Favorite thing: Notting Hill is a place full of charm and is currently one of London's most fashionable areas. It's quite hard to believe that it was described and considered as a non-go area only 40 years ago.
Notting Hill became home to a large number of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, causing some racial tension in the past. Britain's first race riots occurred in August 1958. However, the next year the Notting Hill Carnival emerged as a unofficial reply to the riots; by 1965 it took to the streets and has grown ever since. Its presence in the last weekend of August sees around one million people joining the party, backing up the claim that it is the world's biggest street festival outside Rio.
Fondest memory: Aside from carnival weekend, Notting Hill is a rather quiet area for most of the year. The exception to this is Saturdays when Portobello Market is jam-packed with visitors hunting through the antiques market.
In the pic, you see the pub The Earl of Lonsdale ( brewerie Samuel Smith's )
Address: 277-281 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2QARelated to:
- Family Travel
Rest room stops!
Favorite thing: My traveling friend, with a lot more experience sightseeing in foreign lands, gave me an excellent tip: take advantage of every chance you have to make use of a public toilet (or restroom as we call them in America).
So we did, and I have pleasant memories of restrooms in museums and art galleries and even an award-winning toilet at the Tower of London.
And because of her advice, never once did we reach that state of desperation most people are familiar with. And we never once had to pay to use a public bathroom.
Fondest memory: I was truly impressed with the toilet at Harrod's, very fancy and luxurious as you might expect. However, as I took a photo of our lush surroundings, an attendant came up and told me it was not allowed.
I guess I was lucky she didn't take my digital camera away or make me delete the image.Related to:
- Luxury Travel
- Women's Travel
Half Price Theatre Tickets
Favorite thing: This ticket booth started in Leicester Square in 1980 offering half price theatre tickets. Back then it was just a little hut but in recent years has become a larger permanent structure offering the best prices for discount tickets to West End shows. There is a 2.50GBP service charge on each ticket and the queues are looooong - but definitely worth waiting for. Tickets can be paid for by credit card or in cash (including Euro). A new booth has recently opened at Canary Wharf DLR station but cash is not accepted.
Favorite thing: One of my favourite things about living in London is the squirrels!
They are so cute and I love it when they run around with their tails bobbing about. And how amazing are their tails - they are so thin at the end, just like a feather!
Locals liken them to rats....but as an aussie girl, it is still a novelty for me to see them!
I guess they are like the possums back home.
Fondest memory: I especially love seeing them when they are eating a nut, so serious in concerntration.....but always keeping an ear open for approaching trouble.
I love watching the ones that live in a big tree outside my kitchen window - always busy busy.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
THANK YOU, Andrew Duncan for your books
Favorite thing: To my amazement, none of “my” Londoners knew Andrew Duncan and his marvellous books, so I feel a tiny bit proud to have been the foreigner to introduce him to them :-)
I love bookstores and cannot pass any. And when I am somewhere abroad I always have another reason to visit a local bookstore as they hold many treasures which cannot be bought elsewhere (or through Amazon). That’s how I came across Andrew Duncan’s books – they were sitting in the local book section of Waterstone’s and already when I read the titles I knew that I must (=MUST) buy some despite them being a bit heavy.
Andrew Duncan is a historian and guide in London and I learned from his website that he has set up the group LEG – London Explorers Group, which is devoted to London guided tours. Given his expertise, this is definitely a perfect addition to the London Walk tours.
The book Secret London especially caught my eye and I could not stop browsing through it. He describes the forgotten rivers of London (chapter “Hidden Landscapes”) and shows how to find their outlets into the Thames. Apart from that it is fascinating to read about the rivers as I am sure not many people really know about them. He explains street names from the historical point of view, for example that “Hill” in street names derives from the fact that these hills have once been between the rivers. And he animates to walk off the main streets to discover the thousand gems, London hold for the interested visitor. His descriptions of the liveries in the City made me go out and look for many of them.
ISBN: 9781845373054, price: £10.99.
The book Favourite London Walks is a collection of 50 walk in London, including the outskirts like Greenwich, Wimbledon, Kew, Hammersmith, Rotherhite, Hampton Court and many more.
ISBN: 9781845374549, price: £14.99.
I can highly recommend these books if you are interested in the background and secrets of the city! And I will also buy his other books, as they are available through Amazon.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
Ask a London cabbie for this place......
Favorite thing: and see what he says!!!!
I love London street names.... they have historic relevance. This place is right by the Thames..... probably where a hundred years ago cargoes of exotic fruits were unloaded after months of being stored in the hold of an old ship - and still tasted better than what we get now - but that's just my theory and isn't based on any facts!!!
Anyway.... I said that what I love about London is the sublime and the ridiculous.... and this name is just so ridiculous.... but sooo juicy in the way that only London is! It just appeals to my sense of humour!
Some possible itineraries to kickstart your plans
Favorite thing: Travel is an intensely personal thing, and thankfully there is no 'one size fits all' solution. Each traveller needs to customise their itinerary to suit their available time, budget and personal interests, but starting with a blank sheet of paper can be an intimidating thing - especially for a city as large and complex as London - so here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.
What follows are a few suggestions for diverse attractions in certain areas that could be easily grouped together (if you're a purist, then just bear with some of the geographical liberties I've taken in my titles in order to make these itineraries accessible). This will probably be a 'work in progress', but hopefully it should help to kick start your planning process - just bear in mind that certain areas offer so much that you could easily occupy yourself for more than one day.
KENSINGTON: Natural History Museum (including outdoor ice skating in winter), Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Albert Memorial, Royal Albert Hall (including a performance), Kensington Gardens (including the Diana Memorial Fountain, Diana Memorial Playground and Peter Pan statue), Kensington Palace
WESTMINSTER: Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, London Aquarium, Florence Nightingale Museum, the Cenotaph,boat cruise on the Thames, Millenium Bridge, South Bank complex (including a performance)
VICTORIA (can also be easily combined with Westminster): Buckingham Palace, The Mall, St James' Park, Westminster Cathedral, Victoria theatres (including a show)
LEICESTER SQUARE: Trafalgar Square, National Portrait Gallery, stroll through Soho, Covent Garden, London Transport Museum, catch an iconic Routemaster bus down the Strand, West End theatres (including a performance)
BLOOMSBURY: British Museum, stroll around the various squares in Bloomsbury including Russell Square, British Library, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, St Pancras Station, Kings Cross Station (including Platform 9¾), various bits of London University (University College London, University College Hospital, Birkbeck College, Senate House, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, School of Tropical Medicine)
REGENTS PARK: Regents Park, wander around the Georgian squares, London Zoo, boat trip on the Regents Canal, Little Venice, Camden Lock Market (by boat)
VENTURE NORTH: Highgate Cemetery, Highgate Village, Hampstead Heath (including open air swimming in the Hampstead Ponds), Kenwood House (including an open air concert in summer), Hampstead Village, Lords cricket ground, High Barnet, Hadley Common and Hadley Highstone, Waltham Abbey, Waltham Cross
LOOK EAST: The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St Katherine's Dock, Docklands, Canary Wharf, Greenwich and the Thames Barrier.
GO WEST: Kew Gardens, Richmond, Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common, Windsor
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought, and with a little research, London will be your oyster (even if you opted for the Travelcard)! Happy planning!
Brick Lane Boogie
Favorite thing: You'd never know it from his face but this happy chappy was playing the funkiest honky tonk in town!! I caught his eye, pointed to my camera, he nodded approvingly so I took the pic and left a quid in his hat - as had a few hundred others before me - and he deserved every penny!! It was fantastic. If you are in Brick Lane on a Sunday and you hear great music - it will be Big John Carter - the Piano Man!
Fondest memory: On this trip?? This guy would be my fondest memory. :))
Surreal Sunday Morning
Favorite thing: So ... while Petra and I are waiting for the Roundheads to come marching down Whitehall, we see Horseguards being interviewed by EuroTunnel who are making a film about London... whilst standing on a GIANT jigsaw of a painting of The Lady of Charlotte... only in London..:))
I wasn't sure about any of this... I wasn't sure if the jigsaw was there for anyone to piece together... I wasn't sure why the Roundheads were marching... and I wasn't sure if they were Horseguards or Household Cavalry. I only knew it was EuroTunnel doing a film as a rather eccentric lady (who looked a little aristocratic) told me... She looked so posh I even saw some tourists bowing to her!!!
Fondest memory: Most days spent in London will make you feel slightly bonkers... or maybe that's just the effect is has on me.
Favorite thing: Outside the fancy busy city centre, reachable by bus, you will find the suburbs.
Here you will find a lot of brick stone houses, or, less colourful, ugly huge dark grey concrete buildings.
They are social housing buildings, providing the less fortunate Londoners a roof above their head.
Dirty and worn out as most of them look, one would become depressive just living in one of these.
I think they should let those architects live in them for a couple of years so they will have real life experience of what is needed to live in a good home.
As in many countries, but certainly in UK, even the modest-income population can’t afford a descent housing anymore. Most families saw their income reduce with a quarter during the first half of the 90ties. In 1996 about 47 % of them was living in unaffordable places, which represented an increase of more then 37 %!
When you must put 30 % as a maximum limit of your income going to pay rent, it showed that 25 % paid half their income on it!
Early 2002 over three thousand applicants were noted on the waiting list for subsidized housing in the city of London.
On the picture:
red brick stone houses. It is amazing how some trees and greenery can cheer up the neighbourhood.
Fondest memory: Some people, lucky to have a little garden, will grow vegetables and herbs in it. A bit of green can do a lot. Every one should have the right on a little piece of privacy, whether it is a small garden or a private balcony where some flowers and decoration can bring some Summer in one's life.Related to:
- Family Travel
Pregnant and Proud
Favorite thing: After 150 years of debate about "what to do with the fourth plinth" in Trafalgar Square, the powers that be decided that a 15ft (4.5m) marble statue of the 8 months pregnant Alison Lapper by the artist Marc Quinn, should adorn it. Alison was born with thalidomide. Some may be offended by the statue of the naked Alison... just as the Victorians were offended by exposed table legs and male members and sought to cover them up with table cloths and fig leaves. If this statue offends then maybe you need to ask yourself why.
London makes no apologies - This statue is "a celebration of the human spirit".
Alison Lapper - Guardian articleRelated to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Bring back " The Sun"
Favorite thing: Colorful London tabloid papers are famous throughout the world, and though I'm not a reader of tabloids in the U.S., I brought back a couple of copies of "The Sun" as a bona fide souvenir of my travels.
The Sun is probably the most famous of UK's tabloids, and the June 15, 2004, issue didn't disappoint.
Years in the future I will remember that England was competing in the Euro 2004 football tournament (soccer, akin to an international Super Bowl, I gather); the front page headline was "In Me Bed Son: Joy for Rooney & Co. as Sven lifts sex ban" referring to the coach's allowing wives and girlfriends to stay with his players after a 2-1 loss ot France "to boost morale."
I love it.
On-line version: www.thesun.co.uk
Fondest memory: Acually, as an avid newspaper reader I enjoyed browsing an assortment of London papers while I was there, including The Times, which the hotel left for us every morning.
I brought home several issues for more thorough reading, and they all provide a microcosm of a particular day -- a day I was there -- of London life.
Newspapers make wonderful souvenirs, and a good way to explore the culture of another country.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
Bargains for the financially challenged traveller
Favorite thing: There is plenty of scope for the dedicated bargain hunter. In London, you really need it.. Check out these links....
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Favorite thing: The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a London borough in the west side of central London, created in 1965 from the former boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea. It is an urban area and was named in the 2001 census as the most densely populated local authority in the United Kingdom
Fondest memory: Earls Court is a place in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, UK. It is an inner-city district located 3.1 miles (5 km) west south-west of Charing Cross. It is home to Earls Court Exhibition Centre. The name is believed to come from a farm, Earl's Court Farm, visible on Greenwood's map of London dated 1827. The Earl in question may have been either the Earl of Warwick or the Earl of Holland, both cited as Lords of the Manor of this part of London
Traditionally (post-1945) a large transient population of Australians and New Zealanders stayed in Earl's Court, one of the cheapest areas close to central London: today, there are still large numbers of students or other people on temporary visas, although many of the Australians and New Zealanders appear to have moved to cheaper areas further North. Earl's Court is still known to tourists and visitors to London for its numerous cheap hotels.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
Favorite thing: London Zoo was the world's first scientific zoo. It was opened in 1828, and was originally intended to be used as a collection for scientific study, it was eventually made open to the public in 1847. Today it houses a collection of more than 650 different species of animals.
Fondest memory: The zoo is currently undergoing a massive renovation project aimed at replacing cages with enclosures which recreate the animals' natural environments, giving a better lifestyle to the animals, and a more realistic experience to visitorsRelated to:
- Family Travel
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Hotel Ibis London Euston St Pancras Recommended by being the best location, nice rooms, modern and...more
This 5 star hotel is probably my favorite in London because of it's location (across from Kensington...more
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