So iv lived in London now for 6 years! I moved here at 18 from a countryside town and iv never looked back since. This post is 10 things iv learnt while living here. From culture to the best food spots, a quick list of things I learnt in the big city!
London! The City that never sleeps or speaks to each other on the tube…
Trust me it was a huge shock! Although living in a small town I was itching to get away to London it still took a while to settle in. I was dating a reality tv actor at the time and I was quickly shown all the hot spots in London. Partied with celebs and soaked up that London life.
Fast forward 6 years and it has quickly become home and city life is my way of life. (for now). So if your planning to visit London or about to make the big move to the city. Have a read of my 10 things iv learnt about London and let me know what you think, or if you can relate. Or even better anything you’ve learnt while being here.
1. The Oyster Card is your best friend!
So I use my oyster card on average at least 3 times a day! It is your key to London travel and saves you a little money getting around also. You can buy one at most tube stations and should carry around it with you at all times. If you own a railcard you can link it up to your oyster and enjoy 1/3 off your fare on off-peak times. Sometimes I travel across to the other side of London for a £1! Yes, contactless is now available, but I still prefer using my oyster card and keeping tabs on how much iv been charged each journey. You can see your journey history using any station machines, but with contactless, you don’t have that option!
2. Don’t shop in Primark on Oxford St on Saturdays!
Sounds kind of ridiculous reading this! But trust me, if you ever get caught around Tottenham court road station on a Saturday afternoon near Primark. You will regret it instantly. Tourists flock there especially Saturdays and it’s a large store but still gets full! It’s so rammed and hectic it will honestly be the worst experience ever! Oxford St, in general, is hellish on the weekends so I would avoid. Unless you want to experience that (for whatever reason lol). If you want to shop in Primark…just save it for the week!
3. London is heaven for foodies and boozers
So if you like trying food from different countries, cultures, or just fancy something different. London has exactly that! Places like Soho and Shoreditch have amazing, fun and quirky restaurants all over! A few places that I would recommend are:
- Sushi Samba – Liverpool St. – Features the highest outdoor dining terraces in Europe (and fab sushi)
- Franco Manco – Soho – Slow rising sourdough pizza and beers…what more could you ask for
- Balans – Soho – The place for the chic community of Soho, west end casts etc. Open late for after show food/cocktails
- Blues Kitchen – Shoreditch – Fab food and huge portions. Live jazz nights regularly.
- China Town – Soho – Chinese, Thai and Japenese food galore. Its an experience in the heart of Soho that’s one to try.
If you fancy street food, or like trying food from different cultures. I would recommend going to Camden market on the weekend. It’s something everyone should experience. The vibe is electric. Or Greenwich (cutty sark on the tube). Some old school pie and mash restaurants or market street food to choose from. Greenwich is also a great place to experience on the weekend.
4. Strangers don’t talk to each other on the tube
I know to non-Londoners this sounds ridiculous. I found it so strange initially but now I totally feel weird if a stranger gets eye contact with me or starts a random conversation on the tube. It’s a weird situation. When this happens, usually the whole carriage is looking and listening to your conversation and thinking how awkward this is because nobody talks to each other… If you live in London you become accustomed to getting on the tube with a book or magazine or earphones in. You don’t want to talk to a stranger in a confined space…even worse when its rush hour and you’ve got someone’s armpit in your face… The only time iv found it acceptable is when I’m tipsy with a friend. No one seems to care. Strange but after 6 years in my experience this is definitely true.
5. There are so many OFFERS, take advantage of the OFFERS!
For real! Every day in London there’s like a million different offers happening. From food to clothes, to spa deals. There are so many businesses starting up or different promotions launching. It’s a good idea to follow groups like Timeout London, Skint London. On twitter and facebook groups. They post different offers or promotions or even freebies every week and you never know when you can use them! Also, Wowcher and Groupon have some amazing offers. TodayTix app has some fab theatre ticket offers and always have lottery’s on to win tickets.
6. Don’t drive in central London and invest in a good bag
If you’re not from London, your probably used to getting in your car and driving to wherever you need to go. Not worrying about carrying luggage around or how much luggage you can manage because it all fits in the car. Well in London you always have to have a good, practical bag! I usually do a fitness class in central, have an audition or a client meeting then go for dinner in the evening so I need a bag that fits all my outfits and that I can carry around the tube. I walk everywhere! Sometimes hit 15,000 steps in a day!
Traffic in London is so bad and you have taxis, buses, tourists, everyday commuters filling the streets and its chaos. Especially if you’re not used to London roads I would suggest to save yourself the stress and jump on the tube and go for a walk. Google map is a godsend! Use it.
7. Embrace the culture of the city
You will meet people from all over the world in London and that’s what makes it such a special place. There are over 300 different cultures in London and regardless of what the media portrays. We are living in a city together pretty nicely. Experience different traditions, accents, languages.
Try out the array of foods, bars, cafes owned by different cultures and support the people. I work at different events and venues all the time in London and I meet people from all over and it’s really opened my eyes to the world and made me even more accepting of people I wouldn’t usually meet. Sometime’s you have opinions on certain races or cultures due to lack of knowledge. But living in London has taught me to never judge anyone on their appearance, race, culture or background. It’s a wonderful lesson to learn and iv met the most amazing people in the process.
8. Get on a Boris bike!
My top tip hire a Boris bike. All you need is a debit or credit card. Getting started is easy – simply hire a bike, ride it where you like, then return it to any of the hundreds of docking stations across the city. It costs £2 to access the bikes for 24-hour bike access, and the first 30 minutes of each journey is free. Longer journeys cost £2 for each extra 30 minutes. There are designated bike routes or go free range and explore London. Iv always wanted to do this early morning round Hyde Park or Greenwich park and watch the sunrise. Or ride around central London early morning when the roads are free. If you ever try it be sure to let me know!
9. London is expensive but take advantage of the freebies!
Do a little googling and discover all the freebies in London. Museums – Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, Science Museum, National Maritime Museum. Festivals, exhibitions, street parties, Nottinghill carnival, west end live and many more. Sites like timeout London are great to follow and see what’s going on. You can go site seeing and walk around taking in the culture. There’s so much to see and do here you will never get bored.
10. Uber is your friend
I know it had some bad press recently but honestly, it’s helped me out in so many last minute situations. The tube is delayed or you need to get somewhere asap! Download the app and have it just in case. It’s mega cheap and so easy to order, there’s literally an uber around every corner. I would advise as a woman to never uber alone late at night or after a few drinks. Try and get a cab with a friend and always have your phone with you. Better to be safe just in case.
Id love to hear your experiences in London and any stories or hot spots to discover. Be sure to comment, like, share and all the fun stuff.
Thanks for reading