Coffee Chats with Kia Abdullah


Meet Kia Abdullah, she is the fabulous co-founder and editor of the travel blog, Atlas & Boots! If you're not familiar (although, we're sure you are) Atlas & Boots is not your average travel blog. Kia and Peter like to do things a bit differently as they travel, studying the "human condition to try and define what makes us, us." With a focus on inspiration and education and a keen interest in lifestyle and culture here at The Exploress we were completely drawn to reach out to Kia for today's coffee chat! However, instead of taking us around the world, Kia will be talking to us about life in London, her home town...


I am an author and travel writer. I was born in Tower Hamlets in London and raised in a family of eight children! Writing is my first love and travel is my second, so it was only natural that I'd end up as the editor of travel blog I've been lucky enough to see over 40 countries around the world. People always ask me for my favourite and I still don't have an answer. It's somewhere between Jordan, Cambodia and Samoa, not only because of the natural beauty and interesting history but also because the people are so warm and welcoming. Another favourite is Easter Island. It's just so achingly beautiful. - Kia


First thing anyone visiting should know about London?

London is what you make it. You can come here and be overwhelmed by the relentless rain, rude commuters and lack of personal space, and leave feeling like it's the most over-hyped city in the world. Or, you can stay a while and really get to know the place. That's when you'll fall in love.

Describe London in three words?

 Historic, pluralistic, expensive!


What do you love most about London? 

The history and the architecture. I love that you can walk down a seemingly normal street and suddenly be faced with a gorgeous building. It's not just grand constructions like the Royal Courts of Justice or the Houses of Parliament either; the history is everywhere. I grew up in Stepney Green and every time I walked past St Dunstan's Church, I was reminded of the city's incredible history. That building is older than America!

Favorite place to eat, drink, and indulge?

I love Indian food. Brick Lane is clearly famous but I prefer less known restaurants. Bangalore Express in Bank and Kati Roll Co. in Oxford Circus are favourites. I also love Siam Eatery on Wellington St. In the summer, you can grab a pot of red curry, go to Victoria Embankment Gardens and watch the world go by as you eat.

You have 24 hours to lounge around and do anything, how would you spend your time?

For me, a lie-in means waking up at 9am so that's how I'd probably start the day. I'd go for a run along the River Lea then home for a quick shower. My boyfriend and I might meet some friends for lunch. I'd opt for the 'Sage and Truffle' pizza at Crate in The White Building in Hackney. The place is full of hipsters but the pizzas are divine. If it's a nice day, we'd wander to Victoria Park and laze in the afternoon sun. In the evening, we'd catch a movie at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green or maybe meet one of my sisters for dinner. I have five to choose from so it depends which one's free! We'd probably stay local. Bella Vita in Broadway Market does great Italian food so we'd likely end up there. 

You've probably guessed that food plays a big part in my life!


Three Must-sees…

Walk along the South Bank on a sunny afternoon.

Spot deer in Richmond Park.

Spend a morning at the Natural History Museum, preferably outside of school holidays and weekends.

What is the best way for a visitor to travel around London? 

The London Underground is definitely the best way to travel around the city. It can get crowded at rush hour but it's quick and (generally) reliable. Knowing some basic rules will help a great deal. Nearly everyone knows you have to stand on the right and walk on the left. Some lesser known tricks are: 1. If your Oystercard beeps red at the barriers, take a step back to allow the sensor to reset then try again instead of repeatedly tapping it on the reader, 2. On train platforms, the 'Mind the gap' signs on the floor often line up with the train doors so go and stand near them. There are many other small rules listed here if you're interested! 

Just for kicks, London or Tokyo?

I haven't been to Tokyo yet so I'm afraid I'm going to be biased and say London!

Anything else you'd like to share?

Um, well, I speak 2.5 languages (English, Bengali and Spanish). My next big trip will likely be Africa in August. We're planning on Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar with a view to ending up in Mauritius!