Exploring the world one bite at a time

Category: United Kingdom (Page 1 of 3)

London off the beaten path

London is a city that never ceases to amaze me. So many things to do and visit. Since I’ve been in London four times now, I thought I’d share some less touristy places to visit. I can guarantee you: you won’t be disappointed.

1. The Charterhouse

This museum site is packed with history and has lots of interesting stories to tell. I liked the fact that the narrative of the museum takes the visitor back in time. Using artifacts (including a skeleton from the time this site was used as a cemetery for plague victims) as anchors for the visitor’s journey. The highlight of the visit to me was the beautiful chapel. So much history condensed in one place, impressive!

location: Charterhouse Square, London
price: free

2. Borough Market

Well, perhaps not really a hidden gem, but no foodie can miss the opportunity to sample the great dishes the food stalls prepare. I would personally recommend to go for the more traditional British dishes, but you’ll find dishes from all over the world here. My personal favorites: the fresh oysters. Lovely!

location: 8 Southwark St, London
price: free (although you’ll want to make sure to have enough cash on you to pay for all that great food)

3. The Old Operating Theatre

To enter this quaint museum you’ll have to climb a steep and winding staircase. Although very interesting, this place isn’t for the faint of heart, because the whole place has kind of a creepy vibe. You’ll find an impressive collection of medical instruments, medicinal plants and some specimens of human pathologies. I personally was both fascinated and abhorred by the historical operating theatre.

location: 9a St Thomas Street, London
price: £6.50

4. Alternative London Walking Tour

Do you love street art? Then this is the tour for you. The Alternative London guides are great and very knowledgeable, which is not surprising because they are street artists themselves. East London is teeming with great street art from the most famous street artists in the world (cough, Banksy). When the tour is finished, you choose how much you want to pay.

location: East London
price: what it’s worth to you

5. Regent’s Park

One of the Royal Parks of London and an ideal place to wind down from the busy city life. This beautifully maintained park is huge and consists of mainly open parkland with a wide range of facilities and amenities. My favorite spots were the Japanese Garden Island and Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens. I also recommend you visit the nearby Primrose Hill for some lovely views on the London skyline.

location: Chester Rd, London
price: free

6. Chelsea Physic Garden

One of the oldest botanical gardens in Britain and definitely worth a visit. The walled garden in itself isn’t that big, but the variety of plants is absolutely impressive. You can visit the garden on your own, but I highly recommend taking a guided tour. The guides will amaze you with lots of interesting facts regarding the garden and its collection. I especially loved the green houses with their beautiful architecture.

location: 66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London
price: £6.10

7. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Save the best for last? This hindu temple is situated in Neasden. It takes some time getting there if you’re staying in the center of London, but the temple is well worth the travel effort. The temple is built entirely using traditional methods and materials. The carvings and statues on the inside of the building are stunningly beautiful. Unbelievable that this is all man made. Sadly the whole building is concealed from the outside by a big wall and iron gates. So it is kinda hard to take a good picture of the exterior.

location: 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, London
price: free

Dunheanish Guest House: “A lovely stay in a wonderful place”

Dunheanish Guest House has it all: friendly hosts (with a lovely sense of humour), excellent breakfast, clean and spacious rooms and a view to die for. We absolutely enjoyed our stay here and wouldn’t think about staying anywhere else if we return to Oban. Be prepared to climb some steps though when coming from the harbour. But we didn’t mind the exercise.

Sadly there wasn’t room for us in the rooms facing the bay of Oban, but we could sit outside on the terrace while watching the sunset.

Dunheanish Guest House
Ardconnel Road
Argyll PA34 5DW
+44(0) 1631 566556

Stayed June 2013. You can find my review about Dunheanish Guest House also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 5/5, location 5/5, sleep quality 4/5, rooms 4/5, cleanliness 5/5, service 5/5.

Fenchurch: “Great views lovely food”

My boyfriend and I had lunch at Fenchurch located in the Sky Garden on a beautiful autumn day. The view was absolutely gorgeous and the food we got served was close to perfect. Every dish was equally beautiful and tasty. Staff was very friendly and professional, as can be expected of such a high end restaurant.

We started our meal off with some lovely (but very expensive) champagne. After that we went for the five courses lunch. The lunch cost 55 pounds, wine pairing was an additional 42 pounds. I liked the fact that the menu also mentioned which wines we got served. I do have to say, the glasses of wine were rather small. For 42 pounds I would also expect a second serving with the main course. We have been to a lot of restaurants in this price range and most of them offer at least two extra servings.

A small warning though, not all the tables have a good view on London and its surroundings. So if that’s the reason why you visit this restaurant make sure to mention this in your reservation. You can of course just go here for the great food, but I do have to say, the view is a nice bonus.

Fenchurch Restaurant
20 Fenchurch Street
London EC3M 3BY
England, UK
+44333 772 0020

Visited October 2016. You can find my review about Fenchurch also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 3/5, service 5/5, food 5/5.

Jura Distillery: “Very friendly!”

We visited the Jura distillery on the afternoon of Good Friday. Due to the Easter holiday there were no tours, but since we came all the way from Belgium, the lovely lady at the counter offered to give us a small tour. Because we wouldn’t get the full tour, we got a discount. We were very happy that thanks to that kind lady we had the opportunity to visit the Jura distillery.

After the tour (which I found the be more extensive than I would have hoped for) we got to taste some different Jura whisky’s. Very impressed by the customer service of this place!

Jura Whisky Distillery
Argyll PA60 7XT
Isle of Jura

Visited April 2017. You can find my review about Jura Distillery also on TripAdvisor.

The Antlers: “Quick lunch”

Went for a quick lunch at Antlers before visiting the Jura distillery. I really liked the cozy atmosphere in this quaint little café. I felt right at home! Loved the fact that the place was decorated with lots of pictures showing the history of Jura. We really enjoyed looking at all those pictures while waiting for our food.

The food was really basic, but cheap. Ideal for a quick lunch. On a next visit I would love to try some of their home baked cakes, which looked absolutely delicious.

Bistro and restaurant The Antlers
Craighouse PA60 7XS
Isle of Jura

Visited May 2017. You can find my review about The Antlers also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 5/5, service 3/5, food 3/5.

Dining at Ormidale Hotel: “Pub food”

The Ormidale in Brodick is a classic pub with a nice bar and a cozy interior. We went here for dinner after a busy day of walking on Arran. So naturally we were very hungry. For starters we ordered the Creelers smoked salmon and haggis nachos. Both were very nice. The haggis nachos were a pleasant surprise, I have to say.

As a main course, I had the Arran venison casserole with mashed potatoes. My boyfriend had the spicy lamb burger. I have to be honest here, the venison casserole was a disappointment: very bland, not at all the taste explosion I had hoped for. The spicy lamb burger also wasn’t very spicy. Perhaps I was expecting a bit too much? The food wasn’t expensive after all, but after the nice starters I would have hoped for an equally nice main course.

Ormidale Hotel
Knowe Road
Brodick KA27 8BQ
Isle of Arran

Visited April 2017. You can find my review about Dining at Ormidale Hotel also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 4/5, service 4/5, food 3/5.

Bunnahabhain Distillery: “Hidden gem”

From all the distilleries that I visited in Scotland, Bunnahabhain distillery definitely was the most charming. The buildings got a real old and authentic feel to them, which I liked a lot. We booked the guided tour in the tiny tiny whisky shop. What a contrast with the modern en spacious shops of most of the distilleries we visited before.

The guide who showed us around was very passionate and very knowledgeable. I found his explanation very clear and liked the fact that it was laced with a bit of humor. He told us that the new owners of Bunnahabhain have big plans for it and are planning on renovating the buildings and constructing a new shop in some of the old warehouses.

I especially loved the location at the seaside, with view on the Paps of Jura. The Bunnahabhain whisky was right up my alley, because it wasn’t too peated, like most of the Islay whisky’s. Highly recommended when visiting Islay.

Bunnahabhain Distillery
Port Askaig
Isle of Islay
Port Askaig PA46 7RP

Visited April 2017. You can find my review about Bunnahabhain Distillery also on TripAdvisor.

Nine London views not to be missed

London is a city so divers that everyone will find something to their liking. Up until now I’ve visited London four times and I’m sure I will return in the future, for an exhibition, a play, a festival, a stroll along the river Thames, some great local food and/or an evening chatting away in one of London’s pubs.

In this article I want to share with you the best places to admire panoramic views of the London city skyline. And yes, some of those views come at a hefty price tag, but even in London you’ll find places that offer you stunning views for free. This is my list:

1. The Shard

London’s highest sky scraper is truly a landmark building that dramatically altered London’s skyline. The Shard reaches for the sky and offers stunning 360 degrees views on London and its surroundings. On a clear day the view reaches as far as 64 kilometers (40 miles). The open-air Skydeck is London’s highest viewpoint and although the price for a ticket is quite high, I found it money well spent. You can buy some drinks and snacks at the sky deck or just admire the view as such. The View from the Shard also offers a weather guarantee, which means that in the event of bad weather you’ll be able to return for free. If you don’t like paying for a view, you can also go for lunch or dinner in one of the restaurants in the Shard. The view won’t be as spectacular as on the Skydeck, but the lower floors also offer great views and you can enjoy some lovely food with it.

Location: 32 London Bridge Street, London
Price: Starting from £25.95

2. Sky Garden

Sure, the “walkie talkie” (officially called 20 Fenchurch Street) has been a controversial building since it’s conception, but from the outside viewing terrace the Sky Garden offers superb views on the Thames, the Shard and the Tower of London for free. You do have the book a ticket for your visit, but the process is easy and fast. There is a cue, because all visitors need to go through security before entering the building, so make sure to come ten minutes earlier. There are several options to have lunch or dinner at one of the Sky Garden restaurants, if you like. You can also just have of coffee or a tea with some biscuits. The garden in itself didn’t really succeed in wowing me, but the views made up for that.

location: 20 Fenchurch Street, London
price: free

3. The Blavatnik building of Tate Modern

If you don’t like the hassle of booking tickets and go through security checks, just take the elevator to the 10th floor at Tate Modern’s new extension, step outside on the viewing terrace and be amazed. The view on the Millennium Bridge and Saint Paul’s Cathedral is absolutely stunning and totally free. There is a small bar on the viewing terrace. So you on a chilly day you can buy a cup of coffee or tea to warm yourself.

location: Tate Modern, Bankside, London
price: free

4. Vertigo 42

London’s highest champagne bar at the 42th floor of Tower 42 offers a nice selection of drinks and tapas. The bar itself has windows from floor to ceiling and all the seats are nearby a window, so every seat in the bar has great views on London. Drinks are expensive, but that’s to be expected with a view like that. Best to make reservations though.

location: Level 42, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London
price: free, but you’ll have to buy some drinks

5. St Paul’s Cathedral

No introduction needed, I guess. A simply stunning monument that really is worth the entrance fee. The dome is exceptional and the three galleries offer stunning views on London.

location: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London
price: £16

6. Tower bridge

A classic. Not extrtemely high, but such an iconic bridge surely can’t be missed and you’ll have the opportunity to visit the engine rooms! Since my last visit they added a Glass Floor 42 meters above the river Thames, so I guess I’ll have to go back to test out the strength of that floor. 😉 You can even take yoga classes on that floor!

location: Tower Bridge, London
price: £8,70

7. One New Change Shopping Mall Terrace

Saint Paul’s Cathedral really is a marvel and this terrace is the best place to get up close and personal with the magnificent dome. And yes, it won’t cost you a penny. Just take the glass elevator to the terrace and enjoy the view. On a nice day you can enjoy a beer or a cocktail on the terrace of Madison’s restaurant and and bar.

location: 1 New Change, London
price: free

8. Monument to the Great Fire of London

Ok, the view from the top of the monument, built to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City, really isn’t that great and it is hard taking pictures trough the security netting (to avoid somebody would jump down), but climbing the winding staircase with its 311 steps is an adventure in itself. The entrance fee is quite cheap and afterwards you are presented with a certificate that you succeeded in climbing all those stairs. Charming!

location: Fish St Hill, London
price: £4.50

9. Primrose Hill

This lovely green hill is only 65 meter (213 feet) high, but offers a great view of central London. In summer this is a popular place to have a picnic with friends.

location: Tate Modern, Bankside, London
price: free

Did I miss something? What is your favorite place to enjoy London views? Please let me know in the comments.

Obsession Of India: “Superb Indian food”

We were passing through Glasgow on a Saturday evening, so naturally most of the restaurants were fully booked. Since we had no reservations we just had to hope for the best. When entering Obsession of India we could see the restaurant was very busy, but decided to give it a try anyway.

I have to say the restaurant owner was very gracious and helpful. Clearly he could have sent us away, but instead he offered to make room for us in the back of the restaurant, on the condition that we had to finish our meal in an hour and a half. No problem for us, the smells emanating from all the lovely dishes around us was so mouth watering, that we were sure we could finish our meal in time.

We ordered chicken milky karahi, chicken shahi karahi, chicken smoke karahi and methi gosht with nan. The food arrived very quickly at our table and I must say I was very impressed with our dishes. Honestly some of the best Indian food I have had in my life (and I’ve tried a lot of Indian food). The dishes were lovely presented and very tasty.

Highly recommended if you like Indian food.

Indian restaurant Obsession Of India
25 High Street
Glasgow G1 1LX

Visited April 2017. You can find my review about Obsession Of India also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 5/5, service 5/5, food 5/5.

« Older posts