May 21st, 2008 by Cherié
When you think of London, what comes to mind?
The Black Taxi Cabs, Big Ben Tower, The London Eye, Double Decker buses,Teas and Scones, Fish and Chips, or dare I say Marmite? A spread loved and hated by many… Of course, a lot comes to mind when London is mentioned in a conversation. It is easy to say that London is a city that has seen it all, and continues to evolve into something bigger and better. Old Historic buildings are meshed with trendy shoppes, museums with breathtaking masterpieces, and lively pubs. The bustle of the streets with people on their ways to work, visiting tourist attractions, or just merely visiting their friends at a local pub.
Of course, in this economy most are stretched on a budget and London being one of the priciest cities certainly doesn’t help much. Just because you are on a budget, that shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying what London has to offer! There a lot of free venues, museums, and yes, places where a couple of pounds goes along way. One can visit King Cross station and visit the famous 9 3/4 platform from the Harry Potter series. Keep in mind, there is the Oyster Card for the Tube, basically you put some cash on the card, and top it up every now and then, to ensure you have money for the ride back to the hotel! The Oyster Card is basically sold at all the stations, at the ticket counter. At every station, there is a little gate, with a little round yellow button on a stand, that stand is for the tickets. So if you get a ticket instead, just merely insert the ticket in the slot, and the gate opens. But if you have a Oyster card, what do you do? Now, my friend here is the cool part.. All you do, is wave the magic card over the yellow button and voila! You are on your way to whatever destination of your choosing. Be sure to have cash to refill the card Or as they call it, top it up.
The British Museum, The National Gallery, Tate Modern, a lot of these world famous museums are in fact FREE. Just walk in, and just fall completely in love with Renaissance, Impressionist, Dadaism, Surrealist and yes even Modern paintings created by wonderful artists of their time. As you walk through the halls, its not hard to be in awe of all the beautiful masterpieces that are hung upon the wall. Representing an certain era, its like you are watching a moment captured in time through the ages.
When you think of her Majesty, you also think of the Changing of the Guards at the Buckingham Palace. Now, of course there are pros and cons to this famous tourist attraction. The pros are that its free, there is an beautiful park right across from the palace, you get to see the changing of the guards, and you are at the Buckingham Palace! However, there are Cons… In the frenzy of the crowds, people are pushing and shoving to catch an glimpse of the guards in action. You have to make sure you catch an good spot earlier in the morning, for it starts at 11 am. From January to March, there are several days that they do the ritual, but from April to July, it takes place daily. So prior to visiting, make sure that the Changing of the Guards actually takes place on the day that you are visiting. And do try to get there a bit early. Another thing, from the Buckingham Palace you can easily walk to other great London sights including; Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, St James’ Palace, 10 Downing Street, The Thames, Trafalgar Square and even Hard Rock Cafe, just to name a few.
As I mentioned earlier, not everything in life, especially in London is free. The Double Decker Buses are a bit pricey, but worth every penny! The top deck is the best, it is there that you are truly able to see London close up, while cruising.. How cool is that?! Just imagine this, you are in a tiny glass capsule, rising above the little quaint rooftops, seeing beyond the city.. The image that you have just created in your mind, is actually The London Eye. It is actually one of the worlds largest Ferris wheels! Basically, the ride are glass capsules, that rotates allowing you to truly see London from the top of the world! Restaurants are pretty pricey here, but you really have to try the local fish and chips,with an side of Malt Vinegar. Forget your diet for the day, and take an bite out of this scrumptious deep fried fish, sometimes it is served with tartar sauce, you will be glad you broke your dieting rules! What is Chips? Well, they are french fries, but with an different name and they are served with malt vinegar as an dip. Ketchup is considered an no no as a accessory to Chip, but Malt Vinegar is. So, forget about the ketchup,and focus on the meal in its true British form. When you are visiting London, you will be a bit confused when it comes to food. Now admit it, when I mentioned Fish and Chips, you were left scratching your head wondering what Chips were. Now, let the Chips fall where they may, and remember these differences between the US vs UK according to these food terms.
American – British
French Fries – Chips
Potato Chips- Crisps
Now, since we are on the topic of Food, I think its about time for me to explain the traditional British breakfast. Typically, we eat eggs, toast, bacon, and hash browns in America. However in England, they added several more to their dish. Sometimes you will see roasted tomatoes, and but you will definitely see Black pudding on the plate. Black pudding is what? It is an type of sausage but it is cooked with Blood, it is also called Blood Sausage. Try it, its actually really good! I, myself was really surprised as to much I liked it!
Has there ever been a city, where riding the transport is truly an tourist attraction? The Double Decker Buses, The Taxis, The Tube, Ferris Wheels, and that is just to name a few. And rightly so, every person should experience all that London has to offer even the transport system. When it comes to the Tube, It can be a bit confusing, but keep in mind there are maps everywhere, even on the side of the train, and usually they announce the next stops. For Deaf Travelers, need not to worry they have an screen that announces the next stops, but sometimes it doesn’t work. So do what I did, look out side of the windows, and you will see the signs outside, and look on the side of the train for the Map. Its easy to get used to, so do not worry!
Shopping in London is pricey, but there are ways you can enjoy it. Every shopper is familiar with the phrase, “Window Shopping”. What it is, as you walk around you peer in the windows of shops, browse around the shops without having to buy anything! Those on a budget can do this, even at Harrods. If you feel you must buy something, get an trinket, teas(at Harrods, its the cheapest thing you can get here). Browsing around the shops are amazing, especially at Harrods. It is the most famous store in the world, and rightly the most expensive! But it is worth the visit, as you browse around you will see fine dining, clothing, majestic furnitures, and much more! You will not be disappointed at Harrods, trust me!
The city of London is a melting pot, many come here to experience what the city has to offer. England is truly an treat, I was surprised at how much I grew to love it. I hope to return one day and to explore more. Honestly, whatever you have planned for London, make sure you double your time on your trip, because it is an city not to be missed. Explore every nook and cranny, and you will too fall in love with this city. You will leave wanting for more, because in all fairness you cannot view everything at once in England, it takes years to truly see everything that England has to offer to the rest of the world. There is a lot more to be written about London, I could go on and on about this city. But I think I will leave it up to you to discover them..
Click on this Link, if you want an guide on Free things to do in London! 🙂