When Friends Ask – London

In this post, I introduce two sections to help you run around this city and make the most of it! The first shows you things you the things you must do as a traveler here and the second is a list of my own little discoveries I’ve made over the time I’ve been here.

At this point of time when more and more of my friends are travelling abroad, one of the big destinations is through Europe so in doing so, and knowing I’m living in this big bad city, they ask me about where’s the go-to, what’s the must sees and where are the must go’s. So here’s what I think from first glance, from my first few months of living in this beautiful city, the city of London.

Section 1 – To travel

Everyone travels differently depending on a whole number of factors. Here, I give you a quick rundown, with each category, I give you about 2-3 days worth of things to do. So, without further ado, what kind of traveler are you?

Cultural Seeker – I want to know what it is like to be a Londoner, their daily lives, patterns and things they live by.

  • PRET – What? you’ll know what I mean when you get here. Pret is the most famous of the many “sandwich shops” that keep the cities population moving for another day. They’re a chain that you can find around almost every corner because a part of the London lifestyle is to grab a sandwich (and maybe a meal deal) during lunch or on your way home. Don’t *Pret though, the sandwiches are actually really good, super fresh and well priced so what’s not to love?
  • Markets – I know there are some pretty great markets around the world and you can probably find them greater, larger or more extravagant than those found here. However, I’m talking about literally many dozens of markets littered all around London and in every corner and crevice. During lunchtimes, these markets provide a good break from the daily sandwich and over the weekends they are beaming with local shoppers, artists, creatives and foodies! Some of my favorites include the Brick Lane Markets, Camden markets, Borough Markets and the Colombia Road Flower Markets.
  • Parks – If you’re here in the summer, you’re going to loooove this (check out my re-blog of the London summer https://jayysnotes.blog/2019/07/18/london-summer/), but if you’re not, they’re still worth a visit. Parks here are seasonal, so be ready to see all the beautiful changing colors of all the seasons, the bright oranges of Autumn, the colorful yellows, pinks, blues and purples of Spring, the bright greens of summer and of-course, the brown brushes of winter…but not only will you find the parks incredibly gorgeous and well maintained here, you will find them absolutely empty one cold day and intensely crawling with people from all walks of life in the next sunny day! It’s really quite a sight. Check out some of my favorites, Regents Park, Primrose Hill, Greenwich Park and of-course Hyde Park; and if you have time and want to see wild roaming deer, check out the enormous Richmond Parklands.
  • Beer – I can’t not mention this as it is probably the most English thing I know. Pubs are found literally around every corner of this city. The English see pubs as such: Cold Day – Let’s go to the local pub with our buddies and sit inside where it’s warm, packed like sardines, loud and smells. Sunny Day – Let’s go to the local pub with our buddies and all stand outside creating noise while having a pint to soak in as much sun as we can before the coming 9 month winter. Let me say again how prominent the street drinking is here, so much so we have men’s urinals (the ones we see at carnivals) on the corner of public roads!
  • Free Museums – London is super great for travelers because there’s actually a lot of free stuff to do! (strictly travelers, living here burns holes through your wallet!). One of the best free things are museums and galleries, many of which top of world in terms of ranking. You can find many of the popular ones around South Kensington station and others spread out across the city. Some of my favorites so far are The Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Tate Modern and the British Museum.
  • Live Music and Theaters – Other than having beers 5 times a week, theatrics is something that locals here love to go and see. There are an absolute limitless number of shows that are happening every single day to pique any of your interests! The more popular and world renown ones include the plays at Shake-sphere’s Globe, Phantom of the Opera and of-course Harry Potter’s Play.
  • Special mention to the Regents Canal – Definitely one of my favorites walks on a sunny day, don’t miss out on the canal walk around Kings Cross and the up towards Little Venice and Paddington!

Party Seeker – I want to know how to have a good time in this city, I want to stay up and party all night!

  • SOHO – This is a prominent and central area for a night out. I’ll be honest, I’ve not had a big night out in the area but from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s wild and odd!
  • Shoreditch – Shorditch is a hippie, youthful, artsie and super energetic area especially at night. Walk the main streets, take lots of turns and corners and even explore it’s outskirts for something different, jazzy, fun and exciting. At night the whole area is buzzing, there’s no specific place I’d go check out because there’s always something cool around the corner. I did here something about a place called the Dinerama which is great for food and bars, something for me to check out too!
  • Specific Bars – There’s a lot to mention here. Like seriously a lot and it really depends on what you’re after. This city has a bar for and to suit everyone and anything. I’ve been to super cool themed medieval bars to modern futuristic ones. Bars with huge putt putt courses, bowling alleys and karaoke’s in them, I’ve seen pubs where people play board and e-sports…there’s just everything here…maybe ask me to join?
  • Specific Clubs – Again, there’s a lot to mention and sometimes it depends on the night and the artist who’s playing. Special mention to the Ministry of Sound, Fabric and XOYO along with Printworks but once again, you need to think about what music you like and what you’d like to see.

Section 2 – Discoveries

  • Bogan bingo – All Aussies who visit the city must go on a night out of Bogan Bingo! great fun and laugh for everyone and a good reminder of what we Aussies look like to others!
  • TK MAXX – This is a really great place to shop for good quality branded clothing at super great prices. There’s a few of these stores littered around London, mostly in the outer Zone 2, definitely a great place to find a bargain, pretty much always 80% off the retail price of branded shoes, clothing and everything else.
  • Thai Food – Spicy Basil is really great for authentic Thai food that I’ve yet to see replicated anywhere else in London
  • Indian Food – Vijay is something unexpected when you first walk in, it’s warm and welcoming glow pulls you in and the amazing food keeps you there!

I’ll leave it at that for now as those are the two main types of travelers coming into London itself. I guess I could of added some landmarks as well but i’m sure google has you covered there! e.g. don’t forget to check out the Tower of London! (of-course you wouldn’t forget).

Thanks for reading my friends. Happy travels! ❤

Feature image – View from the 58th floor of the currently in construction 22 Bishopsgate, London, United Kingdom taken on the 3rd May 2019

Author: Jason Li

Jason Li (born 17th October 1992) grew up in the big bad city of Sydney. After all these years, he’s still growing up; or at least trying to. Sometimes he writes. Sometimes he gets lucky and writes something good. Most of the time, however, he has no idea where life is taking him, living life just one single day at a time.

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