07 September 2010

London according to talljoanne

Prompted by Mr T and Ms C.  Here we go:

Walking, eating and doing
  • Borough Market (Thursdays through Saturdays) - Try Monmouth coffee there and you might even have Steven Lim (David in Growing Up series) as your barrista!
  • Camden market - for grunge, tattoos and crazy hair. Oh, and the Aldo outlet.
  • Shoreditch / Old Street - Indie in the very hip east end. Combine with Brick Lane on a Sunday. At Brick Lane, go have a beef baigel at the oldest Jewish bakery. You can also go to Song Que at the edge of Hackney for good Vietnamese pho then walk into the Shoreditch area.  (BTW, the no. 1 pho place - courtesy of Ms  L - is in Canada Water, too much of a trek for tourists.)
  • Of course there's also Portobello market but I find it too institutionalised now.
  • Covent Garden - Be sure to explore not just the main street (Long Acre) and the market area, but also the Seven Dial part for cool indie stores (walk down Neal's Street) . Not everything is affordable (esp now that summer sale is over), but it's what makes London London. 
  • Get away from the cookie-cutter madness called Oxford Street and wander into Marylebone High Street and old Marylebone Lane for fancy indie stores.  Wallace Collection (in the area) is a gorgeous place to get away for some culture and lunch under skylight.  Alternatively, La Fromagerie and Providores.
  • Saville Row - To reignite materialistic desires.  Look at the flagship stores, take a polaroid photo with the hunks at Abercrombie & Fitch.  Go into Burlington Arcade.
  • Soho - A walk is in order.  Get a bite at Princi (I like the savouries) or Flat White (uber rich scrambled eggs and coffee) or Hummingbird Bakery (cupcakes).  I like Berwick Street.
  • Afternoon tea - Bea's of Bloomsbury.  Fun and local.  I like their cupcakes best, and I'm not even a cupcake person.  Must reserve in advance.
  • Theatre tickets: Leicester Square.  TKTS seems to offer the best price for the more expensive seats.  If you don't care about sitting in the circles, try any of the dozen half-price shops nearby whose queues are usually shorter.  War Horse is outstanding and seems to be a London-only performance.  The open-air Shakespeare Globe is a very nice alternative to West End, but it's more of a summer thing: you'd probably be frozen in winter.
  • Pre-theatre dinners: Quo Vadis for the crispy pork thing and O Sheeky Oyster Bar for oysters and nibbles. 
  • Museums: Free entry.  Yes, free entry (save for special exhibitions).  So no need to be greedy.  Just choose a section, spend 2 hours, have a coffee and off you go.  British Museum and Tate Modern are my favourite.  If you go to Tate Modern, get out at St Paul's tube and walk over the Millenium Bridge to arrive in style.  

  • Best thing about London as a city.  Hampstead Heath is by far my favourite (Richmond Park comes a close second), but it is slightly far out for tourists.  On the other side of Hampstead is Highgate Cemetery where you can see Marx's grave.
  • I haven't been to Kew Gardens yet, but it's supposed to be nice.  
  • At the very least, sit in one of the many city gardens or squares and talk about the weather with the chappie beside you.

Tours, guidebooks, addresses
  • Sandesman free walking tour - works on a tips basis
  • Timeout and Londonist for addresses and latest updates.  I prefer Londonist, but Timeout is handy as a directory.
  • Superfuture guide (thanks cousin N!) - Haven't seen it but looks promising
  • Luxe guide - Enough said. 

Day trips
  • Greenwich - go by the public ferry from Westminster. You can use your oyster. There seems to be tourist ferries too but they would be more expensive. Ask, it should only cost around £5 or £6.
  • Bath - by train. www.thetrainline.com is a good train site. If you can, stay overnight and do a day tour of the Cotswolds for a taste of posh English countryside.

I've deliberately left out hyperlinks.  Google is king.  Just type the keywords.

[Version Sep 2010]

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