Having not been home in four months, a long break from work and Austria to indulge in all things British, and see as many home friends and family as possible, was much needed. And what better time to return than to coincide with my mum’s 50th birthday and all the eating, drinking and celebrating that ensued, eh? I spent a week in my home base of Kent, England, as well as a couple of days in London and a day in Oxford, before returning back to Salzburg with almost a kilogram of cheddar cheese and half my sister’s wardrobe. Needless to say the time flew by and I very much enjoyed my trip back home!
The small-town conservative vibes of Salzburg have had me longing for the lights and smoke of London and I was sure to spend a considerable amount of time in the city during my time in England. Feeling almost like I was seeing it through the eyes of a tourist, I visited friends, cafes, markets and landmarks and discovered a lot of new things to do, see and…eat. And what better way to start an action-packed day in the city than with a cuppa and a muffin from B Street Deli on Bermondsey Street, a homely cafe with bonsai trees (!) and a European feel. Plus, my food was served on a slate! Edgy.
One thing I will always recommend to friends visiting the city now, as many of them do put me on the spot and ask, is a Sunday spent around Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market, browsing vintage stalls, homemade goods, and street food from all over the world. Having lived in Salzburg for nine months, a city where it’s a struggle to find curry paste in the supermarket and there’s definitely no such thing as a charity shop, this edgy diversity and multiculturalism was refreshing and inspiring. Listening to first rate street music in the sun, eating Thai street food (choosing a specific cuisine was not an easy task), and buying quirky jewelry was the order of the day, and I did leave wondering why I’ve chosen to live in a country whose culture is a whole lot less fun than this. (Sundays in a conservative catholic country…)
On a separate trip to the city, I spent my sister’s lunch break with her in beautiful Green Park, visited the V&A museum (which I’d love to go to again) and had drinks and dinner with my former housemates at commuter favourite Gordon’s Wine Bar. Staying at my friend Chloe’s overnight, I took off the Oxford the next day to see another university friend Emma, who’s upgraded from measly Southampton and is taking her Masters there! I travelled using the Oxford Tube, which is a fabulous bus service that runs from London Victoria to the centre of Oxford at least every 20 minutes, and once an hour overnight. It cost me only £13 return, being under 26, taking just over an hour and a half. You get a far better tour of the cities from the window as you would from that of a train as well!
Oxford is beautiful; I don’t know why I’d never visited it before. It’s a true British city with gorgeous architecture, a whole lot of greenery, and great options for shopping and eating out. Getting an insight into the Oxford University lifestyle was a real eyeopener as well – such a different world compared to where I studied! Catching up with Emma and getting to know this part of the country I’d somehow missed out on until now was a great experience, and made all the more straightforward thanks to the Oxford Tube service. I’d definitely recommend a visit to this city and hope to visit it again myself in the future!
And as for my time spent in Kent, I truly made the most of it; seeing the grandparents, a trip to the curry house, looking through old photos, drinking ale, evenings in with old friends, hosting 2 birthday parties for mum, coffee dates, eating fish and chips in the sun (below!) and spending a very relaxing day at the spa, which was something I’d never done before! I’m really glad that I managed to see so many of my friends during my time back home, as well as exploring a new city and discovering more of London.
I must admit, after all this fun, leaving England was a little bittersweet. But landing at Salzburg airport, with its beautiful snowy Alpine backdrop, heading straight to the office, and drinking prosecco at my desk at 10am (it was someone’s birthday) made me realise that Salzburg will do just fine! For now…