The best way to get around England would be to book your stay in its magnificent capital city, London. Of course, your stay here might be slightly more expensive than in other places, which aren’t so main stream. But you will certainly appreciate the ease with which you will find frequent transportation to all other parts of the country.
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit London is from May to July
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
The London Eye
Sugandha and Daniel had a day off from work, but they had classes to attend that they were taking to enter the best B-School in UK (all the best to them). They had left their spare house keys for us and by the time we got all ready, made some breakfast and left the house for the day it was 12 in the afternoon. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and today we decided we will go to see the London Eye and from there walk to all the places we can in and around central London. We board a train for Embankment station, which is closer to London eye. We got out of the station crossed a bridge and on the other side was London eye. The streets below London eye was packed with people enjoying a good sunny day, there were tourist, children cycling around, babies in their baby carts, doggies and oldies just taking a stroll. It was like a huge street party kind of scenario.There were entertainers on the streets entertaining people and earning their livelihood. There was a huge queue for the London eye, so didn't want to go on it. Rather we decided to sit in a nice quite place overlooking the river and sip on some beer.
She told us to visit Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Sq, Green Park and Big Ben. All these places were close to her office and walking distance. We paid for the coffee and were on our way to Trafalgar Sq, walked ahead a little bit and reached the Buckingham palace & Green Park. Through our walk there was a regular photo session going on and it was a pleasant experience walking the streets of london.Since it was a day before the weekend, people were all out on the streets, getting into the weekend groove. There were families and children with their dogs playing in the park, couples coochy cooing and sipping on chilled beer (its legal to drink on streets in London), a old gentleman feeding squirrels, a lady feeding the ducks, tourists clicking pictures and office goers crowded outside English pubs drinking beer and wine. It was party mood all around.We walked back to Sugandha's office and called her, she told us to come to a pub were she and Daniel (her English boyfriend) had already started partying. We joined them, ordered our beers and it was 1, 2 and 3 beers for me, the last glass being bottoms up. The pub (I forget the name) was totally crowded with people partying after office hours.
Next we decided to go and drink in a different pub, but I realised we had our luggage to carry home, so it will be quiet a pain to carry the luggage all around after getting a little drunk (which I wanted to). So we chucked our plan to drink more in a pub and picked our luggage and moved towards charring cross station, from here we were supposed to board the train to Tower Gate, walk to tower hill station and board the train to Lime house (final destination). Daniel bought some booze from a local grocery, wine and beers are cheaper to buy from a local store and we continued the party at Sugandha's house. Their house was walking distance from the station.We dropped our luggage, ordered for some Bengali food and Daniel suggested he will show us the place around his house, which is supposedly very beautiful. We got quite excited and went out for a walk and the first surprise was Thames river flowing right behind their house. Next surprise was a beautiful view of tall office buildings of HSBC, Citigroup over the river, all lit up these buildings are located at canary Warf, which is a 15 minutes walking distance from Daniels house.The walk through the lanes was quite & romantic, Daniel took all the efforts to show us everything beautiful that is in and around their house. We came back to the house after about an hour of walking and sat down for dinner and drinks. After all the flight travel, train travel, walks, drinking and carrying our luggage around , we were quite exhausted for the day and the moment we hit the bed the next moment I relaised it was 10am, Saturday morning.
Next, we walked over to St. Paul’s Cathedral, built after the Great Fire of London in 1666. You really can't take a wrong angled picture of this masterpiece. Next, we headed to the streets in central London and did a stroll through Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. After taking some photos we then crossed over Parliament Square to Westminster Abbey for some more photographs.
It was total fun clicking pictures here with Alim and Supritha. From china town the next stop was a toy store which sells all kind of soft toys, we spent a little moment going around the store, the store had quite a interesting jungle set up. Just 500 meters outside the store was Piccadilly Circus, the place which has the TDK, Sanyo advertisement signage.
Saint James Park
After a good meal, we decided to walk around the city, visited places like Piccadilly, Park Lane, St James Park, Hyde park. Today it was kind of little tiring for us, so we headed back home early, around 8 pm. We picked up some beer from the grocery for home. Back home myself, wifey Daniel and Sugandha had a wine and beer party with some cigars. It was a beautiful evening spent with them, just relieved us from all our tiredness of the day. Finally, bed time as we had a early morning the next day and catch a train to go to windermere.
London is definitely not cheap but you can try some budget options. YHA London Central is a hostel accommodation, which is about five minutes walk from Oxford Street. For the search of a budget hotel, the Asian chain Tune will complete your hunt as you will find four low price hotels across the city. Some high end options can be Dorchester, Dorchester, or the Savoy where you can enjoy taste of luxury.
Greenwich has a feeling altogether different than central London. Walking along the sidewalk through the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, you are brought back to the romantic times of exploration. From sea to space, some of the greatest explorers in history walked the grounds. Our reason for visiting Maritime Greenwich, however, was not to see these incredible sites- although we did and loved them.
If you have plans to: 1) shop 2) watch musical 3) visit the tourist attractions 4) visit the markets 5) go to museums, I’d recommend at least 7 full days. Well, at least that’s the time I wish I had. I wish I could visit more markets (I only covered Camden Market and Borough Market) and I wished I had a night (where I wasn’t so exhausted after walking the whole day) to club. London is a prime spot for a couple of other day trips out as well, and if you do want to visit other parts of UK, be sure to allow even more time. Public transport within London costed me SGD 60 for that 4 full days. Each train ride costs ~SGD 5, while the bus is relatively cheaper. I noticed that the bus drivers are separated from the passengers by a transparent panel sandwiched between them and the passengers, unlike in France where there is no physical barrier between them. I thought it symbolised the emotional connection between the driver and passenger quite representatively too.Meals cost easily SGD 20. There are SGD 15 options if you look hard and aren’t fussy aka street stalls or fast food chains.I’m sure London needs no introduction, nor mapping. I came to realise how more Singaporeans than I expected have moved to London to do their bachelor’s degree. Wished I had the time to meet up with them too, but time was very tight on my trip there. I’ve been procrastinating on this post for the longest time now simply because of the sheer number of places we’ve visited (and the accompanying photos that follows).To keep things organized, I have laid out my content in the following order:Personal touch- CNY celebration, climbing trip, Matilda musicalTourist huntsFood & markets we’ve visited are reserved for a separate post.
Portobello Road Market
Portobello Market is one of the best markets in London, you definitely have to check it out! It is a short walk from Notting Hill Gate station which runs on the District and Circle Line. If you want to get nice antiques stuff, it is best to visit them on Saturdays as antiques and bric-a-brac stalls only opens on Saturday. Portobello Road literally has everything! You can find many vintage items here if you are a fan!
Then from there we went to Harrods, one of the biggest shopping mall in the world. It seems it takes about 2-3 days if you want to see the entire Harrods mall. Behind Harrods, I don't know the reason i saw some of the most expensive cars parked i.e. Bugatti, Rolls, Ferrari's, Bentley's and more, but for me the London taxis were more attractive to click pictures of. After Harrods we walked toward Knights bridge station to catch a train to Covent garden. Since it was Saturday night, Covent Garden station was crowded with people ready to party the night away, i didn't know this place was a party hub. We met Alim and Supritha and decided we will pick some beer from Tesco (grocery store) and walk around enjoying our beers. Walking, we reached china town and like all china town streets across the world, even this had a typical setting of red lanterns, Chinese restaurants and all flashy and glowing.
A great view of the beautiful city of London is Primrose Hill. Buy some food from the markets and come up here to enjoy the afternoon, eat and drink a bottle of wine! It's not far from the London Zoo so if you are heading that way then make sure you stop over!There are always free things to do in a city you just have to do a little research and be prepared to get lost. As my mother used to say "The best things in life are free" and I have to say I agree with her.Much love,Anita HendriekaThis blog was originally published on 'anitahendrieka'.
Moving on, we enter the station platform and are ready to board the train to go to Leicester Sq. With 2 big bags and 2 hand bags, it was a cakewalk to board the train; moreover it was afternoon so it wasn't rush hour. The train journey was quiet comfortable and smooth and we reached our destination in exactly 1 hour 10 minutes, at around 3 pm. We called up Sugandha after reaching the station, our friend in London and the person we are supposed to stay with for the 4 days we are in London. She came to pick us up; her office was walking distance from the station.We dropped our bags in her office and went for some coffee. Over coffee, Sugandha suggested us places we can visit over the next 3 hours in and around Leicester Sq, since after 3 hours Sugandha was supposed to get off from work and we were supposed to go to her place in Lime house (DLR Line).
London marked one of the best culinary experiences in my trip! The metropolis has so many dynamic shades to experiencing food that one trip also seems short. Its food scenes seemed to have been changing before my eyes so rapidly, that while one day Aldwych was the hub, another day the street food at Charlotte Street attracts the crowd. While I roamed with a foodie heart all around London, I discovered all sorts of gastronomically exuberating experiences! From East End to Convent Garden, from having the best of English afternoon teas to basking in the summer sun on rooftop bars, from enjoying secret speakeasies on rainy gloomy days to exploring the best bars and underground gin palaces... I just could not get enough of London. And to add to this are the ever evolving food trends like molecular gastronomy to the quirkiest of cafe-concepts and all of this in one city, where, of course, I did not miss a single chance to gorge on the culinary excellence at Michelin-starring world’s best restaurants!
Kings Cross SU Bar
The Baker Street tube station has walls painted with excerpts from the Sherlock Holmes novels and is, in itself, a place well worth a visit. Take the tube now to King's Cross. This is again a place which needs no introduction. The crowds at Platform 9 3/4 are massive and you will find queues waiting to get a photo with the trolley half mashed into the wall. Instead, walk into the Harry Potter store, and marvel at the Firebolt and the Elder Wand, indulge your inner nerd and splurge on Gryffindor jumpers. Then take the escalators to the food court upstairs, grab a bite and look over the magical place where The Boy who Lived, once took the train to Hogwarts.
During our walk we saw a great deal of modern blocks of various architectural quality, side by side with houseboats, boardwalk environment and small, green spots with grass and trees. Everywhere there were trendy cafés where the young and hip ad-agency people, artists and “creative types” were sitting with their iPads, checking e-mails, or a copy of “The Observer” as they sipped their organic juices and coffees. One of the things that really fascinates me about London is the fact that there is so much history. Originally founded by the Romans about 2000 years ago, the “current London” is literally built upon the ruins of millennia and ever so often remains from the past, even of a significant, historic value, are found and being excavated. In medieval times London developed into one of the most important cities in Europe and the list of brutal, reckless kings that have ruled England from here is long! In the older areas of the city you find many buildings dating back 500 years or more. As already mentioned, several pubs are centuries old, and many of them make quite an effort to inform you just HOW old they actually are, and which prominent, historic figures that have come and gone over the years. It IS actually exciting! Imagine to sit by the same table as William Shakespeare, drinking a pint of lager. There are quite a few arguments about which pub that can rightfully claim the title as “London’s oldest pub”. No one knows for sure. But there are a handful of pubs in the central part of the city that have had their license at least since the 1660´s. No matter which one is the oldest, I find that rather impressive. I do not think that there will be many of the present day “shopping street pubs” around 350 years from now. But in the center of London they live and work “in the middle of history” every day!
From Sugandha's house we did a small walk till Canary Wharf Pier. Pier is basically a boat station from where you can get into a boat to go from one place to another in London. These boats are quiet fast, cheap, comfortable and scenic. We spontaneously decided to do a boat ride to Greenwich, instead of the train or bus. And the boat ride was all worth it.
The pergola was built in 1906 and was one of Lord Leverhulmes ideas. He wanted to build a legacy, so decided that the pergola was a great idea. Over the years there were many extensions of this fantastic structure but sadly after his death the Pergola was forgotten. This place is now overgrown by wild flowers and vines and looks absolutely amazing. It has such a eerie feeling to it and I wouldn't of thought this secret place would still exist in London.Listen to the protests in the speakers corner in Hyde Park | Tube station: Marble Arch
Lord's Cricket Ground
Well my love for cricket compelled me to write a post on a cricket stadium, but wait this is not an ordinary stadium ! It is one of the most prestigious and beautiful stadium in the world. Yes I am talking about the " Home of Cricket", " Mecca of Cricket"- Lord's. Welcome to LORDS'S
Kensington Palace Gardens
Kensington Gardens has loomed large in my imagination ever since, and when I went to London on a recent trip with my family I urged them to stop by.Now you should know that Kensington Gardens are huge. Running seamlessly into Hyde Park they combine in a total 625 acres. There is so much to see, and we barely scratched the surface. We arrived in the late afternoon of a gorgeous May day. Wandering down a wide asphalt path, we came close to a hub of activity where joggers and families out for a stroll swirled around a collection of fountains and water flowers.
Its the park next to my home, and I must be visiting it once a week for sure. Regents Park is one of the bigger parks in London and the best landscaped one in my opinion. Its located between Baker Street, St Johns Wood, Camden and Kings Cross, with a squarish shape. Its got rose gardens, cherry blossoms, landscaped gardens, walking trails, lakes, football and cricket pitches, the London zoo, running tracks, a theatre, cafes and I don't know what else! Its so green in summer,with colours so vibrant that you actually feel that you have come to the woods and left the whole world behind!
St Pancras Old Church
As you enter the interior of St Pancras Old Church, you won’t be blown away by high-vaulted ceilings and murals done by internationally renown artists, but you will have the opportunity to walk along a floor that that has seen 1700 years of change. This is not to say it isn’t beautiful, for a church that has overcome bombings during World War II, several railroad constructions, and restoration after restoration, the simplicity suits it well.
Coming to stay, as usual it was FREE! My host is a brilliant chef and I stayed above their restaraunt. Some home cooked British breakfast & dinner and that's how budget traveling happened in London ;) For street shopping do visit Camden market for its vintage collection, Columbia Road Flower Market.Oxford Street is the city's famous shopping street. Also Trafalgar square. My first visit to Madame Tussaud was in list. You can book its entry ticket online. It' lll cost you around 22 pound.
We like to walk through the various areas of the greater London area. One of the best walks was from the subway station in “Mile End” (Eastern London), along Regent’s Canal, to Islington. We went through old industrial areas, an old landfill, through the beautiful Victoria Park and ended up in the posh area of Islington.
The next stop was the Globe Theatre, also known as Shakespeare’s Globe, built in the 16th century! Walking in, I looked up to see the blue skies peering down through the open wooden structure. The seats were simple benches facing a round stage in the middle of the theatre. The audience erupted in laughter and claps, as the actors took to the stage, improvising with minimal props and costumes, entertaining the crowd.We came out of there snapping pictures of us posing by the riverbank. Coming back to the hotel, I recharged my camera, and gathered up my belongings for our next adventure a little out of London. Stratford upon Avon is the home of renowned playwright, Shakespeare. One of the major tourist attractions is the home of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife, and her family. It was a cute little cottage surrounded by beautiful lush, green gardens. There are about twelve modestly sized rooms, with very low ceilings. The tour guide told us this was because most people were quite short back then!
Royal Observatory Greenwich
Places to see in Greenwich and its a must see are the Royal Observatory, Royal Naval College, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich park and the town center. It took us about half a day to see all places. At about 2pm we decided to head towards London town from Greenwich and walk around in the city. We decided to take the boat trip again; Sugandha decided to head back home, myself and wifey took the boat trip to London eye pier. We were really hungry for the afternoon, so decided to look for a nice English restaurant and we did find one. We had some chilled English beer and fish and chips (must eat in this part of Europe). There was nice music, a lovely ambience and perfect feel of a good English pub.
Yauatcha is not the type of Chinese restaurant where you eat duck and dumpling soup. There is quite a ceremony around each dish and every plate arriving made me more curious and excited to know what was inside! The first surprise was the Dim Sum looking like cotton balls :p Wondering what’s inside? Well, you’ll have to taste to find out. The goal of an evening at Yauatcha is to awake your senses and taste a few plates of dim sum before having the duck (which you MUST try). The price was pretty decent considering portions fill you up and service and quality or perfect and… it is a Michelin restaurant. We had 2 cocktails, 4 plates of dim sum and one duck to share and ended up with approximately £70 bill. You can chose to dine upstairs which is more casual or downstairs, which is more high-scale
Day 5 in London: This day as pretty relaxed, as I wanted to prepare for the Ireland trip, which was starting with my flight to Dublin next day. We started off my visiting the Museum of Natural on Cromwell road. The wait in the line was about 2 hours to get in, but it was worth the wait. The entry is free here. The museum exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. We need the day with some photos taken at the magnificent Tower bridge.I then traveled to Dublin, Ireland and did a 3 day tours of southern Ireland, with Paddywagon tours, to the cities of Galway, Kerry in Cork country, Blarney castle and then back to Dublin.Four Courts in Dublin
Big Easy Bar BQ & Crabshack
It is located a stone throw away from Covent Garden station! You won't miss it when you arrive at Maiden Lane :) We were greeted warmly throughout our whole dining experience! The servers are all dressed in checkered shirt, a huge smile at all time! Thumbs up!! Im loving the whole concept of BE Covent Garden. This is not the only bar! The other is at the lower ground, which looks pretty cosy! Overall, it was fantastic! Great atmosphere, food and service! Thank you Big Easy for the experience of dining in.
I finally had the chance to try this amazing address this winter thanks to my friend Margaux and definitely recommend you to book a table asap. As Margaux is a regular (wink wink), she would highly recommend you to go there before 12:00 in order to get the breakfast menu. We went there after 12:00 and had the lunch menu which we had nothing to complain about :) We went for some healthy options and shared a little savoury treat, parmesan and truffle chips! I would like to draw your attention to the beautiful colours layered in our plates and on our table :)
The New Linden
When we arrived at The New Linden Hotel our room was ready, and we were greeted by name. I instantly fell in love with the Asian influenced decor, as I am obsessed with all things Eastern. (ie. I am an Asia geek.) We were given the key to our ground floor room, and were asked to leave it at the desk anytime we left the hotel. I have noticed this is quite common in London, and has something to do with fire regulations- it was definitely a little bit strange the first time I was told I couldn’t keep my room key. The hotel is small, however, and the desk in manned 24 hours a day so it was never a problem. Our room was gorgeous, with elegant fabrics and beautiful furniture. (How awesome is the bed?) If you compare it to an American hotel you would be very disappointed, the room was cozy (small!) but this is typical London. I loved the faux fur throw and pillows, generally not my style, but perfect for afternoon naps and cuddles. The bathroom was roomy and modern. I appreciated the his and hers sinks, and am happy to report that the shower is to die for. There was also a caddy with the usual instant coffee, tea, creamers, and sugar- as well as a water boiler for all your hot drink needs. Overall, we had a wonderful time at The New Linden Hotel. I love boutique hotels because they usually take really great care for their customers, and don’t overlook the simple touches that can make a stay extra special. I would recommend The New Linden Hotel for anyone looking for a mid-range boutique property for themselves or as a couple, I probably wouldn’t recommend it for families with small children. They did drop the ball on breakfast, but if you are unhappy with toast and yogurt there are plenty of great options in the area to choose from. We saw probably five pubs between the closest Underground station and the hotel that offered up Full English Breakfast.
ICEBAR London is right off London’s Regent Street, a stone’s throw from Picadilly Circus and home to some of the best shopping in the city. I was relieved to find it almost hidden from the hustle and bustle of the area, and not at all touristy like I expected. (I went to the Icebar in Amsterdam, and though it was fun, it was very touristy.) Walking in I was surprised to find an upscale lounge, with draping fabrics, cozy seating, and a private bar. Our event was sectioned off with a curtain, giving it the feel of a VIP room while still enjoying the energy of the room.
Only because I went in the wrong season, when there was a trance festival going on and the month was peak summer June :(, I got the only reasonable place of stay at slightly expensive, but peak timing justified rate of 900 rupees per day. The room was good and spacious, with a good big bathroom and a very powerful geyser. Though initially skeptical, I actually chose the best place to stay in Kasol as through my room I could hear the flowing of the river sound. For the peace seekers among us, it gives a very natural night sleep. The sound of the river at night is almost hypnotizing, like mother nature grasping you to it's glory and the quiet. Ask for the room with balcony and you would see all your tensions flow away with the river in the endless starry night.
Seldom do I get to drink great coffee that I can write about. Here it was at Lantana Cafe, A small yet packed cafe on Charlotte Lane, a cute little lane just a couple of turns off the busy (and ugly) Tottenham Court Road. After the first sip of my cappuccino, I wanted to kiss the barista. Ah!! Decent coffee at last. Coffee lovers will know how important this is! For brunch (as we had missed the breakfast service) I had the corn fritters with crispy bacon, fresh rocket, slow roast tomatoes, chili jam and crème fraiche (10 pounds) and added a fried egg. It was all delicious which was evident since no one said a word till the meal was over! We ended up ordering another cappuccino. Couldn't resist! The service was quite relaxed. We were greeted and seated straight away and given water promptly without asking. Other tempting menu items included grilled haloumi and roast beet-root salad (7.50 pounds), Crispy pork belly ciabatta roll with cress and chili mayo (12 pounds), smoked haddock, pea and lemon risotto (10 pounds), and Confit duck leg w/ red cabbage, fennel and raisin coleslaw (9.5 pounds).