Discover 5 Things To Do In London
It was late one evening in February 2018, that Janine and I left the house with baggage in tow, scrambled into an Uber and headed for the airport. My mind was racing, trying to remember all the things to do in London once we got there. I was so excited that I could hardly contain myself. It was only after we finally got onto the plane, having done all the check-ins, and waiting in lines that I realized that this was no longer a dream. This was no longer the thing we had been speaking about for the past few months. This was it’, we were actually doing it.
To some of you that will read this, it will seem like going to London is old news and that it is a case of ‘been there done that’. I cannot and will not ever agree with that kind of thinking. You see… I never thought that taking a trip overseas – to any destination for that matter – would ever be possible for various reasons. I just never gave it much thought.
My wife Janine, on the other hand, loves to travel. She has been overseas many times by the time that we met. It didn’t take her long to influence me and pretty soon we were making plans to go over to the United Kingdom for the first time together.
Our Emirates flight landed late afternoon and we were delayed in getting through customs. This meant that by the time we arrived at our hotel near Tower Bridge, it was already early evening. Janine suggested that we drop our luggage in our room and head out immediately to find a place where we can have some dinner.
The quaint little Italian Bistro that we stumbled upon situated just under Tower Bridge right on the wharf of the St Katharine Docks Marina was magnificent. It was cold out as it is in February but they had a fireplace that was crackling in the corner. The music was softly playing in the background as my beautiful wife and I sat sipping a glass of breath-taking Italian wine. All of this while surveying the view of the luxury yachts in the marina beside us. My first night in London could not have been more perfect.
Before we get into the 5 things to do in London, I have to share something with you that is going to change your life. There is a card that you can get much like an Oyster Card that you use on the Underground – It’s called a London Pass. A London Pass gives you access to 80 plus top attractions. We are from South Africa and the exchange rate was at the time and still is terrible. This makes travel for us a rather costly affair. But even considering that, the London Pass is still worth it. Check it out before you travel. The discounts you get from the places you want to see is quite simply put, crazy. Get a London Pass… you will be glad you did.
5 Things To Do In London
I know, suggesting only 5 things seems like a silly thing to do. But these are my 5… when you go, find your own 5… you will see that it’s not that hard to do.
1 Savouring The Wine –
Putting wine drinking into the list of things to do might seem a bit strange to some. The reason why I have chosen to include it in the 5 things to do in London is this. Coming from a country that is known worldwide for its exquisite wine production, I thought that enjoying wine produced by other countries could be a rather interesting and informative inclusion to the list.
A word of caution though; when visiting another country like the UK, never buy South African wine if you are from South Africa. It is very expensive compared to what it costs here, BUT, we found the wine from Spain particularly awesome and well priced (roughly 3.50 – 7.00 GBP per bottle). You will find a large selection of wines to choose from in London that are surprisingly affordable when you purchase it from a retail outlet like Tesco’s or a Bottle Shop (liquor store). Any wine purchased at a restaurant will be pricey. If you do enjoy wine with your food, then I would recommend that you order your wine by the glass.
2 Tower Bridge –
One of the most well-known and most beautiful sites in London is Tower Bridge. A common mistake that is often made, is that people confuse the Tower Bridge with London Bridge. One of the reasons for this is the popular children’s nursery rhyme.
“London Bridge is falling down
Falling down, falling down
London Bridge is falling down
My fair lady”
One just has to type “London Bridge is falling down lyrics” into Google and click on images to see how many times an image of Tower Bridge comes up. Another reason could be that Tower Bridge is by far prettier in design where London Bridge is plainer. Tower Bridge is definitely a must-see, you can go up to the top and cross the River Thames over a glass floor – not for the faint-hearted – but a breath-taking experience nevertheless. Here is a photo of Janine and I laying on our back taking a photo in the mirror on the ceiling. You can see the cars driving and the people walking in the street below.
3 Shakespeare Globe Theatre –
A visit to London just wouldn’t seem complete without a visit to the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. Even if you are not into Shakespeare or the theatre for that matter, it is a great place to visit from a historical point of view. We went and were absolutely blown away. The gentlemen that gave the tour explained the Theatre and the works of Shakespeare so well that it made absolute sense. I will never read or hear a passage from the Bard in the same way ever again. The Shakespeare Globe Theatre is also accessible with a London Pass.
4 Westminster Abby –
When entering Westminster Abby for the first time one can very easily feel overwhelmed at the vastness of the breathtakingly beautiful old building. From a historical point of view, it is a great place to visit if you are into walking through graveyards. A small portion of the building is still functioning as a place of worship. The majority of the building is – for lack of a better word – a graveyard within a building. I do not say this out of disrespect but there is not one single place on the floor or on the walls where there is not a burial chamber or at very least a tombstone or plaque.
I love old architecture and am always blown away by things that are hundreds of years old. Which leads me to an incredible discovery I made while walking through this old building.
I was nearing the end of the tour and was beginning to move towards the exit when I noticed a wooden door to my left. Every single person that was walking on the same path, never even noticed it and walked right by. On further inspection, I found a little plaque with an inscription that read… “Britain’s oldest door”,
It was handmade and installed in the original Westminster Cathedral in 1050 AD making it 970 years old. I really struggle to get my head around this… 970 years ago, someone actually cut this wood by hand and fashioned this door. Almost 1000 years later I found myself standing in awe in front of it… I reached out and touched it, ran my hand across the grain. As a person that loves to work with wood, that moment will be with me for the rest of my life. Westminster Abby is also accessible with your London Pass.
5 The Tower Of London –
When passing the Tower Of London on your way to Tower Bridge, you will pass a building standing proudly on the banks of the River Thames. It doesn’t seem like much or something that would warrant even a visit. If you are thinking that way you would be mistaken.
In case you don’t know, the Tower Of London is where Anne Boleyn was executed. For those that don’t know who she was – the short version – She failed to give Henry VIII a son and paid for it with her life. You can read her story here.
In my view, a visit to the Tower of London is a must. But please, do not make the mistake that I made. I went for a tour and thoroughly enjoyed it, but it was long and I got a bit tired, so, I thought “my hotel is right here, I’ll come again in the morning and see the rest of it…” Unfortunately… there is so much to see in London that I simply couldn’t go back for a second time. I only had 4 days to myself in London while Janine was at a conference and to anyone that has been there, you will agree that 4 days are too short to see even a fraction of London.
Should you visit London, be sure to put the Tower of London on your list… You wont be sorry that you did.
Feel free to contact us or leave a comment below and tell us of your favourite things to do in London.