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Monday, May 14, 2012

The charm of London.

Like an English gentleman who tips his hats and opens doors, the city is just as charming despite the cold weather.

1) Role Play in London
Other than the famous Harry Potter story that filmed mostly in London, the city holds many more nooks and crannies that hold much fantasies and some say reality.
I lived in the Four Seasons @ Gloucester Place, a street away from 33 Baker Street where fictional Sherlock Holmes resides. At 100 pounds (SGD 200) a night, the room is basic and compact. Value-for-money, the location is safe and convenient (Baker Street Station is akin to our Dohby Gaut). There is breakfast provided, although it's the same toast, eggs, cereals, fruit and beverages everyday.
The Sherlock Holmes museum next door was perpetually crowded, I wasn't a fan so i didn't enter. I did however visit the souvenir store which was just as crowded with tourists buying on impulse. 
Across the road, was The Beatles memorabilia store. There are a dozen walking tours available (tracing the steps of fictional and non-fictional famous English characters) but i didn't manage to do any. 

I did however, eat blind at Dans Le Noir.

National Museums were free entry, unfortunately i decided to pay SGD 36 to visit Ripley's Believe it or Not. It wasn't a wise decision after having visited Ripley's in Pattaya, Thailand and Genting, Malaysia. I made the decision because i thought it would be different and London's is the largest in the world. Oddly, the imitation Ripley's in Tapei is still the best.
While it boasts of a thousand over exhibits, there is a huge amount of text to read with little interactivity (unlike Taipei's rip-off). 
However, i enjoyed role-playing as a secret agent where i entered a dark room filled with lasers and had to roll and crawl through, avoiding being "cut" by the lasers. It can be a little embarrassing because outside, the queue can watch your performance on TV.
It was quite a work-out and i felt like i was in a movie.

2) Catch a Play in London
Kiera Knightly has a resident performance in London. My friend watched it and said it was very somber. He only went to watch because he wanted to see in person if she was as flat as she looks to be.  
In Singapore, theatrical plays come and go with ticket prices starting at $68. In London, ticket prices start as low as 19 pounds and each title have their permanent theater. Upon recommendations, i went to watch one.           

Strangely, the closer you sit, the cheaper it is. For a second row corner, my grand total was SGD 40.
The performance was brilliant and captivating. The theater was rustic with an old-school charm, food and beverages are allowed within.

3) Souvenir Shopping
I have not been to a place where there are souvenirs to be found literally in every corner. The British are very proud of their national icons that you'll find anything and everything. However, i'd think that most souvenir items, though a repetition everywhere, their prices are not a big difference.
Newly opened M&M stores is popular with locals and tourists.
Anything imaginable is found with an M&M motif.

Creative condoms.

Using a magnet and aluminium powder, draw a bush!
4) Discovering Sweet Spots
With an Oyster card (5 pounds deposit refundable), you pay 2 pounds per train ride regardless of distance with a cap of 7 pounds a day. Which means by your 4th trip onward, it'll be free. It is much more worthwhile than buying single trip tickets as fare prices are by districts (as much as 7 pounds).
Old Spitalfields at Liverpool St Station is quaint and peaceful neighbourhood. The Spitafields market featured  many local designers hawking their creations. I bought a crochet bow tie for 10 pounds.
Walking around aimlessly, i found shops selling sweets the old-school way!
Portobello Market at Notting Hill Gate Station was also my favourite way to pass an afternoon away!
The largest antique market in London, you can find used items as well as new items that look like antiques.
Because second-hand items are relatively cheap, the sellers aren't necessary friendly and get irritated when you pick and choose, wanting the least tattered second-hand item. This lady was selling new watches that looked antique was very friendly and pretty. I thought she looked like Maggi Q. I bought 3 watches at 25 pounds each.
I bought these pieces to hold stationary!
4 pounds for a heavy bras soap dish which i use for paper clips.
5) The Underground Watering Holes
Despite London offering much more than just clubbing and partying, enjoying a drink or many is London's after-work activity.
SoHo is the sleazy part of Central London. Littered with gay bars, strips clubs and all, there are also hidden small bars that are legit but underground.
Then i was taken to somewhere else one night. To the "Bronx" of London, where only locals go. Surprisingly, the beats and atmosphere was good! 
Love the creative cassette tape menu that comes in the old-school plastic box!
6) Take a Stroll
The best part is taking strolls seeing the sights with cherished friends.
London Eye.
Illegal gambling on the streets.

Oh, i wish i'll see London again.


Anonymous said...

insightful read on london trip.
i wanna go there too!

Xtine said...

With the London Olympics coming up,i'm sure there's many contests you can participate to win! Here's one:

Kidnap a child, make him win and you travel as his guardian. hahaha!

James said...

nice review!

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