Different things to do in London

 

Canal Cruise

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One section of Camden markets. There is a lot to see and eat.

In the north of London is a vibrant area called Camden.  There are unusual shops and market stalls, selling clothes, crafts and souvenirs, as well as an international food court intertwined with cool cafés and street art.

From here, you can take a slow cruise in an old narrow boat, down the Regent canal that links Camden Lock and Little Venice.  You will pass posh houses, Regent’s park and London Zoo.

The boats run between Camden and Warwick Ave tube station, so chose a one way from either point. There are several companies to choose from.

Camden Lock

Camden Lock

Free TV show tapings

Get online before you go and search out free tickets to be part of a studio audience.

SRO and Applausestore are the two main websites to look at.   The bigger comedy and variety shows are abit more difficult to get onto, but if you say you are visiting from overseas and tell them how much you love that show, it could get you tickets, or at least put you on the short list.

The day time talk shows require a large audience and are easier to get in to. Quiz shows sometimes need you to stay for 2 or 3 episodes. It’s okay to apply for more than one show, and if you have to decide between two or three, just let the other/s know as soon as you can. They always have more people waiting in the wings.

An evening stand-up show taping. The crowd was quite feral.

An evening stand-up show taping. The crowd was quite feral and only the beautiful people got to sit at the tables. Most shows are seated theatre-style, but do check.

 

Walking Tours

There are countless walking tours for all interests available.  Some are free and require a tip at the end; or you can book online and secure a place on others.  Many people like the Jack the Ripper type tours which take place at night.  Others like the foodie tours of the different areas.  Unseen Tours involve a look at London with a homeless person.  Always check reviews though, as some tour companies are better than others.

 

West-end Theatre tickets

The London West End Theatre district is the best in the world.  This is because there are so many old, iconic theatres within a small radius.  Because most of them were built in the early 1800’s, they can be small inside with lots of balconies, so pretty well every seat will have great views; even on the top rows. They are beautifully ornate and have perfect acoustics.

Pick up one of the free papers to get the current show listings.

There are 4 ways to get cut price theatre tickets.

One of the grand old theatres.

One of the grand old theatres.

1.Go to the special ticket dealers, with the main one being in Leicester Square. They sell returns and unsold tickets for upcoming performances at a discount.

2.See if the show offers Day seats. These are going to cost around £20 and will be in the front rows. Buy them on the day, at 10 AM when the box office opens. I saw Billy Eliot, 42nd Street and Rock of Ages from the front row for only £15-20. The clerk cannot tell you directly, but they can hint which row and seat is the better one, as if the stage is really high, your view might be better from row 3 instead of the front row.

3.Go to the show’s box office from 1 hour to twenty minutes before the show is due to start. Ask for the cheapest ticket they have.  Then go to the usher and sometimes they will change your nosebleed seat for a better one.  I have done this numerous times and normally get between rows 1 and 10.  It is better for the actors to look out on a full theatre, than to have empty seats dotted around the stalls.

Another time I went in last minute and asked for the cheapest seat. There were only pricey ones left, but I embellished a bit and said I had to be at the airport soon, and only had a little British cash left.  She gave me the special artist rate which was a 25% discount.  This method worked for Les Miserables.

It is better to try on a weekday, not in the height of summer tourist season.

4.Go to a matinee performance. Better still, do method #3 for a matinee performance.

 

Madame Tussauds

This is the busiest and the best of the slough of Madame Tussauds that have sprung up around Europe.  The queues can be ridiculous, so always pre-buy tickets from your hotel or online. They are a part of the conglomerate which handles the London Eye, Shrek, Sealife and London Dungeon, so if this type of thing attracts you, check for joint tickets for a reduced price. They have a late deal for over 18’s which is the same price as a normal ticket, which could be good.

I love Madame Tussauds because you can stand right beside the figures, touch them and take lots of photos. The world leaders and royal sections are very good, as the pop culture figures.  The spirit of London is a ride that takes you through history.

They change the exhibits regularly, so if you visited a few years ago, it will have been updated.

The Plantetarium is right beside it, but I haven’t visited so cannot comment. It might be a good place to send your other half if you are interested in Brad Pitt in wax, but they aren’t.

 

Harrods

No visit to London is complete without a stop at Harrods. This iconic department store attracts the wealthiest of the wealthiest and lots of tourists.  Stop by the food courts to admire the displays of food porn.  Truffles, an oyster and champagne bar, chocolates, and some of the most gorgeous takeaway you will see anywhere.

Look for the Diana and Dodi memorial, where the scary looking, ethereal couple reach for a flying dove. The golden Egyptian escalator cost £30 million to build.  The Georgian café serves an afternoon tea for around £40 if you want to eat in style.

If you love Christmas, they have a great set up selling ornaments and teddy bears.

Souvenir lovers normally pick up either a Shopping Bag, key ring, teddy bear, or  tea or coffee in a Harrods tin.

 

Royal Albert Hall

Just outside Kensington Gardens, is the concert hall of concert halls. You can poke your nose inside as the box office is open from 9am to 9pm.  I used their washrooms and had a cup of tea in the café.  There are several dining/ drinking places, as well as a myriad of different tours you can take.  Maybe pick up a ticket and watch one of the events.

 

Churchill War Rooms

During WW2, the British Government worked out of a large bunker.  At the end of the war they locked it up, and it is as it was on that day in 1945. It is tucked away at the bottom of St James Park, behind parliament.  Most people are in there for 2-3 hours, as you can walk the bunker and learn about Winston Churchill’s life in a section dedicated to him.  The maps with pins in them banks of telephones, the bed Churchill slept in and the cigars left in the ashtrays, bring this part of history to life.  Even people who don’t like war, find it fascinating.   This is the setting for the 2018 film, ‘Darkest Hour’.