London is the place for me. Visitors get a taste of European flavour, the comforts of the western world, and a whole lot of art and history. There is always something to see and do in London, perfect for a lone ranger like myself who stayed with a workaholic friend. Besides the accents and yorkshire pudding, here are a few of my London favourites:
London Sights & Activities:
- A walk along the South Bank of River Thames from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge is a manageable jaunt with views of all the famous London landmarks.
- Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace brings together all things stereotypically London: palace guards with tall fuzzy hats, police on horses and crowds, all at a truly royal location. Walk through St. James Park to see swans on your way to the palace.
- The museum options are endless, and most are free! My favourites are Tate Modern (modern art - mostly hanging art), Victoria & Albert (art & design - more sculptures, artifacts, etc.) and National Portrait Gallery (a lot of photography and some modern art).
London Eats & Drinks:
- Borough Market is a well-known outdoor food market. Some vendors sell food for your week, and others sell food for you to eat at the market. Before braving the crowds, get a drink from Monmouth. Every drop is worth the wait. I'm still craving a Monmouth cappuccino...
- Gordon's Wine Bar is London's oldest and most intriguing wine bar. Part of the bar is a shallow, candlelit cave (used to be cellars) in the river bank. The tables vibrate every time a train rushes through the station below.
- Afternoon tea is quite the experience at The Wolseley. Previously a prestigious car showroom in London's West End, The Wolseley is now a cafe-restaurant in the ritziest part of town. Three tiers of tea sandwiches and sweets accompany a pot of tea in a fancy, historical establishment you'd never be able to find in Edmonton.
- Selfridges & Co. is one of London's oldest department stores. Opened by an American who revolutionized the way we shop (they first introduced elaborate window displays and catered to shoppers who were "just looking"), the store is still surpassing expectations on Oxford Street over 100 years later. My recent visit could be the reason why I fell into a Netflix blackhole watching the first season of Mr. Selfridge in two days...
- For unique London shopping, I followed the recommendations from a book I found at Anthropologie. Independent London summarizes notable locally owned shops and maps them out in a handy book that fits in your handbag. Shop owners were pleased to hear a Canadian found them via the book, and I was happy to see all the unique offerings that can't be found in giant department stores.
If you're planning a trip to London any time soon, email me! I'd love to share more recommendations.
Special love note about London in December: London is the best at Christmas time. Lights are strung between buildings on major streets, wreaths and trees decorate the city, and German Christmas markets occupy parks and river banks. Mulled wine is served everywhere - coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, and the outdoor markets. The air is a little crisp, but still above 0 degrees C so you can wear your favourite layered Fall outfits.