I have officially been in the U.K. for a little over a week and I have to say I already love it. The people are very nice and seem very willing to help give directions or help you decipher the different coins for change and the architecture is absolutely breathtaking. I have already visited Big Ben (the Elizabeth Tower), the London Eye, the British Museum, Cambridge and Oxford Street (similar to 5th Avenue in New York City). The only bad thing so far is the fact that the dollar does not go too far. Those who know me best are very aware of my couponing and saving habits back in the states so coming here where the dollar is worth about 61 pence (their version of cents) caused a bit of a shock.
However, I have found a few ways to get around it. As you may have guessed the price difference has caused the more famous stores such as TOPSHOP to be out of the question at the moment. I visited there recently when I went to Oxford Street but the conversion rate scared me off from purchasing anything. My only souvenir was the free map of the store. What I did find, however, definitely made up for it.
It cost £10 (about $16) at one of the stalls and has a thinner band but I love it.
Thanks to the abundance of walking I have done lately, I did not want to wear out my new boots from Macy’s and decided to grab a pair from Primark when a few of us went to Oxford Street yesterday. This store is basically like Forever 21 in both style and various item quality but also features products for the home and an over abundance of items. The oxford Street store had a few floors and carried women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, underwear, loungewear, as well as items for men, the home, and children. It was a delight to explore and so friendly for your budget.
I ended up purchasing the following two items. The boots cost £18 (about $30) and an infinity scarf was £3 (about $5).
For me, those were the best prices possible because a I went to TOPSHOP just 3 stores before this and was about to drop £37 for one sweater and £27 for another plus £55 on a dress. You can only imagine how much that would have come to in American currency, so I am very happy for Primark. Although I may get something from TOPSHOP before I leave.
On the same excursion to Oxford Street with a few friends, I also stopped in at Zara.
In the States, I had the preconceived notion that this store was too expensive and often stayed away but a friend noted the sale and we went inside. I am happy to report that I was wrong and was able to purchase the softest pair of jeans I have ever owned on sale for £9.99 (about $16.56) !
I could not have asked for a better deal and will definitely visit there again when I go home in three months.
Of course, while on Oxford Street I had to stop in at Selfridge’s. I watched the new T.V. show on PBS a few months ago called Mr. Selfridge and have dreamed of going to the store ever since.
The store itself is composed of multiple stores and departments that are set up almost as individual shops. This one building included everything from H&M to Chanel, TOPSHOP, All Saints, and of course, Miss Selfridge. After a few tries outside of the Chanel window, here is the somewhat iconic image a friend and I came up with. Yes, you finally get to see what I look like. Surprise!
The last purchase I will tell you about was made in Cambridge this past weekend. Thanks to the unexpected chilly weather in the morning, I jumped over to the Cambridge market, which looked similar to a farmer’s or flea market we might have in the States. The quality of goods was better, however. I almost immediately purchased this little knit hat for £4 (about $7).
While it may not look like much here, it was definitely a good buy as I spent the rest of the day discovering the wonders of Cambrige. You may know it from Cambridge University. While on a tour I was told their first college was founded in 1209.
The architecture was amazing to say the least. This small town had modern-day stores on one side and buildings representative of hundreds of decades in the past on the next block.
While there, we were able to take a look into a few of the more prominent churches, including The Chapel. Here is a peak of the Chapel and then part of the grounds for those of you back in the U.S.
The stained glass windows were especially gorgeous and so lovely to behold.
Thanks to my iphone, I was able to take a picture with a full panoramic view. But I have to say the grounds were just as magnificent.
Here is another panoramic shot of the grounds just outside of The Chapel.
However you cannot get the full effect without seeing a more close-up version so I will show you this one as well.
That’s it for Cambridge, and for now. Stay tuned for more from London as well as my upcoming trip to Paris. Feel free to comment with any questions/suggestions. Cheers!