Dog’s Bollocks things to do in London

(Para ler este post em Português: Apanhadão Geral de Londres)

After having wandered around London for two and a half months I’ve prepared a summary of the things I liked fancied the most about the city and some general handy information. I skip places such as Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus, London Bridge, and etc cause I assume everyone’s tired knackered of hearing about them.

PLACES

Camden Town. It’s the alternative area – and my favorite favourite in town!! Punks, gothics, headbangers, posers, vintage people, a unique peculiar mixture of rock stylish characters. Go during the day to visit Camden Stables Market (Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AH) or in the evening to get a beer have a pint at its spirited bars pubs, you might want to listen to some blues (The Blues Kitchen, 111-113 Camden High St, London NW1 7JN), heavy metal (The World’s End, 174 Camden High St, London NW1 0NE), or whatever you fancy…


Brick Lane & Spitalfields Market. With plenty of great Indian restaurants, Brick Lane is the heart of Bangladesh community in London. On Sunday mornings it turns into a hip flea market where you can find everything from vintage clothes to furniture, besides stalls offering a wide variety of international cuisine. For ages donkey’s years this area also has been housing the Spitalfields Traders Market, established in 1638 for the commerce of ‘flesh, fowl and roots’. Nowadays it is a cool wicked market for fashion, handmade crafts and gifts. Shops are open 7 days a week and Sundays are the busiest days.


Greenwich.
 
It’s where the imaginary line from which we start counting the hours in the international clock passes by. When in Greenwich is midnight, in San Francisco is 4pm of the previous day (-8 GMT – Greenwich Mean Time), and in Auckland is 1pm of the next (+13 GMT). In my opinion this fact by its own is enough to visit the place but moreover you’ll find a beautiful park to chill and relax and enjoy a astonishing marvelous view of the city, the National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory, the Queen’s Baked Bean’s house, and the best pie & mash in town!

15 Hyde ParkHyde Park. It’s londoners cockneys most popular park and it gets especially crowded during summer time. With its vast fields it’s an excellent splendid place for sunbathing, a picnic or just sit around doing nothing doss. It has several kiosks, restaurant and a lake.

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16 Victoria canalVictoria Park. Less known than Hyde Park, it’s a little bit far away from the city center centre but in my humble opinion it’s more pleasant because of its canals full of little boats. One day I saw some guys chaps having a very jolly good time sailing over the canal getting drunk on the piss… dressed up like pirates!!!

FOOD

– Pie & Mashed Potatoes Mash: Yummy Scrummy and cheap: I spent £6,50 on a meal with a beer! Since 1890 Goddards has been serving the best pie & mash in town – 22 King William Walk, Greenwich, London SE10 9HU

– Hot Salt Beef Beigel: East London’s most famous take-out take-away snack nosh is a small soft bread filled with thick slices of beef and spicy mustard, served in a paper bag. Make sure to grab something to drink from an liquor store off-license shop before starting to eat, cause the bread will stick to your teeth. Beigel Bake em Brick Lane, 159 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB. The line queue is big but moves fast.

Fish & Fries Chips (Chippy): Cod or haddock, it’s a traditional English meal and you should shall try it. Unfortunately in some restaurants it lacks its freshness… At Poppies, close to Spitalfieds Market it’s authentically genuinely delicious. Try it with mashed peas. 6-8 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR.

British Breakfast: Give it a try! Suck it and see! Despite its gross appearance it is delicious scrumptious! Includes: beans, mushrooms, bacon, sausage, fried egg, tomato, bread and butter. Open your mind and add some milk to your tea. Easy to find, it’s served in most traditional pubs. The Half Moon Pub, 213-223 Mile End Rd, London E1 4AA.

MORE AWESOME DOG’S BOLLOCKS THINGS TO DO

Stonehenge. With more than 4000 years of existence, Stonehenge is a impressive stonking prehistoric monument of standing stones up to 5 meters metres high and almost 50 tons each, arranged in concentric circles. Declared a World’s Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, it is located in Wiltshire, about 2 hours drive from London. A classic tour takes a whole day and includes Windsor Castle and Georgian city of Bath, but for £24 you can catch an express bus coach in early afternoon and visit only this ancient site: Evan Evans Tour. Go overdressed…
21 Stonehenge b

The Comedy Store. Wanna LYAO? Go for a stand-up comedy at Piccadilly Circus! Since comedians use an informal language it’s also a great peachy way to enhance your slang skills. May I suggest you buy tickets online? The Comedy Store, around £17.

22 Quiz night Pub Quiz. I did it only once cause it was unbelievably hard!!!! To give you an idea of how tough it was, here are some examples:  ‘Name two pool snooker champions born in North Ireland‘ or ‘Who is the older one between soccer football player Sergio Ramos and singer Norah Jones?‘. From about 100 questions my roomate flatmate Kalle and I were able to answer (together) merely 4, among them: ‘What’s the name of the movie where the main character says that ‘life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” and ‘Which electronic device completed recently 40 years of existence?’ . The White Pub, 1 Mile End Rd, London E1 4TP


 Trunk Car Boot Sales. For those who fancy browsing various things bits ‘n bobs and cool natty stuff  (including vinyl albums) for a bargain this is the perfect ride for a weekend morning! My pick is at Stoke Newington, na Princess May School. (For further info see the post www26).

23 jacktheripper Central Criminal Court. Have you ever thought of watching a real trial at the Old Bailey, the most famous criminal court in the world? Sessions are open to the general public Mon-Fri from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm. No appointment is needed. Only for over 14 years. It is not allowed to enter with cameras, camcorders, phone, food, beverages, bags… (leave your stuff at home). Old Bailey, London EC4M 7EH.

Jack The Ripper Walking Tour. How about learning more about the intriguing history of Jack The Ripper, UK’s most cruel and famous serial killer, visiting crime scenes and getting inside of all sordid details? Walking tours are available in Whitechapel 7 days a week, starting at 7:30pm. The Jack the Ripper Tour. £9

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

 Public Transportation. It is expensive dear but works pretty good. The official Transport for London website is http://www.tfl.gov.uk/. You can plan your route using Google maps but don’t rely solely on the metro, always have a back up plan (buses) cause service interruptions are frequent (it happened to me… 🙄 ) and also it doesn’t run overnight…

Taxis and Mini-cabs. Use only black cabs or registered minicabs. A minicab looks like a regular car and the ride is cheaper, but never accept a ride from someone you didn’t call give a bell. Keep your eyes peeled and hire them from an authorized company.

24 Oyster card
Oyster card. If you don’t have a car, first wise thing to do when arriving in London is to get an Oyster card, valid for both underground and buses. You can easily buy it on your own tod from a self-service machine located at the entrance of all subway tube stations. Here are your options: the Oyster can be ‘pay as you go’ (you top it up according to your necessities) or ‘Unlimited’ for a determined Period x Zones – London is divided in Zones and transportation fares vary a lot quite a bit according to that (for further info read the next section). Unless you’re planning to ride buses most of the time (they’re cheaper than trains) usually the best option is to buy an unlimited Oyster for the Zones 1-2 and to add some extra money dosh to it in case you need to visit other zones. Of course it also depends on where is your lodging.

London Subway Underground. The main tourist attractions are concentrated in the Zone 1 (Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, London Eye, Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, National Gallery, TATE), some interesting places in Zone 2 (Camden Town, Whitechapel, Greenwich), Heathrow airport is located in Zone 6. Below is the schematic map of the train lines in colors colours with the zone division in gray grey and white on the background. And always mind the gap.
25 London underground

Click here for a full view of the map. 

 Buses. Unlike my lovely country where for a foreigner (and for us too) it is harder to use public transportation than to get a job as an astronaut, in every bus stop you’ll find a map showing nearby stops identified with uppercase letters, the time table and the route of each line with the name of its main stops. Some bus shelters have an electronic panel displaying how long you’ll have to wait for your bus. Inside the bus all stops and direction are clearly announced constantly. Night buses take the drunk people pissheads home safely and fast – just try not to nap kip on the bus… (That happened to me… 🙄 )

– Was your Oyster card stolen chaved? To prevent losses it is recommended to register your Oyster card online or at least store its serial number in a safe place (like your smartphone). In case you lose it, all you have to do is to contact TFL to transfer your remaining credit to a new card. (It happened to me… 🙄 )

– Did you rent hire a car?
Ouch, I don’t want to spoil your party but chances are high that you’ll be fined sooner or later… (I was 🙄 ). Not a big deal if you’re wealthy minted but to park on the streets of London is pricey and you’ll need an infinite amount of coins to feed the voracious parking metres! Moreover, to ride central London streets on working days from 7am to 6pm, it’s necessary to pay a toll of £10 a day, the ‘London Congestion Charge’ – and beware that there is no collection booth, you need to previously pay for it online(*) or in a gas petrol station before entering the ‘forbidden’ area. The penalty for unaware violators varies from £60 to £187!! Woe to you, oh Earth and Sea… For the Mayor sends the fine with wrath because he knows your time is short… In case you get a ticket, follow the instructions overleaf and strive to pay for it ASAP cause I’ve heard that the amount can double after a while.
(*) Warning! Be sure to always use the official TFL website http://www.tfl.gov.uk/. If you google ‘London Congestion Charge’ you may find ‘copycat’ websites that will charge you up to £6 extra to process your payment.

WEATHER

 Spring. When I decided to start my journey in this season I’ve imagined flowers blooming and birds singing in joy, but what I’ve actually found was the temperature varying from -2°C to 15°C (or 28 to 60°F) ( 🙄 ). Be ready for snow, a little bit of rain, and cold, a lot of cold a bloody baltic weather… I’ve experienced an average of measly three sunny days per month! But since all places are heated (bedroom, living room, bathroom, supermarket, pubs, underground, buses) there’s absolutely nothing nowt to worry about.

Summer. From 5°C to 22°C (40 to 70°F). A few delightful sunny days, an ashen sky most of the time, plenty of drizzling rain. And unlike my blessed country located in the south hemisphere, it only gets dark around 10pm and the sun rises at 4 in the morning! To buy a sleeping mask might be a good brilliant idea…

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