21 Things to See & Do in London - Part 2

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This is the 2nd and final installment of the series: Things to see & do in London. I could probably write a million parts to this series because it seems like choosing 21 things is just not enough for a city like London. I could go on and on and on, but this is not the purpose of this site. If you do go to London, one thing I'd recommend is to bring your best flats or trainers (tennis shoes) and do a lot of walking. This is how you really see the city. My favorite site is Walk London, they give you time frames, tube lines, maps, and sights for each of them. They're brilliant.

11) Buckingham Palace & Change of Guards

The Queen's residence, one of the most iconic buildings in the world. This is where the royal family appears on the balcony to wave at the cheering crowd during a big event. During set times you can watch the change of guards, which is also cool.

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Tip: if you go to the top floor restaurant in the London Hilton Park Lane, you can see the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

12) Westminster Abbey

This Abbey is still standing after over 1000 yrs of history. If those walls could talk, I bet they'd have a lot to say. My first trip to London coincided with the death of the Queen Mother and I was right there when they were heading to Westminster Abbey for her funeral, so I got to see the royals. It was an experience. You pay to go in Westminster Abbey, but right behind it, you can walk through the

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13) Camden Town

What can I say about Camden Town? I guess you just have to go and check it out. There is no place for prejudice in Camden Town. Enjoy.

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Tip: It's always packed, but it's way busier on the weekends.

14) St Katharine's Dock

St Katharine Dock used to be a thriving commercial port bringing cargoes from the West Indies, now, it's still a port, to luxury boats, the home to warehouse apartments and super cute shops, cafes and restaurants.  I love to walk around here.

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Tip: Stop by the Dicken's Inn to have a pizza, they think it's been around since the 1700's.

15) London Monument

Very few people actually know about it. It's where the great fire of London started in 1666, which burned the large part of the city.

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Tip: For about 3quid you can climb to the top and have a gorgeous view of London.

16) St Paul's Cathedral

Do you know where Princess Diana got married to Prince Charles? It wasn't at Westminster Abbey, it was here, at St Paul's. With its white top, you can spot it from many places you visit, it seems to be on every picture.

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17) Pubs

You can't go to London and not go to a pub. It's part of the culture and part of your tourist/expat experience. They're everywhere, some better than others, some are "gastro pubs" others just regular places to meet your friends and have a pint... or 2.

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Tip: On a hot summer day, instead of a pint, order pimm's. A Typical summer drink in England. I'll post the recipe here someday.

18) The South Bank

Follow the Thames along, pass the London Eye and you will be in a place where the famous London Christmas market takes place, they are always hosting events, be it in the winter or in the summer, you will find something to do there.

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Tip: In the actual centre, indoors there are lots of plays, classical music shows, and amazing presentations from all over the world.

19) Musicals & The West End

The West End is the Broadway of London. Most musicals are located there, in the evenings you can walk around, and enjoy the vibe. Make sure you get a ticket in advance, maybe with a concierge of a hotel, or a trusted source.

Just one of many amazing shows.

Tip: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is amazing and hilarious.

20) Chinatown

Chinatown is Chinatown, everywhere I've been to, it's a little box of surprises. I enjoy visiting them whenever I go to a big city. Plus, you can get some really great Chinese food, just stay away from tourist traps.

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Tip: Chinese NY is not the best day to visit chinatown. It gets very packed.

21) Harrods

Previously owned by Mohamed Al Fayed, Harrods is an incredible store with some of the most expensive items in London. They became famous by having the "nothing is impossible to deliver" attitude, if you have the money to pay for it, you can get it.

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Tip: Book an afternoon tea at Harrods.

Like I said previously, I could just feel this blog with things to do in London, but I won't.  21 things is enough. I hope you enjoy it.

21 Things to See & Do in London - Part 1

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When you first move somewhere it's all new, you go sightseeing, you get out of the house to see and visit as much as possible. After a while it all becomes very normal and you don't make as much of an effort. Life goes on as normal and you get into a routine. Sometimes where you're living doesn't have so much to do and see, sometimes you're far from everything, who knows. In London, for me it was always a "tourist day", I worked across from Big Ben and next door to the London Eye, I couldn't help looking at "The Ben" everyday, I never got used to that view. Now, London is so big, there is so much to do & see that this list will be split.

Here are the top  21 things to see & do in London:

1) Big Ben & Houses of Parliament

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Although they're separate things, they're 2 in 1, the buildings are connected. Did you know that the Big Ben is actually called Elizabeth Tower? Only UK residents are allowed to visit by contacting their MP (member of parliament). If you'd like to visit the Houses of Parliament, you can do that on Saturdays or when it's not in session.

Tip: You can start your day right here and you can walk to a lot of different sights from here.

2) Tower of London & Tower Bridge

The Tower of London was where all traitors used to be hung or have their heads cut off. This is also where the Crown jewels live. It's an amazing experience, the place is massive and there is so much history, remember Queen Anne Boleyn? She was beheaded here.

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Tip: Make it a day, the tower is big and there is so much to see. After, have a walk all the way the top of Tower bridge.

3) Parks (any)

For being such a big city, London is very green, it has parks everywhere. While visiting London, take a day to rest and eat a picnic at the park. A few of London's parks: Hyde park, Richmond, Green park, Battersea, St James park, Regent's park, Clapton common, Victoria park, and many, many others, everywhere. Who knows, you might see a deer or 2...

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Richmond Park

Tip: Bring a blanket or rent one of the park chairs, sit and relax. It's worth it.

4) Museums

The city of London is full of culture, you look around and it's there, you don't need to look very far. Museums are FREE!!!! And everyone should be visiting them. I went to the Science, National History, Victoria & Albert, British museums so many times, I've lost count, to name a few, there are many, many more.

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Tip: If you head to the Victoria & Albert museum, stop by the Royal Albert Hall, it's an amazing Opera house.

5) Convent Garden

I love Convent Garden, but on nice days only. Everyone is out, markets everywhere, street artists... It's really lovely.

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Tip: In this restaurant below, there are musicians, playing classical music, so relaxing.

6) The London Eye

It opened in 2000, first time I went was in 2001 and still owned by BA, but little did I know that I'd be going to it with every visitor I had in town... and as I worked at the Marriott next to it, I went many times over with clients. And it never got old...

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Tip: You can get hitched or have afternoon tea up in a capsule.

7) Greenwich

Not in London, but worth a trip, if you have time. I used to like taking the clipper (an unusual method of public transport, a speed boat) and go to Greenwich. You can stand right on the line that divides E and W, you have a gorgeous view from the top of the park and visit the national maritime museum.

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Tip: Enjoy the day in Greenwich. It's a village with loads of markets, cute restaurants...

8) The City

I love this area. It's buzzing all week-long and deserted on the weekends. It's the business district and I loved walking around there, it's my thing, I love the hustle bustle of it all.

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Tip: On weekends even restaurants close, don't plan on going there unless you want to see a ghost town.

9) Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street & Oxford Street

Piccadilly circus is a circle where Regent street meets Piccadilly. The famous Eros statue is always packed with people trying to get a photo, honestly, I don't think I ever got a photo with no one else in it. It's crazy packed. Oxford st & Regent's st are shopping central. All major stores are

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Tip: I advise heading to Oxford street as early as possible to beat the crowds.

10) Trafalgar Square & National Gallery

So, this guy Napoleon lost the battle of Trafalgar and the Brits celebrated it by creating Trafalgar sq. Nelson's column is guarded by 4 lions (which were cast from the melted ships from the battle above, talk about rubbing it in). The National Gallery is right there, over 2300 beautiful paintings from all over).

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Tip: Climbing up for a picture with the lions is harder than I thought, but worth it.

Stay tuned for the part 2!!!

8 Steps to Get a Job in the UK

Waterfall When you move to the UK (my experience was in London) you will start looking for jobs and if you aren't used to it, you will find out the "joys" of employment agencies. The most annoying and idiotic way to find jobs, although online applications are on the same level, if not worse.

When we got to London, we started looking for jobs straight away. We went to loads of interviews and I mean loads. The thing is, you interview with the employment agency, then with the actual place, it's just unnecessary work. I don't understand why companies can't do this job themselves.

The process in a nutshell:

  • You look for the jobs you want Everything is online.
  • Apply for the job (s) Apply for as many as you can.
  • The employment agency calls you for an interview Even if it's just at the emp. agency, dress appropriately
  • After that interview, they will schedule another with the actual company for another interview This is the one that counts, practice loads before
  • Dress appropriately for your industry Each industry is different, hotels are stuck up
  • Kick some ass
  • Write a thank you note Again, I guess this depends on the industry, but I don't really know what difference it makes, in my opinion, it just puts HR managers in a pedestal, and make them feel good about themselves, there, I said it!
  • Get the job!
  • If not, start all over... better luck next time!

In my case, I was interviewing mainly for hotels and event venues, as this is what I worked in my previous life. The one interview question that used to drive me crazy was: "Do you have London experience?" Well, if you don't give me a job how on Earth am I going to get "London experience"? It was insane.

Bad Interviews

I had 2 really bad ones, one was at the Chelsea Football Club, I was really excited, but it turned out that pollen count was at its highest and my eyes couldn't stay open and I wanted to sneeze the whole interview. Awful! Later the guy from the agency asked why I didn't cancel, but I thought it'd give me a black mark, so I didn't. Another one, I went to this hotel somewhere near King's Road and the manager started checking his text messages. I was so close to getting up and leaving. I thought it was the rudest thing ever. I never even wrote a thank you note.

Bringing Pets into the UK

When we moved to the UK back in 2007, we had a cat and since the move was very last minute, everything else feels like it was done in fast forward motion. All I can remember is a big blur of things, just getting loads of paperwork done, not only for us, but for our cat as well. At one point my husband had to travel down to Richmond (about 2hrs each way) to get some kind of official vet certificate (see below).cat In the UK they have this Pet Travel Scheme, which says that pets (dogs, cats or ferrets) coming into the UK (from any of these countries) must be quarantine, unless...

  1. They get microchipped (before being vaccinated)!!
  2. They get vaccinated for rabies (booster & blood tests) - after being microchipped!!
  3. Pet passport (or official vet certificate) must show (in the correct order):
  • your pet's date of birth
  • microchip #, date, where it is
  • vaccination date, name, batch #, valid until

Pet must travel within 5 days of you travelling.

4. Tapeworm treatment (for dogs)

Treatment must be done within 1-5 days of entry.dog1

If the steps above aren't met...

... Your pet will have to go into quarantine, and you will be responsible for all charges, including transport costs. dog2

All information is available on this UK government website. If you make sure your vet write down all information correctly, you and your pet will be just fine and quarantine won't be needed.

Explaining London Postcodes

postcodesAre you moving to London?

Do you know where you will be leaving? You better go back to 2nd grade and relearn your compass rose.

London postcodes always start with:

E/EC - East Central

W/WC - West Central

SE/SW

N/NW

 

London postcodes basically tell you almost exactly where you need to be and for the real Londoners (such as the one who lives in this household) you can tell what type of person they are depending on which postcode they live in. Of course this is only a theory nowadays with the amount of foreigners in the city.

It goes like this: E1/W1/NW1/N1/SE1/SW1/WC/EC are the utmost central postcodes.

The range goes from 1-(about) 28. Besides a few exceptions, the lower the numbers, the more central you are, the higher the numbers, the farthest out you are.

Once you get used to it, it's quite simple, because just by the first part of the postcode you know where you should be heading.

This is pretty much the 1st part of London postcodes explained.

What about those other 3 digits??

The second part of it shows the sector (number) and unit (letters) where the address is located. A number (1-0) is always first, then 2 letters, for a group of houses.

London is about 2 centuries old and it's still ever growing... it never stops! Due to its constant development postcodes are always changing or being split, so no one can give a set form, but there are lots of information out there with maps, and information.

Two super detailed sites with every postcode imaginable are: Doogal.co.uk and Londontown.

Have a look!