If you do anything on a visit to London, it must be to visit one of its markets. You’ll not only likely to pick up a bargain, but they offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere. The choice of market extends to everyone’s taste: Borough market for food, Portobello market for antiques, Camden Market for clothes, Columbia Market for flowers, Covent Garden for tourism, Brick Lane for almost anything or one of the small back streets’ local or farmer’s markets for fruit and vegetables. Even without buying anything, their lure is enough to capture a true feeling of London.
What do you like best about your city?
Anyone arriving in London will notice its cultural diversity. I love the fact that you can walk around in most areas of London and step into neighbourhoods dominated by different nationalities living side by side giving an insight into the differing cultures by way of food, shops and bars.
Unless you like old London and want to take a guided walk in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper or wander hours in pubs walking through Literary London, your best bet is to head to the South Bank where you can stroll along the Thames and pass by, or stop off, at some of London’s famous landmarks: Tate Modern, The Globe, the Eye, Barbican and the Houses of Parliament. Or, simply hang out and watch the many buskers and boats as you pass by. And if you’re too tired to walk back you can always get on a ferry.
Plenty to choose from: Brick Lane through to Chinatown, you can’t help stumbling across food from around the world. One of my favourites is Stockpot in Soho whose menu has changed little since the 1960’s. You can get anything from traditional British dinners to your ‘spag bog’ and all at a complete bargain price. It’s very small and you might have to wait but the feel of the tiny wooden tables with its old fashioned tablecloths will have you coming back to work your way through the menu.
Once the festival season kicks off in London you could be entertained, often for free, every weekend for weeks. The highlight of the summer is the Notting Hill Carnival which combines both music and a festival fever. The West London carnival attracts millions each year and the energy that bursts from the Caribbean dancers with elaborate costumes and reggae blasting out from sound systems in the streets offers the wildest of street parties.
Fabric in East London has a reputation for hosting nights with well known artists and not forgetting up and coming acts from breakbeat, electro and drum ‘n’ bass (Fridays) and house (Saturdays). Despite its popularity, the space inside is roomy and set in four rooms on different levels. The place to be to enjoy the bass pumping up from the speakers hidden in the floor and unlike most clubs, it stays open until the early mornings, leaving you enough time to rave the night away.
Best Day Trip Out of the City
For a true English experience head to Hampton Court Palace for the beauty of Henry VIII’s royal palace and gardens. A mere thirty minutes from Waterloo station, it’s a chance to capture the life of the Tudors through visiting kitchens, the Great Hall and some hidden secrets of ghost life. The highlight is the gardens with a grand maze to lose yourself in.
Something that not many tourists would know about
A cemetery is not something that a tourist might usually do, but the Victorian cemetery at Highbury is a unique English heritage site. Its atmospheric environment of tombstones, monuments and sculptures are surrounded by flora and fauna. Its most famous burial is Karl Marx but you can also visit the tombstones of well known arts, writers and prominent figures, English and European, from the last 200 years.