Sequoia Does…London (and Paris)

As a young thespian, I promised myself that one day I would experience live theatre in London…and I can’t tell you how exciting it was to finally make that dream a reality. In fact, my entire trip to London – and Paris – was nothing short of magical.

It all started a few months ago when burnout started to rear its ugly head. You ever lose control of your car and realize that all you could really do was steer into the skid and hope the crash didn’t hurt you too badly? That’s what life had been like for me lately. Between a toxic work environment, moving to MD to support my mom through her journey with breast cancer and trying to find my way in a new city where I knew virtually no one, life had gotten a bit stressful. I needed a reset and decided a little travel therapy was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Ghana was honestly my first choice. I’d heard about Afrochella and thought that would be an amazing way to spend the holiday. Airfare alone was above $1,500…and that didn’t include lodging or even the tickets to the festival (which were also above $1k). When I stumbled upon a $600 ticket to London, I realized that not only would my budget thank me for it but that I’d finally be able to honor the promise I’d made to myself as a kid…so I decided to make that my destination of choice. My first day in London, I ran across a special “Paris for the New Year” excursion with Contiki Tours and decided to break up my 11 day vacation into two separate experiences. That was truly one of the best decisions I could have ever made. To say I had an absolute BLAST is an understatement.

Given that both cities had their own special magic, I’ll create two parts vs. overwhelming you by trying to fit everything into a single article/video. So…let’s start with London.

The Eats

The food in London was pretty good. It reminded me of standard Americana fare. I don’t remember running into much that I couldn’t get here in the States. I don’t like seafood so I’m not a fish and chips kinda gal…and aside from some of the cheeses, I didn’t find much else on my trip that was “quintessential London” cuisine.

One thing that did stand out to me, however, was that the food didn’t have all of the same food dyes and chemicals that we have in our food here in the States. My Fanta Orange, for example, looked more like our traditional Ginger Ale than the bright orange bubbly brew I’d become accustomed to.

I’d give the food a 6/10.

The Treats

Hands down, my favorite part of London was the live theatre. I had the pleasure of seeing Thriller Live and & Juliet while in town. Both were INCREDIBLE and I highly recommend seeing them if you get a chance. You won’t be disappointed. They also had a number of Winter Markets and tons and tons of shopping – including some of the largest toy stores you’ll ever come across. The LEGO® store was awe-inspiring…According to the company, it’s the largest LEGO® store in the world – and the things they’ve been able to create with those little blocks…just wow.

I highly recommend visiting the Tower of London and other similar tourist attractions. They’re uber fun and you’ll gain a lot of historical context that you won’t necessarily get in the States. And…I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to go visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. I didn’t get to see an actual show here, but taking the tour was the thing that young theatre actors’ dreams are made of.

Doing non-touristy things when I travel is often more exciting to me than the tourist attractions. I love seeing how local people truly live and experience the city –  so it was so incredible to have an opportunity to attend a local Kwanza fest. Naively, I didn’t realize Kwanza was celebrated there.  I learned a ton about the history of the area and even got to meet renown photographer Charlie Phillips. He’s been documenting Black London since the 1960s. Meeting him was like what I would have imagined meeting Gordon Parks would feel like.

There was truly something for everyone in London. It was a great place to travel solo but I could also see going with my significant other, kids or even as an extended family trip. I had such a blast I even considered moving here…we shall see :).

I’ll give the “things to do” in London a 10/10.

The Peeps

I don’t think I met a single person in London who wasn’t happy or helpful. Even before realizing I was a foreigner, the people there were incredibly nice to me. Once they found out I was traveling – and solo at that – they somehow managed to become even nicer. From the locals to other travelers, I believe I’ve truly made some friendships on this trip that will last a lifetime.

I give the people I met a 10/10.

The Streets

I am probably one of the most directionally challenged people I know. I could truly get lost in a paper bag. That said, I found London incredibly easy to navigate. I stayed at an AirBnB in Croydon, which was a bit outside of the city. Their public transportation is so convenient, affordable and easy-to-use that it made getting around a breeze. As long as you “mind the gap” you should have no problem getting around on their subway system or their double decker buses. Like any major city, the public transportation will take you a bit longer to get to your destination than driving or taking a taxi/ride-share, but if you make sure you add the additional travel time to your plans, you should be fine.

I give their transportation and ease of navigation a 10/10.


Sequoia does London

As you can see, London owes me absolutely nothing. I had an amazing time and can’t wait to come back. Without further ado, here’s me doing London 🙂

I wasn’t able to capture everything in the video but I’ll create a photo dump post where can see a gallery of all of my curated images, once I have a chance to go through them all. You can also see a longer, more detailed version of this video on my YouTube channel. Also, stay tuned for the next part of my adventure, where I’ll share my experiences visiting Paris for the New Year.




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