What to See in London

London is one of the most-visited cities in the world, and can be appreciated at any time of day, by a tourist on any budget.

DSC_7361When I arrived in London, I didn’t waste any time. I began wandering the city to get a feel for its unique vibe.DSC_7252Black Cabs in London are truly unique. These drivers undergo one of the most demanding training courses in the world called, “The Knowledge”. This entails memorizing the city’s almost 3,000 roads and passing 12 examinations, which takes around 3 years to complete! 😮
DSC_7256Speaking of London’s roads, I was completely entranced by the variety of architecture on each street. DSC_7336

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“Take Courage” – uplifting street art near the Borough Market
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vintage cars in central London
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British bellman
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modern architecture near the Tate Modern

I felt like I never knew what to expect around each corner.

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outdoor dining in London, like an inside-out snow globe ❄️

That is, except for the assumption that there might be at least one Starbucks! 😛☕💗
DSC_7376In addition to the unique architecture, London has OVER 20 FREE museums, including the famous National Gallery, British Museum, and the Tate Modern.

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entrance to the National Gallery
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lion at the National Gallery

The National Gallery has a traditional collection, with works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Michaelangelo, and Monet. UntitledUntitledUntitled collage1In contrast, the Tate Modern has works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Dali, and Matisse.UntitledI loved this piece, which depicts the colonization of Africa by the British.UntitledYes, this is modern art. I’d call this one, “Cat’s Paradise.” 🐱😛

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balls of yarn thrown around the room
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literally a cat’s paradise 🐱💗

Finally, the British Museum has over 8 million objects of historical significance from all over the globe! 5Honestly though, where else in the world can you find so many most famous works of art and historically significant artifacts on display for FREE?

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T: Picasso; Dali; Van Gogh B: Monet, Klimt, Leger

And of course, it’s possible to learn more about England’s history once you left the museums as well.

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the regal Buckingham Palace

London has a long-standing imperial history, and the amount of historical buildings and monuments around the city is astounding!

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monument to Queen Victoria
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sculpture of Queen Elizabeth and King George

Must-see royal sights include Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster, and Westminster Abbey.

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These are the Queen’s Guards. These infantry have a tough gig, with shifts that last between 24-48 hours (standing still for 4 hours in one stint!)
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royal crest outside Buckingham Palace
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the Palace of Westminster
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Westminster Abbey
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carvings of 20th century martyrs at the Westminster Abbey

This is the Queen’s Gardens outside Buckingham Palace, with tons of signs saying, “Keep off the grass!”DSC_7248

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hovering over, but NOT on the grass 😉

I felt like Mia, from the scene in Princess Diaries. 😛Image result for get off the grass in different languages

Anyway, most of these historic sights are located along the River Thames, which divides the city in two, and can be crossed using one of the city’s over 30 bridges, including the famous London Bridge.

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London Eye along the bank of the River Thames
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Big Ben and a big bird on the River Thames 😛

Yes, the bird was real! 😛DSC_7358What I realized while visiting though, is that the famous London Bridge is different from, and really quite pitiful in comparison to its counterpart, Tower Bridge. 😍

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Tower Bridge at sunrise ❤

Tower Bridge was constructed in the 19th century, and is one of the most recognizable bridges in the world.

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It is both a draw bridge and suspension bridge, allowing for boats to pass underneath. 🛥️

Unlike London Bridge, this baby will NOT be falling down anytime soon. 😉DSC_7327The bridge is also located next to the Tower of London, a regal fortress home to her majesty’s crown jewels.

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Now, if you want to go even FURTHER back in history, you can take a half-day tour from London to Stonehenge, one of the seven wonders of the medieval world.

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Evidence of Stonehenge can be traced back almost 5,000 years! There are a variety of theories surrounding its purpose, including its use as an astronomical clock, spiritual sanctuary, and even an ancient burial ground.

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This idea of Stonehenge as an astronomical clock is further supported by this heel stone, which could have been used to mark where the sun rises and sets during the solstice.

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Stonehenge as an ancient burial ground is further supported by the number of mass grave sites found around Stonehenge, which now resemble small hills across the land.

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burial mounds

The construction of Stonehenge is truly astonishing, considering there are 75 sculpted and carefully positioned stones, some weighing up to 50,000 pounds each, which might have required the strength of 2,000 men just to move it!

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test your strength at Stonehenge

Basically, Stonehenge rocks, which is surprising, considering it’s really just a bunch of rocks. 😉

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Stonehenge souvenirs and comical shuttle description, “to the stones”

Cost: I booked my tour with Evan Evans Tours, which included round-trip transportation, entrance, and audio guide for 47 pounds.

Now aside from sightseeing, London is an epic place for shopping, and luckily I showed up just in time for Black Friday. 😀🛍️💷

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Camden Market
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Borough Market

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UntitledI found shopping to be even more superb at night, when the city lit up in festive lights. 🎄
DSC_7285DSC_7286UntitledDSC_7292DSC_7289UntitledDSC_7287UntitledI found excellent shopping near Picadilly Circus, but I also did some window shopping at Harrods department store.

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Christmas display at Harrods

UntitledMy personal favorites for Christmas light-viewing included Carnaby Street, Oxford Street, and Winter Wonderland.

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Carnaby Christmas Carnival
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twinkling lights near Oxford Street

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is a free, holiday-themed carnival, with lots of fun entertainment for all.🎢☃️DSC_7299DSC_7297

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Yikes! Not sure how Frosty would feel about shooting at snowmen though.🤔 ⛄💗

To be honest though, the best part about visiting new places, is connecting with locals, and luckily, during my visit, I was able to spend the weekend with some local Londoners. UntitledWe made a full vegan holiday dinner. Highlights included mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, butternut squash pie, veggie samosas, and carrots with pistachios and a tahini drizzle.UntitledUntitled23Well, that’s all for now. I hoped you enjoyed this snippet of what to see in London, and found some travel inspiration in this post.

Getting there: 

To get to London from Barcelona, I flew with Ryanair for 30 USD round-trip! 😮UntitledUntitled

I flew into Stanstead Airport, which is quite far from the city. Bus tickets to the city center can be purchased through National Express for 9-12 pounds each way.

Getting around:

Although I love walking, I stayed at my friend’s place, which was a bit far from the city center.

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Hammersmith

As such, I made a daily trip into the city using the London Underground, a.k.a “the tube”. UntitledUntitledAs a budgeting tip, make sure to purchase a refundable Oyster card, since this cuts the ticket price from 4.90 pounds each to only 2.40 pounds per trip! That would surely add up without the card!UntitledTaking public transport was also a great way for me to see a famous Harry Potter filming location at the King’s Cross Train StationPlatform 9¾. Visitors can don a scarf of their choosing, and pose in front of this magical gateway to Hogwarts. 🧙🌟UntitledThey also have a riddikulusly awesome on-site gift shop. 😛
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Now although I didn’t transcend into this fairy-tale land, I did find this weekend to be pretty magical. 😉

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magic is what you make of it 😉

On a final note, I’ve got some stupendous travel plans for the Christmas holiday, so stay tuned for a detailed itinerary in the coming post. Until then, take care and enjoy the spirited season!

 

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