- Where the Locals Go
‘Ello city-lovers! Today’s city is London, England, and Louise Heal shows us the must-sees of the U.K.’s capital.
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London, England is My City
The first place I take a visitor from out of town is Waterloo Bridge. This is far and away the best view of London.
Any London taxi driver will say so, and what they say goes. Just so as you know.
When I crave Indian food I always go to Brick Lane, the spiritual home of curry in London. This is the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community and is also within walking distance of the City of London.
To escape Oxford Street I head to Marylebone High Street.Daunt Bookshop is a treasure trove, there are plenty of nice little boutiques and some really great coffee places. What more does a girl need?
If I want to have a really good steak and chips I go to Chez Gerard. As they say – the best steak frites this side of Paris. And the champagne list isn’t bad either!
For complete quiet, I can hide away at the British Library You need a reader’s card to use the Reading Rooms, but anybody can use the restaurants, public areas and the courtyard. During the summer, there are free lunchtime concerts.
If you come to my city, get your picture taken on a Trafalgar Squarelion. Then pose with a Guard at the Horse Guards Parade. Then hover about in front of Big Ben. Then stand on Westminster Bridge with the London Eye behind you. Strike a pose, why don’t you?
If you have to order one thing off the menu from Simpson’s in the Strand, it absolutely has to be the roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. You don’t eat meat? Maybe just the Yorkshire pudding then.
Stanfords is my one-stop shop for all things travel-related. There are travel books, guides, maps, nautical charts, globes and Inspiration galore. I think I actually lived here in a former life.
Locals know to skip Leicester Square and check out Lower Regent Street instead. There are cinemas, restaurants and bars here, without the tourists or the touts.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to the National Gallery and then walk down Whitehall to the London Eye. Depending on my mood, I’ll either go to see Holbein’s “Ambassadors,” the Leonardo “cartoon” or Seurat’s “Bathers at Asnieres.” If you’re feeling peckish, the Whitehall Sandwich Bar and the Lord Moon of the Mall pub opposite both serve good, cheap food and drink.
For a huge splurge I go food shopping at Borough Market.Get there early if you go on Saturday. Top tips? The fish counters, the best chocolate brownies in the world and the organic meats (particularly the venison).
Photo ops in my city include the Changing of the Guardand the best vantage points are from the Buckingham Palace forecourt, if you’re lucky!
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Vivienne Westwood. Totally unique, eccentric and yet part of the Establishment.
The most random thing about my city is the number of Roman sites. The 2nd century AD Temple of Mithras in Temple Court, Queen Victoria Street is one of the most important.
My city has the most cool men.
My city has the most outrageously-behaved women.
In my city, an active day outdoors involves the London Marathonor one of the many Fun Runs, Bike-a-Thons or sponsored walks that take place here.
My city’s best museum is the British Museum. It has pretty much everything, but it is huge so take a guide and plan your route. It’s very easy to find yourself completely lost or retracing your steps.
My favorite jogging/walking route is the South Bank from London Bridge to Waterloo.
For a night of dancing, go to the Royal Balletat Covent Garden Or, for live music, check out the Brixton Academy.
Chinatown is the spot for late-night eats. Won Kei’s on Wardour Street is a long-time budget favourite, but Gerrard Street has loads of restaurants too. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, cross over Shaftesbury Avenue and head up to Soho for anything from French to Italian to sushi to Vietnamese to Korean.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read TimeOut London
You can tell a lot about my city from talking to a taxi driver.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they don’t like talking to strangers on public transport. It’s nothing personal and we’re not being unfriendly, we just think it’s a bit weird when you talk to us!
In the spring you should stroll through Hyde ParkGreen Parkor St James’s Park.
In the summer you should visit the Regent’s Park Open-Air Theatre. Although checking the weather forecast first isn’t such a bad idea. Bring a picnic and eat it beforehand in the park.
In the fall you should check out the BFI London Film Festival.
In the winter you should ice-skate at the Somerset Houseice rink.
A hidden gem in my city is Hampstead Heath. You’ll recognise the view of London from dozens of London movies.
For a great breakfast joint try Richouxon Piccadilly. My personal favourite is eggs Benedict with a pot of coffee. Afterwards you can either saunter across the road to the Royal Academy or head to Hatchards for a bit of book browsing.
Don’t miss the Proms festival in the Royal Albert Hallfrom July to September.
There are over 70 concerts and 500 tickets are available on the door for each concert for £5 each.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Just outside my city, you can visit Hampton Court Palace. Home to Henry VII, various wives and some pretty decent gardens.
The best way to see my city is from the front seats on the top deck of a double-decker bus.
If my city were a pet it would be a tortoise. Been around a long time, doesn’t move fast and sometimes looks like it’s creaking.
If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live (where?) on a cosy little island.
With good access to a city.
The best book about my city is Brick Lane by Monica Ali. (Many would say London Fields by Martin Amis. It’s hard to compare the two.)
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “London Calling” by The Clash.
If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Natural History Museumand the Science Museum. The dinosaurs are always a winner and so are the space displays.
The Fourth Plinthcould only happen in my city.
My city should be featured on your cover or website because (in the words of Dr. Johnson) “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
Photo: zTransmissions, scrabble, and rumenmarcov via the Intelligent Travel Flickr pool