums and gardens). We’re fine seeing them from afar (the main ones like London Eye, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Westminster we were able to see while we were shooting with Sweet Escape). But one area I wanted to visit was Notting Hill because I’m a sucker for RomCom movies and Notting Hill is one of the movies I got very kilig!
It rained but that didn’t stop us fro exploring the neighbourhood. It was pretty quiet and steady with quaint cafes and vintage shops.
Notting Hill has an assortment of vintage and thrift stores. Here’s Jago checking out some records. For the longest time he’s been wanting to start a collection but has been putting it off because I don’t think another hobby that requires space is an option right now so hanging tingin na lang sya. Heehee.
Tried Happy Donuts’ vegan donuts and I’m so happy because it tastes so good for something healthy. S O G O O D!
I thought this was the original bookstore from the movie. Turns out it isn’t! So sad I wasn’t able to visit the bookstore because I would’ve wanted to get a book as a souvenir so this photo is my souvenir na lang.
Walked about a mile just to check out Goop! Here’s Jago’s finally-we’re-here face! Hahaha. Unfortunately it was a let down because the apparel I want to purchase no longer has my size. They do have an assortment of skincare & makeup but I didn’t want to buy just because. Hahahuhu.
After some window shopping, we had lunch at Farm Girl. It was a bit of a walk but so glad we tried this because their bowls were delicious. They have gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options as well. I loooooove London!
Concentrating on enjoying my food. We waited for almost an hour because our ticket didn’t make it through the kitchen (for some reason our server had a miscom) and because of this the manager offered to give 50% discount off our bill. Now that’s excellent customer service!
After lunch we walked around the neighbourhood (some more) and saw the rows of colroful houses. Of course I had to take a photo! There were some houses with barricades on their steps. I assume because it has become a tourist spot, some people treat it like a public place thus, homeowners feel the need to do so. Quick tip: if you plan on taking a photo here, do it quickly and quietly. After all it’s a residential area.
Walked around Hyde Park that afternoon. The weather was cool accompanied with just the right amount of sunshine. It was such a beautiful day out.
After some outdoor fun, off we went to some London department stores. Liberty London was first one we visited (I posted a bunch of my shopping finds in my stories) then we ended up at Harrods afterwards. So many good deals because most brands have items on sale. This particular Danse Lente Johnny piece I got on sale, so yay!
Ended our shopping day by having afternoon tea at Harrods. No London visit is complete without experiencing this. We were supposed to have tea at Peggy Porschen (near Sloan Square but checked that they didn’t have any vegan/gluten-free options). I also super wanted to try Sketch because its such a beautiful, Instagrammable place but Jago said it’s way too expensive for tea. So to make up for it he treated me at Harrods instead.
We could’ve shared one set of tea and just ordered another tea variant (like what the couple beside us did) but realised it was too late. But it’s okay because this served as our dinner (don’t be fooled by the finger sandwich sizes because they are filling! I opted for their gluten-free pastries and desserts– I’m glad they have this option. The scones were so good and the clotted cream was something I couldn’t resist (sorry leaky gut). My chosen tea was also delicious– the fruity blend complemented most of the pastries included in my set.
Snapped a selfie in between tea time. This trip was all about discovering things, appreciating good food and learning more about each other. No itinerary makes it even more fun (though sometimes challenging) but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve been so used to having our schedules fixed at least a week before (because my schedule revolves around my kids’ schooling and Jago’s schedule revolves around his work) so it’s definitely a good break to just wander off together in a city we’ve never been.
Our trip was short but it was sweet. Now I’m looking forward to seeing more of Europe hopefully if there’s another chance this year? If not then maybe next year. So grateful for the opportunity to travel, to be able to ride a plane for 16 hours without getting anxious nor having panic attacks. To be able to appreciate good food and to just be still and take it all in. Thankful too that this trip, I was able to discover more about myself and my husband whom I’ve been married to for 10 years. It’s just recently that we’ve prioritize spending time with each other and traveling together without the kids have become our quality time together. Thank you hun for going to London with me! Can’t wait to travel again. Here’s to more adventures!
Working on my Spice World Tour vlog. Hoping I can post it on my Youtube channel before the month ends. Any other country or place you guys would recommend we visit? I’d love to know!