I just got back from a wonderful trip to London and Paris and it's taken me all week to calm down to write about it. The terrible jetlag and constant flow of work hasn't made things any easier, mind you. First off it must be said that I did this trip on the cheap. I have family in London, well Ilford in Essex to be exact but it is close enough. Plus I used my travel journalist tricks to get my fair share of freeness, discounts and other goodies.
My trip began with a very long flight from LA to London, two flights actually with a stopover in Boston. To my surprise my friend Chi Chi, who I was planning on seeing while in London was on my connecting flight from Boston. This wouldn't be the last time I ran into people unexpectedly during my trip.
I finally arrived in London and was greeted by my Aunt Maggie, my grandmother's younger sister and her husband. We took a very long tube ride to Ilford. The first full day was spent chatting with the family, getting my money exchanged and figuring out the damn cell phones over there. Once that was sorted I headed into the city to take advantage of my travel journalist perks. I scored a hotel room in the Notting Hill area for just 10pounds a night! The Hotel Umi was adorable and in a lovely area of charming white buildings. I didn't stay there long though as I was off to Soho to hang out with Deji and his friends for a night on the town. We hit up some gay bars, particularly Barcode in both Soho and Vauxhall before taking the nightbus to his place in Brixton.
After some recovery I made my way back up to Ilford for a family BBQ, where I got to see everyone that I haven't seen in about 15-20 years. they are the same crazy, lively family I remember and they were happy to chat with me. They served up some rum, Caribbean dishes, and yummy deserts! Then I went to meet up with my old college buddy Siobhan (we went to school in Miami together) to celebrate her birthday with her new friends in London. She has been there for 2 years so she has had time to build a new life. It was a crazy night that went into the morning but it was a great chance to chat it up with locals who were open minded and artistic. Fun times.
Sunday night, I hung out with an online buddy named Anthony and we went to check out the UKSoulJam at Jazz Cafe in Camden Town. The called me onstage to plug Nu-Soul and I gavce out some Strictly Social CDs to the hungry crowd. The main act was a group called Indigo Brown who were quite good!
So that was just the first weekend. I slept all day Monday and chilled with the family as I got ready for the next leg of my trip - My trip to Paris! Stay tuned.