London Holiday Travels

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Christmas tree in front of St. Paul's Cathedral - London, England

Christmas tree in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Those of us who are able to revisit countries we’ve visited before are fortunate. Each revisit brings with it a renewed interest in that country. Of course that first trip will always hold a special place in your memories. The next visit may not have that same emotional punch but it may hold even greater surprises. A first time visit often means a hectic itinerary rushing to and from sights and eateries, with nary a break for rest. Follow up trips means that you won’t have that same necessity to see the requisite sights again. You certainly may but there won’t be the same crunch on your time.

National Gallery - London, England

National Gallery

Another visit means exploring areas of the city you didn’t get a chance to the first time. You’re able to eat at different restaurants, or try something else on the menu at a favorite restaurant. The biggest gift in revisiting a country is the opportunity to experience the cities in new ways. Spend time in local coffee shops or parks or even go grocery shopping. Stroll the streets and get in sync with the ebb and flow of the city and how the residents spend their time living there.

Deer in front of Covent Garden Market - London, England

Deer in front of Covent Garden Market

An especially stark contrast is to visit the same city during different times of the year. Doing so can bring an entirely new perspective on a city you thought you knew. You can see how the locals relax under the summer sun versus how they handle snow in the winter. This holds especially true during the winter holiday season as cities are decked out in their festive best. City squares are filled with Christmas market stalls and monuments are decorated.

London Eye Lights - London, England

London Eye Lights

London in December is particularly filled with holiday cheer. Many of the streets, including those leading into Piccadilly Circus, are dressed up in holiday lights and signs. St. Paul’s Cathedral has two Christmas trees, one on each side of the Cathedral. A large tree adorned with lights is lit up in front of the National Gallery as well. Covent Garden Market has a giant topiary reindeer to get visitors into the holiday spirit.

Fireworks and the London Eye - London, England

Fireworks and the London Eye

This festive cheer culminates in a spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration. The best viewing areas are by The Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower (often referred to as Big Ben) and across the riverbank from the London Eye. Along the riverbank are crowds of happy people partying and dancing to music being pumped out on large speakers by local disc jockeys. It is behind the London Eye that an array of fireworks is fired into the night’s sky for a dazzling display at the strike of midnight. After the fireworks show the city of London does a nice job of ushering out the crowds through specific streets and back safely to their hotels and homes. To view London through the lens of the holidays gives visitors a newfound appreciation of this wonderful city.

Wherever in the world you may be celebrating, Check Before You Trek wishes you a very happy holiday and a happy new year! May your next year be full of travels to both new and familiar locations!

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London During the Holidays

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St. Pauls\' Cathedral: 51.513845, -0.098351
National Gallery: 51.508929, -0.128299
Covent Garden Market: 51.511732, -0.123270
Houses of Parliament: 51.499629, -0.124648
The London Eye: 51.503324, -0.119543
Piccadilly Circus: 51.510101, -0.134661
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St. Pauls' Cathedral
London Holiday Travels
St.Pauls' Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
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National Gallery
London Holiday Travels
National Gallery, London, United Kingdom
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Covent Garden Market
London Holiday Travels
Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom
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Houses of Parliament
London Holiday Travels
Houses of Parliament, London, United Kingdom
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The London Eye
London Holiday Travels
London Eye, London, United Kingdom
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Piccadilly Circus
London Holiday Travels
Piccadilly Circus, London, United Kingdom

 

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Oxford, Part One

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The English city of Oxford takes just over an hour by train to reach from London. Oxford is most known for the University of Oxford. The University of Oxford boasts over 30 different colleges within walking distance. Just by being in Oxford one feels smarter as if intelligence is increased by osmosis. You will have the urge to duck into a library to crack open a book and study. Even if you are not a scholar at heart, Oxford’s architecture and serenity make for an enjoyable visit. In addition, Oxford has many eateries well worth your stomach’s time. A perfect escape from London, Oxford should rank high on your itinerary as a day trip.

It is possible to visit the highlights of Oxford in just one day. To help plan out your day when you arrive at the Oxford train station stop by the tourist information booth. This kiosk sells for around 2£ a “Quick Guide – Oxford” pamphlet and map. This guide, produced by Quick Guides Publishers, includes a walking tour that will guide you past the top sights. In the guide it states that the walk takes an hour to complete. The walk will take longer if you move at a more relaxed pace or spend extra time at the various sights. Your level of interest will determine the time you spend exploring the various colleges and sights. The colleges aren’t always open to visitors so that may impact your visiting schedule. Furthermore, leave plenty of time to eat at at least one of the many restaurants in Oxford.

Ashmolean Museum - Oxford, England

Ashmolean Museum

Following the “Quick Guide – Oxford” your walk will begin at the Ashmolean Museum. The museum is a straight shot from the train station, an eleven-minute walk. From the train station continue on Hythe Bridge Street and make a left on to Worcester Street. Stay on Worcester Street and it will turn into Beaumont Street, with the museum on the left-hand side of the street. The Ashmolean Museum is Britain’s first museum, with a focus on art and archeology. Admission to the museum is free so if you enjoy museums you will want to budget in time to explore the museum. The museum is closed on Mondays, but open from 10am to 5pm Tuesdays through Sundays.

Martyrs' Memorial - Oxford, England

Martyrs’ Memorial

Opposite from the Ashmolean Museum is the Martyrs’ Memorial. This monument, and the museum, is where your walk will end so remember this location. The monument is in a central location so it makes for a good meeting place if anyone in your group gets separated. The Martyrs’ Memorial is in front of the first college you’ll see, Balliol. Balliol College is one of the oldest colleges in Oxford. Continue from Balliol College to Broad Street where you will find Trinity College and various stores. Here at these shops you can buy souvenirs such as a University of Oxford sweatshirt. At the opposite end of Broad Street of note is the bookstore Blackwell, Sheldonian Theatre, and the Clarendon Building.

Radcliffe Camera in Radcliffe Square - Oxford, England

Radcliffe Camera in Radcliffe Square

As you pass through Old Schools Quad and by Bodleian Library, you’ll find yourself in Radcliffe Square. Here you will find plenty of tourists with their cameras ready. Radcliffe Square is where you will find Radcliffe Camera, one of Oxford’s most well-known sights. This round building is home to the Radcliffe Science Library. After you’ve taken your photos you’ll find the tour takes you past a few more colleges such as Exeter College, All Souls College, and Brasenose College. At this point in the tour you may find your stomach grumbling and that you’re itching for a snack. Fear not as you should find yourself on Market Street and the Covered Market.

Pieminister - Oxford, England

Pieminister

Covered Market has a slew of food stalls ready to fulfill any craving. If you are in the mood for an English dish stop by Pieminister. Pieminister serves hearty pies baked with fillings such as venison or steak. The pie dough is flakey on the outside and soft in the inside with the meat filling soft and succulent. The meat pie is placed on top of mashed potatoes with gravy pored over for the final touch. For dessert have a fresh baked cookie from Ben’s Cookies. One of Ben’s Cookies may be bought for just under 2£. For sale are cookies made with milk or dark chocolate and classics such as peanut butter or oatmeal raisin. Besides food stalls Covered Market has merchants selling fresh flowers, and butchers selling meats such as sausages and English lamb liver. You will find coffee shops, clothing stores, and even a cobbler. A wide variety of shops and food options are available for your browsing pleasure at Covered Market.

Continued in Oxford, Part Two

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Oxford

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University of Oxford: 51.756634, -1.254704
Oxford Railway Station: 51.753288, -1.269913
Ashmolean Museum: 51.755302, -1.260026
Martyrs Memorial: 51.755053, -1.258972
Radcliffe Camera: 51.753425, -1.254012
Covered Market: 51.752195, -1.256583
Christ Church: 51.750643, -1.256597
Bridge of Sighs - Hertford College: 51.754472, -1.253734
Turf Tavern: 51.754685, -1.252968
The Alternative Tuck Shop: 51.755049, -1.251845
Lamb and Flag Passage: 51.757468, -1.258492
Cornmarket Street: 51.752937, -1.258310
Chiang Mai Kitchen: 51.752020, -1.256478
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University of Oxford
Oxford, Part One
University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Oxford Railway Station
Oxford, Part One
Oxford Railway Station, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Ashmolean Museum
Oxford, Part One
Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Martyrs Memorial
Oxford, Part One
Martyrs Memorial, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Radcliffe Camera
Oxford, Part One
Radcliffe Camera, Radcliffe Square, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Covered Market
Oxford, Part One
The Covered Market Oxford, Market Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Christ Church
Oxford, Part Two
Christ Church, Saint Aldate's, Oxford, UK
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Bridge of Sighs - Hertford College
Oxford, Part Two
Bridge of Sighs, New College Lane, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Turf Tavern
Oxford, Part Two
The Turf Tavern, Bath Place, Oxford, United Kingdom
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The Alternative Tuck Shop
Oxford, Part Two
The Alternative Tuck Shop, Holywell Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Lamb and Flag Passage
Oxford, Part Two
Lamb and Flag Passage, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Cornmarket Street
Oxford, Part Two
Cornmarket Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Chiang Mai Kitchen
Oxford, Part Two
Chiang Mai Kitchen Ltd, High Street, Oxford, United Kingdom

 

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Day Trips From London

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A week in London means a packed itinerary and a day trip to another town may be the furthest thing from your mind. Even so, you should devote a day to a city besides London. Visit other parts of England near London to allow yourself the opportunity to explore another side of the country. Day trips that offer a different experience than staying in London are Bath, Oxford, Reading, Stonehenge, and Windsor. Travel times listed in each heading are one-way train trips from London’s Paddington Station.

Bath – 90 minutes

Walk around London and you can’t imagine that Britain was once part of the Roman Empire. Travel to Bath and that evidence hits you smack dab in the face. The town of Bath is known for its hot springs and the Romans built bathhouses to harness the restorative water. Tourists can buy tickets for admittance into what was once a functioning bathhouse and learn the history of the town. Unlike hot spring locations in other parts of the world, Bath does not have public bathhouses open to visitors. Thermae Spa is the only place in Bath where you can pay to take a dip in water flowing from the hot springs. Before heading home stroll through Bath and admire the Roman architecture and quaint streets.

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul - Bath, England

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul – Bath

Oxford – 60 minutes

Tourists looking to explore England’s famed university towns choose between Oxford and Cambridge. Both are solid choices but Cambridge is a two-hour journey from London while Oxford takes an hour to reach by train. Oxford boasts over 30 different universities within walking distance. Just by being in Oxford one feels smarter as if intelligence is increased by osmosis. You will have the urge to duck into a library to crack open a book and study. When you arrive at the Oxford train station stop by the tourist information booth and buy the 2£ map that includes a walking tour. The walking tour will guide you past the top sites. Plan on the walk to take an hour to complete. The walk will take longer if you walk at a relaxed pace, explore the universities, and eat at one of the many restaurants in Oxford.

The Radcliffe Camera - Oxford University, England

The Radcliffe Camera – Oxford University

Reading – 30 minutes

Reading is not a town brimming with sites, but that’s the appeal. The streets from the train station lead you past various shops and to the Oracle shopping center. The Oracle provides a chance to shop in a mall without the same crowds that you find in London. Behind the Oracle is a riverfront reminiscent of a scaled version of the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas. Plenty of restaurant options around the river will replenish you during your shopping excursion. If you need a pause from the hustle and bustle of London consider Reading that break.

The Oracle Riverside - Reading, England

Reading – The Oracle Riverside

Stonehenge – 3 hours

Photos of the monument Stonehenge are recognizable around the world. Years ago tourists to the fabled grounds of Stonehenge could walk right up to the massive stones and place their hands directly onto the monument. Even though the experience of touching the stones is no longer allowed this prehistoric monument is a site to be seen. With a six hour round trip, this destination is the longest on this list to reach by train. The better plan is to tack Stonehenge along with another location such as Bath. Companies, such as Gray Line, have a bus tour that is nine hours and includes transportation to both Bath and Stonehenge. Travel with a tour group means that you will be on a schedule when at each location. At least you will visit both sites without having to spend six hours sitting on a train.

Stonehenge - Wiltshire, England

Stonehenge

Windsor – 35 minutes

The highlight of Windsor is Windsor Castle, one of the many residences of the Royal Family. If you see the Royal Standard flag flying above the Castle then you know the Queen is home. Tourists primarily descend upon Windsor by tour bus just to visit the Castle. Windsor is more than just the Castle and worth a few extra hours beyond the tour of the Castle grounds. If you arrive at Windsor & Eton Central railway station upon exiting the train are various shops and restaurants. Around Windsor Castle are more shops and restaurants. Next to Windsor Castle is Windsor Great Park that includes pathways such as the Long Walk. Another nice walk is across the River Thames to Eton College, a boys’ boarding school. The streets leading to Eton College are lined with shops and restaurants.

Windsor Castle - Windsor, England

Windsor Castle

 

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Day Trips From London

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Bath: 51.375801, -2.359904
Oxford: 51.752021, -1.257726
Reading: 51.454265, -0.978130
Stonehenge: 51.178882, -1.826215
Windsor: 51.481728, -0.613576
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Bath
Day Trips From London
Bath, United Kingdom
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Oxford
Day Trips From London
Oxford, United Kingdom
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Reading
Day Trips From London
Reading, United Kingdom
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Stonehenge
Day Trips From London
Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom
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Windsor
Day Trips From London
Windsor, United Kingdom

 

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Transportation Options in London

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A trip to London is expensive for a variety of reasons. Americans who travel to London will have a currency conversion rate that won’t be in their favor. As of November 2015 on average 1 British Pound equaled 1.50 US Dollars. The cost of the airline ticket runs high since flying into and out of London includes a slew of various taxes and fees. Your hotel and meals will be a big part of your budget. The need to pay for ground transportation on top of everything else is daunting. Fortunately, it is possible to save money when it comes to transportation.

From London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Express is one of the cheapest and fastest ways to get from Heathrow Airport into London. The Heathrow Express is a train that you board from terminals 2, 3, 4, or 5. Trains leave four times an hour. Depending on which terminal you board the train at it takes between 15 to 20 minutes to reach the London Paddington Station. From London Paddington Station you can connect to other parts of the city using London’s other means of transportation, such as the Underground. You buy tickets for the Heathrow Express online or at the station’s ticket office.

Heathrow Connect is a popular means of transportation for employees of Heathrow Airport because of its stops in nearby suburban districts. Heathrow Connect is a slower train alternative to the Heathrow Express, but it is useful for tourists. If you are not traveling into London but need rail connections to other parts of England then you might need to use Heathrow Connect. For example, you can buy your ticket at the ticket office and take Heathrow Connect one stop to the Hayes & Harlington Station. From there you can find a connecting train to Slough or any other train station that has multiple connections that can whisk you away to your destination.

Paddington Underground Station - London, England

London Underground

The London Underground, nicknamed the Tube, is an inexpensive and quick way to navigate London. Tickets available to ride the Tube include single ride tickets, day passes, multi-day passes, and a pay-as-you-go card. Two factors will help you decide which ticket to buy. The number of days you plan on staying in London and where in London you will be traveling. London is separated into various zones, the number of zones you cross using the Underground will help you decide which ticket you need to buy.

To save money you will want to buy either the Travel Card or the Oyster Card. The Travel Card is a paper ticket that can be used within the center zones of London for a set number of days. A seven-day Travel Card exists but is not available to buy in London and must be purchased before your trip. The Oyster Card is a plastic card that can be used in most zones. An Oyster Card has a balance that is deducted as you travel. A benefit of the Oyster Card is that it has a travel cap limit each day. This means once you’ve reached that limit any other journeys on that day are free. For that reason alone if your plans include many trips on the Tube you will want to buy the Oyster Card.

Transport for London is a UK government website with a plethora of information, including information on the various ticket buying options. Visit Britain, the “official shop of the British Tourist Board” has a page on their website with advice on which transportation ticket you should buy when in London. You can buy your tickets online through Visit Britain, including the aforementioned seven-day Travel Card.

Shard and Underground - London, England

Shard and Underground

Other London Transportation

The iconic taxis you can find throughout London are ready to take you to your destination. Each taxi driver must pass an intense exam to become licensed. The taxi drivers have memorized London’s streets and can navigate with ease without needing a GPS device. Besides taxis London has an extensive affordable public bus system. Additionally, various companies offer Hop on Hop off bus tours for a fee. Gray Line is a company that sells Hop on Hop off bus tours, specific tours of London, and day trips from London.

Taxis in front of Buckingham Palace - London, England

Taxis in front of Buckingham Palace

Destinations Beyond London

If your travels will take you elsewhere besides London you will want to consider purchasing a rail pass. It is pricey to buy just one-way point-to-point train tickets for multiple trips. With the right rail pass you can save money. BritRail Passes are not available to buy in Great Britain so you will want to be sure to buy them before your trip. Which pass to buy will depend on where you will be traveling. For example, if you will travel to popular tourist destinations such as Bath or Oxford then you will want to buy the BritRail South West Pass. If you plan on traveling through out Great Britain the best pass will be the BritRail GB Pass. Rail passes are bought for a specified number of days, used either on consecutive days or over a set number of days. The Visit Britain site has a visual breakdown of which destinations each BritRail Pass services. Besides Visit Britain, Rail Europe is another site with information on the various BritRail Passes available. You can buy the BritRail Pass through Visit Britain or through Rail Europe. During checkout the companies will ask what your departure date is to make sure that you will receive your tickets before your trip. Before boarding your first train be sure to visit a train ticket office to have your pass activated.

First Great Western train - England

First Great Western – one of the train companies operating in England

 

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London Cuisine Scene

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Through the years England’s cuisine has earned a reputation. The belief was that English food was bland and boring. It is possible that centuries ago English food was tasteless and why to this day people still believe this. Contrary to that notion today’s London has a booming dining scene just as any other major international city. London is home to a variety of different and exciting cuisines. You can eat well regardless of your budget with delicious food accessible through out the city. There are plenty of choices beyond just the traditional pubs to find a good meal. For those struggling to decide between the various dining options the selections listed below showcase a few of the many sides of flavor available in London.

Borough Market

Borough Market Information - London, EnglandIf you are looking to sample a variety of different foods you will want to visit Borough Market. The site of the current Borough Market has had a market there since as far back as the 13th century. The current iteration dates back to 1756. Although Borough Market has existed for a while, a few decades ago it was not even being mentioned in most guidebooks. It wasn’t until recently that Borough Market has become a worthy stop for travelers and foodies. An outdoor location, located under railway lines and beside a church, makes Borough Market an excellent informal eating experience.

There are plenty of options for a quick bite to eat, especially Monday through Wednesday when the market is open for lunch. One such place is Balkan Bites, which serves bourekas, a crispy baked pastry made with fillings such as potato and onion or spinach and cheese.   Another place for a quick quality meal is Le Marché du Quartier which serves succulent duck confit in either a sandwich, wrap, or salad. If you’re looking for a place with seating visit Fish! Kitchen for their traditional fish and chips. For dessert stop by Whirld for a delicious piece of handmade fudge.

Balkan Bites Bourekas at Borough Market - London, England

Balkan Bites Bourekas

Le Marché du Quartier's duck confit sandwich at Borough Market

Le Marché du Quartier’s duck confit sandwich

Dishoom

Dishoom - London, England

Various dishes available at Dishoom - London, England

Various dishes available at Dishoom

Dishoom likens its decor and style of food to that of a Bombay Cafe. To be honest upon first stepping into Dishoom the decor is more reminiscent of a New York diner. Except instead of sandwiches Dishoom cooks up a variety of Indian dishes. Each dish is prepared with an exquisite attention to detail and the correct balance of flavors. For an appetizer try the Keema Pau, a mix of lamb and peas you slather on top of a buttered roll. Fans of butter chicken from traditional Indian restaurants will want to order Dishoom’s Chicken Ruby. The Gunpowder Potatoes won’t shoot your taste buds but they will melt in your mouth. Add a side order of roti or naan to complete your meal. For those with dietary restrictions Dishoom’s menu includes dairy-free and gluten-free dining options and a children’s menu.

Rock and Sole Plaice

Fish and Chips at Rock and Sole Plaice - London, EnglandWhen visiting England one must have a traditional meal of fish and chips. Rock and Sole Plaice is one of the oldest and best fish and chips restaurants in London. In the Covent Garden district, Rock and Sole Plaice has been serving up fish and chips to locals and tourists since 1871. Rock and Sole Plaice is informal dining and great for families, groups, and anyone who wants to eat quality fish and chips not served on newspaper. Rock and Sole Plaice has two floors of seating which allow for plenty of room for every customer. The restaurants aquatic vibe extends to the walls, which have drawings of the various creatures living under the sea. A few different fish are available to choose from when ordering the fish and chips, including cod and haddock. Whichever fish you select know that it will arrive cooked to perfection. The batter on the fish isn’t doughy, but light and crispy. A side of chips, better known as fries, accompanies the fish. A variety of condiments are available to enhance your fish and chips meal.

 

The Tea House

The Tea House - London, EnglandEngland is synonymous with tea and a great souvenir for those back home is English tea. The problem is that many tourist shops will sell overly priced generic teas to unsuspecting tourists. An alternative to tourist tea is to visit The Tea House. The Tea House is in the district of Covent Garden. The moment you walk through the doors a sense of peace washes over you. You no longer hear the noise from the street outside and the tranquility allows your nose to pick up the various aromas wafting towards you. Take your time and peruse the many teas available to choose from on the shelves. There are jars with loose tea for you to sniff to help you with your choice. The teas can be bought in small or large quantities. Buy tea for yourself so when you are back home you can brew a cup and find yourself transported back to the tranquil feeling that is The Tea House.

 

 

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London Cuisine Scene

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Borough Market: 51.505446, -0.091080
Dishoom: 51.512430, -0.126909
Rock and Sole Plaice: 51.514820, -0.125177
The Tea House: 51.513648, -0.124741
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Borough Market
London Cuisine Scene
Borough Market, London Borough of Southwark, United Kingdom
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Dishoom
London Cuisine Scene
Dishoom, Upper St Martin's Lane, London, United Kingdom
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Rock and Sole Plaice
London Cuisine Scene
Rock & Sole Plaice, Endell Street, London, United Kingdom
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The Tea House
London Cuisine Scene
THE TEAHOUSE, Neal Street, Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom

 

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Sightseeing in London

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In the course of my travels the first international city I could envision myself living in was London, England. I initially selected London as a destination to visit most likely for the same reasons many Americans do. There is an immediate sense of familiarity. Part of the roots of America can be traced to those same English streets. Several buildings and streets remind you of American cities such as Boston. Although they say loo instead of toilet, no language barrier needs to be overcome. The biggest hurdle to American’s visiting London is that cars drive on the other side of the road. Even that isn’t a big issue as they’ve written on the pavement which way to look to cross the street. A trip to London is a good gateway to further international travel.

Deciding on traveling to London is the easy part. The difficult part is deciding which sites to visit if you will be in London only a few days. An entire paragraph can be written just listing out the sites to visit. Any trip to London has to include a plan of action. After a couple visits to London my goal with this article is try to simplify the sightseeing landscape. I hope that the suggestions I’ve written below will help you decide what to do during your trip to London.

The London Eye

London Eye - London, England

If you’re looking to take aerial photos of London your top three choices are the London Eye, The Shard, or St. Paul’s Cathedral. If your time is limited my suggestion is to choose the London Eye. St. Paul’s requires climbing a narrow staircase while The Shard’s entrance price is the most expensive of the three choices. The London Eye is a Ferris wheel that provides aerial photos of The Palace of Westminster. The Parliament buildings, which include Elizabeth Tower and the “Big Ben” bell, are one of the most recognizable sites in the world. For photos it’s impossible to capture the entire building from street level since the buildings are just too big. Since the London Eye is just across the river it allows you the opportunity for that photo you crave. The risk of rain in London is always high, but within a London Eye capsule even your rain soaked photos come out beautiful. If you’re scared of heights an alternative for a photo that captures The Palace of Westminster is on a cruise on the River Thames.

Views From London Eye - London, England

View from a London Eye capsule. The photo on the left side was taken when it wasn’t raining, the photo on the right side was taken when it was raining.

The Theater

A visit to the theater in London makes for an enjoyable afternoon or evening. For historian buffs a good choice is Shakespeare’s Globe. The building is a replica of the original Globe that premiered many of Shakespeare’s works. The current Globe allows one to watch a Shakespeare play just as it was centuries ago. Another choice besides the Globe is The West End, home to world-class play productions. With runs of popular musicals and dramas it can be difficult choosing which one to see. Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is a solid choice. The Mousetrap’s first performance was in 1952 and ever since it has continued to be performed. The Mousetrap is the longest running play in the world. When you watch the actors in The Mousetrap you become a part of that history.

Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap at St. Martin's Theatre - London, England

Abbey Road

Even if you’re not a Beatles fan chances are you’ve seen their famous Abbey Road album cover. The fab four stride with confidence through the crosswalk. Many Beatles fans enjoy traveling to London to reenact the album cover. To those who have never been to London the album cover’s crosswalk looks unique. One of the sobering moments upon arriving in London is that other crosswalks look the same as Abbey Road. In fact, making the trek out to Abbey Road can be disappointing for many people. For starters it’s a thirty-minute journey from the center of London (Trafalgar Square). The actual Abbey Road crosswalk looks the same as the surrounding crosswalks. What makes Abbey Road different is a ton of graffiti on the walls of the nearby recording studio and on the Abbey Road street sign. With nothing else of note in the region one could recreate the album cover anywhere in London and get the same effect in a photo. If you are pressed for time and not a die-hard Beatles fan you could skip visiting the actual Abbey Road.

Abbey Road - London, England

The real Abbey Road.

10 Downing Street

10 Downing Street is where the British Prime Minister lives. Similar to the White House in Washington, DC the building is gated, has a ton of security, and your chances of seeing a political figure are slim to none. Unlike the White House one cannot stand in front of 10 Downing Street. The government building is on a narrow street blocked off from pedestrian access. There is no lawn in front from which you can view it yards away. The clearest view you have is that of a crowd of tourists trying to peek through the gated bars to see something of note. If a crowd of tourists sounds fun then hail a black cab and head to 10 Downing Street. If you don’t enjoy crowds you should have no hesitation in avoiding this site.

Downing Street - London, England

The only view tourists get of 10 Downing Street.

Harrods

If you love shopping then visiting Harrods is more than a must it’s a life calling. Even if you are someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping a quick visit to Harrods is an essential part of visiting London. The department store is humongous and you can shop for a variety of products within its walls. You can buy clothes, books, electronics, toys, jewelry, and food. A large department store means you can lose track of time and unintentionally spend hours there. In fact, like a casino in Las Vegas, finding an exit in Harrods is difficult. It’s as though the people behind Harrods want you to spend as much time as possible in their building. The longer you stay the higher the chances are you’ll find something to buy. To maximize your time as you enter Harrods be sure to pick up one of their maps. The map will help you find an exit and locate the departments and merchandise you are most interested in exploring.

Harrods - London, England

 

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Sightseeing in London

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London Eye: 51.503324, -0.119543
The Shard: 51.504382, -0.086279
St Paul\'s Cathedral: 51.513845, -0.098351
Palace of Westminster: 51.499480, -0.124809
Shakespeare\'s Globe: 51.508076, -0.097194
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap: 51.512858, -0.127646
Abbey Road: 51.536791, -0.183003
10 Downing Street: 51.503364, -0.127625
Harrods: 51.499405, -0.163234
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London Eye
Sightseeing in London
London Eye, London, United Kingdom
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The Shard
Sightseeing in London
The Shard, London Borough of Southwark, United Kingdom
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St Paul's Cathedral
Sightseeing in London
St. Paul's Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
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Palace of Westminster
Sightseeing in London
Palace of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
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Shakespeare's Globe
Sightseeing in London
Shakespeare's Globe, New Globe Walk, London, United Kingdom
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Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap
Sightseeing in London
St. Martin's Theatre, West Street, London, United Kingdom
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Abbey Road
Sightseeing in London
Abbey Road, London, United Kingdom
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10 Downing Street
Sightseeing in London
10 Downing Street, Downing Street, London, United Kingdom
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Harrods
Sightseeing in London
Harrods, Brompton Road, London, United Kingdom

 

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