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Publication Date : 06-06-2012
With the 2012 Olympics just around the corner, London will definitely be in the spotlight in the coming months. But even if you aren’t flying in for the main event, there’s a lot to do in jolly old England besides the requisite sightseeing.
After you’ve seen Big Ben, scanned the city via the London Eye, and tried and failed to make the Queen’s guards at Buckingham Palace laugh, get yourself a seven-day tube pass and explore.
Whether you want to stay central or check out surrounding areas, London has something for everyone.
Get some grub at Borough Market. If you are a foodie, or simply just hungry, head over to Borough Market, open on Thursday-Saturday every week.
This is the most renowned market in London, selling ready-to-eat food and produce in both retail and wholesale prices.
You will find every type of food you can imagine—from Turkish Delights and other Middle Eastern treats to stinky but delicious raclette and even fresh wild boar-filled ravioli, among other things.
Take your time marveling at the fresh vegetables and fruits, and take home some artisan cheese, tins of foie gras and jars of truffle honey.
Walk around East London.
If you are more into art found on the streets rather than museums, the Shoreditch/Brick Lane/Spitalfields area is your best bet. Big names such as Banksy, Space Invader, Alice Pasquini and C215 grace the walls of London’s East End. Instead of big-name stores, you will find smaller boutiques and vintage shops dotting the area.
Grab a few drinks in one of the chic lounges and don’t forget to have a meal at Tayyabs— an east London institution that serves delicious, authentic and cheap Indian/Pakistani food.
Stroll through Camden Lock. There are several markets scattered in Camden and Camden Lock was the first of the lot. Here you will find everything from alternative fashion, vintage stores, handmade accessories, artwork as well as vintage poster and Banksy knockoff prints to take home.
Although many say that Camden has lost its edge, it’s still a good place to visit if you are a first-timer in London. If you want to eat after shopping, skip the market food and head over to Primrose Hill a short walk away and pop into Guanabana on Kentish town road. This Filipino-Indian-owned halal Latin-Caribbean resto will surely hit the spot.
Head down to Brixton Village. Feeling adventurous? Once considered one of the most dangerous areas in London, Brixton Village has become gentrified and is now home to cozy pubs and small shops.
Visit the former Granville Arcade, now Brixton Village, a small cluster of restaurants and boutiques selling homey food from different cultures (you’ll find Italian, Colombian, Chinese, a sweet shop and awesome burgers all next to each other).
Before leaving, buy a pair of earrings or a handmade dress from United 80, and get a picture of yourself by Electric Avenue (yes, like the song).
Go on a picnic. With the many parks scattered around London, you will have no problem picking one regardless of what area you are in.
If in Central London, make a detour West and go to Harrod’s, where you will find a very extensive food hall. Grab some picnic essentials and head on over to enjoy a beautiful British summer day in Hyde Park.
Alternatively, you can also opt to stay indoors and treat yourself to traditional English afternoon tea, complete with scones, jam and clotted cream.
Get your culture fix. You won’t be left wanting when it comes to art and culture in London. Tate Modern almost always has interesting exhibits to view (the Damien Hirst exhibit is on). And for fun, interactive versions of the classics, watch a play at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Close by is the Southbank Centre, where you will find everything, from visual arts to dance and spoken word performances.