Those famous red Boxes...phone home...
Favorite thing: You can still find significant numbers of the old Red Telephone boxes around London.
They tend to have remained in the more historic and/or touristy areas (e.g there are a couple on Leicester Square) rather than in more utilitarian places such as stations.
If you are into photography then the splash of Red (originally choosen to hide the dirt that accumulates) is often very useful when framing photographs as it seems to help bring out the darker colours you normally get around here.
Although the boxes (of varying design, always prefixed by a 'K' number) were awkward for some people to use, they were always far more aesthetically pleasing than the appauling glass and aluminium carbunkles that British Telecom saw fit to thrust on us from the mid 1980's onwards.
For a much more long-winded, good-quality rant on this topic, check out the following website :
Want to send a postcard or letter?
Favorite thing: Here are the price zones and postal rates when you want to send a postcard or a letter.
1. Europe (includes western and eastern Europe)
2. World zone 1 (the Americas, Middle East, Africa, Indian sub-continent, most of SE Asia including Hong Kong)
3. World zone 2 (rest of the world)
Postcards ?0.38, ?0.42, ?0.42
Weight not over 10g ?0.38, ?0.47, ?0.47
Weight not over 20g ?0.38, ?0.68, ?0.68
Weight not over 40g ?0.53, ?1.05, ?1.12
Weight not over 60g ?0.69 ?1.42 ?1.56
Fondest memory: Once you have bought yourself the right stamps, you can drop your postcards/letters off in any postoffice or letter boxes similar to what you can see on the photo.
Cheapest Internet access I came across
Favorite thing: The Mocha Cafe Patisserie. only 1GBP for 1 hour of internet access.
Nice cakes, pastries and drinks.
Also offer printing, scanning, cd burning, webcams, games, cheap phonecards and international calls.
61 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0NE
Tel: 07776 4532245.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Theater Travel
Travel Innoculations, vaccinations, health advice
Favorite thing: A number of countries have compulsory vaccinations to have been attended and certificates to show for it, such as Yellow Fever, and a number of countries just require for your own safety and common sense treatment such as Anti-Malarials while you are going to be there - Id been through all this rigamole when in Australia headed for China which certain areas, particularly in the southern, more tropical areas, are malaria zones - to which I chose to take Doxycycline tablets.
For an upcoming trip to the middle of AFrica, Burundi, it was compulsory to have Yellow Fever shots and appropriate malaria treatment - shopping around found a wide variety of prices and accessiblity of these drugs - fortunately the 1st Contact group came up trumps for both price and for visiting times. 1st Contact is a company run by Antipodeans - you will see them advertise a lot throughout the TNT magazines (and online at www.TNT.com ) that one sees in help-yourself bins around London - so it was great to find they came tops for service and price and support them at it in the process.
They have a centre in New Oxford Street which is easy enough to get to with tube stations and buses running close by and their opening hours are excellent allowing visits after a normal working day and are also open on Saturdays.
The Travel Health Advisor I ended up with, Gail, who gave me my shots, was excellent - professional and reassuringly knowledgeable. Tfavel products were also for sale there - such as the latest, evidence based mosquito repellant sprays.
Fondest memory: Castlewood House,
77/91 New Oxford Street
ph 02077595437Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Planning your time in London
Favorite thing: Maybe I'm biased, but I really don't think that you need to do a guided tour in London except if you are on a really tight itinerary. There is lots of tourist information available - sometimes too much, which can be confusing - but once you've got your A-Z (streetfinder) and have got the hang of the public transport system, you'll find it far more rewarding and cost effective to do it yourself. If you doubt that you have the confidence to put together an itinerary, then why not find some itineraries offered by tour operators whose focus appeals to you and then duplicate this yourself at a fraction of the cost?
For those who are not used to planning itineraries for large cities for themselves, I would suggest that the key is to be realistic in what you're trying to see. There is no better way to spoil a trip than to micromanage every last minute and get so obsessed to keeping up with your unrealistic itinerary that you don't have time to enjoy what you are seeing. Much of the attraction of historic cities such as London is to appreciate the sense of place/history/antiquity, and this is something that requires both time and peace of mind.
Unless you're planning to stay in London a month or more, you might as well accept that you won't see it properly in one visit, and anyway, even if you did, by the end of that time, you'd probably have long since got past the point of sensory overload.
Another good tip is to try and aim for diversity in your schedule. Although similar types of attractions tend to be grouped in certain geographical areas (for example, museums in South Kensington, Wren churches in the City, shopping along Oxford Street), after a few hours on a particular theme, you'll be all 'museumed/churched/shopped out' and will need a mental break. A change is as good as a rest, so I would advise you to intersperse museum visits with a stroll in the park, shopping with a theatre performance and so forth.
Just be aware that even Central London is a large and diverse area, so it's best to plan your trip so that you can tackle bite-sized chunks - for example, Kensington one day, Westminster/Whitehall the next. This approach is not only good for your health because you get to exercise - particularly important if you're doing longhaul flights - but also allows to you explore on foot (always the best way to get to know a city).
If you'd like some ideas to kickstart your planning, follow this link to some suggested itineraries that you can mix and match according to your available time, budget and interests.
Favorite thing: To have enrolled The Institute - English Language School - was one of the best things I did during being in London, because there I did improve my English speaking and I have meet some more friends.
Moreover teachers are really friendly and the courses are well adapted to our needs. There are several timetables, morning and afternoon, so is flexible for people who work.
Was a really good experience, besides because the School is placed in one of the most nicer areas in London, with beautiful surroundings and hide paths to get lost.
At the end of the term, they offer to do an examination and if you pass, you would get your diploma for the regarding course you enrol.
Fondest memory: I have met nice people during studying here and at the end of each term, we celebrated with a social event in which people seems to enjoy much more.
In one ocasion, we went out for lunch and in another one, we have prepared nice food from different parts of the world and later we shared altogether. Was really nice!!
My last teacher, Maria Straw, is an amazing person, with a very good sense of humour too. I am sure I will miss her so much.
Address and contact details are:
The Institute - English Centre
Hampstead Garden Suburb
Central Square, London, NW11 7BN
Tel: 0044 20 8455 8176
Fax: 0044 20 8455 4448
Note: I will upload a pic as soon as i got them developed. Cheers.Related to:
- School Holidays
- Study Abroad
- Business Travel
Green green grass of "outside London"
Favorite thing: After a few days of dreary gloomy weather in grey London, it was a refreshing change of a day trip to Stonehenge and to discover the green pastures outside London.
If one is to visit only London, the impression of UK will be one of just urban modernity. Yet outside of London are the rolling hills and meadows that Lords used to ride their horses over.
So do get out of London if you have not.
Movies to get you in the mood
Favorite thing: There are lots and lots of movies set in London and England, some of my favorites include
Layer Cake the best Guy Ritchie movies that he didn't make, it stars Daniel Craig as a man trying to get out of the drug business, just one more score....
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels speaking of Guy Ritchie movies...Rock N Rolla was good too
Love Actually a movie set at Christmas time in London with a huge cast and intertwined stories
Shakespeare in Love
Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett
Four Weddings and a Funeral starring Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell
There have been some great BBC miniseries that I've watched recently including
Downton Abbey, currently heading into it's 4th season, Maggie Smith is a delight and the show highlights the servants downstairs equally as much as the family upstairs
Call the Midwife set in the east end of London during the 1950s, the series follows the midwife Jenny Lee as she adapts to the different lifestyle of the people living in poverty
Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a 21st century version of Sherlock Holmes
Little Dorrit based on the novel by Charles Dickens
STOPPED & SEARCHED BY THE POLICE
What did I do wrong? Well I was unshaven and carrying a suspicious package. Also I walked away from the Police. At least that’s what they said. Actually I was carrying my hot noodles from a takeaway and looking for my train platform and a chair to sit and eat my hot noodles.
STOP AND SEARCH is a Police power in the UK short of arrest. It was originally enacted as legislation to fight gun & knife crime. Take the weapons off the streets and less killings. Fair enough. Since 9/11 and the London Tube bombings and the searches have taken on increased importance. Now here is where the Labour government here has messed it up completely and made this a mockery and unproductive waste of valuable Police time in the war on terror.
Thanks to the touchy feely Labour Party, the Police cannot PROFILE! So they have to stop middle class old white guys like me. They used to stop (a lot) of young black men in crime areas. Rather than refine their practices for over zealousness, they have to do so many searches of just about anybody. So old women of all shapes and colours get stopped. They don’t cause crime or terrorism. And since terrorist atrocities committed by young men of middle east/Asian backgrounds, they stop me. An American in America going to the airport on September 11th, 2001. Nice one.
The OTHER stupid bit? Once they start, thanks to Labour, the Police CANNOT stop. They must complete the process!
The senior Policemen of 3 who stopped me heard my accent, saw my noodles and instantly became friendly. Under the old rules, the 3 would have gone to look for young guys with similar backgrounds to the Tube bombers. Nope, paperwork. “Are you known to the Police?” barked the lady officer. “No” I said. “Do you want to be known by the Police?” cracked the senior officer. I liked that guy. Good sense of humour.
By the way I am a “White –Other” at the end of the form. Your safety was compromised while 3 anti-terrorism officers did paperwork on me and my noodles. At least no one of a specific ethnic origin got their feelings hurt.
(By the way I was detained by the Police the week before for taking a photo of the same noodle takeaway place!!!!!)Related to:
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
- Study Abroad
Farm house in Luton
Favorite thing: Spent a few nights in a farm house in Luton, outside London.
It was amazing to see chickens and geese. From the farm house, took a cab to Luton train station daily and then to downtown London.
Not too bad for a combination of farm homestay and sleek London.
East End now and step on it - you muppet
Favorite thing: The video game "The Getaway" for playstation 2 uses the backdrop of London streets for a ganster game. What is amazing is how accurate the renditions are.
Apparantly when they built the game they wanted to make it as 'real time' as possible, but replicating London;s traffic meant that the game was unplayable.
So, zoom around London, shoot a few baddies and get feel for the 'big smoke'.
(UPDATE ; sept 04, there is now a version 2 of the product that also features parts of the Underground network)
Christmas in London
Favorite thing: Christmas in London a real lovely time.
All the streets are litten with so many colorful and beautiful lights, Christmas trees are in the shops, houses and offices buildings.
People "abuse" their credit cards everywhere and the feeling is amazing... well i know many people really dislike this time of the year but for me December 2003 was my first Christmas ever abroad, in Israel we dont celebrate this holiday as it is a christian holiday. so for me its a real nice experience, i just loved that.... Surly a kitchi Holiday but still so nice !
Fondest memory: Too many.... some private some not... but too long to write them down....
Feng Shui Guide to London
Favorite thing: I recently came across a website, which I'm not sure was for real or whether it was tongue-in-cheek.
It claimed to apply Feng Shui to the whole city.
For instance, the River Thames is seen as an artery of good chi. The Thames barrier therefore threw the Feng Shui of most of the city out of kilter - leading eventually to the boom and bust years of the Eighties. Luckily the building of the London Eye (millenium wheel) meant that it restored the balance by acting like a giant waterwheel.
It also claimed that the M25 was a essentially just a Druidic stone circle writ large. The fact it had jams most of the days meant that it affected the 'chi flow'.
It is fairly obvious that I'm going to castigate this as the most awful pile of self-deluded tommy-rot. Anyone who believe this tosh should wake up and smell the crystals!
Favorite thing: London's public toilets have recently made headlines due to the fact that many are being closed and not maintained so in short a real health hazard. It is rumoured that a third of London's public conveniences are closed so that there is only 1 public toilet for every 10,000 people.
The first London toilets were built over rivers. Engineer George Jennings designed the public toilet shown here with its distinctive iron railings and tiled interior.
Some public conveniences have been turned into business, for example a bar or perhaps you may want to visit Shepherds Bush Comedy Club.
The websites below may assist you to find a place to relieve yourself a little bit of planning goes a long way. Alternatively you may wish to visit a department store such as Selfridges, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and the like or good old McDonalds.
Only the major tube stations have public toilets which are serviced by cleaning staff a visit here will cost you 20p
Fondest memory: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/our_services/health_safety/public_conveniences.htm
Students working (and studying!) abroad?
Favorite thing: Didn't know where else to put this...so here it is! In "general" tips!
Are you an international student trying to find work in the U.K.?
First things first:
You need to be a full-time student (40+ hours) and need to be attending an accredited school. You need a letter from your school to show customs. You need to get a CODE 2 stamp in your passport that says "no recourse to public funds". This stamp allows you to work up to 20 hours a week.
Once you have this stamp, you need to allocate a job. That's the easy part.
Then you need to speak with the employer. Get a letter from them stating that you officially are being offered employment.
You take this letter, your passport, the letter from your school saying you're a full-time student, PLUS 2 official documents proving your permanent location (your original home location...possibly your parents?).
You need to take these documents and schedule an appointment for an identification appointment at your location Job Agency. Make an appointment to get a NATIONAL INSURANCE number. You cannot work legally in the UK without this number.
Once approved, you will be given a TEMPORARY NI #. This will be used by your employer in order to file your papers properly and then you can begin working.
Make sure your employer understands that you don't get your PERMANENT NI# for a few months and that your TEMPORARY NI# will have to do for now. Some employers just don't listen.
Summary: Code 2 in passport, school letter, and NATIONAL INSURANCE NUMBER.
It's that last bit that always gets everyone.Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
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