Leaving Cheltenham in the early morning was both daunting and sad, but I had a goal! It was time for a final visit to the crazy bustle of the ‘Big Smoke’. Rolling into London on my coach was a reminder of a place that seems familiar, but is still a confusing mess comparable to my bedroom during exams!
To be in a city the size of London, you have to always be on the ball. There is no opportunity for you to be casually strolling down the high street, lest you be run over by a taxi, or knocked down by a busy commuter! Have a read through my guide for two days for any first timer in London!
Morning: Westminster and surrounds
Grab breakfast on the go and take the tube to Westminster Station. Here you will find many of the famous picture spots. Major points to find are the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye, the Westminster Abbey and the famed 10 Downing Street. Take an hour to wander and soak in the area- and if it’s sunny, make the most of it!
Little known fact: Big Ben is not actually the clock tower’s name. It is Elizabeth Tower and Ben is the bell housed within it!
Lunch: Pub? Pub.
Take a left at Big Ben and find a pub for food. We went to the ‘Red Lion’ in Westminster which had brilliant pie and ale. There are many pubs branded under Taylor Walker, and can be a little bit chain style and not the full experience! Try to find an independent pub for a less tourist chain experience.
London is full of markets, and each will appeal to a different traveller. Here are a few!
- Brick Lane market: A little something for anyone, but a youthful feel!
- Borough Market, Southwark: This place is full of organic produce and brilliant foods, plenty of tasting opportunities so you can spend some time there!
- Camden Lock Market: A mix of all types, from bearded hipsters, to goths, entrepreneurial minds and LOTS of brilliant foods to both try and buy! Make sure you go all the way from the tube station to the Lock to make sure you get into the really sweet parts of the market.
Dinner: Chinatown, Wong Kei Restaurant and Soho
Pop out of the tube at Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus and walk into Chinatown to the Wong Kei Restaurant. The place is about 4 stories and is renowned for having rude staff, and while some people would be put off by this, it was actually quite funny when we got in there! The black bean duck was delicious! Not quite a bar scene, so Soho is around the corner and a pleasant place for a drink with friends.
Sleep: Generator Hostel, Euston
The mark of a good day travelled is that the hostel is used only for leaving bags and sleeping, and a packed day will need a good sleep! The generator is a #jongmasjourney tried and trusted brand in multiple cities for being safe, easy access and comfortable for both body and budget.
Morning: East Central
The eastern side of central London is full of gems. Head over to tower hill tube station and check out the Tower of London, a medieval castle which houses the crown jewels. A walk across Tower Bridge is also brilliant! Walk along the Thames to see HMS Belfast, a retired naval vessel. Then to St Pauls, a cathedral built after the great fire of 1666. On a Sunday entry is free for prayer and services, but if you are looking to go up into the dome, Monday to Saturday it’s an option!
Monument is also a place to see an overview of London’s best, such as the Shard, Tower Bridge and the Thames. It is only a few pounds, but be aware- you have to climb 311 steps!!!
Lunch: Healthy fast food and Hyde Park
Pop on the tube to Hyde Park Corner and find a fast food joint with a healthy twist. I love Leon, and its Chorizo Club wraps, but EAT, and even the right choices at Pret are not bad calls! Chill out amongst squirrels in the best park in London, and hope you are lucky enough to run into one of the hundreds of events in the park.
Begin to wind down with a visit to the FREE galleries of London. Most museums in the town are free entry so take advantage and spin into a bit of culture. We chose the National Gallery, full of what seemed to be pretty artwork! I’m not personally a huge fan of art so I think Bek enjoyed that one more!
Dinner: Pub? Yes, definitely pub.
Find another local pub and enjoy the atmosphere! There are two main dishes to have; pies and fish.
London is a city that will always be a favourite of mine, but after a year of being so regularly in the craziness, it will be nice for a break in a few quieter places! The whole city is full of energy and is perfect for a few days to get amongst the hype, so thank you, London, for being a great time.
As Grandma’s friend Laurie always says…
“Love all around”