It took me forty one years to find out London was my favourite city in the whole world. The moment I landed in Heathrow, a cold autumn wave passed through my body and I knew had definitely reached Queensland.
I had never, in my whole life, seen such beautiful, organised, flower-full streets made of red bricks and 18th century memories. As you walk through the city, you can feel like what it was to be Jane Austen looking for a potential romance tale, for there are so many happy couples coming back from the pubs, which just have that characteristic smell of joy, booze, and fish and chips. By the way, do not forget to try London’s amazing street vendors’ fish and chips, which you can find just anywhere.
On my first day in London city, me, my daughter and my mother walked through the Parliament, took lots of pictures in front of the Big ol’ Ben and went on a cruise in the Thames, which was a really nice trip because we had the chance to see the Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s famous theatre (even if from afar), the London Tower (and yes, there were crows there, just like the old story says) and the borough of Canary Wharf, commonly known as the equivalent of New York’s Wall Street financial district. The cruise was definitely worth it and I’d do it all again!
Also, if you’re coming back from a guided tour or just a walk through Hyde Park and is bloody hungry, do stop at Garfunkel’s and try their chicken pot pie and have a cold pint (the equivalent a beer, only larger) because we’re not made of steel, after all. The service is great, the prices are good and fair and the place is definitely a must go if you’re in London for the first time.
Even if you’re very, very tired of spending the day trying to see Prince William and Duchess Kate (without success, sorry), do stop at the London Eye, one of the biggest wonder-wheels in the world, and a privileged place from which you can see the entire city. It is the most beautiful in the evening, when the sun is coming down, and do pray there isn’t an annoying little boy yelling at his mother for something he wanted at that moment, because I didn’t have such luck. Still, the image of the sun setting behind the Parliament is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. And also the souvenirs, of course, which are not cheap, but it’s definitely worth buying some for you and your family.
Do get a day to visit the iconic city of Windsor, which hosts the famous palace that serves as home to the current monarch, Elizabeth II, and in which Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (you’ve probably heard of them) got married last May. It is a fairytale scenery for your travel pictures and it definitely makes you feel like a princess (or prince) wandering through your own property and caressing flowers in the gardens. It is about half an hour away from London, and you can get there either by train or by bus and I’d advise you to spend a whole day there to visit not only the castle but also the very famous boys’ private school, Eton. After you’ve seen the main attractions, it is time for a little bit of souvenir shopping (you can even get a mug with Queen Elizabeth’s face on it), and the prices are going to be much, much better than London’s, trust me. There, they sell huge variety of products inspired by the royal family, but if you have a little bit of patience and a good eye you can spot a couple of beautiful paintings of the place for you to hang at your dining room back at home. If your stomach rumbles at some point, be sure to immerse yourself in the Londoner culture and have your lunch at a local pub (basically the only kind of restaurant you’ll find there). I had a delicious lamb pie, also called Shepard’s pie, with mashed potatoes at a lovely place called The Carpenter’s Arms. You will surely have lots of wonderful memories from this little village!
From my best experience, I’d advise you to book a hotel or Airbnb in the neighbourhoods of Paddington and Sussex Gardens, which are pretty close to any touristic sight you might want to see, have great and quick access to the subway, lots of nice international restaurants and are two of the few places where you can interact with real Londoners. Just try getting yourself a pint and sitting outside a pub at a shared table. Drink with them, smoke with them, laugh with them, that’s my motto. British people get funny when drunk.
If you’re considering London for your next travel destination, be sure you’ll find not only the most cliché things we hear about Britain and British people, but a whole new world made of old and new, young and elderly, modern and ancient, cloudy and sun, and politeness, lots and lots of politeness. You should definitely start practicing your British accent.