Remember to bring an adapter with you if you plan to charge your gadget.
They only have three-teeth plugs.
Oh, London, how do I love thee?
Below i count the many ways I was able to enjoy you during my first visit. It is incomplete by far and a work-in-progress. I hope you enjoy reading through and if any reader can contribute to the ways to enjoy London, I would gladly add them!
At Harrod’s Georgian restaurant. Or somewhere equally nice, if not nicer (read: expensive). I tried Bumpkin, which is cheaper, and also had less delicious pastries and used only teabags.
If you want the full-on experience, pay for it. There are plenty of Groupon vouchers to cut off some pounds of the sterling kind, and it’s worth it
2. Visit its most famous address: 221-B Baker Street.
While you’re there, take photos with the wax characters in the Sherlock universe.
3. Go to the second most famous address: 10 Downing Street.
Wave to the prime minister’s home through the grills. Try to befriend the guards if they’ll let you.
4. Say hi to big brother.
Plenty of CCTVs in the city and you can do a dance number to amuse the watchers. Won’t land you in jail until V for Vendetta times strike.
5. Sing “These are just the worst pies in London” under a Fleet Street sign.
A visit to London is like doing your own homage film. Plenty of references to your favourite literary and historical characters. I was hoping to buy pies from Sweeney Todd’s landlady.
6. Go to Bath and walk around.
Bath is actually outside of London. So maybe it doesn’t belong in this list. If you’re a Jane Austen fan though, do not miss a day trip from London.
Bath is able to transport you to older England. A little bit industrial age, a little bit Victorian. I was in English literature heaven.
7. While in Bath, get a cheap thrill out of Quiet Street, Cheap Street and Gay Street.
There abounds a number of streets to suit your mood. And, if you are from Quezon City, Manila, you will relate to some of the street names in Bath. Your Matahimik (Quiet) Street is there.
8. Do laundry. Learn to use the special liquid detergent and sachets that burst.
If you stay at a self-catering apartment, you should enjoy using the washer. And the nifty “hi-tech” laundry liquid and gel detergents.
I marvel at these things because we do not have them here.
9. Drink milk and eat yogurt.
Dairy is sooo good in London and dirt-cheap. They taste different from what’s commercially sold in Manila. The yogurt particular. What we have here are sugar-laden, watery goo, and expensive to boot.
10. Order cider beer at a pub.
Strongbow is the most common in pubs, but there are different brands and flavours in the supermarkets. Bulmer’s is also a favourite!
11. Meet strangers in a pub.
They’re good company and will come in handy when a drunk and violent man (in our case he was Irish) bothers you outside.
12. Find William Thacker’s book shop and house along Portobello Road.
The book shop is now a shoe store. And the house’s blue door is now black.
13. Sample free chocolates and other food stuff at the Harrod’s food section.
14. Be touristy.
Big Ben, The Mall, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Eye, Westminster’s Abbey. Visit everything.
15. Say I will cross the London bridge when I get there.
I crossed the London Bridge when I got there!
16. Speak in a faux British accent.
Because sometimes it seems they understand you better that way. Do cockney if you can.
17. Fight reverse racism. Do not let them bully you because you look oriental.
Unfortunately, we had a couple of run-ins with UK residents of non-Caucasian races who, because they feel discriminated against, perhaps do not realise they practice the same to other minorities. Be gracious to them, but do not be bullied too.
18. Eat dinuguan (pork blood stew) and Johnny’s fried chicken (the Fried of Marikina).
Our friend is the daughter of the owner of Johnny’s and we stayed at her sister’s who knew the recipe. If you stay overseas for a long time you will miss local food sometimes. So if you have friends from home who can cook, you are blessed.
19. Do grocery. At ASDA and Sainsbury’s.
The best way to do as the locals do is to shop for groceries. ASDA and Sainsbury’s have the best prices for yogurt, milk, fresh fruit juices, beer, and everything else.
20. Eat fish and chips.
They use haddock and I do not know how they do it, but the batter is crisp and not steeped in oil, while the fish is perfectly, just-rightly cooked!
21. Have apple crumble with toffee!
This marvelous dessert is a surprise. The tartness of the apple mixed with the cinnamon and sweetness of the toffee and vanilla ice cream is to die for. If you’re from the east, order it at The Goose Pub beside the Walthamstow tube station.
22. Speaking of the Goose Pub, I read that it’s one of the best pubs in London. It was one of our default pubs being very near to where we were staying. The East is not a popular hangout for tourists because they pretty much stay in Central London. The food there is great!
23. Have coffee at Ricco’s at Walthamstow High Street.
24. Pretend you’re the Queen.
Or just take stolen photographs of her portraits inside the Windsor castle.
25. Hang out with Charles Dickens and say hi to Samuel Johnson’s cat.
In Fleet Street, go to the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub where Dickens and Johnson used to hang out. Follow the alley and it will bring you to Johnson’s House. You may enter for a fee, but the yard is a very nice place to sit and read a book. Johnson’s cat’s Hodge’s statue will accompany you.
26. Take a ride at the clipper.
27. Take a joy ride on a double decker.
28. Take photos in each tube station you visit. Each is designed differently.
29. Shop. Or window shop. There are plenty of markets, vintage or otherwise, and plenty of stationery and literary character merchandise to kill me in London. I wish I were rich.
30. Top up your oyster and SIM cards.
For one, It’s more sosyal than magpaload. Secondly, it’s nice to use the topup machines in the tube for the simple reason that we don’t have it at home.
31. Attend a service at Westminster Abbey to get in for free.
32. Buy Ahmad English Breakfast loose-leaf tea.
Ahmad happens to be one of the brands that to my tastebuds offer the best English Breakfast blend.
33. Try black pudding. Or have a full English breakfast.
34. Say I’m sorry. A lot. For having to ask them to repeat their heavily accented sentences.
35. Read tabloids in the tube. Or while waiting for the tour bus.
36. Eat at Nando’s Peri-peri chicken.
37. Eat at Hache restaurant in Camden Town
38. Sample free food at Camden Market
39. Try the frozen hot chocolate at chinchinlabs in Camden Town
40. Have brunch at the cafeteria of the V&A museum.
41. Take a ride on the Eurostar bound for Paris.
42. Exchange currencies at the post office.
They have better rates.
43. While at the post office, mail some postcards.
When you see all the lovely postcards being sold in London/Europe, you would want to buy them all. Give them their reason to be and send them to your friends.
1. Rent a Barclay bike.
London is an ideal city for biking, with lots of bicycles for rent that you can take from one station and drop off on the next. It really is a sin to go to biking countries (Japan, UK, Europe, Singapore) and not to know how to bike. I have to correct this.
2. Attempt to stalk actors at the BAFTA.
When I was there, all of Hollywood and British acting royalty were converging at the Royal Shakespeare opera house for the BAFTA. And…because it was my first day back from Europe and a Sunday meant I had no pounds to commute with, it was freezing outside, and all the other lame excuses in the book, I did not go and regret it so to this very day!
Do not be like me!
3. Get a library card.
I spent two weeks in London and never got around to applying for one, even if every single day we had to pass by the library on the way to the tube station. Can someone kick me?
4. Visit abbey road.
Or attempt to. There are two Abbey Roads. The one in the map and the studio’s near St. John’s Wood. It’s the latter. We never got there.
I am amazed at how Manang Flora has become so creative in fixing my lunch.
Apart from using the dividers, she even added lettuce leaves to add color and occupy the empty space!
Here, she used black and wild rice on the top layer and scattered fried garlic strips over it for a garlic rice twist.
On the bottom layer is a good portion of the viands. I got meat, fish and greens.
So I don’t really cook, right? I mean I can, and I do sometimes, but more often I really on Manang Flora to pack my lunch.
Ever since I went back to Japan in 2009 and bought several obento bako or lunch boxes, I wanted my lunch to be as nice-looking as the ones Japanese folks prepare.
Manang has since learned to beautify my bento. She used to put food in there with plenty of spaces left so that the food is disarranged during transport.
Yesterday, she packed me a salad lunch.
The first layer is made of the chicken and greens salad with garlic basil vinaigrette – in the bottle – plus a macaroni salad for dessert in the silicone divider. I don’t know if it’s visible in the picture.
The second layer is a deconstructed ensaladang itlog maalat (salted egg salad), with rice and sliced garlic crisps.
I just love lunches that look nice, don’t you?
When did I start appreciating vanilla ice cream?
I have always been a chocolate person. Plain chocolate ice cream all the way.
But somewhere, sometime, somehow, my tastebuds got acquainted with flavours some would call exotic, or just plain weird.
Whatever. Sometimes my mind orders certain ingredients, textures, flavours to be combined in one plate and I must deliver.
So tonight, I wanted sesame ice cream. Which is probably why I keep a tub of vanilla ice cream in the freezer because i can do more things with it.
Like, in espresso sauce for affogato. Chocolate pieces for simulated mcflurry. Over graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallow for smores ala mode.
There’s nothing fancy in this cup, really. I have vanilla ice cream and sprinkled black sesame seeds over it.
I think next time I will process the seeds to release the flavours some more.
It’s quite tasty as it is!
All eyes are on London with the Summer Olympics Opening ceremonies commencing a few hours ago.
Just to be relevant, and because I feel an unexplained affinity towards London after traveling there early this year, I want to ask: What does London and my hometown, Manila, have in common?
To most foreigners, the place they know as London is London the capital of England, and the one they call Manila is Manila the capital of the Philippines.
But not many know, until they set foot in the cities and unless they’re geeky like me, is that there is a London within London and a Manila within Manila.
What we know as the capital of England is also known as Greater London. It is composed of burroughs whose names you can easily Google. The original London founded by the Romans is now called the City of London, located pretty much at the heart of Greater London where most of the tourist spots are.
Meanwhile, Manila City, originally founded by the Spaniards, is only one city out of 16 and 1 municipality that comprise Metropolitan Manila, sometimes called Greater Manila Area.
Being a Manila resident of course i take this for granted and just reply,
yes, there is a Manila within Manila
to questions from foreign friends.
Well, it was my turn when I visited London!
Go Philippine Team!!
When I become a benevolent dictator I will order all food establishments who serve coffee to give a mandatory free refill.
I mean, why so stingy with refills?
Sometimes I order coffee at a restaurant and my taste buds gets blown by how fantastic the coffee is.
Like UCC coffee. The sumiyaki, or even the regular brewed, tastes so clean on the palate. I love to take it black or with their creamy creamer. (What do they use? I suppose it’s Nestlé Krematop or Harvey’s half and half).
I down the cup and I need another 6oz serving. For some reason I find that two 6-oz cups is just right whereas one 12-oz serving is too much and takes me forever to finish!
My conversation with friends is not yet finished and once in a while I catch myself grabbing the cup by the ear to take a sip only to find the cup empty.
We want that sipping coffee while catching up with friends scene right? An empty coffee cup therefore is unacceptable!
You must understand, cafés charge clearly more than five times the actual price for a cup of coffee. People can’t very well keep paying for another cup’s worth for one refill.
When I own my cafe, coffee orderers of 6-8oz size cups will be entitled to one free refill. Which is enough to satisfy a caffeine fix without making you shake the entire day.
In fact I could do unlimited refills because virtually no one can drink over five cups in one sitting, I think. But I live in a country where unlimited is abused, like bringing a water bottle and transferring the contents to it so they can keep refilling.
So I’m sticking to one free refill in my café. And the same will go for my benevolent order number 1.
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