From quirky bookshops to amazing architecture and some of the prettiest streets in London, Bloomsbury is bloomin’ full of stuff to do.
If you like architecture, then Bloomsbury will hit the spot. For art deco lovers there is Senate House, a magnificent art deco structure and one of the first ever skyscrapers in London, back in the 1930s when they were actually cool. Despite being the inspiration for the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984 – the place where propaganda and brain-washing are the norm – no amount of mind control could get me to love the place.
The Brunswick Shopping Centre is a concrete mega structure and is brutalist as they come. If you can pry yourself away from the sci-fi style white facades, you’ll find a cinema chock full of foreign movies and documentaties that the bigger chains seem to skip on.
Another design highlight is the McCann office, built for a luxury car company hiring out chauffeur-driven limousines to the rich and famous – the 1930s art deco building can best be described as a real life Fisher Price Garage (90s kids will know), complete with a circular ramp where cars were driven up to the showrooms on the upper floors, you won’t be able to see that, but the exterior is a gem.
If I had to make my top 10 London streets that will transport you in another time and era then this one would be on it.
The area is famous for being home to some great writers in the 1920s and 1930s known as the Bloomsbury group, so you can image the area is one of the best places for lovers of the written word on paper and you’ll see a lot of bookshops. A must visit is Skoob Book Shop, just off the Brunswick Shopping Centre, it’s one of those enchanting places where you can spend all of your hard earned wages. It’s much cooler than any kindle and smells a lot better too.
You can’t eat or drink books right? So for that head to the pubs where you can grab a bite/pint, or one of the chain restaurants in the Brunswick Shopping Centre. You might want to go to 49 Cafe to gorge yourself on the best breakfast for a reasonable price in central London. They also do an amazing cannoli which is the perfect accompaniment for your daily coffee.
If you’re after a healthy lunch, you won’t be able to resist Alara. Alara is a one of those health stores that comes with a cafe where the excuse of ‘it’s not healthy” does not apply!
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and it’s not the average library that holds your discarded copies of 50 Shades, but more of a research library, holding over 150 million items from various countries, in different languages and in many formats. The museum itself might not be interesting for everyone – unless you have a libraries bucket list, but they occasionally do hold interesting exhibitions, like the current one on maps and the 20th Century.
Ah … The British Museum: the place the British store everything they’ve stolen from their travels or the place where they keep stuff safe. Depending which side you are on. Either way it’s a amazing museum. Admire the glass dome in the Centre Court, discover Aztec art and Egyptian mummies and explore higher floors for rooms that are less busy. Beware the long queues and security checks though – can make visiting on a time limit difficult.
I hope you are having a great start to the new year! How many of your resolutions have you broken? It’s never too late to add new ones and with that in mind I’ve put a few travel related ones together we can actually keep this year.
Travelling should be fun, not stressful so let’s promise each other to check-in the night before and avoid the madness at the check-in counter on the day of travel. While we are at it: print your ticket out or make sure you have enough battery if you use an app to avoid the budget airline £60 printing fee. Spoiler alert: they don’t print it on gold.
When on a budget trip don’t ask for the cheapest wine – if wine is not your fuel then switch it for something else. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your taste buds and enjoy at least one thing.
So many countries, so many currencies, so much money wasted on exchange rates. This year plan ahead and get familiar with the exchange rates or get an app so you know how much you’re spending at all times.
I know this is a hard one for about half of us, but we can at least try to pack on time. Also … overpacking – the rule of thumb should be: if you haven’t worn those 12 inch heels for the past 10 months you’re not going to need them for your next city trip.
Don’t forget to inform your bank of your travel plans as a lot banks flag foreign transactions in case of fraud and they might end up freezing your account, so be sure you inform your company ahead of time.
Make sure to check the entry and exit requirements for the destination you’re headed to next. And check the expiration date on your passport to make sure it precedes the date of your flight home, don’t forget some countries require that passports be valid for six months past the date of your flight home while most European countries require that passports be valid for three months past.
Eco/green/sustainable travel is the trend for 2017 so why not jump on that bandwagon and travel more responsibly? I will go into this in another post, but it can be as simple as asking housekeeping not to change towels every day and invest in a re-usable bottle so you can stop buying plastic bottled water and plastic cups. Baby steps.
And last but definitely not least. Stop.comparing.yourself.to.other.travellers.on.social.media. Those fulltime travel bloggers you follow who go around from place to place? Well done for them! But it’s not a competition! Let’s raise a glass to realistic expectations.
What are your resolutions?
Despite the cold, Reykjavik is more than hot in the culinary department, with everything from artisan pizza joints to addictive lobster soup and cheesecakes so good you’d swap your grandma for one more bite.
So, whether you’ve been blasted by a geyser, are drying off after the Blue Lagoon or still in a daze from seeing the Northern Lights, you’ll find plenty to satisfy your belly while in Iceland’s capital.
For Something Quick
If you’re in the mood for a quick bite, look no further than Reykjavik Chips: delicious, crispy, and oooh so addictive – these potato-based gifts from food heaven definitely made a rather soggy, tiring day of trekking awesome again.
For A Cup of Damn Good Soup
A visit to Saegrefinn is ideal if you are looking for an energy boost in a cup, which for once isn’t coffee but a moreish Lobster soup. All that with the company of a creepy waxwork figure (none of that Madame Tussauds crap) plus a lot of fish skewers (including whale) are on offer at this harbour side restaurant.
For Your Artisan Pizza
The first thing you should know about this ‘hidden’ pizza place – so Reykjavik– is that it doesn’t have a name. But that hasn’t stopped the place being fully booked on even a Sunday night. The low light means you can barely make out your companions, so good for a major-date-zit-event, or if you want to slip out without your boring fellow eater noticing. And the pizza was pretty good too.
For Breakfast and Lunch
Whether you’re after breakfast, lunch or dinner, Bergsson Mathus ticks all the boxes. It’s a great option for someone craving a healthy veggie-packed meal at a reasonable price, I mean, it’s a little on the expensive side but the dishes are pretty large. And extra kudos for the fact that they make hot chocolate with actual chocolate and not just some instant nastiness.
For Coffee and Something Sweet
Craving some tea and sweets/cakes. Well, C is For Cookie is where you should be. I judge these places by the quality of carrot cake and the one I was served was incredible good, it comes in a little cup so you don’t feel too guilty and you can hide how much you’ve eaten so you don’t look like a starving person. Also a great spot for if you just want a basic, warm breakfast or brunch.
For Something Traditional
An Icelandic friend recommended I sink my teeth into a Klenat. And she was more than right, this Scandinavian take on the donut was well worth the giant queue in the bakery. I wish I’d bought a box full now!