The best way to get around Central London is to just walk. The alternative to walking is the National Rail/ Underground and Buses. Taxis can burn a big hole in your pocket and is highly not recommended. It takes some time to figure out the National Railways and the Underground routes however the the below two apps/ website provide accurate information with respect to the route and the timings for trains/underground/buses:Google Maps; or https://tfl.gov.uk/Another website that provides useful information with travel information, events and tickets is www.visitlondon.com.Trip Itinerary:Day 1: Tower Bridge, London Eye, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Soho, Liecester Square, Picadilly Circus, Pub Crawl
Songlines World Music Awards show where they were going to have three award winners perform. Anoushka Shankar was the draw. And again, I made it to the door 3 mins before start time (phew, what’s with that today I say?!)! I sunk into my chair and the tiredness of the day melted away as Fatoumata Diawara belted haunting Mali melodies and Anoushka Shankar deftly wove Indian classical with Flamenco music. Such talent! I enjoyed the Mali music immensely with a lot of peace themes interwoven throughout (music being banned in north Mali today). The Flamenco was new and took some time to grow on me. My favourite turned out to be Anoushka’s fast paced composition in Raag Jog – made me want to get up and dance! By the interval, the day’s antics caught up with me and I called it a day, missing Tinariwen’s Mali music which concluded the show. For another time.
King's College London
Rambling further on, Kings College loomed tall on the left, easily recognizable with the hoards of tourists clustered around it. Kings Chapel and Kings College blew me away! The Chapel’s rich history made me realize that royalty went to great lengths to proclaim their superiority even in education – building an imposing physical structure filled with the best minds – and yet serving the people well by opening it up to those who could not afford it. Things got even better when I stepped out into the college green and the sheer grandeur made me stop and stare. A rolling green carpet between the delicate entrance and the main building, dining halls and lodgings across the green and the immensity of the main building just sitting there were picture perfect. A walk around the green took me to the back where it looked like an artist had used it as a canvas and created his best work – a quaint bridge on the River Cam with a view of the meandering river on either side leading to other stalwart colleges.
Cadbury Factory Shop
Don’t miss: It is hard to believe but Birmingham has more canals than Venice, so the canal ride from Brindleyplace had to be done. The Cadbury World is like entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with chocolate theme rides, seeing how it is put together, tasting session and of course shopping to your heart’s content for these sweet delights.
Half-timbered houses I thought were exclusive to Normandy. The reason why they are half-timbered is because the wooden boards are made from wood and the white finish is from timber. The way Andy and Rachel navigate-using maps, showed the stark contrast between living in the old-age and new-age, as the GPS system silently overtook the traditional ways of navigation. Don’t remember the last time Dad used a physical map to navigate. On our road trips to Malaysia when i was in my early teens?
Our last stop was Floris, a perfume shop another family run shop that has lasted for centuries. Fans of Floris were Churchill, Florence Nightingale and Marilyn Monroe (who ordered Floris Rose Geranium eau de toilette if you wondered). They offer a bespoke perfume service (if you would like to see what the experience is all about this vlog gives a great insight to the process). They have perfume and scented candles in some really lovely and some very unique scents.Sadly this was the end of Best LDN Walks’ Christmas shopping tour London but as it was now dark it was the perfect time to wander a little more and enjoy London’s Christmas lights. It was also interesting to check my stats on the Fitbit app and see how far I’d walked, steps taken and how many calories burned. If only my wallet could handle shopping being my main form of exercise.
Saint Thomas Church
It was just as quirky as I had hoped with stuffed alligators, human skeletons, and recipes for ‘Snailwater’ haphazardly strewn across various displays in the attic room. As the operating theatre is located in the old herb garret of St. Thomas Church, the experience is magnified by displays of the herbs and plants and miracle cures that the apothecary once stored there.
Royal Shakespeare Company
Still, after living here for the last year, I've been able to see that it is possible to visit Stratford and do a lot of the usual touristy stuff – seeing a Shakespeare play at the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre, visiting his birthplace, possibly even doing something non-Shakespeare (Heaven forbid!) – without breaking the bank too much. I want to point out that nowhere has asked me to advertise them, and I am receiving no compensation whatsoever for any endorsements that I may seem to give! Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, these are my suggestions for a "budget" weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon:
Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury
We decided to rest a little on Day 3 and started a little late. We went to the nearby shopping market where one could actually find reasonably good stuff to shop. I'm a shopping lover so a trip without that is incomplete. We shopped for a few little things here and there. We decided to visit the famous Swaminarayan temple of London in eve. It was one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen. Building such a huge and well kept temple in a foreign land is commendable.Day 4 was mainly packing up our stuff and getting ready to transfer to the hotel. We had Lunch at an Indian restaurant there. I fail to remember the name though I'm trying, but I do remember the way they had made the place from the inside. One step inside and you would completely forget you're in a foreign land. It is like visiting a Shahi restaurant in India, the waiters donning traditional attire , the tables and chairs being covered in India styled cloth. It was a complete Indian-feel restaurant. And the food was no less.We then transferred to the hotel and began the 15 days packaged tour across Europe. Though i visited 9 different countries in those 15 days, these 4 days still top my list cuz these are when I truly felt the essence of London. London is best seen strolling through the streets, empty or busy, travelling in the everyday bus and metro and living in a bed and breakfast house rather than a 5 star hotel.
The Fusilier Museum
I ambled along next to the Fusilier’s Museum, much of which I did not follow, except that it was a military regiment in the Tower. I then headed to the White Tower, the first Tower built in this swarming fortress, to the Royal Armories Display. Along with the military prowess dating back to Henry VIII, the architecture of the preserved Tower was dark and dreary and gave it a certain “First Tower” air. I then meandered along the Wall Walk, taking in a few small tower sights. As I strolled out of the Tower of London, I ran smack into a postcard view of the Tower Bridge. Phew. You pretty, pretty thing. I took my classic walk across the bridge and gawked up close at the architecture.
Half way though our walk we stopped of in the Red Lion Pub (Crown Passage). By this point in the tour I did a quick check on the Fitbit app and apparently had burned enough calories to earn myself a glass of mulled wine, my first of the season. This small pub has been around for 300 years and retains a lot of its old fashioned charm (no loud music here). When I walked in I had the feeling that I’d stepped into a local pub somewhere in Cornwall or Devon. The carpet, the decor, the unobtrusive bar in the corner and the dogs all gave it a country pub feel.
Paddy recreation ground is not really one of the famous parks of London. Its just one example of how every area in London has its own local park, making it very easy to spend time in the open. Paddy Rec is a small park in the Maida Vale area. And even this small park has its own running track, cricket pitch, gym, tennis courts and a wildlife trail! Lots of summer afternoons were spent just exercising in the open or running on the tracks or just watching people play cricket in this small little local park!
Although you can go there any time, the best time to visit would be 14th February. Ever considered taking your date to the Chinese New Year and treating them in an authentic Chinese restaurant, while being witness to their colourful festivities?!Insider Tip: Try and reserve a table near the entrance and watch the Chinese dragon bring good luck to the hotel!
There's also lots of camping sites around Stratford, although I don't know much about them!It's hard to find really cheap food in Stratford, as it's a tourist town. However, I've managed to find a few places. Of course, there's a Wetherspoons (on Sheep Street) named The Golden Bee, which has affordable food and drinks and is perhaps one of the cheapest places to eat/drink in Stratford.Other breakfast spots worth visiting, in my opinion, include The Yard of Ale - this is a little out of the town, perhaps a 25 minute walk up Birmingham. When you pass the Maybird Centre, where you can find lots of shops, a huge Tesco etc, you'll eventually see it on your right. They do breakfasts from £2.95 for a full English, as well as £5 lunches, and the down-to-earth atmosphere is a breath of fresh air after being in the centre of Stratford for too long. Morrisons, just West of the train station, do some cheap breakfasts in their café! Also, if you don't mind a bit of a walk again, The Squirrel does an all-you-can-eat breakfast every Saturday for £3.95 (from 10am-2pm)!Closer to the centre, Spoonfuls do cooked breakfasts for around £5. Then again, if you're on a real budget, you can grab something from McDonalds (hmm), Greggs, Sainsbury's (all on Bridge Street, right in the centre) or something similar...Lunch-wise, I'm a big fan of Fresh and Funky on Greenhill Street. They'll make any salad, panini, bagel or baguette you ask for - you're not limited to their already extravagant menu, and it's normally around £3 (most central cafés will charge £5+ for the same thing). There's also a baguette bar called Fresh on the High Street, which seems to have a similar menu and pricing - but is a bit busier due to its location.Another lunchtime favourite of mine is The Courtyard Café, located in The Minories (a small street between Meer Street and Henley Street) - you'll probably see chalkboards advertising it on either side. They have a generous special board, with everything made on site and around £5 (I paid £5 for duck curry and rice, which was lovely). The whole place is decked out in 1970's style, with retro magazine and comic pages everywhere and delicious home-made cakes, so it's also great for coffee and cake in the afternoon. However, I've seen some reviews saying that the owners turn people away at lunchtime if they just want tea... I don't know if this is true, but I've seen how busy the place can get around lunchtime!If you prefer to eat a lot at lunchtime, you can find some pretty good lunch deals on the weekdays, for example Bamboodle (Union Street) does a take-away lunch deal for £6.50 which goes until 5pm - so this can also be your early dinner! If the weather's nice, you can easily take this to the Bancroft Gardens, the park around the theatre, and enjoy it on a bench while watching the swans, geese and dogs go by. If you like Thai food and want a restaurant lunch meal, Thai Kingdom (Warwick Road) is very nice and does lunch for £6.99 per person. Of course, the budget is starting to creep up now - you can always grab something from a shop again and eat it in the park!For dinner, a lot of restaurants offer "pre-theatre" menus for around £13 for two courses, which isn't bad. However, for our conscientious budget traveller, you could pop into The Noodle Box on Greenhill Street - any meat/veg with rice and sauce is £5, and they open from 5pm every day but Tuesday. The Squirrel again is very cheap with mains from £4, but I can't vouch for the quality as I haven't tried anything there yet. There's always Wetherspoons, too. If you're in town on a Tuesday night and there's more than one of you, The Hole in the Wall (Birmingham Road) do amazing pizzas which are two for the price of one (so around £4 per pizza) - with toppings like duck in hoisin sauce, it's worth trying - but be warned they stop taking food orders around 8pm.A little bit out of centre, there are a couple of family pub/restaurants that I really like. You will pay a bit more, but if you've saved up on breakfast and lunch and want something a bit nicer in the evening, I'd recommend The Old Tramway Inn, down on Shipston Road (towards Waitrose) - you can get jacket potatoes or paninis for £5 or so, or things like lasagne for £8.95 or an 8oz ribeye steak for £14.95. The atmosphere is lovely and the food is wonderful - very big, quality portions (none of the pretentious nonsense that many places will serve!). If you're driving, I also love the Armouries Arms, which is on the way to Wilmcote (where Mary Arden's farm is located). They had tons of specials, ranging from delicious chicken, bacon and leek pie to Thai green curry, and mains were around £8-10.Drinking and NightlifeHmm, this is where Stratford falls down. There's really not much going on in the way of nightlife, especially now that the main "clubbing" spots (Chicago's and Maisons) have closed. People usually party at Wetherspoons until the 1am kick-out, with perhaps a visit to No 1 Shakespeare - although they often charge £5 for entry, they have a dancefloor. The cheapest place for drinks after 'Spoons is the Oddfellows Arms, a strange little place on Windsor Street (opposite the Picturehouse) where pints are something like £2.80, perhaps less. They even attempt karaoke on a Thursday night. After that, the only place still open seems to be Caz Bar on Union Street, which is a "Moroccan-themed bar" (I think it's a strip club, but I still haven't ventured there)...There are a few open mic nights and pub quizzes around Stratford that you might enjoy, too. Check what the Picturehouse bar is doing, for example - there's a board outside it listing events, which may include fun things like "drink and draw" as well as quizzes and music. The Lazy Cow hosts an open mic night every other Friday, and there's often live music at No 1 Shakespeare Street. As for pub quizzes, the ones I know are Monday night at the Windmill (Church Street), Wednesday at the Hole in the Wall, The Squirrel on Sundays and The Old Tramway on Thursdays. There are sure to be more, have a look around!That's about it. If you want nightlife, go to Birmingham ;)!Theatre: You can actually get tickets for the Royal Shakespeare Company for as little as £14, if you don't mind arestricted view. The thing is, the "restricted" view is usually not that bad and won't really ruin your enjoyment of the show. If you know someone who lives in Stratford in the CV37 postcode (e.g. if you're using Airbnb), ask them to help you - people who live in this post code can get tickets for £10 if there are any left on the day of performance, as long as they can show proof of address.There are lots of other theatre companies around Stratford who put on cheaper performances throughout the year - see what's on at the Courtyard Theate, for one, or check out the Stratford Arts House. The Bear Pit theatre website also shows you what's on in Stratford.Shakespeare things: Well, I'm not going to write a lot about this. It's around £25 for a ticket that gets you into all the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust places, but it lasts for a year. So, if you are in touch with anyone who's been to Stratford recently, you could potentially use their ticket - the only identifying thing on the ticket is a signature. There's an expensive bus that will take you around the sites, but you can walk to most of them. Ann Hathaway's cottage would be a 30-minute walk or so, not bad for some people in good weather! As for Mary Arden's farm, a train to Wilmcote only takes 7 minutes and costs £2 return (if they even check) - the farm is pretty near the station.
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
When my parents come to stay, they consistently find The Applegarth is the cheapest place to stay - from £32 for a double room - and they say it's very nice and suits all their needs. From time to time, the Travelodge on Birmingham Road will be quite reasonable, but by that I mean £60-70 a night - quite a lot for a budget traveller. The cheapest signs I've seen are for the Queen's Head pub on Ely Street - £20-30 a night, according to their sign - although I can't find much about this and the reviews on Trip Advisor don't seem great.
St. Martin's Lane
It is a little hard to find but it is the cutest, tiniest alleyway I have seen. It looks like a set out of Harry Potter with old school lanterns hanging all the way down. This alleyway is off St Martins Lane , make sure you look carefully because there is no sign saying the street name! It's strangely quiet as well. My friend and I just sat there in silence and we couldn't hear the chaos of London that surrounded us.
The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret
The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret serves as a memoriam as much as an educational tool on pre-modern medicine. While there is no reflection into the individuals who once came to this spot looking for a miracle, you can’t help but wonder about them as you look through the surgical tools and medicines used to treat ailments during the time. The Old Operating Theatre has been on my London to-do list for some time.