As someone who grew up in Asia, London seems like a distant fantasy that I would only see on a TV screen. Now that I have moved to the UK, London is finally within my reach being just a two hour train journey from Manchester. Two years ago, I visited London for the first time and I fell in love with the gorgeous architecture, and recently I had the chance to go back. Needless to say, it is still as beautiful as I remembered.
On Friday morning, I took a train to London, which cost me £50.20 for a return ticket with a 16-25 railcard. I was going with a friend and we stayed in the Premium Inn in Kings Cross for £36 each. There are cheaper hotels and hostels available but since it is only a 15 minute walk from Euston station, we thought it was worth it for the convenience.
The highlight of our trip was definitely the St Dunstan in the East Church Garden located near Bank Street. If you love nature, gothic architecture, and history this is the place for you. The church was built around 1100 and was damaged twice by fire and bombing in 1666 and 1941 respectively. Right now, it serves as a public garden and provides a beautiful green space in London for everyone to enjoy a quiet moment or to snap a quick scenic picture. Since it is located near Bank Street, it is easily accessible by tube and is only a 5 minute walk away from the station. There is no entrance fee and it is open all year around except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, and is perfect for anyone who wants escape the busy streets of London momentarily.
If you are an art lover, Cecil Court is the perfect place to spend your day. There are art galleries and tons of second-hand bookshops making this the perfect place to go if you wish to get lost in the world of culture and be transported back in time. And for Harry Potter fans, some say this lane was the inspiration behind Diagon Alley. There are shops with unique trinkets and art pieces – be mindful not to spend all your budget on them! Not to mention, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery are less than 5 minutes away which are great places to soak up some culture, especially as these have no entrance fee.
You will probably be hungry after all this, but not to worry because there are a lot of different cafés and pubs around Cecil Court and Covent Garden. I had the pleasure of trying the most delicious cookies from Ben’s Cookies. However, if you are not in the mood for cookies, how about pancakes and all-day breakfasts? The Riding House Café located on Great Titchfield Street – near Oxford Circus tube station – and offers amazing buttercream pancakes as well as traditional English breakfasts. The environment is airy with natural sunlight shining through the windows, a great place to just sit, unwind and enjoy good food.
There are so many amazing spots in London and it impossible for me to talk about them all. What I will say is that reading what I wrote about London is nothing compared to being there and seeing everything with your own eyes, so if you get a chance to explore London, take it, I promise you will not regret it.