"Don't be scared to walk alone...Don't be scared to like it... "Once again ( my third time) I took off on a holiday all by myself, and it was nothing short of amazing!Travelling alone is not always about the cliché deep soul searching business or getting lost finding yourself. For me it's more about the freedom to do what I want and when I want without the burden of living up to another person's idea of a holiday.We mostly exist in a routine that thrives on people pleasing. And however selfish this may sound, a vacation should not have to be that.Sometimes you gotta make things about you My photos and descriptions here are an account of how interesting it is to be going solo and still not having to compromise on any of the fun that people usually seem to assume can only come with traveling in a group.
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.
Contrary to popular belief, Tower bridge is not London bridge. London bridge is an ordinary-looking bridge that was built in 1973, and is walking distance from borough market. Tower bridge on the other hand is located at Tower hill tube station and is painted in white, blue and red for Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee in 1977. And because it spans across the River thames, it's extremely windy and cold during winter (there's a Starbucks on the lower south side of the Thames if you need to grab your cuppa warm joe to bear the chills).
Walking is a biiiiig part of exploring any city, and I managed to walk about five hours everyday at my own pace, exploring places like the Picadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, Parliament street, Trafalgar Square, stoping at any interesting cafe or restaurant that fancied me.Recommended:
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.
London is famous for it's bustling markets, there are so many to choose from. If you're in London on a weekday then check out the Camden Markets, Covent Garden and Brixton Markets. On a Saturday check out the Borough Markets and Portobello Road Markets. On a Sunday you have to check out Upmarket and Bricklane markets in Shoreditch. They all cannot be missed!See the view of the city at Primrose Hill | Tube Station: St John's Wood
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.
Taking the tube down to London bridge, Borough market is definitely one of the places in London that I miss greatly for it's wide range of gourmet treats and alluring carts of delicacies (missing the Banoffee pie immensely, if only R could pack it back from London). I'm no food connoisseur myself, but even if you're full from lunch, you can always score some free samples before making your purchase decision or get nuggets of trivia from the friendly store owners.
On a chilly November morning, I joined a motley group of Sherlockians (as Holmes fans refer themselves as) to explore places in Central London featured in Sir Arthur’s original stories and locations that have featured in numerous film and television adaptations of the detective’s great adventures. Like the first original story, my Holmes adventure started at the Savini at Criterion, at Piccadilly Circus.It was here at the Criterion Bar that Watson learns from an old friend about ‘a fellow who is working at the chemical laboratory up at the hospital (St Bartholomew’s)’, looking for someone to share lodgings with. This is also where I met my guide from Brit Movie Tours. “My name is Michael. If you haven’t enjoyed the tour for whatever reason, my name is James Moriarty,” he says in greeting.
1. PERSONAL TOUCHThis was WL’s first stop from Singapore. After 2.5 months, we’re finally reunited!We kickstarted the night with salmon, mussels in white wine sauce and some wine. This has got to be my best home-cooked dish in the entire time I’ve been overseas. Made none other than our superb host, Leonard.It was also the eve of the eve of CNY (17 Feb). We just came back from CNY shopping at Chinatown street. It was where I found the one and only (monopoly) bubble tea shop to cost ~ SGD8 per cup? On a side note, that got me craving for milk tea so badly so I bought the bottled one at the Chinese shop. Heh.Below shows our steamboat spread for CNY (19 Feb). I can’t believe I would have this opportunity to eat steamboat in Europe. What a joy! I remember feeling very deprived of fish and prawns. So when the ever-talented cook Leonard cooked fresh fish for us, and with 2 of the guys being averse to fresh fish, I unabashedly claimed the whole fish for myself. 8)We improvised steamboat using a rice cooker. Again, we have much to thank Leonard for not only being helpful with the planning of our itinerary, but for also being a splendid cook! Felt so blissed. ;)Since we were in the company of climbers, how could we miss out on it?! This was, and still is, my sole climbing trip since the beginning of exchange so far. :/ It was a novel experience to climb in the cold + dry. No sweaty palms, no slippery tiles.Watched Matilda the musical for SGD 10. It’s a steal, considering we woke up before the sun was up to be the first in queue. We arrived 3 hours before the box office opened at 10.30am. That’s how long we stood/ sat in the morning chill. My toes were frozen midway through the wait.To WL’s disappointment, we didn’t manage to win the lottery ticket to watch Book of Morman for SGD 40. Hence we didn’t watch it at all.I also lost my beloved glove in London while rushing for the lottery ticket draw. :(2. TOURIST HUNTSHow else can I begin other than the famous London telephone booths? No, posing with the booth is too cliche. I like a lone, bright booth. Take it or leave it. Besides, drunkards conveniently pee inside these booths in the middle of the night when everywhere is closed. Talk about being iconic.CHINATOWN
The only trip where I have shopped ( apart from eating a LOT) because Oxford Street! For people on a budget, run to Primark for affordable shopping ranging from clothes to shoes to bags! Now for people not on a budget, head to anywhere on the Oxford Street and don't forget to stop at Harrods! Also Hamleys! Because the kid in you will always keep you sane ????
Get off at Canary Wharf and change over to the DLR. Hop off at Cutty Sark, climb out the station and you will be transported to a completely new place away from the buzz and crowds that define city of London. Here at Greenwich, you see quaint tea rooms, proper pubs and the vibe of a little seaside resort. Ideal as a day trip from London, it is amazing how 15 minutes on the DLR can bring you to a whole new place.
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.
Camden , which is one of my favorite places in London for it's mix of modern vibe along with an old school charm with food , art and local shopping markets all over with funky graffiti walls to add to the colour and buzz.Watch out for :This couple that may stand at the corner of a street giving out free hugs !!!
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!
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
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.
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!
I also recommend going to Notting Hill if you enjoy exploring quaint streets and shops .Tourist DestinationsThe usual tourist destinations listed below are all just a few underground stations away from each other and also a few miles of walk away :- Museum Street ( free entry to all of them. Do visit the historical museum)- Hyde Park ( please do a picnic here!)- Tower Bridge- London Dungeon- London Eye- Big Ben- Somerset House-South Bank
There are loads of things to keep you busy - there is a Speakers Corner if you are keen to hear people speak, boating and swimming in the lakes, Kensington Palace on one end which is now a museum to Diana, two cafes (Lido and Serpentine again I think), sunbeds to sit out in the sun, or you can just run/roller blade around the park for a total of 7 kms!
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
Tavistock Street has a hidden gem that not many people know about. It is home to the oldest recorded street sign in London dated back 1636! It's very hard to find though so keep your eye out. It is located at the very top of the buildings numbered 34-38. You will see a blue plaque at number 36 saying 'In 1821, Thomas de Quincy(1785-1859) wrote 'Confessions of an English Opium Eater'. When you see this you're not looking high enough! Stand on the other side of the road and you will see a white plaque. It's very hard to see in direct sunlight and quite hard to get a photo of but mind-blowing when you see it and think about when this was dated back to.Check out the Markets throughout London