We did it. We kept our promise and visited London again. We had earlier come to London to celebrate the New Year. Read about the trip here. We meant to come back and so we did. This time though, we arrived on a Saturday evening and spent two days catching up with some places we missed the last time.
Like the previous write-up, we’d provide the itinerary we followed, places we visited, ticket prices, highlights & caveats, and rate them based on our experience. Let’s go!
Saturday: Arrive, check-in & take a walk
We landed in Gatwick airport around 5pm and swiftly checked-in at YHA London Thameside. YHA is a budget hostel, along the banks of Thames, with good connectivity to the center via frequent buses, overground & underground services. The nearest underground station, Canada Water, is only an 8-minute walk away. The hostel was clean and the staff were friendly. They got bunk beds, but Wi-Fi only in the reception lounge (no Wifi in the rooms unless your room is somewhere close to the reception). They also provide breakfast and help you in ordering food from outside. It is value for your money.
Quickly after freshening up, we did our favorite loop walk: London bridge – Tower of London – Tower Bridge. This walk along the River Thames takes about an hour, and you could enjoy the nightlife as you take a stroll.
After the walk, we headed to Leicester Square to satiate our appetite for some yummy food. Old habits die hard. We went to Wagamama again (5th time in 2 months) and ordered our go-to dish: Lamb Teppanyaki & Chicken Katsu Curry.
Day 1 Sunday: British Museum, SEA Life aquarium & Body world’s
Our initial plan was to climb up the O2 arena, but since the weather didn’t permit outdoor activity, we chose the British Museum instead.
British Museum: With an impressive architecture, the museum exhibits 8 million works from prehistoric to modern times. The theme includes the Americas, Animals, China, Death & memory, Africa, Egypt & the mummies, Asia and more. Enjoy some of the earliest objects created by man to works by contemporary artists.
Of all the collections, the clocks and watches gallery impressed us the most. This gallery traces the development of mechanical clocks – earliest designs, decorative domestic clocks, marine chronometers and more.
Highlights: It is FREE. The clocks and watches gallery, and the Egyptian mummies. There’s something for everyone.
Caveats: There’s a queue for the security check. Though it’s fast-moving, be aware that you are not allowed to bring large trolleys.
|SCORE||8 / 10|
SEA Life Aquarium: This beautiful aquarium is located right beside the London Eye and Shrek’s adventure museum. There’s a lot to see: the coral kingdom, the world of jellyfish, the rainforest adventure, the radical rays, and the majestic sharks. But the most impressive definitely has to be the penguin chicks. The Gentoo penguins are apt examples of cuteness overloaded. Check the feeding times beforehand, they are worth your time.
Price: £29 (standard entry)
Highlights: Has to be the penguins. Also, sharks and jellyfish.
Caveats: There is a VR experience for an additional £6 per person. We felt the 5-minute show isn’t worth the money.
|SCORE||8 / 10|
The unexpected encounter: One cannot plan everything and sometimes, the off-plan adventure offers more fun. While on our way out of the aquarium, we met burly squirrels and pigeons. To our surprise, they began interacting with us. So, we rushed to the shop, bought some nuts and fun continued.
Body World’s Museum: “Discover the beauty beneath your skin” is the tagline and the place is exactly what the tagline reads. This is technically a science museum. A mix of your 7th-grade science books & philosophy of mental & physical health. If you’d like to learn more about anatomy, your body, and your habits, go for it. You’d come out having learned something new and respect your body a little more.
Fun fact: all the specimens in the exhibition are made of real human bodies. Currently, there are over 18,000 BODY WORLDS donors, worldwide, who approved to donate their body to BODY WORLDS for public display and educational purposes.
Highlights: The specimens, and interactive experience.
Caveats: If you are in your tourist mode, this might feel like an educational tour and also a bit too much information to cram into your brain.
NOTE: Since we booked our hostel through booking.com, we bought the tickets to SEA Life & Body World’s museum at a discounted price.
|SCORE||8 / 10|
Day 2 Monday: The parade, Borough Market, Little Venice & Camden Market
We chose to walk around a few places and not pay for any attraction on this day.
Changing of the guard parade: Change of the guard is a formal ceremony in which a group of Queen’s soldiers is relieved of their duties by a new batch of soldiers. It happens on a daily basis. Though we could not catch the change of guards from close quarters, we got to see the parade with the band. The place was packed on a Monday morning at around 11 am, so you could imagine the footfall for these ceremonies.
Borough Market: This wholesale and retail market hall in Southwark, is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, with a market on the site dating back to at least the 12th century. There’s a variety of French cheese, fresh fruit drinks, oysters, tea, honey, meat, Italian almonds, and so much more. There’s no dearth of options; you find so many cuisines of street food including Malaysian, Mexican, Cypriot, Indian, Middle Eastern, Iraqi, Japanese, Jamaican among others. If you are a foodie, there are not many better places to be in.
Highlights: Variety of cuisines. Affordable pricing.
Caveats: Despite the roof over your head, it isn’t fully closed. So, it is not very pleasant to sit and eat when it’s cold and windy.
|SCORE||8.5 / 10|
Little Venice: Little Venice is a beautiful picturesque district in London. With its beautiful canals and waterways, this neighborhood is home to waterside cafes, cozy pubs, and charming restaurants. From canal boat rides to puppet shows, there are plenty of things to do in this charming London area, but you must not miss doing the famous Little Venice to Camden Walk.
We didn’t walk all the way up to Camden due to inclement weather. Instead, we got off at Warwick Avenue tube station, followed the LITTLE VENICE signboard (as indicated below), and walked along the canal up to Floating Pocket Park. Then we took another tube to reach Camden.
This is the most beautiful canal we’ve ever seen. It is lined with boats and surrounded by white stucco-clad Regency houses. As you continue walking, you would see boats on both sides of the water, mirrored by terraces of Regency houses. Some residential boat owners have even developed canalside gardens which makes the walk a treat to your eyes. We loved this walk so much that we continued walking despite the storm and heavy downpour; we are sure you’d do just the same. This is a hidden gem.
Highlights: The beautifully decorated boats, and dedicated lanes to walk or even stop for some pictures.
|TYPE||A walk, maybe?|
|SCORE||9 / 10|
Camden Market: A number of adjoining large retail markets together is the Camden Market or Camden lock. Camden market is a diverse community of creative sellers, street food traders, and independent stores next to the regent’s canal. Starting off as temporary, small arts and crafts fair, the market’s popularity grew fast and now this is the largest market in London, open seven days a week.
There’s a mix of stores and stalls selling vintage, original fashion, hand-crafted accessories, unique gifts and everything in between. There are over 1,000 places to shop, eat, drink and dance. This shall guide you if you come here the first time.
Highlights: There’s so much to look at. A lot of different places to shop & eat.
Caveats: Gets crowded over the weekends.
|SCORE||9 / 10|
There’s more to London, and we have put a few in the backlog for our next visit:
Hope you enjoyed this write-up. See you all soon. Please leave your feedback and share it with your friends. Until next time, cya. 🙂
– Kavi & Ninja