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London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

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Melbourne
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London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

Fifth time to London for a total of about 30 days in the city so please take these comments within that context.

Observations

1. England cannot afford to got to war again because there is no more room for the monuments and statues. If I see one more Nelson or Wellington plaque I will scream.

2. London's greatest achievement is holding on to its pub culture, the pubs are London.

3. lots of good free stuff (Tate Modern and National Gallery come to mind). Lots of stuff you have to pay for that is frankly a piss-take. I won't name them but generally take not of my what not to dos.

4. very friendly city and feels very safe. Feel very free to wander and catch the tube.

5. Indian food is world class. The rest is really ordinary UNLESS you eat at the very top restaurants.

What to do?

1. Do Hyde Park and surrounds - on a bike if you are capable. I think only NY matches London for this open space close to the city.

2. Get on the hop on, hop off buses but only for a day. They are a great way to orientate yourself but a crap way to travel from A to B so don't by 2 day ticket.

3. See a show. London is rivalled only by Broadway for number of shows on offer. We saw Book of Mormons - highly recommend if explicit language does not offend.

4. Get into the pubs and watch a game of footy. This is what makes Londoners tick.

5. Use the tube it is one of the wonders of modern transport.

Don't do.

1. Don't have brekky in your hotel. It will be 3 times as good and half the price less than 500 metres down the road.

2. Don't queue. There are queues everywhere and usually with few exceptions they are a complete waste of time. Want to see the Crown Jewels? Stand in line for 3 hours. No thanks, I can google the Crown Jewels, London has way more to offer.

3. Forget Harrods and Oxford St. They know you are coming and they think you are stupid. Seek out some of the more independent designers in Carnaby and Soho.

4. Don't even bother with Buckingham Palace. It is an ordinary house with loads of Women's Daily readers out the front. Waste of your time.

Next..... paris

East Sussex, United...
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1. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

I like your no nonsense approach and agree with much that you say. A little harsh on the food front perhaps. No idea why more visitors don't do the curry thing - "when in Rome"....

I'd add - "London really does not equal England, so take a day trip out at the very least".

Mike

Edited: 27 August 2014, 17:18
London, United...
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2. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

I like the list. :)

However, Carnaby St is no better than Oxford St these days! :(

For independent shops, go to Brighton :)

I'm with Mikey here - totally disagree on the food thing. There are plenty of very good non-curry and not expensive restaurants in London, even in the centre. Although I will agree that curry is excellent.

Budapest, Hungary
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3. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

The Bank of England Museum is also free.

The Crown Jewels are worth the effort if you can avoid a queue. Most Londoners - actually most Britons - fail to understand why tourists go to Madame Tussauds - or Stonehenge.

Melbourne
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4. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

Maybe the food is better than I give it credit for but I come from the city that leads the world in up to the minute food. My big problem is breakfast. The English breakfast is a great institution but it has held London back. I want Birchers and spices and sauces and grains and cheeses...but London is limpet like attached to the EB. Sure you can find the odd exception but in an international city it should be the norm.

Otherwise the restaurants generally are a bit formulaic ( not as bad as Paris) but for the top end of town.

Edited: 27 August 2014, 17:43
Melbourne
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5. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

Madame Tussaud's was exactly the place I was thinking in terms of over rated and waste of time.

London, United...
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6. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

Spices and sauces belong with dinner. As does cheese (that's a continental thing, eating it for breakfast).

You should have gone to Dishoom and had a bacon naan for breakfast! They are amazing. Also the veggie breakfast burrito at the Brockley Mess but that is getting a bit out in the sticks :)

Breakfast isn't a big thing here. Most Brits either have cereal and /or toast at home or at their desk at work, or grab something like a croissant or porridge on their way into work. Exciting it isn't - good porridge is very nice and filling though. Most of us won't eat a full English very often at all - it's a holiday treat, or special weekend treat. As an additional affront to that, the best fried breakfast is unquestionably done by the Irish (an Ulster, or Irish fry, depending on what side of the border you are on).

London
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7. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

London's greatest achievement is holding on to its pub culture, the pubs are London.

---------------------

Disagree.

London, England
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8. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

I really don't think the OP has tried any decent restaurants in London. There are plenty of excellent restaurants that won't break the bank. The OP has concentrated mainly on the West End, but the fashionable areas to go in London these days are primarily in East London.

As a Londoner I would never dream of shopping in Carnaby Street. Back in the 60s but not now. I would go to Oxford Street for John Lewis, but that's about all.

Although not mentioned by the OP the place I never understand why anyone wants to visit is Camden Market. It's full of tat and tourists.

Islington
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9. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

I don't agree that all hotels have expensive breakfasts. Premier Inn do an excellent buffet breakfast which includes ham, cheese, and so on, along with cereals, yoghurts, fruit and various gritty looking stuff. For just two pounds extra you can get a full English breakfast which includes full access to the buffet too. Most hotels I have been to in the UK (though I have not been to many in London because I live here) have a wide range of breakfast options, cooked and uncooked. Having said that, if I was staying in say, a Hilton or one of the more expensive chains and I was on a budget, I would check to see if there are any good cafes in the area before committing myself to the hotel breakfast.

Edited: 27 August 2014, 18:09
London, United...
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10. Re: London - my observations, things to do, things not to do.

Generally I dislike UK hotel breakfasts. Poor quality ingredients, not hot, too much sugar in the cereals and yoghurts etc etc. I travel a lot with work and with the exception of one (very reasonably priced) non-chain hotel in Stockport, I'm generally not that impressed.

On the continent however, they are great. I'm just back from Belgium and I had some really nice continental style buffet breakfasts in the B&Bs and hotels I stayed in.