London must be the coolest city in the world (after Sydney of course)! Perhaps that’s the reason why we have visit this city a zillion times. But it never get’s boring.
From Brussels it is very easy to get in London, just take the Eurostar (tickets are the cheapest if you book well ahead, which we never tend to do. This time we could however score a cheap first class ticket – cheaper than a second class ticket! If you are looking for a good place to stay, we would definitely recommend Citizen M Bankside! Just check out their website, and you’ll know why we fancy this hotel!
Good places to eat: Mildred’s (the best vegetarian restaurant in London, always packed, they don’t take reservations), Vapiano (Italian chain with restaurants all over the world, but very good price – quality). And if you want to have a real Fish & Chips experience: Poppies is a must-eat.
First stop after we came from the Eurostar: Primrose Hill. It is a big park, and if you climb the hill on a bright day you have a magnificent view over London! It connects with the London Zoo (sorry, no zoo fans, you’ll have to find out yourself) and Regent’s Park (also close to Abbey Road). We absolutely love the parks in London, Berlin must be the greenest city we’ve visited, and Sydney the most natural feeling, but London scores good as well when it comes to having green, open zones to relax. Already some kilometers in the legs, but it wasn’t all for the day!
We had made a reservation to join a free (pay as you want) street art tour in East London. We have done this walk before, but since it is all about street art, you could do this walk litteraly every time you visit London without seeing the same things again (they also have different guide’s) Street art is ‚living’ art. It changes every day, and only the best pieces stay for years. If you have the chance and the luck to talk to an artist doing his thing, just go for it! We had a nice chat whit a Portugees guy who painted portraits of important revolutionaries of his country.
East London is not only about street art, that is just one aspect of the alternative scene. Old Spitafield Markets, Brick Lane (vintage shops, bagels, Indian after Indian restaurants), the atmosphere, … It is absolutely well worth a visit! (easiest tube stop: Liverpool Station). In the late afternoon we climbed all the way up on The Monument . We ended our first day at the Shard, the highest building of Europe. An amazing feeling to be at a dizzling height, with magnificent views over London city, the suburbs and far behind!
The next day, we discovered the Barbican centre. This is a cultural centre, but is is also a building with a unique architecture. It felt very 50’s, every door we opened took us back in time. Not sure if this was allowed, but nobody stopped us 🙂 (more info). After this rather strange place, we had – again – made a booking to visit the Sensational Butterfly exhibition (temporarily) at the Natural History Museum . Sensational hot: yes, sensational butterflies: yes! The Museum showed tropical butterflies in all sorts and colours. There was even a box where you could see how butterflies come to our world, the wauws (amazing!) and iews (there drips something!) led us very easily to the box 🙂 at the end of the path, there was even a mirror. These butterflies wouldn’t survive in our cold temperatures, but they did fancy your bag or T-shirt …
From the Museum it is only a five-minute walk to Hyde Park. Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park are big, but Hyde Park is huge! You could easily spend a whole day there! Walking or the tube … Other means of transport in London are not done. The weather was beautiful, so we walked all the way to Notting Hill (first time here) and the Portobello Street Market. This is another fine neighbourhood, slightly less alternative and more touristic than East London, but even so, still worth a visit.
From the Portobello Markets we went by tube to the Tower of London, where there is a unique remembrance of WOI with porcelain poppies all around The Tower. Since our hotel was just at the back of Tate Modern, we decided to go there in the evening (on Fridays open till 10 PM). Even if you only visit the free exhibitions, you can spend a few hours here! Millennium Bridge (only for pedestrians and cyclists) and St-Paul’s Cathedral are also beautiful at night (you can also watch them from the balcony’s in Tate Modern)!
We started our last day with a breakfast at the Borough Markets, a huge market place where you can eat about anything, all day long, at cheap prices. The Emirates Cable Line at the O2-Arena was the closure of our three-day trip. It takes you up to 90m above the ground, over the Thames from the Arena to the Docklands. And again, beautiful views from another perspective of London!
Our tips for a trip to London:
- Sleep at the Citizen M bankside
- Take a breakfast at the Borough Markets
- Check the internet for temporarily exhibitions (Time-out London)
- Never scared of height, and loving great views: go up on the Shard or cross the river in the Emirates Air Line (also see The Monument)
- Book a alternative street art Tour in East London
- End the day with a great vegie meal at the Mildreds, or cross over at the Citizen M to the Vapiano
- See the evening lights on the Millenium Bridge (2min walk from the Citizen M)
- London’s secret sights
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