I love to visit the capital city London, but I could not imagine living there as it is so expensive, one of the most expensive cities to live in the world. But the lure, excitement, restaurants and things to do means that I adore visiting London. When I do visit London, I am mindful of the cost, I have my West Midlands prices in my head and after catching a train to London (plus purchasing coffee & nibbles) and purchasing a tube ticket the costs can quickly begin to mount up. Let's face it, you can't visit London on a minuscule budget, that would be virtually impossible, but what you can do is spend time visiting places which are free, then you can spend your money on one of the many popular and fabulous restaurants as a treat for how resourceful you have been. Although I adore food, and am food obsessed, I also enjoy culture and the outdoors too.
Here are my top 5 things to do, something for art lovers, food lovers and those that like the outdoors.
Victoria and Albert museum.
I am fascinated by history, so much I completed an ALevel in the subject. Queen Victoria and Albert were not featured on my syllabus, but in honour of their legacy, the Victoria and Albert museum (shortened V&A) was founded in 1852. If you love art, this is the museum for you, after all, it's the worlds largest museum of decorative arts, housing over 4.5 million objects and entry is FREE (although donations of £4 are welcome). There are several exhibitions over several floors and in all honestly you won't be able to do to visit the whole museum in one day, but it's worth seeing a couple of the collections. The Asia collection (including items from the Middle East, East Asia and South-East Asia, some beautiful carpets, pans and Arabic mosaics. I also loved the fashion collection, there are some wonderful pieces from the late 1880's to the present day. I loved the evolution of clothing in the UK, the fashionable trends, the changes to the silhouette on a women's body. I enjoyed the artwork, although this took some time to have a look and I did not have a good view. Other collections which look of an interest include the textiles exhibition. I recall watching a video about Victorian life which was incredibly informative.
Opening times are 10:00 - 17:45 daily and 10:00 - 22:00 on a Friday.
Camden (Lock) Market
The area of Camden is and has been for years, a hip, fashionable and cosmopolitan place to visit. Verging out of zone 1, if you want to see where Londoners actually hang out this is the place for you. Camden market primarily sells clothes which were reasonable. There was certainly a bohemian feel to the clothes that were on offer and even if you do not buy anything, there are plenty of unique clothing items to have a look. A little further up from the clothes market there is a an absolute amazing food street food quarter, Camden Lock food market where you can buy a delicious meal from every cuisine in the world. I was spoilt for choice of a range of cuisines which are more harder to come by in the West Midlands such as dishes from Peru, Vietnam, Colombia, Ethiopia and Jamaica (ok, perhaps not the latter). On a Saturday when I visited, it does get incredibly busy and you will be very lucky to find seats, although there is seating. However, it is a bright and crispy day, why not have your delicious delights overlooking the canal.
If you fancy picking up some souvenirs, the prices are much cheaper than central London, I always stock up on fridge magenta, key rings etc.
Camden market is open 7 days a week from 10:00- 6pm
In the heart of Central London, Covent Garden is ideal place for those that love the arts, music, statues (reword) If you like high-end fashion, this is a chic area to splash the cash and if you like good food (like myself) then there are trendy restaurants there such as l'Atellier De Joel Robuchon and Dishoom. There are (as with many parts of London) large crowds in London and I was fascinated with the human statues doing a variety of poses. It lured to the child in me, I loves pulling faces to see their reactions. Ok, don't do that, but take a look at some of the live music and artists that are there. And if you grow tire of Covent garden, venture into nearby Soho, Chinatown.
I stumbled at Spitalfields market by chance, after visiting The Breakfast Club. There I found a beautiful array of unique clothes designers offering contemporary and vintage designs. There are many stalls to visit here, I particularly enjoyed the several stores selling African printed clothing. There are also some more shops nearby.
Be prepared for lots of tourists here, Buckingham palace is one of the top places to visit in England. I'm sure you all know of Buckingham palace and it is beautiful just to walk and take the breathtaking stunning and magnificent palace. If you want to take a tour, of course that will set you back, but luckily when I visited The Changing of The Guard. The Changing of The Guard is full of pomp and precision. it is a ceremony where the old guard hands over responsibility of protecting the palace to the new guard. My top tip - get there early.