This post is part of an ongoing monthly column called “Adventure Spotlight”. If you’re interested in writing for ATA, click here.
Connie and I came into contact while I was doing some travel research for my trip to Asia this past March, specifically Thailand
. I found her blog while searching for other writers who had visited the places that were on my itinerary. She was so kind and helpful in answering all of my questions, and we easily became friends. Visit her blog at www.theadventuresofmyfeet.wordpress.com
to read all about her wanderings!
Hi guys! My name is Connie and I am somewhat of a Nomad…and very proud of that fact, I have travel in my heart and soul.
I wasn’t always this way, when I was a kid I hated anything involved with change, it was so bad I would even stop eating my favourite foods if the packaging changed!
Then one day when I was 13 my parents sold our home and moved us 60 miles away from everything I had ever known, this changed my way of thinking completely.
I guess I realised that sometimes you have no control over what changes in your life, no matter how much you fight it, it will happen anyway…so I decided to make changes I could control.
When I was 17 I moved out of my parents house and went my own way, 60 miles my own way.
I’ve lost count of how many houses and towns I’ve lived in since then but I still have the memories and they’re what matter. :)
That’s what travelling and adventures are all about, making memories that will forever make you smile.
I recently went on a big adventure to Thailand, which is where I started my blog – The Adventures Of My Feet – and I had the most amazing time! I’ve been back for 3 months now but I still don’t feel settled. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve almost booked a one-way ticket out of here.
I guess that’s what can be viewed as the bad side of Wanderlust; once you catch it you can never lose it.
I don’t feel truly happy unless I’m moving, whether that’s on a huge adventure or just a random car journey to some place I’ve never been before.
If a love of travel is my only problem in life, then I’m happy, the world has so much beauty to offer, it would be a shame to miss it.
London is such a beautiful city, the capital of England and my home town.
Being one of the most interesting and vibrant cities I have ever visited, it is hard not to fall in love. Unfortunately because this is my home town, I tend to take it for granted, so I have decided to write this blog to remind myself why I always end up coming back here to set up camp.
Hopefully I can encourage you to visit, while also temporarily stopping myself from leaving!
Top 5 experiences
London has so many amazing experiences to offer. I’m sure you have all heard of the main tourist attractions, The London Eye, Big Ben, The London Dungeons…they are all well worth a visit but as they are so highly advertised I wanted to talk about some of my personal favourites that you may not have heard so much about.
So in no particular order here are my top 5 experiences in London;
1. Camden Town
For me Camden is one of the best places to visit in London. It’s a vibrant, buzzing, beautiful town full of eclectic shops and market stalls. I first came here when I was 18 and it instantly became my happy place. It is just a short tube ride from the centre of London, but it feels as though you are in a whole different world.
Whether you want expensive fancy restaurants and bars or cheap but very tasty street food, Camden is the place to go.
The main attraction is Camden Lock, a giant street market full of everything you could ever want and surrounded by a river which is great for relaxing. You could go on a crazy shopping spree and fill your wardrobe with unique, one off fashions and be safe in the knowledge that you will look totally different from most people you meet back home.
If you wanted to make an evening of it there are nightclubs and bars dotted around the market too…I recommend Koko for a good night out.
Camden really is the heart of London’s creativity and, for a little added bonus…it’s just a short walk from London Zoo :)
Everyone that knows me will not be surprised to find this on my top 5 list….Hamleys is one of London’s biggest toy shops :)
Located on Oxford street, you can always pretend you were doing some ‘grown-up’ shopping and accidentally stumbled through the doors, or if you’re like me and don’t care who knows what a big kid you are you can just spend an entire day here.
Each floor is home to a different group of toys, preschool, girls, boys, cars etc., Hamleys has absolutely everything you could possibly want from a toyshop.
The staff are what really make it special though, as it is clear that each and every one of them love their job, and why wouldn’t they when they get to give toy demonstrations all day! Of course if you come to London with children then they will love you that little bit more after a visit here.
3. Winter Wonderland
If you are lucky enough to visit London around Christmas time then you absolutely have to take a trip to Winter Wonderland! Set up in Hyde Park every year is a giant festive heaven that any Elf would be proud to claim as their own.
If you are looking for last minute stocking fillers or cheeky little treats to reward all your hard work then the market stalls here will be paradise. For the adrenaline junky (or child) inside you there are plenty of amusement rides to test out, including a mini version of the London Eye.
The adults among your group can enjoy that warm, cosy Christmassy feeling from drinking mulled, spiced ciders and enjoying other little treats. Of course with every great market come even greater food stalls, you can get everything from doughnuts to weird and wonderful meats from around the world…last year I tried an Ostrich burger!
You can spend an hour or two gliding around the ice rink, or if you’re anything like me you will spend most of your time picking yourself up from the floor of the ice rink!
There’s plenty for the kids too, you can meet Santa, win lots of goodies on the game stalls and visit the circus tent which is home to the famous Zippo’s Circus.
I love Christmas so this is the perfect place for me, but even the Grinch would find it difficult to be miserable here!
4. Royal Observatory Greenwich
If you are a star gazing geek like me then you cannot miss a trip to the Royal Observatory. There are so many amazing things to see and to learn at London’s only Planetarium. The views from the outside are breathtaking and throughout the day they put on a ‘sky at night’ experience that will give you goosebumps. This is a great one for the kids too as they can learn so much with all the exhibitions and it really captures your imagination…the best part is it’s FREE to enter! :)
5. Exploring what London has to offer
If you are on a tight budget then I suggest spending a day exploring with your camera. There is so much to see and so many things that you can attend for free, too. London is full of museums, art galleries, beautiful parks and scenery. My favourite museum is the Natural History Museum, full of dinosaurs and other fascinating things.
If it’s a picnic in the park you fancy then I would recommend Green Park as it is huge so there is lots of space to find the perfect spot and the whole park is stunning. The amount of street artists and buskers on London streets is a bit overwhelming at times but on the plus side, you can have a free concert in the tube station!
I could sit here and recommend things for you to do all day long but the best thing to do is just go and get lost in the wonder of it all. With one of the biggest transport systems I’ve ever seen, you won’t be lost for long.
Something I wish I had known
London is one of the most expensive cities I have visited and the first few times I ventured into the heart of the tourist area I spent far too much money. I have since figured out a few tips for saving money and still having the same amount of fun…
If you visit London more than once then I suggest investing in an Oyster card, not very expensive to buy and it cuts the cost of transport in London…also as of the 6th of July London buses will not accept cash so an Oyster is almost a necessity.
If only visiting once then buy an all zones travel card from the station instead of paying separately. This allows you on buses, trams, trains and tubes all day long, all over London and costs under £10.
A lot of places are just as easily accessible by foot and walking is much cheaper and better for you. So if you aren’t in a rush then walk in between tubes or trains, you will get to see more sights this way and may even stumble upon a hidden gem.
Obviously grab yourself a map from the station so you don’t get too lost and avoid walking alone at night as it may not be very safe.
Most of the year you will find a 2for1 booklet at all train stations in and around London. This little beauty gives you amazing discounts at top London attractions, bars and restaurants, all you need is a pen and a valid train ticket.
Kids travel for £1
If you happen to be travelling into London from another English city/town then most of the time you will find that kids can travel to and from London for just £1…amazing right!?
Museums and Art Galleries
As I already mentioned in my top 5 experiences you can gain access to most museums and art galleries absolutely free and they make for a fantastic day out!
Best piece of advice
My advice for visiting London is this…Be patient, be aware, be open-minded and BE HAPPY.
London is one of the most multicultural cities in England, it’s as if you have a whole world in 1 city and it’s the main reason I love it so much. You can walk down the street and have every kind of food available and see so many different faces.
It does, however, mean that London is one of the busiest cities in England also.
Central London is a constant wall of human and mechanical traffic so just be patient with everyone and everything, take this time to appreciate all the people and things you will see throughout the day.
To go along with London’s bustly vibe comes a little bit of danger. As beautiful as the city is you must always be aware and keep an eye on your belongings and remember that there are hundreds of tourists here so it’s a bit of a pickpocket heaven…don’t let that scare you though, just keep it in mind when travelling.
You will see many different and strange sights here so come with an open mind and just chalk everything up as a great experience.
Sadly there can be quite a few miserable people in London, especially the office commuters (booooo) so to combat their negativity I would suggest to just be extra happy and as polite as you can be, smile at strangers, say please and thank you – you may not get these same courtesies returned but I can promise you will feel better and you never know – you may just brighten up someone’s day :)
Well that’s my view of London, I hope I made it sound as wonderful as it feels to me.
I can definitely say that writing this has renewed my excitement for my home and I’m actually sitting here now itching to get on a train and spend a day wandering the streets, witnessing the beauty, breathing in the smells and letting the sounds dance through my ears…maybe I will meet one of you somewhere along my journey.
Thanks for sharing, Connie! It is always nice to hear about such an amazing destination from a local.
Have you ever been to London? What were your experiences like?