When you think of London, several things may pop up into your mind: red telephone booths, royal weddings (and royal babies!!), fish n’ chips and Ed Sheeran, of course. It’s quite overwhelming to decide your agenda when there’s millions of things you could do in this bustling city. Here are just several quick highlights I experienced from my time in London.
Food & Drink
I’ll be honest. The UK isn’t exactly known for its scrumptious cuisine like its neighbors with croissants and pizza. However, I do remember one restaurant that I enjoyed called Eat. This shop boasts ready-made salads, soups, sandwiches and other goodies. It’s set up like a grocery store; go to the refrigerator, pick up what you want and check out. I chose a grilled chicken salad, a fruit smoothie and a chocolate covered rice cake. It was yummy, quick and filled me up. Another similar stop is Pret A Manger.
In Europe, you may also see some familiar signs like Starbucks and may steer clear since it’s American. However, menus can vary abroad so step inside and see if there’s anything new that you can’t try at home. After some serious jet lag and fatigue, I decided I needed some caffeine and went to a Starbucks. I used my Starbucks app to pay (remember that!) and ordered a Caramel Macchiato. It could just be me, but I think the UK’s espresso shots were stronger than in the US.
You’ve read about it in your history textbook years ago so you might as well stop by Trafalgar Square. When I was there, I saw a huge blue rooster statue. After reading about it on CBS News, I found that this structure is called “Hahn/Cock.” Read more here. Although I did not go in, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are good spots for pictures and some places to hit up due to their landmark statuses.
On your way to St. Paul’s Cathedral, take a moment to admire the bridge you’re walking on (London Millennium Footbridge). And take a look from the bridge at the impressive skyline. London boasts some extremely tall and modern skyscrapers. Check out this interactive cityscape with quick facts about several of London’s skyscrapers near St. Paul’s.
One of my favorite memories from my time in London was riding the London Eye, a huge ferris wheel that overlooks the Thames River and other city sights. When you think of ferris wheel, you might think of some dinky contraption. However, this attraction is quite large. Ten people can easily fit in a room. The London Eye gives you amazing views of the city, and I would definitely recommend it.
I would also suggest stopping by Windsor Castle even though it’s not technically in London. The buildings as well as the scenery are gorgeous. And if you’re American, castles aren’t things you can exactly see in your hometown (or even country)!
Seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is worth your time, too. But make sure you’re there at the right time because it doesn’t happen every hour of the day.
While I didn’t see any elephants or tightropes, Piccadilly Circus is a nice, central spot to hit up lots of shops, but beware: dollar signs, dollar signs. You may also want to hit up the renowned Topshop while across the pond.
London claims a colorful culture that makes it exciting to visit. Don’t worry–it’s more than red double decker buses and One Direction.