On Tuesday, I posted about ten things that had been recommended by someone else that I had done in London. On Wednesday, I posted about other things I recommended doing in London, but I couldn’t really fit that in one post- so here’s my second.
#11: Spot the pelicans in St. James’ Park
I couldn’t quite believe it when I heard that there were actual pelicans living in St. James’ Park, so I figured I should go and take a look for myself. And, guess what? There actually are pelicans there (see the above picture for proof). Kind-of-exotic wildlife at no cost- why would you not go and say hi? London is an incredibly hectic and somewhat stressful city but one thing it does have is some good parks. It’s surprising how calming it can be just to go and sit in the sun with a book (or fall asleep like I did one time in Hyde Park). It’s also surprising how easy it is to block out and/or lose the traffic noise.
#12: Try at spot the Queen at Buckingham Palace
You cannot be a tourist in London without going to Buck House. Chances are the Queen won’t be peering out the window but if the Royal Standard is flying then at least you know she’s home. If the Union Jack is flying then I’m afraid she’s out. Either way, it’s a beautiful building so worth going to see just for itself. It’s also next to St. James’ Park so if you can’t see the Queen at least you can see the pelicans.
#13: Travel through history at Hampton Court
Being a Tudor-history nut, I was pretty keen to visit Hampton Court. It used to belong to Cardinal Wolsey before being passed to Henry VIII, who still wanders its halls. I don’t mean it’s haunted, just that people dress up as Henry and his wives (not randomly- they are paid to do so) and put on a show for the visitors. You can also learn a bit about Georgian and Stuart history as well, as the palace passed through the ages. There’s also a maze in the back garden which you can get lost in, although, despite my non-existent sense of direction, I actually managed to find the centre.
#14: Find some more history at the Tower of London
Another palace, which is good for history buffs, is the Tower of London. I have to admit, I know very little about it and I have never been inside it but I have been there to see the display of poppies in honour of Remembrance Day, 100 years after the start of World War I. Unfortunately, the magnificent display is not there anymore but that doesn’t mean that it’s not still worth going and actually making it through the front-drawbridge is high on my London to-do list.
#15: Sample Mexican street food on the Southbank
Eating out in London doesn’t have to cost the earth. Case in point: Wahaca’s Mexican street food stand on the Southbank. There you can get some delicious tacos or a burrito for around £6.00. Okay, it’s not the cheapest Mexican food in the world but it’s a filling meal for less than a tenner in London and once you’ve finished up you can go for a wander along the Southbank, next to the River Thames, which is pretty good even on a cold and rainy day. Having said that, you should note that it took me a long time to eat here without covering myself in meat juice so keep an eye on your food.
#16: See the city from the London Eye
I know England has a rep for being cold, drizzly and grey but there are actually days when that doesn’t happen. You may actually catch some blue sky and glimpse of sun. If that should happen, then you can make the most of it by taking a ride on the London Eye and see the city from above. There are a lot of distinctive buildings on the London skyline: Westminster, the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater, the Walkie Talkie, the Shard- yes, I am naming actual buildings. When you’re back on the ground, there are plenty more distinctive and beautiful buildings for you to seek out.
#17: Sip a cocktail under the train tracks at Waterloo
I have to admit- I do love a good cocktail. Particularly when they are served in a nice setting. Admittedly, it’s not the cheapest place but I do like the Archduke near Waterloo station. Located under the train tracks, it also serves food and often has live jazz music, in a quirky setting. You do have to treat yourself every now again and I can honestly say that those drinks are tasty.
#18: Hunt down some street art
Since I got back from Berlin after the summer of 2013, I have developed a slight obsession with street art. There’s nothing more satisfying that walking around the corner and stumbling across something beautiful and impressive. I’ve been dying to go to Shoreditch and wander the streets for ages but have not yet had the chance. Luckily, I have managed to uncover some on the Southbank and in East Dulwich instead.
#19: Dance to Guilty Pleasures at Koko
The one thing I had been missing in London, since I moved back home from my university town of Nottingham, was a cheesy club night. Sure, I’ve found them in abundance in my usual home clubbing haunt of Maidstone but if I’m going to move to London then I needed to find one there- everywhere else I’d been was slightly too cool for me. If London was going to be home, then there had to be cheese. Thankfully, I found it a few weeks ago. Once a month, Koko, near Mornington Crescent, hosts a night called Guilty Pleasures, where there are people dressed up and performing and, most importantly, the kind of pop tunes everyone knows. The ones where you can bust some embarrassing moves and sing your heart out. Koko itself is also a pretty cool venue, set in an old theatre (or at least designed to look that way). Now that I’ve found that, I can happily move to London.
#20: Dine, drink and dance at The Paradise
Although Koko may have been my first properly cheesy London club night, it wasn’t my first properly good night out in London- that was at The Paradise at Kensal Green. After going for a drink, or two, with a friend, I discovered there was a club room upstairs, that’s open Friday and Saturday, where we danced the night away. Then, if that’s not enough, there is also a restaurant. I haven’t been there straight after a club-night but their lovely Sunday roast has helped me recover when I was feeling slightly worse-for-wear. It’s pretty darn good.