Exploring London – 5 Out-of-the-Ordinary Things to Do


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I have been to London, England, a few times now and every time I find something new to explore. The tourist guides and brochures mostly push the sights of London like Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, and Hampton Court Palace. Especially whenever I was traveling on a budget, I found that even though these places were amazing and should no doubt be visited, they were overrun with tourists and some of them required a pretty hefty entrance fee.

Exploring on my own, I found some interesting places. Have a look at what I have discovered and I wish you happy traveling in London!

1. Take a Jack the Ripper Tour

If you are up for some spell-chilling entertainment, book a Jack the Ripper walking tour on the Internet before you visit London. There are a variety of companies that offer this type of tour and the prices were very comparable. I paid somewhere around $ 12 Canadian Dollars, which seems to be standard. You can reserve your spot online and print out your ticket at home. The tour generally starts off at East Aldgate underground station and then continues on the path of Jack the Ripper. You will be walking into the night, so make sure you bring adequate footwear and warm clothes, depending on the weather. You might also want to have prepared for rain and do not forget that camera. The tour guides are very knowledgeable about London history and the tour is entertaining and informative. This is one way you will get to see a whole variety of London's back alleys, noisy pubs, and creepy side streets without getting lost in the dark.

2. Camden Town

Personally, I like buying the London Travelcard when I am in London. It is a great way to save some money if you will be using the public transport system a lot. You can choose which zones you want to include and off you go traveling as much as you like within your zones for the amount of days you bought the card for. It's convenient and cheaper than buying single tickets if you are in London for a few days.

At any rate, you can hop on the Northern line heading north and get off at Camden Town. If you exit the underground station coming out on Camden High Street, take a right toward the canal. You will find the entire street lined with little shops and market stalls. If you continue down Camden High Street, you will always cross the canal and then find more market stalls at Camden Lock Market and the Stables. There are hundreds of little shops and stalls everywhere, so just venture right in and have a look around. You are not obliged to buy anything, but you are sure to find anything you can think of there. It is a great way to spend some time if it is raining, as some of the market area is covered, or if you simply want to wander around and shop. There is food available at different places as well, so if you get hungry from all the wandering around, you have your choice of many different types of food.

3. Take a Subway Tour

Now this may sound a little strange, but it is great fun. If your legs are tired from all the walking around, pick a line and let yourself be taken to some of the underground stations. There are books available about the history of the London underground stations and it is very neat to get out and explore the history of some of them. Buy a subway history book before heading to London and then explore the stations. Aldgate station (served by Metropolitan and Circle Lines) is very cool to look at and if you liked Atonement, you can also check out Balham station (on the Northern Line heading south). A friend of mine also let me know that there are tours and visits available for some of the abandoned stations in London, but unfortunately I do not have any more detailed information about that yet.

4. Eat at Pizza Express

Not just any Pizza Express though. The one I like best is located right near Shakespeare's Globe Theater. The reason you should go there is first of all that they have amazing Italian food and second of all, it comes at a reasonable price. So if you would like to treat yourself to some appetizers, a great meal, and dessert, you can affordably do it at the Pizza Express. You can get there by taking the tube to Mansion House (Circle and District Lines) and then following the signs to the Millennium Bridge. Walk across the Millennium Foot Bridge and should be able to see the Globe already. Head toward the Globe, following along the Thames, and when you reach the Globe, Pizza Express will be in the building across the street from the Globe's main entrance. Pick a table upstairs and enjoy a meal overlooking the Thames.

5. Concert and Dinner at St. Petersburg. Martin-in-the Fields

This one is less for the cost than it is for the experience. St. Martin-in-the-Fields (although not in fields any longer) is a church in Trafalgar Square and it's definitely worth a visit whether you follow a certain religious belief or not. The church crypt has been converted into a café, where you can have breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It offers an amazing, intimate atmosphere and the food is great.

If you have time and like music, you can also take in one of the performances. The acoustics in the church are unbelievable and there are a wide range of concerts being offered. You can buy tickets online before you even travel to London if you like, to ensure you get a good seat. Make sure that if you have dinner before a performance you come early because it fills up quickly.

To get there, take the tube to Charing Cross (Northern and Bakerloo Lines) and start heading for the National Gallery. You will find signs pointing you in the right direction. For detailed directions, you can also check their website.

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