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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

London in Summer Series: Culture vultures

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London in the summer is perfect for the culture vultures. London has always been a capital full of culture and there are enough things to do in London if you are looking for that culture fix during your summer break. London has a wide variety of museums, exhibitions, cinemas and theatres. There are a lot of cultural events to choose from but here are some off-the-beaten- track options.

Tour a Theatre

Tour the backstage area of the National Theatre and see all the work that is done to make the magic on stage happen. Tours happen up to six times a day on Monday-Friday, twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. Tickets cost £7.

The Shakespeare Globe has an exhibition about theatre in Shakespeare’s day: from Elizabethan Special effects to dressmaking. Tickets are available at the door from 9am and an adult ticket cost £12.50

Cinema on the Rooftop

For an alternative cinema night, keep an eye on the Rooftop Filmclub website. Films are shown on the roof of Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch from July to September. Food, drink and free blankets are available. Tickets cost £9 but there are only 100 places so you have to book early.

Museum

The Jameel Prize is an international award for contemporary artists and designers whose work connects the traditional Islamic culture to modern day. The work of the shortlisted nominees is shown in the V&A museum. The exhibition is on from 21st of July -25 September and the entrance is free.

London Shows

For a London theatre break see the play War Horse with magnificent puppetry. The horse Joey is sold to serve the cavalry in France during World War I. His boss Albert is too young to enlist but heart-broken by the loss of his friend he goes on a dangerous journey to save him.

Another show full of puppetry and masks is the musical the Lion King. Based on the Disney film of the same title, the show is now in its 10th year and wows audiences from every age.

Stay

Insert a little bit of glamour into your stay in London and book you theatre break to stay at the newly decorated St Ermins Hotel. It is situated in central London, close to St James’ Park but is protected by its beautiful courtyard, making it an oasis of calm.The modern yet classy decorated rooms and the gorgeous Crystal ballroom will make your London stay something unforgettable.

Drink

Gordon’s Wine Bar is the oldest wine bar in London and was established in 1890. It is a cosy little place thanks to the dark wooden furniture and ambiance lighting but it also has an outdoor terrace.

The Book Club in East London mixes all kinds of cultural events with food and creativity. The beautiful open space is perfect for live music nights, speed-dating and craft sessions. Enjoy breakfast and lunch here or share some platters in the evening and play some pool.

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London in Summer: London for Romance.

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Summer is a magical time for romance: from country weddings to holiday flings, love is truly in the air. Now is the time to start looking for the perfect break to spend some quality time for two.

When you are planning a romantic break, all you want is quality and London is a great choice for lovers. There are so many things to do in London that you will definitely find something that you will both enjoy.

Theatre

Romance was still alive in the 1960s where the musical Dreamboats and Petticoats is set. Norman and Bobby decide to enter a song writing-competition to impress their girls Sue and Laura. This London musical is filled with classic hits from the golden era of the 1960s.

In the classic musical Phantom of the Opera a mysterious man mentors the young singer Christine. He is in love and will do anything for his muse to shine on stage. When his love turns to jealousy disaster strikes the opera. This wonderful show with its beautiful music and elaborate staging has entertained audiences for the last 25 years.

Museums

Visit the exhibition Glamour of the Gods at the National Portrait Gallery. The pictures of legendary stars from Hollywood’s golden age (1920 -1960) will set the mood for old-fashioned romance. The exhibition is on until the 23rd of October and tickets cost £6.

You can check your chemistry in the Science museum; they organise an adults-only evening last Wednesday of the month (except December). The evening starts from 18:45 to 22:00 and include themed hands-on events; there is a bar, a DJ and you can even dance to a Silent Disco! Entry is free but some events maybe ticketed.

Stroll in the park

London has some of the most beautiful parks and if you walk to the top of Primrose hill close to Regents Park, you will have a stunning view over London. You will easily recognise some on London’s most famous landmarks.

Find some tranquility when walking through the Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park. This part of the park is designed in Japanese style complete with a pond and waterfalls.

Candle-lit dinners

You can never go too far wrong with some European fare served at a table at the Oxo Tower restaurant, while you overlook the Southbank and the Thames.

The Blue Elephant in Fulham offers a completely different view: its stunning interior and gorgeous Thai food will transport you straight to Thailand.


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Book it like Beckham

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David and Victoria Beckham have welcomed daughter Harper Seven to their family! Beckham’s baby-name nicely complements their sons’ who have already being christened Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz.

Now his daughter has arrived, David might want to give his wife some mother-daughter quality time and take his boys out for a break.

What better city to entertain the children than our capital London. There are plenty of things to do in London that will keep the kids busy and smiling. For all the fathers (and mothers!) who are looking for some ideas in the capital this summer, we have compiled a list of things to do:

Many free museums in London offer special activities for children and families. National History Museum has plenty of impressive interactive displays from dinosaurs to an earthquake room that children will love. Same goes for the Science Museum next door where they have opened a special Space Exhibition for the summer. The Tate Modern on the Southbank offers Summer Holiday sessions with games and map-making on Thursdays and Fridays for children and an accompanying adult.

If the summer weather holds there are outdoor activities plenty in London. The Diana Memorial Playground in Hyde Park has a Peter Pan theme with a pirate boat to climb, teepees to explore and a sensorial trail. Kew Gardens have complemented their Climbers and Creepers an interactive botanical playground with a brand new outdoor Treehouse Towers playground.

No visit to London is complete without a visit to the West End and there are a variety of theatre shows suitable for children. Take your kids on a London theatre break for memories that will last a lifetime:

Energetic children will be mesmerised by the by this show’s power and creativity of STOMP. Performers have used everything from bin-lids and pipes to even kitchen sinks to create rhythms to dance, move and grove on.

War Horse is an epic theatre production with astonishing puppetry and a story that will appeal to everyone in the family. When the First World War starts and horse Joey is sold to the cavalry, his young boss Albert goes on a journey to find him.

Superhero fans will love Batman Live at the O2 Arena. Gotham City will come alive with stunts, aerial acrobatics and theatrical illusions. Batman and Robin will have to take on his enemies Catwoman, Two-Face and of course his nemesis The Joker.

Contrary to popular believe, London is a family-friendly city. The capital has a lot of entertainment to offer to children of all ages so you can make the most of your summer holiday.

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The Wizard of Oz theatre break

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blog-picture7Begin the adventure of a lifetime and follow the yellow brick road to the Wizard of Oz theatre break. Re-live the ultimate voyage of Dorothy on the trail through the forest on her infamous quest to return home. This vivid production portrays the well known story of Dorothy and her small dog Toto with the modern songs and surprises from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Bill Kenwright.

According to the Library of Congress, this timeless classic is the most watched motion film in history, no wonder the theatre version is such a success. Released in 1939, The Wizard of Oz is just as watched today as it was over 70 years ago. Significant changes were made during the adaptation from novel to film, such as the role the Wicked Witch of the West, and even the famous ruby slippers were silver in the book. However, the changes have helped to make

This American fantasy was originally written in 1900 by author L. Frank Baum, titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The children’s classic has been reprinted numerous in the 111-years that have since passed, and the story is as well know to the children of the 21st century as it was in the first years of its publication.

The Wizard of Oz theatre break is not a new concept. Back in 1902 the novel was first adapted to entertain audiences from the stage. The initial success of both the original novel and this first stage adaptation lead to Baum writing 13 more Oz books.

Today, the Wizard of Oz theatre break has progressed majorly since its original performance on Broadway. Costumes and sets are immaculate, producing a glittering, shining show, which everybody can appreciate. The Wizard of Oz theatre break has remained strong for 109-years – that surely says something about how great the production is.

Image courtesy of Flickr

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Experiencing the Medieval Banquet in London

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Freshly arrived to the U.K., one of the first opportunities of a night out in London for me was to go to the Medieval Banquet.

I went there with 5 colleagues, and we had the surprise of spending a very nice evening. Indeed, none of us already experimented such a thing to do in London

As we were arriving to this medieval show, two knights and the Queen herself welcomed us and lead us to our table. And that’s only the beginning… continue reading

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Scariest Places in London: Warwick Castle

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As I plan my trip to Warwick Castle I realize I will never get  British pronunciation correct. I’m quickly told that I’m not going to Warwick, I’m going to “Wor’ick”. With only three days of sightseeing left I want to pick a great spot for my last hurrah. Warwick Castle Dungeons will be opening just before I leave for home and I want to try and squeeze it in if I can get my hands on some Warwick Castle Tickets. My friends and I are all able to agree on this trip because there’s just so much to do there!

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Camden Town: Food, Friends, and (Great!) Finds

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Well, I may not have been able to check out all of the cuisines I listed in my last article about food (yet!), but I did make it to the cobblestone streets of Camden Market’s food vendor area yesterday…close enough, right? Davis, California might have the most adorable Saturday morning farmer’s market, but I’m starting to see why shopping in London is so famous, it’s pretty impossible to compete with the size and variety of London’s famous sites.

Food in Camden Market - Yandle

Food in Camden Market - Yandle

The Camden Market’s stalls were tiny, the streets were narrow, and the food was AMAZING! (Suck on that, American food courts). I swear this tiny corner of Camden houses any and everything you could possibly want to eat. Cuban? Check. Spanish? Italian? Thai? Moroccan? Chinese? Indian? Mexican? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check! Everything looked and smelled so delicious that I worked up an appetite just trying to decide which one to choose. And, one of the best things about strolling around Camden is the mix of locals and tourists, sure, there are a ton of souvenirs and knick-knacks lining the streets, but do and a little digging and the market is actually packed with great (and often cheap!) clothing, crafts, and music as well. From CDs to corsets, there’s something for everyone in Camden, just make sure you’ve got plenty of time to spend exploring!

I can’t wait to check out some of the city’s other famous markets and foods soon…Maybe all of this exploring will help burn off the huge helping of paella I wolfed down last night! continue reading

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They Aren’t Called French Fries? Trying Out the Local Cuisines

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I was more than a little nervous about giving up the fantastic variety of Californian cuisine for my move to London. Sure I’d be living in a fantastic neighbourhood (Kensington, ever heard of it?), taking fun classes (hi, field trips to Oxford, Parliament, the Globe), working a fun company, meeting tons of new people, and travelling like mad (read my Dublin post anyone?), but all I could think about as I jumped on that United jet was, what about burritos? Cheeseburgers? Pluto’s salads? As delightful as afternoon tea sounds, anyone who’s hopped on the “English cuisine” Wikipedia page can probably understand my hesitation. I’m sorry guys, but chip sandwiches? How does somebody even come up with that?

Chip Butty - Annie Mole

Chip Butty - Annie Mole

Which isn’t to say a chip butty isn’t one of the first things I tried when I got here (add a little ketchup and it’s not bad!), but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the richness of the culinary culture here. continue reading

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The UK and Australia Aim to Re-invent Easter Traditions

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Springtime Comes to Britain

Deep into history the day when the cloudy top is lifted off Britain and sunlight finally hits the ground is an epic one. The Saxons originally celebrated this day by munching hot cross buns (bread rolls with crosses on top representing the lunar calendar and the goddess) and dancing in the sun. As Christians arrived on the rain-drenched land mass they brought with them Easter Sunday, the day on which Christian’s believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead. With hot cross buns re-oriented to symbolize The Cross, Christians celebrate the rebirth of their savoir and the rebirth of the earth, spring!

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Jack the Ripper Tour in London: a great dark, cold and rainy night

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When is the perfect time to go on a Jack the Ripper tour in London? In a dark, cold, awfully rainy night, of course! This is the extreme weather we found when trying out the Jack the Ripper tour by Premium Tours, on Sunday evening. The tour started perfectly on time at 5.40 pm at the Grosvenor Victoria Hotel. We were a total of 8 people – not a small number considering the season and especially the rain! We know that during summer the group can grow as big as 40.jack the ripper tour spitafields

As usual, it’s the guide who makes the quality of the tour. We were lucky: Derrick, our guide (not the inspector! ;) was quite perfect: a perfectly radiophonic voice, low-pitched and clear, a good rhythm, a vivid narration full of macabre and scary details, and some always-working jokes. Besides that, he was attentive to the group needs, careful not to leave us too much out in the rain and adjusting the walking tour accordingly. continue reading

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