After landing straight into the thick of London winter, I have to admit that nothing beats London on a beautiful sunny summer day. Imagine a city like London that’s busting at the seams with things to do, places to visit, food to eat and then throw in glorious sunshine, the result is pure magic!
In July we were making the most of longer days and our limited time in London (in between our trips to Europe). July kicked off with an improv theatre performance which was so bad that we (with a number of other audience members) walked out after the interval. I hardly ever stop reading a book halfway or leave the cinema mid-movie, so the fact this particular performance drove me to walk out means that either it was too artsy for me or they were just bad – I am going with option 2.
They say (whoever they are) there’s always a silver lining. In this case, it was Hackney Wick. At first when we got out of the station, we weren’t extremely hopeful with the uber industrial feel of the place. However, everything changed once we reached close to our destination and found Crate Brewery. This place had excellent locally brewed beers served with a selection of limited (yet delicious) pizzas.
We enjoying our pre-theatre dinner and drinks so much that the weekend after we convinced one of our friends to go back to Hackney Wick and this is when we found the real beating heart of Hackney Wick. In addition to Crate we discovered UK’s first dedicated tank bar, Howling Hops, serving on-site brewed hoppy goodness.
After we’ve had a few
too many craft beers, we were on our way to the train station where we stumbled upon Kopparberg Urban Forest. The concept is excellent – take an empty industrial wasteland, put a few food stalls, serve chilled cider and have a stage of live acts. In between the Jerk Chicken sandwiches and Elderflower & Lime Cider they announced this revolutionary idea of Hip Hop Karaoke. Ladies and Gentlemen this is not your usual Karaoke. We saw some of the best amateur rappers (in my opinion) dishing out their favourite tunes word-by-word. My favourite was when this awkwardly shy looking guy got up on stage and killed an Eminem rap tune. I can’t remember your name sir, but I will never forget your face.
London only provides a limited opportunity for a mere mortal to enjoy its sacred outdoors. So the last thing you’d want to do is go to the cinemas, right? So the clevers and creatives of Londontown came up with the idea of Pillow Cinema. It is exactly as cool as you imagine it to be. We watch The Theory of Everything, which was an excellent choice (in our opinion) to enjoy a crisp summer evening cuddled up on a supersized beanbag. One piece of advice – if you take a bottle of wine and plastic cups, don’t stuff them in a bag because your plastic cups will break and you’ll end up drinking a bottle a red from the bottle. If it does happen, ignore the stares from your fellow pillow cinemagoers and enjoy it. That wine is not going to drink itself GODDAMMIT.
After making the most of our little time in London, we packed our bags and were on our way to Paris for Mrs FOMOist’s birthday. One of our friends’ who we met in NZ suggested that we stay with her at her grandmother’s place and given the cost of living in Paris, we graciously accepted. The weekend in Paris was a busy one because, even though our friend’s grandmother’s house was only 20 minutes from the city centre, due to trackworks we spent a lot of time waiting for hourly trains and planning our outings around the train schedules. Summing up Paris is a challenge but I am going to try:
- There’s not much I can say about the Eiffel Tower but cannot describe in words the sight of sparkling Eiffel Tower against the night sky.
- Sacré-Cœur is a beautiful structure and I loved noticing the Middle Eastern influence in the architecture, or so I thought.
- The pastries, macaroons and wine are much better in France.
On the flip-side,
- It is not as easy to find Garlic Butter Snails as I thought it would be.
- Mona Lisa is beautiful, but I’ll say what usually everyone thinks when they get there, it’s not as impressive as you imagine. I would say it’s another disappointing and overrated “landmark”.
- Promenade Plantee is not as amazing as I had hoped for based on my visit to The Highline in NYC.
Since it was Gee’s birthday, we decided that we will go watch the Moulin Rouge, at the Moulin Rouge. Both of us have to admit that we were hoping a stage performance of the Nicole Kidman movie from 2001, but to our surprise it had nothing to do with it. Then another surprising discovery was the amount of topless women in the show – clearly inappropriate as a birthday gift for your wife, but if your wife/partner is anything like Mrs FOMOist, she’ll just be giggling the entire performance.
The second trip of the month involved going back into the land of the Vikings to visit the city of Oslo in Norway. We went to Oslo with two of our friends from London. Before I detail our Norwegian adventures, a little bit about the friends. I met Dan (not his real name) in 2004 after graduating in Marketing. Dan was my very first manager and what a great manager and a mentor he was. So Dan moved to London after a few years, we kept in touch and decided to hang when Gee and I moved to London. Coming back to the trip, so we planned the trip to Oslo with Dan and Matt to visit Oslo. Matt, being the most focussed and mature one out of the group organised accommodation at a beautiful Airbnb apart in an area called Grünerløkka (highly recommended) and learn a few Norwegian phrases (even though majority of Norwegians speak perfect English. Matt’s passion of Norwegian continues and he now replies to our messages on Whatsapp with weird Norwegian phrases. Few of the highlights from the trip:
- Definitely the company. As you know, you’ve passed the test and another adventure is being planned.
- Seeing Edvard Munch’s Scream up and close. I think we went to the National Museum (can’t say for sure), where there was a collection of a number of other great paintings, worth a stroll around on a rainy day.
- If you’re thinking of visiting Oslo, you must have already looked up the Vigeland Sculpture Park (amazing), but Oslo is full of amazing sculpture art like the Neve Og Rose (Fist And Rose): The Controversial Sculpture By Ola Enstad
- A 7-course dinner at Ekebergrestauranten with a hilltop view of the city that could easily be mistaken for the birds-eye view of Wellington, NZ.
- Finally my very special cuppa-Joe from Supreme Roastworks, which was closed for majority of our trip and only decided to open on the last day.
Since we brought out the best in each other (us and the boys) on our Oslo trip, complemented by the boys’ extensive knowledge of dance music, Gee and I went to our very first Ministry of Sounds gig. We went and saw the grandmcdaddy of disco tunes – Cerrone. At 63, he can turn the beats that keot us going from 11.00pm on a Saturday night till 6.30am on Sunday morning. Cerrone Sir, I had never heard about you before and now I often listen to your sweet choons at work. Thanks for changing our lives Dan and Matt.