Top Five tourist attractions accross the pond -- England

Friday, March 28, 2014

Recently, I made the extremely long but absolutely wonderful trip to London, England. For those who have not been, I suggest beginning the search for the flights now.

The city holds all of the delights of big city life: music, food, parties, art and more. But that is not all, the City of London also carries itself in a manner that is incredibly reassuring.

The underground system at first may seem extremely menacing, but is in fact one of the best attributes of the city for a tourist.

Many times I found myself simply by locating the nearest tube station and tracking my way back into known territory by following the easy-to-read maps.

However, if you are wary of traveling to such a distant country with no idea where to go or what to do, these top five sites to visit will lead you on your way in no time.

5. Portobello Road

Are you a fan of shopping in little boutiques with cute, handmade items by young ladies with thick British accents? If so, Portobello Market is the place to visit. The best time to make a trip is around mid-afternoon, between 3 and 5:30 p.m. The shops and stallholders are extremely kind, and one can find almost any type of item from antique to touristy souvenirs. Best of all, the food around the Portobello Road area is incredibly delicious, and most of the places will not break the bank.

4. South Kensington

The idea of visiting the ritzy part of London may not seem ideal for any traveler on a budget, but South Kensington is a definite must for any traveler who has never been to the City of London. Even if you do not buy anything, a trip to Harrod's is one of the most surreal experiences, and I would recommend it over and over.

The first floor of Harrod's in South Kensington is the beauty and accessories department, where the glamor sets an ultra chic mood for the rest of the extremely grand department store. On the top floor there is the "food hall," which is a mix of grocery store and food court, but instead of fluorescent lighting and white walls, everything is rich in shades of gold. Outside of Harrod's, my hours spent in South Kensington allowed me to see cars, that I did not know people actually drove, on streets. And, it is overwhelmingly possible to walk past a famous person or two.

The department stores in this area cater to the upper class, and are not anything like an American Macy's or Dillard's. The culture shock that comes from entering this area is almost as if visiting another country.

3. Camden Town market

Spending a Saturday morning at Camden Town market is well worth anyone's time and can be enjoyable, even if you have little money. The market is a great way to learn how to barter and pick up on inexpensive items and unique cuisine. The shops have everything from alternative apparel to ball gowns to beautiful handmade jewelry. The stall owners are kind and love telling their story, as well as letting prospective buyers sample their goods before they buy. If you have any family members with a sweet tooth or any need imaginable, this is the place to go.

2. The National Gallery

The gallery is located on Trafalgar Square and was the absolute central location for my week of travels in London. The amount of art at the National Gallery could easily make an entire day of your travel fly by in an instant. Whether you are interested in modern, romantic, or medieval art, something will definitely catch your eye in the gallery. The same building also contains the National Photography Gallery, which holds portraits of people from the last 500 years. Best of all, both galleries are free!

1. The London Bridge area

The Southwark area of London has long been known as the power center, yet poverty-stricken side of the city. However, Southwark offers a large measure of the city's wonderful architecture and beauty, most of which can be seen from the magnificent London Bridge. The history of London is deeply connected to the Thames River, and the growth of Southwark was remarkably impacted by London Bridge connecting the area to the rest of London.

If time allows, it is simple and well worth the 20 pounds to find architectural tours around the London Bridge area. The guides are very knowledgeable and will amaze you at the mix of new and old architecture in the region. It is also well worth a tourist's interest to look up the times at which the bridge opens to allow for boats to pass through. Missing this is one of my biggest regrets.

While these different destinations are a definite must for any amount of time spent in the London region, the city has so many wonderful activities to offer. Each of these places are a great way to begin discoveries of the intricate history woven into each distinct district of the city and fully receive all that London has to offer.