London calling, a City Break

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Some thoughts on Arriving…

Busy street hustlers and city slick talkers with an adorable cockney charm, everywhere, surrounding me like a thick smog. That’s right, I went to London, on a budget.

Was I going to be pickpocketed like my foreboding auntie had warned? It had been that long since my last visit to London, I had almost come to forget the adventures to be had in London, albeit not all of them so good and more character building.

The overcrowding hit me immediately, but luckily I’d drank some Bevertown Beers on the train so I had warded myself with some false calm before the stormy sea of people flowing at you from every direction hit.

I must admit, it wasn’t as busy as I remembered it, but I guess that’s because travel in and out of the UK is restricted.

Embarking on the Tube was uncomfortable, the maze of platforms and circle lines (kind of a contradiction so it stood out to me) was a little confusing. I’d pre-prepared for getting around London by downloading the Travel for London App.

Adding your bank card to the App or Oyster Card- which costs £5 and seemed a bit pointless to me, you can cap your spending to £10 per day. This means every time you tap in and out of travel in London (apart from on Buses where you only tap in) you can use ample transport but be capped to only spend £10 daily.

I thought I’d mention it, rather than the tube journey- where a beggar was passively aggressively asking for money and then shouting at people for ignoring him before stumbling away muttering something under his breath. It’s useful for daily budgeting.

 

Getting Around by Boat…

When an Introvert travels…

So my absolute favourite way of getting around London was by boat. It’s a little more expensive and it’s not capped (either are the Greenwich cable cars) but it’s fun and the views are much better.

The buses reminded me of funfair rides, they whizz around while you hold on for dear life. Or clamber up the stairs hoping for a seat. Giddy and busy, I wasn’t a fan of the busses, the boats were much better.

Like with all of London they get busy through the day, so the best times to go on the boats are morning before 10am and evening. I went for one Uberboat from Greenwich to tower bridge through the day and the queue was everlasting, only to get on the boat and it was stuffed.

It was kind of fun though standing at the back and holding on while it bounced around. They pick up some speed, if I’d had a seat it would have been better, probably for the couples bikes I fell onto multiple times, but staying outside was cool- not so calming though.

More on Boats…

My Son wanted to go to London to visit the HMS Belfast so we had to go. I reluctantly paid the £20 + PP entry free, almost sending him in by himself before finally yielding. Do you know something? I was pleasantly surprised. I’d actually highlight this as my top activity (with kids).

There was loads of vintage stuff which I dig, old telephones, shinny copper things, even a vintage beep thing (radar) and the engine room, man I don’t know how people used to work in there. It made me love that I blog even more.

Also thank god feminism wasn’t around then, as a woman I would not have wanted that job. Men really had it tough back then you know…

Something else I loved was the gun turret. They played the chants the Navy used to say while they were loading up the guns and background noise. It was awful but eye-opening if you know what I mean. My Grandfather was in the Navy. I understand now why he was deaf.

Accommodation

I won’t bore you with images of my accommodation. I stayed at a Premier Inn near Tower Bridge – visit the site here.

It was cheap and cheerful accommodation, with friendly staff. There was an average buffet breakfast and pub-style two-course lunch, with a free drink for dinner.

It was an affordable price at £60pp night and in a convenient location. Although after a few cocktails one night I did get a little lost and ended up in a bar where everyone was sat on bikes and drank out of plastic cups. It was a little too hipsterish for me but it was pleasant so I thought I’d include it. Visit Southwark Brewing Company here.

My top tip for not getting lost in London is to use google maps for getting around. Carry your phone in front of you like a total tourist- in all honesty, I didn’t get mugged once. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I stayed for a week and wasn’t mugged if you’re worried about that sort of thing.

I can’t fault the hotel, although there was a lot of graffiti in the area, I didn’t mind that too much.

I enjoyed it so much I forgot to get photographs…

Greenwich Cable Cars

So this was my favourite thing to do in London, it was out of the city centre- so slightly less busy, we did this on Saturday to avoid the crowds. The queue was still pretty long, we waited 40 minutes, at around 10am.

The cable cars move quite a bit and I got some good footage for an Instagram reel. You can see the millennium dome- remember that? It’s now a shopping centre filled with designer shops, restaurants and even a music venue.

Afterwards, we got the bus journey from hell to the Greenwich Observatory- which was worth it. I got off the bus considering voting UKIP.

 Greenwich Observatory

Filled with old telescopes, stunning views and vintage clocks, I liked this place. The gift shop was crazily overpriced though- so avoid that.

Greenwich Maritime Museum

I learnt about the dark side of the tea industry and saw some ship figureheads- this place would be great for small children and it’s free. There was also an interesting photography exhibition that I really enjoyed.

Greenwich, on the whole, was lovely, the sort of place you could have a nice picnic and chill in the sunshine.

V & A

So I’m not gonna lie, I was really upset the Alice in Wonderland exhibition was sold out. If you’re planning to visit an exhibition – book a few weeks in advance.

I was looking forward to this the most- only to have to wander around the free bit, which was kind of interesting if you like sculpture, iron gates and religious artefacts. It wasn’t bad- but Alice would have been better.

Natural History Museum 

Again, it was free. There was some good stuff in here for kids, an earthquake simulator, moving dinosaurs, whale skeletons and stars. My teenage son wasn’t that interested though so I’m going to say that this would suit kids under 10. Also, it was crazily busy at 1pm- so avoid lunchtime.

Coppa Club

Ah man, I love this place. It’s particularly pretty at night, as was the walk along the river by Tower bridge. Actually, there are lots of places to drink along this stretch. The Coppa Club stood out though, with funky little domes to have drinks in while you admire tower bridge.

There was even a little greek looking hut selling cocktails and a big screen playing rugby- followed by live music. I met up with my cousin who lives in London and we had a few drinks here. I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d heard live music, it was kinda magical. The Tower bridge area in general was fun.

Art at the Tate

Also free, I loved this. Art is a passion. There were some pretty whacky exhibitions and one about food, animals and colour. It was all about the idea that species are losing colour because of chemicals that are used and so we are all becoming grey and losing pigment because we eat the colourless animals- and so on.

It was eye-opening and I got to see some artists I hadn’t heard of before so I was pretty happy here…

A shard of Hope

On the last day, we visited the Sky Garden– one of the top attractions in London. Named London’s public garden, I’m not gonna lie, this place has the views. Perfect for selfies, vlogs, Instagram Reels, but it was a little nippy, even on a sunny day take a jacket.

Other than the sky garden- which I personally thought was a little underwhelming, sorry- more of a greenhouse cafe, that’s really high up in the sky, a nice little touch was the coriander scented toilets.

If you’re looking for something pretentious and touristy – look no further. Personally, I felt a little out of place here, but, I did score a free muffin and bland smoothie when the wrong order arrived at my table.

It took three attempts and some equally bland staff, but eventually, I got my cocktail, hooray!

Also book this place three weeks in advance at least if you want to get a good time slot.

 

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed London a lot more than I thought. I’ve had my home placed into storage for four months so, in all honesty, it was nice just to have a relaxing nights sleep. I would say that London isn’t the kind of place you go to relax in general though. Even when you use transport there’s a lot of walking, noise and overcrowding.

I would have indulged in more nightlife if I was there without my son, but the few places I tried, I really enjoyed.

It was so nice to travel again and explore somewhere new, until the next adventure!

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If you’d like to see more of my London trip – add me on Instagram.

Thanks for reading,

Soph. 

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Published by Snophlion

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives them must lead.” Charles Bukowski

5 thoughts on “London calling, a City Break

  1. Loved reading this! I haven’t been to London in so long I miss it. Next time I’m in the UK I will defo be back. I’m surprised a lot of the places you visited were free though, which is great for a budget traveler like me.

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