I am so excited for my upcoming trip to London!
This has always been a “bucket list” destination for me. I’ve been a huge fan of British culture (music, literature, humour, etc.), history and style, since my early teen years. So when the opportunity to tag along with my wife’s business trip arose, I booked myself a plane ticket and started planning.
Here’s what’s on the top of my To Do list, for my trip to London…
It’s no secret that London has some of the best museums in the world, and most of them offer FREE admission! I’m most excited to see the amazing artifacts at The British Museum, British history at The Victoria & Albert Museum and The Museum of London, and art at The National Gallery, The Tate Modern and The National Portrait Gallery. I don’t know if I’ll have time to visit all of these museums, but I’d like to try!
Being my first visit to London, I should probably do some of the tourist-y things, like The London Eye, SkyGarden, Hyde Park, Abbey Road, Covent Garden, Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London, and so many other important sites. I am considering options that include taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour, or just navigating the city myself using public transportation.
There are so many fun, hip and/or historic neighbourhoods in London that I’d like to explore, including Piccadilly Circus, Portobello Road (as featured in Disney’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks), Greenwich Market, Oxford Street, Kingly Court and Camden.
London West End Theatre
London’s theatre scene is right up there with New York’s Broadway, and there are always TONS of amazing shows playing, including big-name musicals in historic theatres, with very high production values.
We’re really excited to see Book of Mormon, especially because I’ve been avoiding the music, written by Robert Lopez, my current favourite musical composer, who wrote the music for Avenue Q (my favourite musical of all time), as well as Disney’s Frozen and Coco.
I’m even MORE excited to see Chess for the second time. This is my 2nd-favourite musical, and we saw this production a few years ago in Toronto. It’s not a very well-known show, so this will probably be my only other chance to see it. And this time, it’s a much larger production. Chess has music written by the guys from ABBA, and lyrics from Tim Rice, who penned Disney’s The Lion King, as well as Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.
The Blur Tour
This is not an official tour by any means, but Blur happen to be my favourite band of all time, and because they’re London-based, there are many Blur-centric sites to visit. This includes Leytonstone and Mercer Street (where band members Damon Albarn and Alex James grew up), Notting Hill (where Damon lives now), the neighbourhood near The Pilot Inn at Greenwich Peninsula (where they filmed the Parklife video), Studio 13 in Essex (where they recorded), Trafalgar Square and Primrose Hill (references in songs), and Bar Italia, which was an important pub in the 90’s Britpop scene.
There are also important pubs like The Good Mixer and Dublin Castle in Camden, where the boys started their career, and Goldsmiths’ College where they met.
The Blur Tour offers day trip opportunities to The White Cliffs of Dover (the subject of my favourite Blur song, Clover Over Dover), and the Virginia Water Lake park (where my favourite Blur video, Chemical World, was filmed).
I also want to taste bassist Alex James’s award-winning artisanal cheese, which you can purchase at Selfridge’s.
Finally, I’m excited to see their portraits at the afore-mentioned National Portrait Gallery, painted by Julian Opie.
The Chelsea Tour
As a supporter of London’s Chelsea Football Club, I am also excited to take a tour of Stamford Bridge, the stadium where they play.
I would love to explore the neighbourhood around the stadium and spend some time (and money) in the team store. I have also been told that the tour of Wembley Stadium is worth doing.
I can’t wait to see what kind of Britpop treasures I’ll find when I go record stores including HMV Oxford Street, Rough Trade and Honest Jon’s. I am also really excited to browse The Folio Society’s shop – they produce incredible editions of classic literature.
Brighton Palace Pier
I wanted to spend some time at a theme park, while I was in the UK. I reached out to Len Testa, who is well-known in the Disney & theme park online community. He recommended several wonderful choices for me, but honestly, they weren’t quite what I was looking for: they were more along the lines of an amusement park, such as Six Flags or Canada’s Wonderland – lots of rides and attractions, not too much history or atmosphere.
I wanted something that would be a bit more on par with Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens or Paris’s Luna Park.
I was happy to discover Brighton Palace Pier, which is a Victorian-era Boardwalk-style amusement area. It looks so lovely, and full of history. What it lacks in rides, it makes up for in character. Plus, it will be nice to be by the seaside!
For a long time, “British Food” was basically a punchline to every bad food joke. But in the past few decades, England’s food reputation has grown by leaps and bounds. I don’t have a huge dining budget, so most of my choices will be “cheap eats”, but I’m most excited to find proper, authentic British versions of: Fish & Chips with Mushy Peas, a Full English Breakfast, Chip Butty, Chicken Tikka Masala, Turkish Kebabs, fresh seafood from Cornwall or the Irish coast, various cheeses and of course, a strong cup of English tea.
Have I missed anything? Is there anything you think I should fit into my itinerary?
Any great food/restaurant/pub recommendations you’d love to share?
Please comment below!