Trip to London.
Yes, London. You know…fish, chips, cup o’tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary f*Poppins (>>source) 🙂
Well, we haven’t tried fish & chips, nor drunk a cup o’tea, we did have great international food, the weather was sunny and haven’t bought any Mary Poppins souvenirs.
We were among the 38.1 million visitors this year (>>source). Saying this number may not sparkle much, but once you’re in London, you get overwhelmed at every step…except for a few remote areas that we’ll reveal in this post.
When we visited London during 2 full days, we hadn’t planned to see any of the sites we list below. We just wandered around, checked the map and picked some nearby attractions.
When we came to London, we just booked one thing in a particular: a dining table at one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants: Fifteen, which serves British ingredients with a global influence. Recommended beyond compare! Be sure to make a reservation way in advance…really waaay in advance.
It’s hard to say if we visited England or a modern Babylon called London. English, the universal language on the lips of so many and diverse nationalities, the feel that one has access to plenty of cultural (and often free) activities and the world street food culture they all reflect our idea of London.
Enough intro, here are the main stops where our paths took us:
- Liverpool Street – a cool street, and also a great area to be accommodated. Here we recommend Ekachai restaurant if you fancy South East Asian food.
- Brick Lane, which gets the fame for the quirky shops, funky bars and cool graffitis, Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants. What we particularly recommend here is the Dark Sugars shop where we were lucky to arrive at the time when the Chocolate man was guiding a couple through the history of cocoa, the birth of the shop…and chocolate tasting! We asked for a hot chocolate (heavenly!!!) and some dark chocolate truffles for the road. Highly deeply recommended!
- Camden Market – another street market where we ate for the first time Taiwanese food – pork belly bun and hard-boiled egg cooked in broth of tea, soy sauce and aromatics. Recommended, both market and dishes!
- British Library – the bright interior decoration and floor-to-ceiling dark bookcases with over 625 km of shelves (growing by 12 km every year) took our breath away. We rested here our feet and brains for a while. You should too!
- Wellcome Collection Museum, which describes itself as “the free visitor destination for the incurably curious”. If we lived in London, this would probably be our inspiration and reading oasis. Recommended!
- Tower Bridge and the South Bank – As people flood the streets, you will still manage to capture a few street performers, stare at the Eye…the London Eye, and lose yourself in the Book Fair (opened Friday-Sunday). Recommended, especially on a day with a quarter of the crowds, which is probably…never.
- Portobello Market in Notting Hill where we had a whole afternoon peeking into antique stalls and spending money on food. If you step outside the main road, the neighborhood will reveal quiet streets with beautiful pastel buildings.
- Stroll the streets of North Kensington to come across Trellick Tower, an unusual and brutalist block of flats (by architect Ernő Goldfinger).
- Maida Vale in West London – A quiet residential area on Grand Union canal with boats turned into houses. A breath of fresh air in the unquiet London…
We recommend this off-the-beaten route in London and get a local feel, compared to the common touristic city-centre areas.
- Buy the Oyster Card in the tube station or once you arrive at the airport – a prepaid card (also the cheapest) to travel around London by any means of transportation.
- Explore London by foot as much as possible: walking around, getting lost and coming across off beaten streets is different (one day we walked 20km).
- Try the full English breakfast to set you up for a long day of walking and sightseeing.
We know we’ve missed loads of great and worthwhile spots to queue for. Please leave us a comment below for the next time London calls. 🙂