It is not until you have visitors to your own home town that you start to think about what there is to see and do in the place. I’m lucky that I am from London; soooo many things to see and do, too much actually to try and cram in. The best way to start is to hit the pavements and check out the original tourist haunts. My friend had a list of things he wanted to see which included the following:
- Regents Park
- Tower of London
- London Eye
- London Dungeon
- Primrose Hill
- Camden Town
- The new Kings Cross development
- Tate Modern
The only thing we did not get to was the London Dungeon but I think that was more because I could not bring myself to go to a building near the London Eye which was no where near the Tower of London where the original London Dungeon was located.
Aside from those tick boxes we managed to get the following covered in our five full days in London
- Houses of Parliament – you need to book your tour in advance as they are not on every day but the building is stunning and an amazing history to go with it.
- Afternoon tea at the Houses of Parliament – best to call them and book directly and get it on the same day as your tour. It is quite reasonably priced in comparison to other London afternoon tea rates in such an iconic place, even though you only get one serving of everything.
- A West end show – Book of Mormon is funny one if you are not politically correct. We only booked it two days beforehand on-line even though they tell you it is a sell out. There were returns available when we went to collect our tickets on the evening of the show.
- National Portrait Gallery – we ducked in here when we had some time to kill before meeting friends. Its free, so why not. (There is a bar / restaurant at the top overlooking London, which you can pop up to)
- St Pancras station – its an iconic building recently renovated and its where the Eurostar leaves for France now filled with many new shops and eateries as well as a hotel. World’s longest champagne bar is also located in there too.
- Walk down the Grand Canal from Kings Cross to Camden and onto Primrose Hill – it’s easy peasy and great for people watching as the barges slowly moot along (you will walk quicker than them). Kings Cross is going through a regeneration programme and is looking great. Check out Granary Square and St Pancras Square for new eateries next to the canal and under the old train arches. Our choice that day was Dishoom which pays homage to the Irani cafes found in Old Bombay.
- From the canal you can also wander along to Camden Town to check out the markets, the eateries, typical London pubs for a drink and then wander past the Round House (for various concerts) and up to Primrose Hill to London’s highest point to gaze over the city
- Bike ride around London parks – Regents, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Get a Santander Cycle, London’s bike sharing scheme. Its the easiest way to get around. Just stay within the 30 min drop off time limit of you don’t want to pay. Get the app and you will find out where you can find one and where there are spaces for you to drop off
- Notting Hill, Portobello Road and a three mile walk back to Cricklewood through Kensal Rise
- Soho, Covent Garden, Mayfair and Marylebone – must see places and if you have your walking shoes on, completely doable by foot. Our choice for lunch that day, whilst the rains were coming down was La Fromagerie – for some fine wines, cheeses, lunch and organic fresh fare, then pop it to have a look.
- A drink above Trafalgar Square at the Vista
- London Bridge, Borough Market, Tate Modern and London Eye which included a walk along South Bank on the Thames (there are all sorts to see along it, so check the website for the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall, British Film Institute)
- Hutong at the Shard for dinner – pretend you have a dinner reservation. Look sure of yourself, walk past security at the entrance, up the lift, say you have a booking if anyone asks but waiting for friends and go and have a drink at the bar!
The places we did not get to do which I quite regret are:
- Any of East London especially Shoreditch, Hoxton, Brick Lane for a curry
- Greenwich and surrounding areas
- Brixton and the food market
- St Pauls Cathedral
- The city of London and watching the madness of rush hour around Bank / Farringdon / Liverpool Street
- Drink or a dinner / lunch at Sky Garden and one of the three restaurants (but we did get to the Shard, so can’t complain too much on that one)
- Canary Wharf
- Cycling all along the Grand Canal
- A film at at British Film Institute on the South Bank
It was great to see London again; just a shame there wasn’t more time. There is oh-so much to do and see and we didn’t manage to cover it all but boy, did we cover some ground by foot, tube and bike and perhaps the odd taxi…