Blog Archives

Making the Most of London’s Crazy Weather

By Nancy Carranza

Everyone who’s visited London for a few days, weeks, months or even if you live in London; we all know how crazy the weather can be. Sun, rain, thunder storms and a rainbow can sometimes all be seen in one day, crazy I know. So how can you make the most of London’s crazy weather?

Rainy & Cold Days

In a year, we probably get 80% of rain, no matter what season we are in. You have to know how to make the most of your day on a day like this. There are several things to do on rainy days.

  • Spend quality time indoors with your family or friends.
  • Play board games/ video games
  • Order a nice takeaway (excuse to not cook!)
  • Cinema – There are several cinemas to choose from all around London. Odeon, Cine World, Vue, Picture House etc.
  • Theatres – West End Musicals
  • Museums – Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Imperial War Museum and many more.
  • Galleries – Tate Modern, National Gallery, the Barbican etc.
  • Bars and pubs for those who like a bit of a drink
  • Restaurants
  • Comedy clubs
  • Trocadero – Leicester Square (Games & Entertainment)

There are many things to do in London on a rainy day but if spending money is not your cup of tea then, why not do something productive at home and maybe learn a new language :)

Sunny Days

The very rare days when we have sunshine, even in the middle of October, you don’t want to stay indoors. You have to make the most of it as you never know when you are going to see the sunshine again.

  • Park – Everyone likes hanging out in the park, Hyde Park, Regents Park and Richmond Park are one of the three popular parks in London. It has a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere. You may want to have a picnic or just got for a stroll.
  • Kingston Riverside – A nice place with a nice view on a sunny day. Relax, eat, drink, there are many things to do by the riverside with restaurants and bars all around.
  • Shopping – Westfield’s Shepherds Bush or Stratford are the two biggest shopping centres. Not to forget Central London with all the biggest stores!
  • London Eye – Get an amazing view of London
  • Cycling – Barclays Bikes!
  • Bus Tours
  • Markets – London has great markets where you could go and do a bit of shopping. Camden market, Portobello market, Spitalfields market and Borough market.

Or if you want to do a bit of sight-seeing why not visit:

  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • West Minister Abbey
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Abbey Road
  • Tower Bridge

The list is endless!

There are many things to do in London, no matter the weather. Have fun!

5 Things you Might NOT want to do When Visiting London

By Nancy Carranza

On your visit to London you might see Londoners giving you a funny looks sometimes. It’s not because of the way you look but because of the things you may be doing!

Here are a few tips of what NOT to do when visiting London.

1. Travel Wisely

If you’re around Central London and decide to make your way from Leicester Square to Piccadilly Circus, then whatever you do, don’t take the underground! London Underground is one of the busiest forms of public transport. Rush hour is manic and you will be queuing just to get in the queue of the queue to enter a station (especially in Oxford Circus). Leicester Square is a short walk to Piccadilly so get your walking shoes on and enjoy the scenery on your way there. Remember, you are in London so there’s a 90% chance that it will rain, even in summer! So take your umbrellas with you.

2. Dress to Impress

Although you are free to wear anything you want, whenever you want, keep in mind when visiting certain places, your attire might have to change. There are few places in London where the area is known as the ‘posh’ area. These include:

  • Kings Road
  • Kensington Palace Gardens
  • Primrose Hill
  • Marylebone
  • Hammersmith
  • Hampton Court
  • Chelsea

These are just a few areas in London where you will find ‘posh’ people. If you ever find yourself visiting these areas then be aware that trainers (Vans, Converses, Nike) hoody’s, tracksuit bottoms and New Era hats, well, they are rarely seen around there. Just to warn you, if you dress like that then you might get a few funny looks. But just give them a funny look back!

3. Mannequins Shouldn’t be Touched!

If you’re planning on visiting Buckingham Palace, the home of the Queen, then great! Everyone should visit the Queen’s home at least once during their visit to London. Outside the Palace you will see the Queen’s Guards. They don’t move, they don’t laugh; I don’t think they even breathe (a bit worrying). They’re like the mannequins you see inside store windows in Oxford Circus. You could try speaking to them but I doubt you will get a response. Maybe speaking to them in another language may help. They might be bilingual Guards; they might speak Spanish, German or even Vietnamese. Maybe that’s why they never reply. Whatever you do though, don’t poke them (very tempting). You never know, the Queen might be watching you!

4. Don’t Expect a ‘Hello’ Back

Londoners are friendly people but they are also very busy people. They are like an army of ants, marching as fast as they can to their destination. Sometimes they don’t have time to stop and say a quick ‘Hello’. So don’t be offended if you say ‘Hello’ and you get no reply. It’s just the way Londoners are. Maybe try waving at them? You might get a really funny look though… Just smile :)

5. Money Flows Like Water

One last thing, don’t expect to go back home with a bit of change in your pocket. London is a very expensive city. Try not to buy the first souvenir you see as the shop down the road might have it for a few pennies less. Shopping in Harrods? I don’t advice it unless you have super rich family and friends willing to give you money otherwise you’re going to be looking for a job in Harrods just to pay for what you want!

It’s all about bargaining when you’re in London.

 

 

 

Multicultural London

By Nancy Carranza

London is one of the biggest multicultural cities in the world. People from all around the world come to visit and some even stay. Everyone brings a little of their culture with them, which is why London is such a diverse city. Food, language, culture, all differs, depending on the area you come from. Certain areas are known by the people that live in it. For example, Camden Town-North London is known as the ‘punk area’.

When you think about Camden Town you think, punk culture, tattoos, piercings, spikes, studs etc. It is a very lively community, the people are friendly and it has a very energetic and positive atmosphere. If you live in Camden then you’ll pretty much know everyone that lives in the area as it is a very close community. Camden attracts a big number of tourists, not only because it is the home place of the late Amy Winehouse but because of its food stalls, eccentric scenery and its lively atmosphere.

Spanish/Latin American culture seems to have become very popular amongst people in Camden as there are hundreds of Spanish tourists that visit every day. There is a Cuban restaurant/bar in the Stables Market and you can hear salsa playing from a couple stalls too! The Spanish culture has had a major influence in how Camden is perceived. So if you are ever around Camden and come across a Spanish person and don’t seem to quiet understand them, not to worry, Spanish translation services is always at hand!

Another place in London where culture has become a big influence is in Brixton-South London. Jamaican culture has become a big part of Brixton. The music, the food, the market stalls, the people, all contributes to how Brixton is nowadays. In every corner you’ll find a Caribbean restaurant or a Reggae music shop. When walking down the market you will always here Patois (Jamaican dialect) being talked by people.

Brixton can be described as loud, colourful and very busy.  It also has a very energetic atmosphere and hundreds of people reside in it. Brixton is such a popular place that every year ‘Brixton Splash’ is hosted, where people from all over London get together to celebrate Jamaica’s Independence Day. There is a lively carnival atmosphere, great music and beautiful food. Definitely not one to miss!

London has many, many places where people from different backgrounds have come to settle in, bringing their culture with them. Another popular place where culture has made a big difference is in Tooting-South London.  In South London, Tooting is known as ‘Little India’, although not only Indian people live there. The Asian culture has become very popular in Tooting. There are many shops around that specialise just in Saris, Asian foods with many spices (only try if you can handle spice!) and just Asian culture itself.

Tooting also has a very lively and busy atmosphere as it is surrounded with market stalls where people visit every day.

These are only a few places in London where culture has had a big influence in them. London is a huge city and has millions of people living it. So stay tuned and find out where else culture has had an impact, it may be your area!

Big Dreams in London

By Nancy Carranza

London is a big beautiful city where people come from all around the world either for tourism, holiday, to learn English as a second language or to work. Many of us have a dream of coming to London to start a better life. So why move to London?  What has London got to offer?

Education

One of the big reasons why people come to London is for the education. Till the age of 18, education in London is free. Unfortunately in most countries such as Peru, education is not free. Regardless of your age, you have to always pay a tuition fee and it can be really expensive. Sadly, this is why only people with money are able to get education in Peru. But here in London you have the opportunity to receive a great education which will help you with your future. So take advantage of it!

Language

Coming to a new place and not being able to understand a single word can be a little, well, a lot scary sometimes. Imagine getting lost in a big city where it was difficult to find your way home because you couldn’t just turn around and ask someone for directions. Luckily there are translation services which can help you out whenever you need it because sometimes, language can be a great barrier in life. But not to worry because there are English programmes in which you can easily enrol in and before you know it, you will be speaking English like a pro!

 Work

Living in such a big city, well, you have to find a way to pay for all the good times you are planning to have in London. Sometimes work can be really difficult to find but something is always available. It can be the smallest of jobs but it is still a job. With all the great bars and restaurant which London has to offer, there are always waitresses, baristas and kitchen staff needed. Now, if you are looking for that special job, to be right at the top of a company, you have to work hard to get there! Nothing in life comes easy but you should be grateful to live in London as there are always opportunities.

 Culture

London is a multicultural city where  nearly 9 million people from all around the world live peacefully . British culture is something that every person can adapt to. By British culture I mean, the music, the food, the traditions and the British humour. Although this is a great culture to be a part of, everyone brings a little bit of their culture to London. Me for example, I have been raised in London from the age of 6 and I love it.

At home it was ‘Peru’ every day because my mum only cooks Peruvian dishes. Everyone in my household speaks Spanish, so this has been spoken every day since we came here. The reason my parents suggested to do this was so my sister and I wouldn’t forget how to speak Spanish, as we came at a very young age and we were likely to forget! On the other hand, at school it was completely different. English was spoken all the time. Traditional English food such as sausage and mash was served at lunchtime. We even got to play ‘British bulldog’ (a traditional English children’s game) at playtime. Every day was a different cultural experience.

London is a great place to live in. It has many things to offer apart from the talked about sights such as Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the London Eye etc. Although these sights are amazing, Life in London is something you want to experience first-hand. So if you ever plan on visiting or settling down in London, then I guarantee you’ll have a great experience!

Mini Bremen Adventure

By Nancy Carranza

If you ever get bored on a day, why not visit the Cosmopolitan City on Weser River :)

We might need a bit of  translation services help but we all know what it means. Wait for the green man!

There’s always space on the train when travelling in Germany!

Enjoying Christmas in one of the best countries- Germany

London 2012: An Emotional Roller-Coaster Ride for an Expat?

by Azelea Bakrie

Now that it’s all (supposedly) over, I find myself somewhat dismayed.

Before it started, I was dreading the traffic, the people, the tourists. I said to anyone who asked, “I’ll be at home, giving my full support through my television I suppose. There was a British Airways ad on the underground that read “If You Shout Loud Enough at the TV, Team GB will hear you” (or something along those lines).

*note of amendment – I found the ad today – here it is! (And I hope there’s no copyright infringement/advertising bloops in sharing this!)

Cheers behind the television works!

After the opening ceremony, I was immediately caught up with it. It got to the point where I went swimming all of a sudden the next weekend, pushing for 20 laps (sorry, I haven’t been to the gym, or done any ‘good’ exercise for at least six months before this). The next morning, my limbs and muscles were, naturally, protesting.

After that weekend, somewhere in the middle of the current week, I dreaded listening to the radio, switching on the TV, or picking up a newspaper. If you haven’t the voices of TV or radio presenters reminding you every five minutes and at every hour’s news what just went on a few minutes ago in the Olympic park and all other designated ‘Olympic’ areas (other than the occasional blurp about what’s going on in Syria), I also find myself stumped by the time I got to the sports section of the papers, wondering what on Earth I had been reading before that!

Yet, I had been keeping myself busy as usual, volunteering in a local charity shop. But it was so quiet I could hear my own heart beat – even the occasional old lady who would visit the shop and treat me to her homemade pies and cookies two to three times a week, disappeared. The high street was deader than dead.

And it never really hit me that I was somewhat caught in between, when I had the impulse of switching on the television, and of all Olympic events, it was archery, where Larry Godrey of team GB was up against Khairul Mohamad of team Malaysia for a spot in the quarter finals. For all the other events thus so far that I managed to partake in front of the black box with moving images, I had been cheering on for team GB, until that day.

Even more so when the Badminton finals were on, where it was Lin Dan of China vs Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. In my not-so-long years ago of growing up, these two are life-long rivals – I remembered catching a live match between the two in Malaysia for the Petronas Cup.

“For goodness sake woman, calm down! I thought at one point I needed translation services here to understand what you’re on about!” my husband said to me while I was cursing, shouting, cheering and crying altogether during that ultimate match in Bahasa Malaysia. I honestly didn’t know what came over me.

Malaysia and the Olympics-London 2012

And it wasn’t until about 5 days to London 2012’s closing ceremony, that the newspapers finally reported something of more ‘realistic’ concerns – UK’s economic turmoil. GREAAAAT. I didn’t know whether to feel glad that we’re finally hearing of something else in the news, or upset that there’s going to be another round of price hikes, job drops and money-related scandals.

But watching the closing ceremony  of London 2012, it got me thinking about the Paralympics. Why is it considered a separate event, having their own opening and closing? When all health and safety regulations in any house or building in the UK is made to accommodate any disabled persons regardless whether they are really living there or not, then why this kind of a distinction? I could understand that it was not fair competition if they all ran the same race at the same time and place… but does it mean their events couldn’t run within the same period but by separate schedules and venues throughout the duration all together? I was, again, stumped. Not having questioned it till now however, proves that I’ve probably grown up, grown old, and growing into the whole British culture – becoming somewhat critical, easily annoyed and affected by the uncertain weather, and finding reason to complain all the time! Yet I felt a big pang of irony when watching Eric Idle perform ‘Always Look at the Bright Side of Life’ during the closing ceremony of London 2012 – Ah, life, I wish!

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