One of the best things about England, and something that Londoners are so lucky to have, is the ability to take day trips. Just a few hours outside London is home to many charming cities and towns, perfect places to escape the metropolis of a big city.
On my last trip to London, I went to Bath and Stonehenge and thinking back fondly, Bath will always be a favorite little city of mine but there were other cities I wanted to visit.
Statford-Upon-Avon is the quintessential charming English market town. Located in South England, Statford-Upon-Avon is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. His birth home, school and other significant landmarks makes this little town a very popular tourist attraction.
Just look at Shakespeare’s birthplace — the manicured lawns and the painted facade makes this building look like it jumped out of a fairy tale.
Statford-Upon-Avon is also home to some of the best cornish pastries I’ve had the pleasure of eating.
Above – Traditional Cornish Pastry and Bacon & Leek Cornish Pastry
Pasty Presto – 4a Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
On our way to Oxford, we stopped by a small, sleepy town called Burton-on-the-Water located within the Cotswolds – an area of rolling hills and picturesque greenery. Burton-on-the-Water is a city that is flanked by a river and what makes this area so interesting is that it seems like all its inhabitants and visitors congregate around this river. All the shops and restaurants line the stream while low bridges provide access to either side. Some children and adults play in the water while others like myself, stroll the area with ice cream in hand.
I don’t know if I can describe Oxford in any sort of way that would do it any justice. I think just being in the city, surrounded by the different colleges, and knowing the alumni that studied and taught at this school, made me question every academic choice I’ve ever made.
I always imagined that one day, I would go back to school..perhaps, I can only dream.
Travelling to London twice in one year was a blessing. And while London is quite easy to navigate, I felt lucky that I had visited once before and able to quickly locate my favorite tourists spots and hidden gems. Below is a collection of just a few of my favorite neighborhoods.
Home to my favorite market, antique shops and little cafes, Notting Hill is all London charm. If I were ever lucky to get the chance to live in London, I’d like to think that I would live in Notting Hill. I love the coloured homes and the random stores. I found my favorite purses and dresses in this neighborhood. Tucked away in the side streets are the best finds for a typical English Breakfast and of course, my favorite Elderflower juice.
I didn’t really take any photos that are iconic to Covent Garden but I certainly spent my fair share of time here. True, it’s touristy and flooded with crowds all year round, but it’s also a convenient neighborhood with plenty of restaurants and bars to visit. I love areas that are pedestrian friendly and Covent Garden is one of those places. A plethora of beautiful brick buildings and old theatres surround the main square, making it a neighbourhood worth exploring.
Above -Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad with Roasted Artichoke, Red Onion, Purple Basil and Balsamic Jelly. Alla Roma Pizza with Mozzarella, Parma Ham, Mascarpone, Red Onion and Rocket.
* I also highly recommend their jug of Pimms. Sitting in the plaza of Covent Garden, sharing a jug of Pimms with new friends, you can’t get more carefree than that.
Covent Garden – 21 The Market, Covent Garden, London
When Gloria and I were in Paris a few months ago, we often walked through the parks. An iconic image of a Parisian park are the green reclining chairs that are scattered throughout, available to park dwellers on a first come first served basis. However, at the time when Gloria and I were visiting, no common chairs were available to us, which ended up being a slight disappointment…so on my latest walk through Hyde Park, I had to snap this photo for her..unoccupied park chairs!
Hyde Park, as touristy as it is, is still one of my favorite spaces in London. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, parks are wonderful places to congregate. Enjoying a picnic on the grass or taking a post dinner stroll, the things you can do in a park are endless.
Unless you live here, work here, or know someone who does both here, an average tourist wouldn’t visit Canary Wharf. I believe this area is highly underrated and it wouldn’t have been on my radar had I not rented an apartment in the heart of Canary Wharf. Though it’s mainly just office buildings, this clean, modern area is also filled with trendy bars and restaurants as well as houses several parks and plazas. During the summertime, the open areas hosts festivals, concerts, outdoor plays and movie screenings. When the sun sets on weekdays, droves of businessmen and women come out and fill the bars with bustling noise and activity. The weekends offer food carts and local farmer’s markets. There’s so much to do here all in a five block radius.
Other Favorite London Neighbourhoods —
There were so many other areas that I loved but didn’t get a chance to visit the second time around. Camden Town, Brixton, Islington, Southwark..oh the list continues.
When I was backpacking Europe with Gloria earlier this year, I had promised my family that I would send them photos and update them every time I arrived into a new city or country. When I was in London, I sent my mother pictures of my friends and I enjoying an afternoon tea in Bath and watching musicals in the West End. Now, these activities are things I typically leave for my mother so while I was having loads of fun, I still had some guilt that I was having fun in London without her, not to mention the slightly jealous remarks that I received in response to those said photos.
So when the time came to plan a trip with my mom, I asked her if there were any cities she really wanted to visit, especially it being her first time in Europe. Wanting to check off some bucket list items, she enthusiastically requested London. And while we were there, we did the two things we loved to do together — watching musicals and enjoying afternoon tea.
After settling into our apartment, buying groceries and eating crumpets, we went to check out some of the weekend markets in London. Due to our late start, we felt there was a bit of ground to cover and ended up wandering four markets one after another…
After a long afternoon in the sun, it felt like a good time to stop for drinks and snacks..
A pint of Beer, Scotch Eggs, and a helping of Eton Mess. My snacks are always so random…
Canteen (Spitalfields) – 2 Crispin Place, Spitalfields, London, UK