"When a man is tired of London, he's tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford" - Dr. Samuel Johnson

London 101

Mini Coopers. Those double decker red buses are faster than you think. A few Vespa's with Italian flag stickers on them. Quiet a few Ferraris. Few Lamborghinis - mostly with arab number plates. More Mini Coopers. Some small cars they call Smart cars. Bicycles. Very neat and very curvy roads. 200 year old homes. Everything is named Victoria, Elizabeth or Queen. Near perfect tube. Big coffee cups. 500 pound suits. Pin stripe suit and blue shirt and gray suit and pink shirt and orange news papers. Residential areas are so deserted - where have all the people gone? Great public parks. Lots of bridges over river Thames. Free museums. Did I already say Mini Coopers? City dotted with cathedrals. Many palaces. Bland food. Large breakfasts. 1 pound = 2 dollars. Cobbled streets.

London 102

Aluminium TV antennas on roofs. Pigeons. Lots of newspapers - reused, not recycled. People flowing out of pubs onto the streets. Tube art, ads and registered artists. Beer. Street artists in city squares. Carry cash - credit cards aren't accepted everywhere. Red telephone boxes. Red post boxes. Red double decker buses. City, cabbies and knowledge. Golden Lion and white horse. Papadams and mango chutney in Indian restaurants. Mind the gap. Cheers mate (maa-ite).

30 Things To Do in London

  1. Ismaili Center has some great pieces of Islamic art collected from all over the world. It's on display in London before it is moved to a permanent museum in Toronto
  2. The Photographers Gallery at Leceister Square exhibits some cool contemporary work
  3. Museum of Natural History - great place for kids, you can enjoy the building
  4. Victoria and Albert Museum - don't miss Raphael's Cartoons gallery and Morris, Gamble and Poynter rooms in the cafetaria
  5. Tate Modern - pretty neat stuff. A couple of rooms have a few Picassos and Matisses. Open till late on Fri and Sat
  6. National Portrait Gallery - great history snippets along with the portraits. The Portrait Cafe on the top floor offers an awesome view of the cityscape. Reservations may be necessary to get a seat by the large windows. Open till late on Thu and Fri
  7. National Gallery is as good as you would want it to be. Do check out the museum store. Open till late on Wed
  8. The British Museum, home to Elgin marbles, Nereid monument, Rosetta stone and a lot more booty from the world. Open till late on Thu and Fri
  9. St Pauls Cathedral - for once pack your camera, and enjoy the silence and enormity of this place. The highest point of the church is 111m meters above the ground level!
  10. The Southwark Cathedral is the oldest gothic church in London. On Sundays at 6.30 pm, experience the service along with choir school and rituals
  11. Explore the Temple Church
  12. Hyde park in the center of the city is a refreshing place to escape the daily routine. When the weather is good, come here with a novel and park yourself in one of the lawns. Or sit along the Serpentine and gaze at people rowing their boats
  13. Albert Memorial in Albertopolis
  14. Tower of London. The Cullinan and Koh-i-noor - all stashed up here [GBP 16]
  15. thescoop is an open air theatre in More London area. Catch some nice plays (like modernized Helen of Troy) by young upcoming artists
  16. Shakespeares Globe Theatre, painstakingly made to the exact 15th century detail using authentic tools. You can see Love's Labour Lost (or Merchant of Venice) for 5 quids standing [GBP 5]
  17. The street shows in Leceister Square are cheesy (we know!) but entertaining never the less
  18. Walk along the Thames. Cross the river along the several bridges that slice Thames - Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars, Millennium, Southwark, London and Tower bridges. The ultra-modern pedestrian-only Millenium bridge (also called 'Wobbly') is a delight to walk - it's got St Pauls Cathedral on one end and Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe on the other
  19. Feel the grit in Brick Lane and call the bluff of the restaurants serving Indian and Bangladeshi cuisines
  20. The pubs! Fridays 4pm onwards
  21. Late night steaks. You eat dinner at 7pm in New York, not in London
  22. Stand at the midpoint of Tower Bridge and watch the Thames flow beneath you through the gap
  23. Hunt famous residences - 221B Baker St, 19-20 Kensington Gardens
  24. Fly the London Eye at twilight [GBP 13]
  25. Trace the Da Vinci trail - Westminster Abbey and Temple Church in London to Rosalyn Chapel in Edinburgh
  26. Aimless bus-hopping in red London double-deckers
  27. Walk in the flea market at Portobello Road on a Saturday
  28. A day out in Greenwich Maritime to stomp the prime meridian
  29. Get away to Bath, Oxford and even Edinburgh on 1-2 day trips
  30. And, of course, the ceremonial ones: Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Piccadily Circus, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, 10 Downing Street

Eat Your Heart Out

Some places where I enjoyed a meal or two ...

  1. Patara, Chelsea - Fine Thai
  2. Khans of Kensington, S Kensington - Indian
  3. Dinos, S Kensington - Italian
  4. Couscous, S Kensington - Moroccan
  5. El Gaucho, S Kensington - Argentinian
  6. Rez's Cucina, Strand - Italian
  7. Simply Lebanese, S Kensington - Lebanese
  8. Moti Mahal, S Kensington - Indian
  9. Big China, South Kensington - Chinese
  10. La Brasserie, Knightsbridge - French
  11. City Spice, Bricklane - Bangladeshi
  12. Cafe Daquise, S Kensington - Polish
  13. Bella Italia, S Kensington - Italian
  14. Beirut Express, S Kensington - Lebanese
  15. Al Dar, Edgware Road - Lebanese
  16. Lahore Kabab House, Commercial Road - Indian/ Pakistani
  17. Portrait Cafe, National Portrait Gallery - English
  18. Bertorelli, Leceister sq - Italian
  19. Angus Steak houses - Steak

And some cafes for breakfast ...

  1. Cafe Floris, S Kensington
  2. Cafe Milan, S Kensington
  3. Bonne Bouche, S Kensington - Italian
  4. Cafe Primo, S Kensington

Walking in London

London is phenomenal city for walking. There is so much history, culture and character around you at every corner. But while you are doing this, always carry some cash on you. A lot of cafes in London don't accept credit cards. Don't pull out your Lonely Planet or Frommer's when you get to a place. Read the travel guide book at home and enjoy the thrill of discovery on road. And you can always pick up leaflets of travel information and current activities in the city. They are available at your cafe, tube station and dry cleaners.

So what's on me when I am walking? My very comfortable CAT shoes. A pair of jeans and a light shirt. A backpack with an umbrella, a light sweater, sunglasses, Frommer's London Day by Day and a novel (William Darlymple's City of Djinns). iPod for music. Blackberry for google maps. Camera.


Tags: Europe

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