Friday, May 29, 2015

Nice places to visit in London besides the historical sights

London is much more than just its historical sights. Surely historical and royal sights are impressive but London is so big that it is better to try to get to know the overall feel of at least certain districts than to simply rush from one sight to the other through the city and not see the bigger picture at all.

The following list is based on the recommendations of London residents and my random findings. It is aimed at people who -just like myself- like to enjoy a good coffee, go to rooftop bars and find hidden architectural treasures.

1. Canonbury Tower

 Canonbury Tower seemed like a yard full of flowers with some old historical buildings.When I looked it up later on the web it turned out that those buildings where actually the home of famous Englishmen like Francis Bacon or Thomas Cromwell.

Photo by Monika Csapo

Photo by Monika Csapo

Photo by Monika Csapo

You can find more photos about Canonbury Tower under:

2. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

I found the best coffee in London through a new friend. We were having lunch and I told her how much I missed good coffee. The love of powder coffee in London totally freaked me out. I have to admit that I drank many times horrible coffee during my stay but the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs finally saved me. The place was looking cool (Scandinavian design, wood mixed with lot of white-love!!) and they had coffee made of coffee beans from Brazil, Costa Rica , Ecuador etc. You could pick one while the staff was helping with suggestions. The atmosphere was friendly and it felt like a nice place to be at.

3. Byron Burger Restaurant

No offense but London is not the culinary capital of Europe for sure. May be if you have a closer look at high dining places it might be- I was not visiting too many of those to be honest. It might tell a lot that from the timeframe of my five days stay I remember only two meals: the burger I had at Byron in Farringdon and the panini I ate in Arundel.

As the anecdote goes in real British times eating a lot was seen as inappropriate therefore the aristocrats used to eat a small bite of this and that and sip some tea to it. Probably that is why they do not really pay too much attention to food in England..I saw though that many people like to prepare food at home and take with themselves for lunch- I am pretty sure that the quality of home made food is the same good as everywhere else in Europe.

4. Edgier districts

Camden and Brick Lane. Although I heard in one TV program that locals already call Camden "The Camden Theme Park". Brick Lane seems still quite authentic in spite of the many tourists.

Photos by Monika Csapo

5. Rubens` Ceiling

This is a bit of a hidden treasure in Westminster just opposite the Parliament. I found the Banqueting House as I was browsing the list of historical sights in London and wanted to find something interesting but not too expensive to visit. It is interesting that in London the museums are rather free or if it is a royal sight the entrance fees start often around 15-20 pounds.

I do not want to spoil the story of this building because there is a great audio guide for free what you can listen while walking around here. The entrance fee is 5.5 pounds and for this money you can watch the nine huge Rubens canvases on the ceiling which were installed here in 1636 while lying on leather beanbags (yes, you read it right!). The canvases the whole ceiling and they are the only surviving in-situ Rubens paintings on Earth.

Nowadays  because of its great architecture and the beautiful artistic details they are organizing frequently different kind of events in this building like fashion shows or diplomatic events.

6. Roof top bar and a nice place to chill

If you like cocktails and rooftop bars I recommend you to visit the One New Change Rooftop Bar. You have a great view on St Paul`s Cathedral and it is a place where also London inhabitants like to hang out. A very positive addition to my London-trip were the people I met. This is how I landed for example at a place called The Big Chill on a Sunday afternoon and could experience that London people really mean it that the weekend lasts from Friday afternoon to Sunday night.

My overall feel about London was very positive at the end exactly because of the people. I got to know many great individuals. People were friendly and fun at the coffee shops, restaurants and party places I visited. Their stories gave me a good insight into the everyday life in London which I will surely write about in the near future.

+1 Gardens

The gardens in London are like small pretty oases. You can find them everywhere while walking around. Usually they are separated by a fence and some of them are closed during the night. It is worth to stop and go and sit there on a bench because they have usually a great atmosphere.

Photo by Monika Csapo

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