Chapter 47: Live, Laugh, London ❤️
A proper good time eating beans for breakfast all week.
Hello from London, and welcome to Backpackin'! If you want to follow this weird trip around the world, add your email below:
Happy Q1 2023, to those who celebrate. I flew to London on Wednesday to spend a few days eating beans, drinking pints, and saying phrases such as "where abouts?" and "bloody hell," to my "mates."
It's funny, I haven't been to London in 14 months or so now, around Halloween of 2021. And I had a blast in London in 2021, largely thanks to some quality travel companions (seen below)
Still, I asked myself after the fact, "Do I actually like London, like really like it? Or is it just convenient that everyone speaks English?"
Well after running it back, I can say that yes, I do very much like London. It's like a cleaner, less-condensed New York City, but with aristocratic accents floating through the air. London is a timeless city where cobblestone streets and centuries-old pubs blend in with soaring skyscrapers and an incredible public transportation network, like Shakespeare met the Jetsons.
It's a city where you can explore for hours and hours on foot, with no destination required. So yeah, I like London. I'll actually be back here for a few days later in January before flying back to NYC. Anyways, let's dive in.
Tuesday, December 27th/ Wednesday December 28th
After spending a couple of days with my mom in Birmingham, I headed to Atlanta to fly to London. Why was I flying to London, you might ask? I'm going skiing with 150 of my closest friends in Chamonix, France, on January 7th, and I wanted to mess around in the UK for a couple of weeks first. If you're going to fly that far, you certainly need to get more than a week out of it.
So anyways, the itinerary was 5 days in London, 5 in Edinburgh, 7 skiing in France, then back to London for a few days to get my life together before diving back into the chaos known as New York City.
I bought some melatonin at the airport for my direct flight to Heathrow, and I upgraded to an exit row seat to catch some Z's. As you can probably guess, I caught basically no Z's, despite being drugged up with leg room.
I did make some nice banter with Harriett, my seatmate on the flight, and Elizabeth, the flight attendant across from us. They were both late 20s females discussing relationship issues, and they initially asked my thoughts before Harriett sighed and said, "Oh he's 25, just a wee child."
That's what you think, Harriett. My frontal lobe is fully developed now. Maybe. Probably not.
So I landed at like 6:20 AM basically delusional, took the tube (London's subway) to Holborn Station, and planned on hitting Beck's Cafe for a full English breakfast around 8. Except I accidentally went to the place next to Beck's. Which was lowkey better than Beck's. And the waitress was Spanish, so I got to speak Spanish to her, which I think she appreciated.
I was hoping to be able to check in to the hotel at 9 (even though checkin was at 3) to catch some shuteye because my mate Murray was riding over from Oxford to hang with me. Of course, I couldn't get in til 3. So I hit a coffeeshop nearby to write for a bit before heading to Marylebone to meet Murray.
Marylebone is such a funny name for a neighborhood.
I met Murray and his girlfriend Shannon in Berlin last Thanksgiving:
Left to right: Murray, me, Hudson, Sebastian
And Murray was working in real estate in Oxford. Thanks to the UK actually having a functioning train network, he was only 30 minutes from London. And because the UK's economy revolves around crushing pints at the pub, he suggested that we meet at a pub to crush pints.
Which we did.
We caught up on all of the random life stuff that's been going on over the last year, and also spent probably a good hour insulting each other's countries, just like God intended. By 4:00 I was running on a full day of no sleep, and I needed to catch a power nap before the night. I think Murray and Shannon are going to come hang in two weeks when I'm back though, which will be sick.
I went back to the hotel and took a power nap, then wrote some newsletter stuff, then headed out for my second appointment of the day: drinks with an American ex-pat named Amy. Amy is a Florida native that I met in Lagos, Portugal last year (I met a surprising number of people that I still keep up with at The Rising Cock Hostel in Lagos, great place), and we met at some place in Soho that night.
The cool thing about traveling a lot is having plenty of friends all over the place.
She's lived in London for like 4 years now, which has made her accent hysterical. Like, a weird mix of Cali-girl meets Love Island. "Oh my God" and "Where abouts" can coexist in a sentence.
So anyways, she told me about how she might move back to the US soon, and I said pretty much the same stuff that I say to everyone about how I write a blog for a living, and we drank a lot of cocktails in a bar that was sorta loud and not very conducive to conversations. I got a bunch of bar recs from her for the weekend since I had some other Columbia friends coming to town, and we split up around midnight.
Headed home, wrote a blog at like 2 AM, and fell asleep.
Thursday, December 29th
*noises of someone trying to open a door*
"For the love of God please open it so I don't have to get up."
*Phone goes "RING RING RING"*
Michelle: Hey Jack can you let me in?
Jack: Grumbles something and hangs up.
Michelle is in my cluster, or the group that I took all of my classes with in my first semester at Columbia. Michelle has like 223542134 friends in London this weekend apparently, but the 1 that the other 223542133 ones are staying with wasn't arriving til Friday. Jake, the guy staying with me, wasn't arriving til Friday either. So Michelle was crashing in my hotel Thursday night.
I let her in, exchanged pleasantries, then climbed back into bed.
She was thrilled, I'm sure, to see that our twin beds were positioned side-by-side. Really romantic stuff. We love each other dearly so it was cool.
I attempted to proofread my blog while she told me that she slept in the Uber the whole way here, warned me that if she snored I should give her a good shove, then passed out.
She didn't really snore. I don't think so at least, but I fell back asleep too.
Michelle planned to wake up and be, as she said, "good to go," at like 10:30. A series of 7 alarms went off, none of which led to her being good to go. At 11:30, I got up to meet my buddy Alex for lunch. Alex is a Twitter friend of mine.
I have a lot of Twitter friends these days.
Like me, Alex is a young dude with a finance newsletter, but he has also built his own startup, Tribescaler, that helps you write better social media content. Alex also linked Young Money in a Twitter thread that went nuclear last spring and gave me like 1,000 new subs. He's the man.
It's always fun meeting your Twitter friends in person.
After lunch, I met Michelle at some hotel library bar restaurant thing (I literally have no idea how else to describe it), to work on some stuff while she updated a cover letter. And I also helped proofread the cover letter. It's a banger of a cover letter now.
We grabbed dinner then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the night.
Another one of our Columbia friends, Tanmaye (aka Mr. Maye) was in town for a week too. They were celebrating both his sister's engagement the day before, and his birthday this day. We met Tanmaye and his girlfriend Quinn for drinks. Tanmaye gave us the recap of the celebrations, apparently Indian families go all out for wedding festivities.
Mr. Maye also got the best little birthday cake in the world.
Michelle and I were going to meet up with friend at her friend's favorite bar in North London, but that bar was closed. So they went to a gay bar next door. And we met her friend there. And her friend (I think it was Annabelle but honestly I cannot remember what her name is to save my life, so we'll go with Annabelle), immediately apologized for bringing us to the worst bar ever.
Now, I live in Hell's Kitchen, aka the gayborhood, so I'm used to gay bars. Gay bars are great. Want to know if your outfit is on point before a night on the town? Go in a gay bar and see if you get hit on.
But this gay bar had no AC, a sticky floor, and a nonexistent crowd except for the small inebriated crowd that was there. Nevertheless, we got some drinks and stuck it out. I was graciously offered a "Ket-beer" by a random attendee, but I politely declined. Not really my cup of tea, as they say.
One of Michelle's friend's friends was a dude named Charlie who was pretty cool though, and he invited me to his going away party in two weeks. It's at his apartment, not a gay bar. I might go, Charlie had a kickass mullet.
Michelle and I bounced a bit later, updated our BeReal's with a really cute selfie that elicited a lot of emoji reactions from our classmates who either jokingly or seriously think we're having a romantic fling in London (sorry to disappoint, we're not. Unless 👀)
But actually, we're not.
Then we passed out.
Friday, December 30th
I headed across town to chug coffee and write words while Michelle got her stuff together and relocated to her friends place (I miss her so much 😩), and my buddy Jake Croxdale arrived around 2.
Crox is actually insane. Former college football player turned Army ranger turned cowboy for a summer, who now plays rugby with me. The dude can run through a brick wall, delete beers, and probably kill a grizzly bear from 2 football fields away.
I met Crox at the hotel, and we walked around for a bit before heading to Soho to meet one of my buddies Elliot. Elliot and his mate Alex roomed with me for a night at The Rising Cock Hostel in Lagos (SERIOUSLY IT'S ACTUALLY INSANE HOW MANY PEOPLE FROM THERE I STILL HANG WITH. CANADIAN MIKE WAS A RISING COCK CONNECTION AS WELL!)
Elliot DM'd me on Instagram when he saw that I was, as he put it, "back on the better side of the pond," and we met him at Waxy O'Connor's Irish Pub. Karlie, a girl that Crox had a mutual friend with, met us as well.
Elliot is a total homie, and he's also tentatively planning to move to NYC soon. Which would be sick, because hanging out with a British accent guy is NYC is like hanging out with a celebrity.
We exchanged stories and stuff for a few hours, probably deleted 27 Guinesses cumulatively, then he bounced around 11:30. Big day tomorrow for NYE! He did have a quality rec for NYE, Blue's Kitchen. It was a great rec.
Crox and I went to Shoreditch next, but every good bar that was supposed to be open was actually closed, so we didn't stay long. However, I had completely forgotten that my buddy Ray and his girlfriend Sophia were in town too, and they were staying in Shoreditch!
Crox bounced and went to sleep, I met up with Ray and Sophia for a sec and told them to get tickets to the same event as us.
Saturday, December 31st
Happy NYE, to those who celebrate. Crox and I planned to walk around the city, but the weather was rubbish. So we got on a "Hop On, Hop Off" bus to take us around the city. They might be touristy, but they're actually a super efficient way to see everything. Seriously slept on, I might start doing touristy stuff in NYC more.
Michelle, Ray, and Sophia also bought tickets to the thing at Blue's Kitchen, which was tight. Crox and I hit a sports bar to watch the TCU game, then we headed to Blue's around 10:30. The place was so sick. Wooden interior with three levels, a massive dance floor on the main area, a live band that was playing 80s bangers, and drinks that were actually reasonably priced. What more could you ask for?
Thank u Sophia for photographing
We bopped around the bar for a while, and I thought Ray and Sophia left to go to another rave at a warehouse which I also thought about going to but ended up not going to, which was probably a good thing, before I saw that Ray and Sophia were in fact still there!
They were sitting downstairs at a booth with 4 British girls they had just met. The drinks were hitting just right, and Ray was doing wholesome boyfriend stuff.
Meanwhile, I was exchanging witty banter with the Brits.
Live, Laugh, London ❤️
I tubed home at like 3 AM or something idk. When I got back, Crox was passed out, and I checked the UGA score.
Dawgs were down 14 in the 4th quarter so I figured it was game over. Little did I know that Stetson Bennett is actually Himothy, and I missed an instant classic.
Sunday, January 2023
Welcome to 2023, time to do that thing that you keep saying you'll do but never actually doing.
I was grabbing coffee at 12 with another Twitter buddy, Rohit. I have made quite efficient use of my time, no?
However, hot water was out in the hotel, and the water didn't work at all in our room this AM. So I woke up at 11 and had to head out, post-NYE, showerless. And I had glitter on my face (thanks Ray and Sophia), which wasn't great.
Luckily, Rohit thought it was funny. Rohit is an LBS-educated former venture capitalist who also writes about finance and similar stuff. We're in the same internet ecosystem. We talked a ton about writing, and just career stuff in general, over coffee. We also talked about funny business school stuff.
After coffee, I grabbed Nando's for lunch (shout out Tom Morgan, well-known Nando's fan), before linking up with Crox again. We walked around Hyde Park for a bit before heading back to the hotel to chill. The desk folks gave us another room with a hot shower (thank u), and I moved my stuff there so we could have separate rooms. We grabbed dinner at a burger joint and tried to find a bar with the NFL games, but O'Neill's had the darts world championship on, because apparently that's a thing.
We came back, watched James Bond, and then I wrote this thing that you're reading now.
So anyways, headed to Edinburgh in the AM. I'll be back with pictures from the castle later.
Catch you guys later.
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