For me London is truly one of the best cities in the world. My first experience of London was back in 2012 and I have been back twice. Every time I go I never get bored, there is always something to do in good old London.
They say that visiting London is expensive, I agree, but you can see London on a budget. We always stay in an easyHotel, they are far from luxurious but they offer you a place to have a shower and a clean bed to sleep in. The rooms are basically small boxes and if you are lucky you may have a window in the room. It does its job and for less than £40 a night we are not going to complain they are scattered all over Central London, visit their website www.easyhotels.co.uk
The first time we got to London we walked for 12 hours a day and it wasn’t enough to cover the city. We did the tourist places like the London Dungeons, Ripley’s believe or not, London Eye & Madame Tussauds, all places have an entrance fee and the best way to book is on-line as prices are cheaper than ‘on the door’ and you don’t need to queue up to purchase your ticket as there is always an ‘express line’ for pre-paid ticket holders…….bare in mind we’re talking London here….and when it comes to tourist attractions in London, we are talking queues….long queues!! The London Eye is a good way to see the city from above as you would from a sky-scraper but at £30 per person it’s a bit steep for our liking. Our favourite was London Dungeons as it represents London’s history but the amazing thing about it is that it brings the history to life. The best way to describe it really is that it is more a ‘show’ of London history rather than a museum of London History. It may be intimidating at first as the actors (staff) all dressed in period London garb come right into your face and talk to you, probing and asking you questions, putting you on the spot and trying to create the atmosphere and crudeness of the past 1000 years of London history. Overall it’s an incredibly fun day and if you are visiting London for the first time you really should see this place.
We walked to all the icons in the city, Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham palace and looking at all these historic places it was such an eye opener. Having lived in Australia for the majority of my life I didn’t get to experience these old and magnificent buildings and the history behind them. It made me appreciate them even more.
Shopping in London is just amazing and you have a whole range of shops to suit all budgets. Oxford and Regent Street’s are just crazy in terms of people. I truly have not experienced so many people on a high street in my life. The atmosphere is great, but sometimes you can feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of people surrounding you, London is fast paced, locals are going about their business, rushing along, so as a tourist you’ll need to keep up that pace too. Harrods is absolutely beautiful, the best department store in the world for me. Okay it can be very pricey, but just entering and walking around each level and admiring all the beautiful products is worth it. I love the food halls, they are exquisite. There is literally something for everyone, from the finest tea (Mick) to trout, from chocolate (me) to cheese (also me), from pickled eggs to eels!! What Mick and I have done is grab a few bits & bobs and walked to Hyde park which is really close to Harrods and have a picnic lunch….weather permitting of course…. Hyde Park is stunning and includes the late Princess Diana’s memorial which personally I just had to visit, but it’s also perfect if you just want to have a little quite time, grab yourself a book and just relax and read. Also a visit to Covent Garden should also be on your list, there are market stalls and I find there is a lot of quirky products to grab your attention, food stalls, pubs, restaurants and street artist’s doing there thing. You’ll also find the London Transport museum and the Theatre Royal, also worth a look. It’s very lively place overall and a lot of fun.
The best way to get around in London is the London Underground or the Tube as the locals know it as. It’s easy and every 3-4 minutes or so there are trains taking you to your next destination. Although its not always cheap, purchasing an Oyster card may be the way to go if you are there for a few days or weeks. Buses are accessible too but we prefer to either walk or take the train. As far as transport goes, another tip would be taking the National Express coach service to the airport, we did this and we saved a lot of money this way. It departs from Victoria station and is £10 per person and an hour and half later we were at Gatwick airport. The first time we visited London we took a train to the airport and we paid £25 per person….. totally not worth it as the coach was comfortable and we didn’t need to travel with our luggage on our lap!!
Camden Markets on a Sunday is awesome!! Although Mick (a Londoner himself) commented that ”It’s not the Camden Market it used to be. It’s a lot of fun but the old vibe of the place has gone”…… but for a first timer like me, I loved it!! You can find everything and anything and the amount of people that visit these markets is amazing and they come from all walks of life. What I love most about this place is the food stalls, every type of cuisine is available and its pretty cheap and for a foodie like me the portions these guys serve up will definitely satisfy your hunger. On a good day you can find a spot near the canal and just chill and watch the world go by. One of the other markets that we visited was Borough Market, this more a food market but for some reason I was not really impressed I think my expectations were to high after all the rave reviews i read beforehand. Portobello Market was fun and really quirky with loads of stalls to visit. Whitecross Market was a complete let down with just food stalls but nothing caught my eye in terms of ‘good’ food. Check out the opening times on these markets as they all vary.
Few of my favourite places to eat… a cafe called Kaffeine, (off Oxford Street) is run by Australian-New Zealanders and they know how to serve a good coffee and a range of sweet and savory dishes. Busaba Eathai (near Old street), we had one of the best Asian meals and the place is packed so either get there early or pre-book. Cambridge Pub (near Soho) is an amazing British pub, you can’t go to the UK and not have a pub meal!!! The food in the Cambridge will not disappoint. Timberyard (Old street) for a good brekkie and of course as I think Gordon Ramsey is the best chef in the world I needed to visit one of his many restaurants that are scattered around London. We chose Bread Street Kitchen (City of London) and unsurprisingly it was fantastic. Food, service, decor were top class we booked well in advance though through their online facility service……guys, this is a must, otherwise you’ll struggle to get a table. Now for a good English breakfast we visited a pub call the Masque Haunt (near Old street), it was yummy, we both had the English breakfast (although my brekkie was vegetarian…..Mick insisted that it couldn’t possibly be an English breakfast…….but hey)… along with two coffees we paid only £10!! that’s a true bargain……happy eating people.
Now if you are a huge football fan just like Mick and the rest of the UK then you must visit a football stadium and of course Arsenal’s Emirates stadium was our choice as we both support them. They offer tours on a week day and I must say that even if you aren’t a fan just book and go again book online the price we paid was £20 per person . The Emirates stadium was truly breathtaking we were able to walk through the changing rooms, interview rooms and VIP area. They have a museum full of Arsenal memorabilia for the fans to admire which is right opposite the stadium. We even saw a game while we were visiting and it really is a fun day out. We bought tickets well in advance and roughly paid £60 per ticket which is far from cheap but it was worth it for the atmosphere and the sound of 60,000 people singing and chanting…..made even better by the fact that they won the game!!
If Musicals are your thing then there is an abundance of theatre’s to choose from in the West End, again I recommend booking on-line or make it a fun night out and pre-book dinner and a show together…..to be honest, Mick and I didn’t manage to fit this in on either of our visits to London but every time we go to the west end at night the vibe is amazing….it’s definitely something we will do next time around
And of course there’s Soho!!! how can you not love this area?!? There are so many restaurants, pubs and cafes to choose from, personally it is my favourite and it is a must visit part of town. Chinatown has pretty much the same vibe as any Chinatown in the world….so if you’ve been to Chinatown somewhere else in the world……this may not be a must see, although we just happened to be there for Chinese New Year and I have to admit that the place was buzzing. For the kiddies, M&M’s World is located in Soho, it is massive!! 3 floors of chocolate!! how can that ever be bad?! There are many gifts to choose from and the store is ideal for taking pictures for heaps of memories. I loved this place and would definitely go back.
London……people can say what they like about it…..for me this post is probably less than 5% of what this spectacular city has to offer……..I will return London….because I miss you!!