In recent times both myself and loads of my friends have been going through pretty hard stuff; whether it be break ups, bereavements or just general lack of fun things to do, me and my undergrad friends decided it was about time for a reunion and a bit of a party to cheer us all up. And so it was decided that we would all travel down to our friends recently acquired city centre crash pad in London for a weekend of shopping and drunken debauchery.

The journey for me started with a 5 hour megabus trip down to London Victoria – I won’t go into detail about the ride down but all I will say is that there’s a reason it was only £8. The final 15 minutes of the journey were the best, we drove right through the centre passing Hampstead and Oxford Street as well as Park Lane and Marylebone – I felt like I was in a real life Monopoly game!

From Victoria I headed towards the formidable tube exchange – for non-Londoners the underground is like a minefield; the hundreds of people pushing past you, the endless queueing for a ticket which once at the machine takes about 5 minutes to figure out which one you actually need by which point you’ve pissed off everyone who’s not a tourist in the queue behind not to mention yourself for looking like a total amateur. And then of course once you actually have your ticket, you have to work out which of the millions of lines you need to be on and which of the 20 escalators you need to go down. All the time getting huffs and puffs from angry Londoners who have no time for incompetent Northeners. The whole thing is a highly stressful but alas, necessary evil unless you have endless amounts of disposable income to throw away on taxis.

And so after wrestling with my battered suitcase and negotiating the tube I finally arrived at Tower Hill (Zone 1, District Line!) – I had no idea where to go from here so called my friend and described what I could see which went something like this Me: “I have no idea where to go, there’s just a big castle thing in front of me” Charl: “Yeah mate that’s the Tower of London” Me: “Ahhhh” *cringes with embarrasment* So I make it over Tower Bridge and finally meet up with my friends. Charl’s flat is practically underneath the bridge and in an ideal location for getting around. Set off a little court yard with a balcony overlooking a fountain, the flat oozed a quiet sophistication – the perfect setting for our over indulgent weekend.

Night one consisted of a trip to Shoreditch – we’d been advised this was a good place to visit with a number of different bars and smaller clubs on offer the area itself consists of Brick Lane, Shoreditch High St and Hoxton Square. We didn’t really have any particular bar we wanted to go to so asked the taxi driver to “take us to some bars” to which he simply muttered something about tourists under his breath! The first bar we went into was Music Bar Hall or some combination of those three words in a different order. It was a fairly mellow place, quite busy but not too loud. Plenty of seating around and a small stage where a local band was playing. Drinks were not too bad, I got change out of a fiver for a jagermeister and coke which was unexpected. We only stayed in here for one drink though, it seemed like more of a small gig venue than a bar really and we wanted a bit of a dance.

The next place we visited was Electricity Showrooms on Hoxton Square – I was instantly attracted to the big lights outside that made it look like an All Saints shop! Inside there was lots of ‘indie’ types, dress code was more cool and quirky rather than posh and the decor was almost pub like with a large extended bar as the focal point. Drinks were a tad more expensive here but I didn’t mind paying £4.50 for a bottle of the best cider I’ve ever tasted. I really liked the feel of this bar, chilled out with a range of music and not too pretentious. There was also a downstairs area which was more like a club vibe with a neon dance floor and mirrored ceiling that as tourists, we couldn’t help but take a picture of, shameless I know.

Despite the reputation of Londoners being unfriendly and unhelpful we found this not to be the case at all. We got chatting to a couple of guys from East London who gave us the lowdown on where to go after all the bars shut. This was the only annoying thing about Shoreditch – most of the bars shut at 1am due to the extreme price tag attached to a late licence in London. It was frustrating because we’d have happily spent another couple of hours bar hopping and didn’t really fancy going on to a big club. So at 1am we got turfed out and had to end the evening there. A great evening sampling a couple of bars, just a shame about the early closure. We all went home looking forward to the next night which we’d planned to be bigger, better and preferably later…

Stay tuned for Part Two…