Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Always looking for new volunteers!
Danielle Zezulinski, 29
Danielle started Bloody Brilliant before leaving New York for the cobbled lanes of London. The blog is a record of her journey, and new life in Big Smoke.
LLO: Give us the basics first – Where are you from originally, how did you end up in this fabulous city and how long have you been here?
DZ: I grew up in New Jersey, and spent most of my twenties hopping back and forth between New York City and Philadelphia. I most recently lived in Brooklyn before arriving in London just over two years ago by seeking out a transfer to my company’s London office.
LLO: Favourite place in London to get a taste of home?
DZ: Byron Burger – tasty burgers and Brooklyn Lager in a bottle – heaven! They just opened a restaurant in Islington so I don’t even have to go far.
LLO: Is there a place you love to go for a head-clearing run or bike ride
in the city?
DZ: I love running up Regents Canal from Angel to Victoria Park and back. The route is about 8-10 miles depending on how you go and Victoria Park is really pleasant and relaxing, though the towpath can get really crowded so it’s best to do it in the early mornings.
LLO: Best independent coffee shop to take a friend for good conversation?
DZ: Oh excellent question, and a toughie! I love Tinderbox in Angel, Flat White in Soho and Dose in Smithfield. I can’t choose!
LLO: What’s the coolest thing about living in your postcode?
DZ: Hrm… N1 is pretty great for the combination of its location and its own amenities. It’s really close to the center of town – I actually walked home from Covent Garden last night and it only took 35 minutes – as well as Shoreditch and Hackney, but it also has everything you need and more within its boundaries. If I wanted to, I could probably go for months without leaving the area and never realize it! If I had to pick one thing, it would be all of the markets in the area. I’m a
sucker for a good market.
LLO: Most unique London discovery?
DZ: Sir John Soane’s House. It’s not quite a discovery, as an old colleague who is English tipped me off to it, but it is one of the most experiences to walk around an old house in candle light and look at a man’s collections and obsessions. Very London! I highly recommend everyone go.
LLO: Share a challenge you’ve faced as an expat?
DZ: Where do I start! Actually, expat life isn’t that difficult except for all of the red tape around processes. I just applied for the Tier 1 visa and I had so many issues with my bank getting all of the necessary paperwork. And doing US taxes is such a pain in the neck! Resources from the US government are woefully lacking, and I think the main issue is that no one really knows the rules for sure. Everyone is just guessing and giving each other advice they think is true, so all expats are working off of a network of assumptions and Chinese whispers.
LLO: NYC or London?
DZ: Tough one. They each have their virtues and vices, but I’d say London to live, New York to love.
LLO: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had since moving to London?
DZ: I think that the weirdest thing for me has been getting used to sick on the street. It’s just not done in the US, and it’s pretty shameful if you have to hang over the gutter on a night out. I was shocked when I realized what was all over the sidewalks on Sunday morning… and even more shocked when I did it once. I’m still ashamed of myself!
LLO: If I only had one night in London, where would you tell me to eat and drink?
DZ: This is really hard – there are so many choices! If you were American or wanted a distinctly British eating experience, I’d say 32 Great Queen Street for a fantastically authentic and delicious meal and then a pub/bar crawl starting from Freud in Covent Garden to Soho ending at Bob Bob Ricard for Champagne at the touch of a button. But if you’re looking for something more special, I’d say hunt out Ms MarmiteLover and eat in her front room in Kilburn. There are tons of great pubs in Kilburn to hit afterwards… just watch out to make sure you make the last tube home!
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