I’m so excited, I’m going to London very soooonnn!! I am staying at friends’, so I don’t need to look for an accommodation, but I only have 3 days and so many places I want to go back, I need to plan my visit carefully.
I lived in London for 4 years, between 2005 and 2010. It’s such a vibrant city, you surely can’t get bored here, and I loved it. I loved its parks, its musical shows, the architecture, the Thames, the markets, the pubs. Even the cemeteries! Living there was really nice, but I missed family and friends, and decided to move back to Italy.
And after 7 years I am finally going back. While I was living there, I was coming home every two months, so when I left London I thought I wouldn’t have missed it much as I could always come back, once or twice per year. But I didn’t. I don’t know why. And now, looking again at the tube map, at the name of the places that I almost forgot, I get emotional.
London Planning Ahead
So, as I mentioned I am staying only for the weekend, and I have to select the places I don’t want to miss and think of a rough itinerary. I know I want to go to Notting Hill, Borough Market, South Bank, Brick Lane, Canary Wharf if I manage to, possibly the famous and new Sky Garden (it wasn’t there 7 years ago), Hyde Park. I would also like to go to Putney, where I used to live, but I don’t think I will have time for it. London must have changed so much, I am really curious.
Transportation in London
I am not sure my Oyster card is still working. It’s a card that you buy (I think it’s 5 pounds), but you can have a refund if you give it back once you leave London; you have to top it up and you can travel anywhere. If you plan to use the tube quite often, you should buy a one week travelcard (with Oyster it’s cheaper than the paper card) or check at the TFL (Transport For London) website what the best option is. And the coolest part is that even if you don’t buy a one day card with your Oyster, you still get charged up to the cost of the day card; every time that you travel, the cost of the trip is taken from your Oyster, but up to the maximum cost of a day card. This is what I used to do. I used my Oyster, and already at the second trip it would only take the money up to the day ticket. Public transport in London is quite expensive, but if you buy a travel card, or even better an Oyster, it’s more affordable.
I am super excited because there’s a pretty good bike rental net now in London. I have always owned a bike while I was living there. Cycling to work was a great booster and quite often I also cycled to Soho or Old Street to meet with friends. On Sundays I was cycling to visit new places. It would have been sad to go back to London and take bus or tube all the time (you can’t really walk from one place to another in London, it’s too big), but this new bike rentals think has made me the happiest girl in the world. And it’s actually fairly cheap. You pay 2 pounds per day, and every time you take a bike you have 30 minutes free. So, for example you can rent a bike in Hyde Park and cycle to Piccadilly, park your bike, visit a bit on foot, take another bike and cycle to St. Peter’s, park and walk to South Bank, and so on.
There’s an excellent app where you can check where to park and where you can find available bikes. You can also choose the best itinerary for you.
Things I want to do in London
There are a few things I used to do in London that I miss:
- Visit a Charity Shop. I don’t know how many second-hand books I have bought while I was living there. Charity Shops were my favorite, for books and other stuff. I could please my random need of spending money and feel good at the same time.
- British Breakfast. Oh, I miss hash browns and beans so much! I must have one English Breakfast at least once.
- Read in a cemetery. In Summer months it was my favorite activity. After work I often stopped at a cemetery on the way home, and spend one hour there, relaxing and reading. There’s a different attitude towards cemeteries than there is in Italy: you can often walk through them, families have picnics, you meet friends, you go jogging, they are almost like parks. And I love it. You get to live with the passed ones as if they were there again.
- Have a beer at a pub along the Thames. There are so many gorgeous pubs along the river in London! I worked in one of them, and it was super popular, in particular on Sundays. But there are some that are even better. I have great memories of time spent at pubs. In particular watching the World Cup with friends.
- Enjoy the view of London from the Tate Modern. You have a great view over London and in particular St. Paul’s from a terrace on the third floor of the Tate Modern. And entrance is free.
So, two days to go and I’m super happy. Hopefully it won’t be 7 years again before I go back to London.