DISCLAIMER: My first time to London was filled with days of exploring Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace and so on. These are also must dos! However, if you’ve already done all that, then the below must dos are, well, must dos!
And please excuse the poor picture quality – these photos were taken back in my Iphone-photo-taking day!
I suppose that’s kind of an obvious one, isn’t it? Nonetheless, when you’re a lone traveller like me, being completely nonchalant (read: ecstatic) about being able to navigate the London tube and reach Oxford street is imperative. Yes, imperative. And, you know, shopping on Oxford street is fun too. More like incredible! Hello empty bank account!
Harrods is, in simple terms, exquisite. Just the name in itself oozes class and beauty. You could spend a whole day browsing the many levels and still come out at the end of the day not having seen it all, but that’s probably because you’re as slow as a turtle. I myself never could spend the whole day browsing – I am a conscientious saver and I know if I let myself loose in there I’d never afford to get home.
Visit the Stonehenge
During my final year at school, my desktop background was a myriad of pictures of places I wanted to go – gazing everyday at my background gave me hope that some day, these final torturous exams would be over and I would be standing in those pictures.
The Stonehenge was one of those pictures. Standing in front of the gigantic stone monument, the magical, mythical and highly debated structure, was mind-numbingly surreal. The beauty of those rocks knows no bounds. Don’t laugh (I know you are) – I know they’re just rocks but to me, they’re gorgeous, Earth’s natural beauty, something I deeply admire.
As you encircle the perimeter of Stonehenge, walking silently (I was only silent because I had no one with me, you may cry in sympathy!) breathing in the crisp air and fully drinking up the magical history behind this gigantic monument, one can’t help but smile. There really is something enchanting about those rocks. Again, stop your laughing. Once you visit them, I hope you’ll understand what I mean. That or you’ll thinking I’m a lunatic for being in awe of rocks. I’m thinking the latter.
Stonehenge is situated in the town of Salisbury and you pass through the city on the way to the monument. The sleepy town of Salisbury is as picturesque as plum pie, filled with abundant and fascinating medieval and war history. The town is scattered with medieval like shops, all stone and wood. Quaint cottages line the streets, the residents snaring a picture perfect view of vast meadows, green pasture and hillsides.
The limitless amount of greenery and clean air is refreshing, especially coming from London city. I really can’t explain enough how picturesque Salisbury is. It’s the perfect sleepy little town for some rest and relaxation, also filled with some fascinating medieval museums. The history of Salisbury is truly expansive. It’s just gorgeous. I’d marry the town if I could. Or, you know, live there. That’d be easier I think.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are simply mesmerising. Unfortunately I went on a cloudy and drizzly day, but nonetheless their simple elegance and regal qualities shone through. Beautiful lakes, pathways and flower beds, both Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are perfect examples of the beauty and simplicity of nature. Definitely a good place to go to get your ‘zen on’ and escape the hustle bustle of London’s city centre.
Portobello Road and Hummingbird Bakery
Portobello Road is filled with antique finds and quirky fashion. I first remember hearing about Portobello road from the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks – anyone else? No, just me then. With quintessential old-fashion charm, Portobello Road is a ‘when in London must.’
What’s also a must is the Red Velvet Cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery. Hands down, the best red velvet cupcakes you well ever consumer. In your life. Ever. The cream cheese frosting is, well, cheesy and sweet and velvety; the red cake moist and decadent.
Brick Lane Markets
If you’re one of my loyal readers (Bueller, anyone?) then you’ll know how taken I am with markets. London is no exception. In a previous London adventure I visited Camden and Portobello Road markets. This time, it was Brick Lane’s turn.
At first I thought I was lost, which is very uncharacteristic (read: very characteristic) of me. As I walked down Brick Lane, it was eerily quiet, shops were closed and I could hear a gate creaking and crying loudly in the wind. Suddenly, my ears pricked up and I could hear in the distance a dull, throbbing noise, sounding more and more like a drum as I kept on walking. Eventually, I started hearing the eponymous squeak of the bagpipes, and loud chatter and I wiped my brow, knowing I was definitely in the right place.
First I visited the food hall (of course, it’s me we are talking about) and my nose was instantly hit with a plethora of exotic smells. From Indian spices and curry, to Asian noodles and sizzling beef, to the sweet smell of fresh smoothies and red velvet cupcakes, I was instantly in food heaven.
Unfortunately, being almost broke did not work in my favour so I settled on a smoothie, red velvet cupcake and noodles – not all at once though! Please, I am a lady after all, and a lady does not stuff her face. Oh who am I kidding, I’m no lady. It was all heavenly, leaving my taste buds craving more! And leaving my wallet ever so light…
I got back onto Brick Lane to wander further in the market area. More food – breads, pastries and meringues lined the streets and I had to restrain from sending myself truly broke. There were a lot of vintage stalls – so if you’re into that style – Brick Lane is definitely for you! There were the obligatory jewellery stalls – all gorgeous and all too expensive for me, expensive being 10 pound. See how broke I am?
Brick Lane doesn’t offer a huge variety but what it does offer is a great day out, incredibly scrumptious food and some great bargains (if you’re not broke)!
Tea and Scones in Harrods
I did this for my Papa and late Nana. My Papa told me he remembers when he was in London with my Nana that they had tea and scones in The Tea Room at Harrods. I’m so glad I followed in their footsteps because hands down – Harrods scones and tea is just tantalizingly delicious. The scones were soft and melted in my mouth, the rose jam and strawberry jam were so delectably sweet and the cream was thick and velvety.
Even if you just sit inside The Tea Room and sip English Breakfast tea from a teacup and saucer, pinky elevated with poise, you feel like the Queen, especially when Bach is played ever so softly in the background. Such a regal-esque feeling.
Grabbing last minute Theatre Tickets
This was possibly the most exciting thing I’ve done in a while. As a confessed musical addict and lover, to turn up to the Victoria Apollo Theatre and get offered incredible seats to Wicked for 30 pound each, was phenomenal. The musical, even a second time round, was phenomenal. Sitting so close to the stage we could see the characters spit as they sang their little hearts was phenomenal.
For any self-proclaimed musical lover, turning up on the day to try and grab cheap tickets is thrilling, especially when you get such great seats!
Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen
A friend in London once eagerly introduced me to this fabulous restaurant. Although I could not hide my disappointment that Jamie Oliver was not actually there, cooking for me personally
It was definitely a great meal. So were the bread starters. But seriously, how can you go wrong with some bread and olive oil with vinaigrette dip?
If you love food, and Jamie Oliver, which obviously everyone does, then Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen is an essential. It’s just outside the massive and amazing Westfield in Shepherds Bush. What you do is spend a fortune on a meal at Jamie’s, then spend a fortune shopping in Boots for all your cosmetics and hair products and makeup and the list goes on. You can now see why I really have no money left.
My dear, dear friends – I only tell you about this store because I am such a wonderful friend and feel that you all (mainly for the ladies) need (really, really need) to know about this store. It’s right down the end of Oxford street and you can not miss it. Well, if you’re me you can miss it because I did, multiple times, as I walked back and forth stopping in every second store to ask where it was.
“Oh yeah jus erm it’s jus ou’side and the lef, righ in fron of you.” Indeed it was. Good one, Ally. Ever the greatest traveller.
The fantastic thing about Primark is that it’s cheap. And I mean cheap. I once bought 3 jumpers, 1 pair of leggings, boots and a t-shirt for 57pound. Gobsmacked? You should be. It’s absolutely brilliant – if you can bare waiting in line for 30 minutes to get inside the change room. It was worse than waiting in line for the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland. And like that ride – it was well worth the wait. 8 fingers and two thumbs I swear it.
Where do you/where would you love to go if you were/are ever in good old London-town?