The time has finally come to discover the metropolis of London. I finally say why I think it is one of those cities that should be seen at least once in a lifetime.
In 2009 I was in London for the first time on my high school graduation trip. It was my first self-organized tour and you can say it was the first step towards my passion. This year, after 10 years, I decided to come back and see how much had changed or not changed.
I took advantage of an excellent offer of Easyjet from Venezia-Gatwick for 80€ round trip. The plus of Easyjet is that you can still carry luggage in the cabin with the essentials for a few days, unlike Ryanair which only allows you to do it by paying the priority fee separately. I suggest you to take this into account when comparing prices.
I chose OYO Abbey Hotel for this adventure, near Shepherd’s Bush station. If this is your first trip to London I recommend you: only hotels with at least 3 stars, the 2 stars would put a lot of strain on you.
I also remind you that with a metro stop nearby you can be anywhere at any time. In this case Shepherd’s Bush station is on the red line which allows you to get to Piccadilly Circus comfortably and is an overground station which allows you to get from Gatwick via Clapham Junction station.
The tube is London’s transport for excellence and the Oyster Card is the contact-less card used in public transport to pay for tickets. You can buy several 1-3-7 day passes for zones 1 and 2. I chose the weekly season ticket (remaining 5 days) at 30.40 GBP (about 36€).
Gatwick and Stansted airports are about 45 minutes from the centre of London and I recommend that you buy overground tickets (regular trains) with the Oyster Card. This way instead of 19.90 GBP (about €23) you will pay 8.5 GBP (about 10€).
What to see
Buckingham Palace and the 11:30 guard change. Better get there a little earlier and wait on the fence in front of the palace. I advise you not to stand in front of the gate or you will be moved;
Westminster Palace, Big Ben and in the background the London Eye;
Trafalgar Square in honour of the Battle of Trafalgar and the statue of Admiral Nelson;
Tower Bridge is a symbol of London with its structure and recognisable colours.
London Museums with free admission and more interesting
Science Museum allows you to see a vast exhibition of inventions and discoveries. It is interesting for the science laboratories aimed at children and the various interactive games scattered around the museum;
Natural History Museum you can see the large skeletons of a blue whale and a stegosaurus;
London to walk around
Candem Market: very allegorical neighbourhood with elaborate and colourful buildings. It seems like a place where you can go too far and where you don’t pay attention to appearances. I recommend a tour of the market area where you will find all kinds of items for sale and food to try;
Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market: on Saturday you can find the market in Portobello and you can find yourself on the set of the famous movie Notting Hill. You can take a picture in front of the blue door but you can no longer recognize the travel bookshop where William worked because it is now a gift shop;
Hyde Park and Peter Pan. A walk in Hyde Park should perhaps be taken on a sunny day. It is the green lung of the city and you can walk relaxing as a real Londoner. And if you wander around, you may come across the statue dedicated to Peter Pan.
King’s Cross station. For Harry Potter lovers, inside the station, you’ll find the famous track 9 and ¾ and where you can have your photo taken at the beginning of your journey to Hogwarts.
What to eat
In London you will find all kinds of pubs, cuisine, street food, but the important thing is to adapt to the different cultures present. So I thought I would give you some suggestions to taste the different metropolitan tastes:
London pubs: Join the Londoners who after a day of work meet at the pub to relax with pints of beer and chips and pork ribs, maybe watching a game of darts on TV;
Fish and chips: Fried fish is king and fried fish is the dish to try with all the sauces in the world;
Ethnic cuisine: Lebanese, Greek, Indian, Chinese or Korean. Try the different cuisines even if London no longer has a typical cuisine as you could say that the Indian one is now;
Street food: hamburgers and hot dogs! What’s else?
English breakfast: Can’t be breakfast without eggs, bacon and beans!
How did London seem to me?
Everyone I’ve spoken to has told me that London has changed a lot in the last 10 years. I saw it with the eyes of a young girl who had just graduated full of expectations and hopes from life, now I saw it with the eyes of an independent young adult. Maybe it’s not the cities that change, but what we’re looking for.
Anyway, during this trip I’ve always been comfortable walking through the streets (average 20,000 steps) and sitting in the clubs, especially thanks to the Christmas atmosphere that made the city charming. Call me Claire recommends you to visit it during this period.
I leave you with an activity that unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to do, I had found this map that shows the works of Banksy scattered around London. If you have the passion for this adventure I invite you to post photos of your treasure hunt below or leave me a comment in which you tell me about it.