LONDON CALLING

October 18, 2016
148 Views

BY VICKY MCFARLANE

Featuring some of the best art galleries across the globe, world-famous musicals and shows, an array of fabulous food, and stunning architecture that provides an insight into a rich history that goes back a couple of millennium; London truly is a holiday destination that has something for everyone.

Most pleasant in the summer months of June, July and August, when temperatures average a pleasant 19 to 23 degrees Celsius, London offers the perfect weather for getting out and about, which is a good thing because there really is so much to see and do! If you’re not too familiar with London then a great way to begin your trip is to get your bearings – and one way to do this is to go for a spin on the London Eye. Although a typical tourist attraction, a flight on the 135-meter tall Eye will reward you with stunning 360-degree views over London. A ‘flight’ in the giant, glass-capsuled ferris wheel takes approximately 30 minutes and is well worth it, however as the Eye has 3.5 million visitors annually, it’s better to buy your tickets online, or pay an extra £10 to fast-track it.

If you prefer to escape the crowds, and the heights, a relaxing cruise on the Thames might be more your style, and is also be a wonderful way to get a different perspective of this beautiful city while taking in a number of major attractions.  A less ‘touristy’ option that still allows you to gain a bigger picture of the city is to cross the Thames in a cable car. As well as offering a grand view of the city, you won’t need to stand in a queue, and a 20-minute round trip will only cost you a few pounds!

For cultural lovers, London does not disappoint. The British Museum, the country’s largest museum and the city’s most visited attraction, is one of the oldest and finest in the world. Spend a few hours wandering its vast Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman, European and Middle Eastern galleries, and then take a stroll over the famed ‘Millenium Bridge’ to the Tate Modern Art Gallery, an architecturally brilliant building on the Thames South Bank. As well as unique exhibits and live events, the Tate invites a prominent artist every year to transform its cavernous turbine hall. If you do visit the Tate, be sure to check out the Albion Neo Bankside for lunch, a great spot located just behind the museum that is wrapped around the base of one of the Richard Rogers designed Neo Bankside pavilions – the entire surrounding neighborhood is actually a foodie haven, with the borough food markets only a stroll away.

Directly across the river from the Tate is St Paul’s Cathedral. Featuring the world’s second-largest church famed for dodging Luftwaffe bombs in the ‘Second Great Fire of London’ of December 1940, the landmark has become an icon of London resilience.  Walk the 257 steps up a staircase called the Whispering Gallery and get rewarded with unforgettable views of London while a visit to the neighboring Tower of London will take you back in time to a gruesome, albeit fascinating, history –  as well as being home to the spectacular Crown Jewels.

London really is packed full of architectural and cultural treasures -Buckingham Palace, the Piccadilly Circus, the Marble Arch, Big Ben, Kensington Gardens – there are just too many to list. However, if you are a seasoned London visitor, and are looking for a more unique experience than a (still fun) red double decker bus tour, there are a myriad of more uncommon things to do.  One experience a little different from the rest is a visit to Dennis Severs house, a real ‘still life drama’ that transports guests to the eighteenth century or, for something a little more upbeat, take the family to see a classic Punch & Judy puppet show performed on a canal boat moored up in Little Venice. For a slightly more contemporary form of entertainment The ‘Rooftop Film Club’ or the ‘Luna’ presents regular movie screenings under the stars.

When it comes to shopping London can not be beat. For high street names on Oxford Street to high-end brands on Bond Street, to the independent boutiques around Carnaby – or for those who want it all – Selfridges!

Portobello Road also offers an extensive mix of street food, fruit and veg, antiques, curios, collectibles, vibrant fashion and knick-knacks. Be sure to stop by on a Saturday, when antique dealers set up shop and the fashion market is in full swing. If you are looking for vintage fashions, vinyl and anything stylishly retro, head to Stoke Newington on Saturday or Sunday where stalls are set up in the playground of a school.

Gastronomical delights are also aplenty. Try La Caprice, a sleek art deco brasserie just behind the Ritz if you want to be seen with the ‘it’ crowd or J. Sheekey, a fish restaurant with leather banquettes, paneled walls and an impressive art collection for an after show treat in London’s theaterland. Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Union Street Café’ is the epitome of industrial chic with a menu of classic antipasti, pasta, meats and more unusual Italian dishes. However, if you are looking for five star food without the Michelin star price tag, visit the Vincent Rooms near Victoria, an elegant restaurant staffed entirely by students from Westminster Kingsway College, where you will find great Modern European dining at trainee rates.

Alternatively a sure fire way to please the kids and grown-ups is a stop at the Cereal Killer Café. The Café, the UK’s first specialty cereal café, recently opened in Brick Lane and offers over 120 different cereals from around the world against a backdrop of 80s and 90s memorabilia. Top Dog is another new entrant into London’s foodie landscape. The hotdog joint just opened in Soho and showcases a new breed of ‘cleaner fast food’ offering a choice of meat, buns and premium organic meat.

Whatever your idea of good fare or fun, one thing’s for sure – London is a jolly good summer destination.

londoncalling9

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