Take a trip to London, home to the recently married Royal Couple and the Royal Family, the Beckhams, Madonna, Richard Branson and tons of other cool celebrities, and get on famously with your English skills.
From Big Ben to Wembley, Travel guru George tells us his top tips from his trip to London.
Traveling to London on a whim is never a great idea. You have to plan and do a bit of research first before you set foot in this amazing urban jungle. I scheduled my trip in the last week of May, which gave me joyful sunshine all week long while enjoying the cold European weather. Although an umbrella was not necessary, winter clothing was definitely part of my suitcase plan.
London feels very vibrant. Once you step out of the Heathrow Airport, the cold weather and the busy lifestyle greet you as you make your way to the city. Once you hear the famous “British accent” in the air, you know you’re already there. There is a nice contrast of retro and modern, which is quite inviting for people like me who enjoy a mix of both. Red is everywhere! Red buses, red post boxes and red telephone booths. I find the Brits to be generally upbeat and friendly, maybe as a result of the dozens of pubs that exist around the city. It is always a great idea to stop by in one of the many pubs for the perfect time to drink, relax and meet new friends. Don’t forget to try London’s famous “fish and chips”, which is always excellent with a drink over casual conversation.
Getting around London is not a problem as the public transportation can be easy to understand for first timers. An Oyster Card is convenient if you plan on taking the train or the bus most of the time. Cabs are seemingly everywhere but you should be prepared to pay a fortune if you intend to take a taxi on your own. It is advisable to download the free Tube map on your phone since it is easier to follow the station links when the Tube gets busy during peak times. It also indicates which stations have elevator access for travelers with luggage or those who require wheelchair access.
A stop at the Westminster station of the Tube is a must for tourists. The famous Big Ben is a sight you can see from afar. Across the road, you will see a good view of the world-famous London Eye and overlooking the bridge is the Thames River. There are plenty of walking tours available to explore the rest of the area. The City of Westminster contains most of the tourist sites in Central London which include: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Saint James’s Park, Oxford Street and Regent’s Park. As a tourist, I would say a good day in London is a day where you can go and explore all these places. I was lucky I was able to do just that.
(Learn Cockney English, whose expressions, such as “apples and pears” for stairs, are used widely throughout the UK and British T.V programs. Cockney is the dialect of English traditionally spoken by East Londoners who are born within hearing distance of Bow Bells.)
Throughout your trip to London, you will develop an addiction to taking photos as there are so many nice places and sights for the perfect photo op. The London Eye is a must do to see Central London from a different perspective. Above the ground inside the observation wheel is a good view of the river stretch, as well as notable buildings including St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, Tower Bridge, British Museum, and the Houses of Parliament. If you still have the energy to walk, a stroll at one of the Royal Parks can be de-stressing and takes you away from the busy hustles and bustles of normal city life.
Shopping in London is a true shopper’s paradise. It offers the latest fashion trends with something to offer both the frugal and the extravagant. From large shopping centers like Westfield to retail shops along Carnaby Street, Harrods and Primark, you can easily spend an hour or even a whole day shopping!
Music is at the heart and soul of the UK. From independent artists performing on the streets to world-famous music events at stellar venues, it’s no secret that when it comes to music, Britain rocks. The highlight of my trip was getting to see my favorite band, Maroon 5, live at Wembley. Compared to other concerts I’ve been to before, the London crowd was the best I’ve ever seen. People knew every word to every song and the energy inside the arena was overwhelmingly amazing. The venue was one of the world’s most iconic concert venues, with state of the art facilities, excellent transport links, bars & food outlets as well as top class hotels.
On to the subject of hotels and staying the great city. Here are a few of the best hostels in London that you can stay at- that radiate the culture and spirit of the place.
Overall, the timing of this trip couldn’t have been more perfect for me. The weather was great and I was able to do most of what I came here for. Simply put, London is one of those places in the world that you won’t be able to enjoy if you are only there for a day. With so many things to see and do, make sure you allow enough time!
8 COOL FACTS ABOUT LONDON:
- London is the largest city in Britain and in Europe
- London occupies over 620 square miles
- About 12% of Britain’s overall population live in London
- London was the first city in the world to have an underground railway, known as the ‘Tube’. Funny enough, more than half of the London Underground network, in fact, runs above ground!
- Until 1994 there were no “Roads’ in the City of London, and now there’s only one, Goswell Road; there are plenty of Lanes, Streets, and Ways, but only one road!
- London is the first city to host the Olympics three times (1908, 1948 and 2012).
- Big Ben is the bell, not the clock tower. Its chime is in the key of E
- Some famous London loving people include Michael Faraday, David Bowie, Charlie Chaplin, The Royal Family, The Beatles, and David Beckham.