#LondonCalling: Greenwich

In between the extended UK winter which has seen far more rainy May days than I’d appreciate, we have been lucky enough to sneak some warm and sunny days. On those days, it always seems a waste to spend it inside our flat.

One of those days came to us in early April, so Alessio and I joined our darling friend Deborah at Greenwich Park. We had been trying to go since the previous summer but we never quite made time for the journey from North to South. Finally, we found ourselves weaving through Canary Wharf on the DLR, with me lecturing the two Italians on how to say Greenwich.

“It’s not pronounced Green Witch. I know it’s confusing but that’s just the English language in general.”

Cutty Sark – or Cutty Shark as some may prefer – is a good station to get off for the parks, the river and the market.

We stepped out of the DLR station and saw the town around us.

“Are we still in London?”

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Greenwich is adorable. It has the same little-village feel as Hampstead and Primrose Hill, with many pubs and indie shops to make up for the endless Costas and betting shops on other high streets. Alessio and Deborah were hungry, so we headed to Greenwich Market.

Everyone I have met who has been to Greenwich has ignored the market. It’s a  gem! There is variety in the cuisines, and if you’re short on cash you can fill up on a selection of samples. The churrería is my personal favourite, and there is a juice stand to fulfil my juice necessity since returning from Asia. Food isn’t very extortionate – both Alessio and Deborah got huge turkish wraps for a decent price.

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After fuelling ourselves, we decided to take on Greenwich Hill. It’s a gentle incline, but nearer the top there’s a winding hill which could leave you out of breath. The view is, however, absolutely worth it.

The spring blossoms were out and it’s a great place for a picnic, or in our case a photography class which got interrupted by the most ignorant of insects – the wasp. Minutes after discussing our hatred of insects, an awful wasp began spoiling our fun. Not one to mess around, Deborah heard the buzzing and ran half way across the park with her bag. I mean, is it even springtime yet until that happens?

By that point, we no longer felt safe. We had a look in the free parts of the museum, then back down the hill for ice creams from the market. We quickly viewed the Cutty Sark, before ending our visit by watching the other side of the city across the river, musing on how easy it would be to poison all London.

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Greenwich is that fabled part of London most people are always desperate to check out, alongside Holland Park and Richmond Park. I have officially been to all three now, and they are all worth it. How can people call London shit when so much beauty is on our doorstep?

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Giving Milan a Second Chance

Twice I had visited Milan, and unlike the breathtaking Venice or the charming Bologna, I always came back underwhelmed. Milan was absolutely my “there’s nothing there” city.
Despite this, I wanted to go back for two reasons. I had never been to the Navigli district (or so I thought) and I wanted to eat Spuntino pizza.

On our last day in Italy, I had some free time to visit Milan alone. Alessio warned me to “be careful” but I insisted I was a strong London lass and I could handle myself…

Until the train pulled into a station en route and a burly man walked right up to my window and stared at me. When I looked away, he began to actually write on the window with his finger to me! That’s it, I’m going to get kidnapped here.

At Milan Porto Garibaldi I strutted off the train with confidence so everyone would see I was clearly a local, until I got onto the metro and had no idea what to do or how much to pay. A little bit of guesswork and I figured out Porto Genova was the stop I needed to visit Navigli – a stop I had already visited when I was in Milan for fashion week.

Navigli was beautiful. Small streets led off the main avenue, split by a large canal. The picturesque buildings sold gelati and there were tables with chequered cloths in front of little pizzerias. With the warm springtime sun, it felt so…Italian


I walked aimlessly until I found some very handsome national guardsmen to watch for a while. On the opposite side of the canal, I spotted a Spuntino pizza chain. I had wanted to try the little novelty pizza slices for a year, and the setting was the perfect place to take a lunch and reassure my boyfriend I was fine.


After lunch, I headed to the Duomo. I had already been there a year and a half earlier with Alessio, but now I could shamelessly join the selfie-takers. I didn’t do a lot in this area because I spent so long in Navigli, and to save on money I planned to walk back to Milano Centrale.


It was a bit of a task as my phone battery was rapidly dying, but I found a bit of time to stop at Brera and take a few pictures.

Near Repubblica station, a man approached me to ask me “una domanda“. My linguist mind went blank and it took a minute to realise he wanted to ask me something. “siii… siiiii” 

“Parlez-vous Francais?”

“God no… Inglese.”

“Sei bel-LIIISSIMA”

He continued in Italian, asking where I am from. I told him I am from London, and he asked what I’m doing in Italy. My alarm bells were going off, but the absolute twat inside me told me it’s a great chance to practice without Alessio being there to help me translate. And then he asked me to go for a coffee. Fuck, how do you say “my phone is dying and I need to catch a train?” at any case, my protestations were met with “why?! Do you have a boyfriend?” and “but it’s five minutes!”

In my desperation, I took out my ticket to prove I had to go, and along with it came a ten euro note I had stuffed in my pocket. Without any shame at all, and in perfect English he said 

“Okay, can I have some money?”

The nerve! And when I said I had to go, he continued to ask for a coffee and to play music on his music for me. 

I walked away in the end, but this is absolutely why I would be a useless solo traveller. “Perfect chance to practice Italian” un cazzo!

By that point I was just glad to finally get to Milano Centrale. My stress didn’t end there because I couldn’t find a single train heading to Gallarate. I had to figure out which trains were heading north and which ones were heading south and finally one popped up heading to Gallarate.
The day was definitely eventful, but I finally found a place in my heart for the glamorous Milano.

Updates!

I’m so sorry that this blog has been a bit quiet! Being back in London meant that I became a bit caught up with the daily grind, but I’ve not only travelled to Italy and the South English coast but I have been managing to explore the beauties London has to offer, as well as continuing to create some posts on my amazing travels in Asia. I’m hoping to get more regular in writing this now things are settling a bit!