London: the best tourist cliché on earth (Part 1)
January 1, 1970
by Catarina Soares
England is known for its pageantry and tradition, but the best place to see that is in London.
I always had the dream of visiting London. I began learning English when I was only 7 years old and my teachers always showed some pictures of the city, I was fascinated by it, but never had the chance to visit it before. I visited London in February of this year and I must say: I completely loved it!
At first I was a little reluctant, afraid of being lost in the many streets, afraid of having my things stolen, affraid of the many people on the underground… Nothing of that happened. Never on the course of my holidays I felt unsafe.
Arriving in London
We (my boyfriend came with me) arrived at the Stansted Airport early in the morning. It’s a little bit distant from the city, but we took a bus that led us directly there. We bought the tickects on the airport (both round trip tickets, it was cheaper) and everything is well sinalized, so it’s very difficult for you to get lost. After being dropped in some street in London, we managed to find the Hostel where we stayed, near the Hyde Park.
In the afternoon, we decided to start by visiting the first national public museum in the world, the British Museum. The best thing is that it is free! Since we were near the museums, we decided pass by the Natural History Museum, where we were able to see some dinossaur skelletons and a variety of wildlife, like elephants, lions, wales, etc. There was some interesting exhibition about the human body and how it works. This is a free museum as well, although some of the exhibitions are payed.
After spending some quality time here, we decided to go to one of the most famous and luxuous department stores in London. You are right, Harrods! I was impressed. Everything is so fancy. With its seven floors and more than 300 departments, you can really find anything there. From food to eletronics, if your desire is to buy something, be prepared to spend some pounds.
To end the first day, we decided to go for a walk in Piccadilly Circus, one of the busiest squares in London. There we rested for some time while looking at the enormous outdoors. After some time, we decided to go to the famous M&M World.
Day 2: A lot of wax
After a good night of sleep (needed that, must say) and brekfast in the hostel, we went to Madamme Tussauds Museum. My advice is to buy the tickets online before, like we did, so that you save some time in queues once you are there. It was awesome. Some of the statues are so perfect! But my favourite part was in the end. At the time I was there, they had a special Marvel 4D experience, with a film of some Marvel Super Heroes. The thing is: you could feel everything, water, scratches, wind.. It was superb and felt very real! I must admit that I screamed at some parts.
The morning was great, but it was time to move on. In the afternoon our destination was the South Bank. We had booked another experience in the London Dungeon, which is thrill-filled journey through London’s murky past. We had a good time, we laughed, we sreamed and we saw some theatre about the past history of London (the dark side, if it matters). I don’t have pictures cause we were not allowed to film or take pictures. We bought the tickets before as well, to avoid the queues.
Since we were in the South Bank, we decided to see everything that London has to offer in that area, so we wouldn’t have to come and go all the time. We saw the London Eye (we didn’t go for a ride because we were on a budget and we didn’t find very amusing being trapped in a glass box), we had a snack near the Thames River and we went to see the Big Ben.
And after such long walks, our feet were burning, so we decided it was time to head back to the hostel to rest a little bit. During our stay, we only went out once during the night, because we were always very tired. In the other days we stayed in, socializing a bit with the other people that were on our hostel.
Day 3: Camden Town
Before arriving to London, we decided that we were going to spend one entire day in Camden, just because there are so many things to see and shops to visit. This day was dedicated to shopping!
Camden can be considered the most alternative spot in London. The place where you can find the most weird things ever and if your are not alternative enough, the weird thing is you! This place is known for its markets, where you can find absolutely everything: food (a lot of different food, from many countries), drugs, vintage clothes, tattoo shops and a huge variety of ironmongery.
Here you can also find a huge amount of pubs and dancing clubs. My favourite place here was a very special clothes store, that is different from everything you’ve ever seen: Cyberdog. This store functions as party place as well, with dancers and a DJ. I don’t have photos from the inside, because I was not allowed, but I’ll show you the outside. And don’t worry, you’ll find it!
Just a little bit of general knowledge, many art personalities came from Camden. Amy Winehouse grew up here (she has a statue in her honour right in the heart of Camden), the writer Charles Dickens lived here and the singer Morrissey lived here as well in the 90’s, as well as a lot of painters. This said, know you know why Camden is such a mark in the trip to London.
Before leaving, we went for a walk near the waterway, where we saw some beautifull boats. This waterway leads to Little Venice, a place where I’ll go in my next trip to London, because I didn’t have time in time one.
To be continued…