Saturday 14 May 2011

World Cuisine in London

Like most large cities (at least in Europe), London offers a great diversity of food from all around the world. One of the reasons is definitely a mix of people from all over the world living there.

There are some parts of London that look like they belong to other countries. People dress according to their traditions back home. Also restaurants reflect this - in China Town you can obviously find all kinds of restaurants from the Far East.
In some other parts of the city a different pattern is easily noticed. Half of the world's countries can have their food embassies (i.e. restaurants) lined-up side by side in a single street.

In my opinion traditional English cuisine is not really something to brag about - at least compared to some other European alternatives. Nonetheless (or maybe exactly because of it) some of the best representatives of world's cuisines can be found in London.
It is not always easy to pick out the really good ones, but it is worth giving it a try. I asked for some local advice and got a chance to taste some great stuff.

All you can eat Chinese places in London China town are not really all that special. I tried my luck with one of them and I can't say anything good about the experience.
On the other hand I got a recommendation for a sushi place in the same street which turned out to be really great. It is a simple Japanese restaurant with genuine and tasty food that comes in generous portions and is reasonably priced. For two persons I suggest you try a "Bento box" (sushi selection) and continue with a main dish each. You can expect to pay between £15 and £20 for the whole deal.
The place is called Misato and you can find it on 11 Wardour Street. I suggest you avoid lunch time hours as it can get quite busy.

Apart from that I even found a place where they serve really good traditional English breakfast, but that is a whole different story. For more information on that you will just have to wait for one of my next posts.


Monday 9 May 2011

How to get around London on a budget?

Getting around London can be an expensive activity. When you have a limited amount of time and want to see as much of the city as possible, it is impossible to avoid all expenses.
Nevertheless you can try to choose the best travel option for your type of trip.

The usual arrival to London is through one of its airports. You can easily spend a fortune on a ride to the city center. If you plan in advance, you can do the same for as little as £2.
I have devoted a whole post to this topic. If you want to know more, you should check out my advice on how to get from airport to central London.

Walking... definitely the cheapest way to move around the city center. You can definitely walk between some of the famous sights and see the city at the same time. Tube is a great thing but you don't get to see all that much while underground.
Remember: your journey can often be the highlight of a trip, it does not necessary mean reaching the destination itself is the thing.

Renting a bike
There is a number of bicycle rental companies around London. If this seems the right thing for you, you should check out Barclays Cycle Hire.
If you use the system the right way, you can get away with paying as little as £5 per week. That is how much you have to pay in advance - renting for up to 30 minutes is free.
However you should be aware London is not the friendliest city for cyclists out there. There are not all that many bicycle lanes in the city center. Since pavements are reserved for pedestrians you will often have to use the bus lane.
You should also keep in mind driving on the right side of the street. As you should know, in UK the right side is actually the left.

Do you like Oysters?
Well even if you don't, I suggest you get yourself an Oyster Card as soon as you get near a Tube station (Americans would probably call it a subway station).
You can use Tube, DLR, London Overground, Bus and tram, National Rail and some riverboats using an Oyster Card and pay roughly half the price you would have payed using cash (actual ticket prices are available here).
There are roughly two options for using an Oyster card. You can load a travel card onto it, or load some cash and pay as you go.
You should consider both options and choose one depending on how much will you be moving around. For instance if you plan to use the Tube for 5 to 7 days, you should probably choose the 7-day travel card.

Moving around using the Tube is the fastest way. It is actually a bit like a teleport - you get quickly from point A to point B but don't get to see anything on the way.

Check out the Transport of London webpage for up to date London traffic info and prices.
They offer a useful Journey Planer for free. Try it out, it might come in handy.

Another very useful resource with loads of information on London is Visit London.

There are also other transport alternatives... like for instance riding in a Cycle rickshaw. I actually saw quite a few of those.
If there is another transport option I left out, please do not hesitate to comment.


Wednesday 4 May 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Royal Wedding Decoration

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