Sunday, March 1, 2015

TOP PLACES TO VISIT IN LONDON FROM AN EX-LONDONER


have you ever been somewhere and felt like you belonged? like you felt like this place just screams everything you are about? for me, that place is london. Since i was only lived in london a year, i took full advantage of what it's like to be a londoner and visited anywhere and everywhere. Though out of all of the places i had been, there were a few that i constantly kept going back too. THEY WERE ALSO PLACES THAT I TOOK MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY TOO SO THEY COULD GET THE "REAL" LONDON EXPERIENCE. 

1. portobello market- DURING THE SPRING AND SUMMER, I TRIED TO GO TO PORTOBELLO MARKET EVERY SATURDAY. WHY? BECAUSE it IS THE TRUE ESSENCE OF A EUROPEAN street MARKET. Portobello market is smack dab in the middle of beautiful notting hill (which is an area you should DEFINITELY explore). THE MARKET IS DIVIDED INTO DIFFERENT SECTIONS: ANTIQUES, FOOD, NEW GOOD, FASHION AND SECOND HAND GOODS. the antiques and food are my favorite sections. in the antique section you will find everything from cameras of the 1920s to vintage winnie the pooh paintings to cracked and worn in teacups. you could easily spend hours browsing the stalls to find truly intriguing treasures. in the food section, you can pick up your daily veggies and fruits or grab some paleo for lunch. one stall you cannot pass up is the one filled with PASTRIES and baked goods (i don't know the name, but you can't miss it). their huge donuts and muffins are to die for and the best part? 2 for 2pound50! though there is one down side to the market, it is always crowded no matter the time of year. so if you cannot stand having to push your way through crowds during the entire duration of the market, you might want to skip it. 

2. borough market- can you guess how much i love markets? borough market is one of the oldest and largest markets in london. it was always my favorite place to stop and get lunch, BECAUSE they have so many drool-worthy food stalls. but beware, it is not exactly the cheapest, but everything is made out of top ingredients. Out of the dozens and dozens of stall, my favorite would have to be "kappacesein". they sell the most tastiest grilled cheese SANDWICHES made out of montgomery cheese, sourdough bread, leeks and garlic. can you say yumm?? i also really enjoy getting a latte at the famous monmouth cafe, as the Coffee is always EXTREMELY smooth and full of flavor. if you are a food lover, then you need to make borough market a top PRIORITY. Also on the outskirts of the market is an amazing umbrella ceiling. How cool is that?!?


3. richmond park- london is known for having a large amount of green space, but my favorite park would have to be richmond park. though it is not located in central london, but in zone 4, it's DEFINITELY worth taking the extra time and hiking there. The park was created in the 17th century as a deer park, and today there are hundreds and hundreds of deer roaming the park. my favorite thing to do when i visited was have a picnic with friends while watching the heards of deer roam by and then renting bikes and having a leisurely Ride around the park. since the park is so huge, bikes are the best option to see it all. what truly makes this park amazing, is that you feel like you're in the english countryside, though you're in the middle of a very busy city. it is a nice escape from all of the hussle and bussle where you can clear your head and enjoy nature.

4. brick lane- East london is known for its hipster vibes, and you'll see all different kinds of people walking the streets. my favorite place in east london would have to be brick lane. Brick lane is known for having amazing street art that covers the walls of BUILDINGS and, of course, the food markets. if you are fascinated by the street art, i would suggest taking a guided tour so you can learn about history and meaning behind the most famous murels. As for food, Spitalifields is a huge indoor space filled with markets, RESTAURANTS and shops. of corse, my favorite part would have to be the huge array of international street foods that are offered. further down brick lane are tons of antique and second hand stores where you can find great treasures and one of a kind clothing. if the hipster in you wants to come out to play, then brick lane is the pefect place to run wild. 


5. columbia road flower market- about a 5 minute walk from brick lane is columbia road flower market. as the name would suggest, it is a one-street market full of just vendors sending a large array of different kinds of flowers at decent prices. i would go every few sundays and pick up a bunch of flowers to fill my tiny studio with. UNFORTUNATELY, it is only open on sundays so it gets extremely crowded. but it is completely worth it for the aroma that covers the air. 

6. kensington and chelsea- located next to each other, the areas of kensington and chelsea scream "posh" london. my favorite thing to do was walk around the posh neighborhoods and take a REAL ESTATE tour of the beautiful homes where many FAMOUS people live. for example, you can visit the parent trap house. i also enjoyed taking a look around HARRODS, a world RENOUNCED department store. harrods only sells the top LUXURIOUS brands and is truly a world for the rich and famous. it puts saks fifth avenue to shame, and though i could not afford anything in there, it was fun to pretend that i was posh londoner. 

7. greenwich- known for where you can stand on the greenwich meridian (0 degrees LONGITUDE), greenwich is a beautiful area full of little shops, university of greenwich and a park that overlooks london. i loved stopping in a cute cafe to grab a coffee and lunch to take to the park. since the park is located on a hill, it overlooks the university and skyline of london, which makes for an incredible view. while the park has a large open field, it does also have various kinds of gardens full of colorful flowers which are nice to sit in and ponder about life.  


8. Camden town- the last (but CERTAINLY not least) place in london to visit is camden town. and once again, this location is known for its famous market/stalls, camden lock market, and mix of alternative cultures, PARTICULARLY punk. i can't even explain the market. its is an ECCENTRIC mix of everything and anything but PARTICULARly arts and crafts. of course i love the food part, but i also love the good stalls, which are filled with very different and unique things (for example, someone will be selling a teapot, as well as sms gear). i absolutely loved when i would see a group of punks hanging out on the bridge, i felt like it was so AUTHENTIC of 1970s london. since the markets and stalls are is open 7 days a week, i would suggest avoiding sundays because that is when it is extremely crowded. 

what i love about london is that there is something for anyone and everyone. it has such a large mix of different types of people and areas. THEREFORE, i feel like when in london, you need to experience the DIVERSE, yet authentic cultures offered, from the posh to the ALTERNATIVE areas. 

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