Get in on the Ground Floor: Shakespeare for £5

 

Image Source: http://www.shakespearesglobe.com

 

Nestled on the banks of the River Thames in the heart of Central London, Shakespeare’s Globe is hard to miss. The theatre is a painstaking reconstruction of the original Globe, which stood a few hundred metres from its present location. Between 1599 and 1613, Elizabethan Englanders flocked to the Southwark venue to watch Shakespeare live. Though mainly an attraction for the wealthy, “commoners” were able to purchase standing tickets near the stage for a penny (often a day’s wage). These ticket holders became known as groundlings.

Since 1997, the modern Shakespeare’s Globe has continued in the groundling tradition by releasing 700 standing tickets for each performance. Tickets are just £5 and can be booked online (select Globe Theatre and “yard” tickets). Any remaining unsold tickets are sold at the start of the performance.

Image Source: http://www.shakespearesglobe.com

Groundling ticket holders are closer to the stage than their seated counterparts and almost all plays at the Globe include interaction with the groundling audience.

This summer the Globe’s schedule is packed with performances of King John, Richard II, Measure for Measure, Macbeth, and more. If you’re visiting London and want to catch a live show without breaking your budget, this £5 ticket deal is hard to pass up!

Top 5 Parks to Visit in London this Summer

 

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The English capital is always full of all kinds of attractions and activities throughout the year. With summer fast approaching, it’s time to take advantage of the beautiful British sunshine, breathe in some of the great fresh air, and utilize some of the stunning parks London has to offer.

This is a guide to the top 5 parks to visit in London this summer:

St James’s Park

London Parks St. James's Park

St. James’s Park, Image Source: Flickr User cdpm

St James’s Park is the oldest of London’s royal parks. Spanning over 23 hectares, these beautiful grounds are surrounded by three palaces; St James’s Palace, Buckingham Palace and Westminster.

Surrounded by trees, beautiful lakes and two islands – Duck Island and West Island, and landmarks such as the London Eye in the distance, St. James’ Park is the ideal place for a picnic on a warm, sunny day.

The park also boarders one of the most beautiful neighborhood to live in London, and makes it a very pleasant area to live. Castle Estates offers accommodations around this area, as well as other letting agent services around London, just in case you visit and never want to leave!

Regent’s Park

 

London Parks Regent's Park

Regent’s Park

Regent’s Park is another one of London’s royal parks. Located in North West London, this park covers 166 hectares of land and is so big that it occupies two different areas of London – the City of Westminster and the Camden district. Features you’ll find at Regent’s Park this summer include beautiful rose gardens, as well as:

  • London Zoo, one of the oldest of the world. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover more than 20,000 animals from750 different species.
  • Open air theater; opened form May to September itis the onlyprofessional open air theaterexistingin the UK.
  • Queen Mary’s Gardens; with more than 12000 roses from 85 varieties, this garden is named after the wife of King George V and houses the largest collection of roses in the world.
  • Sporting activities; Regent’s Park is the best place to take part in London’ssports because it has the largest outdoors sport area including pitches for football, softball, rugby and cricket

Hyde Park

London Parks Hyde Park

Hyde Park, Image Source: Flickr User pahudson

Hyde Park is an historical and royal park located at the heart of central London. It is one of the biggest parks in the capital covering 140 hectares of greenery and over 4,000 trees. The Serpentine Lake divides the park into two parts. Hyde Park is open every day from 5am to midnight. There are many sporting activities to do in the park such as horse riding, running, tennis, swimming and football. There are also many children’s play areas for the little ones to enjoy this summer. In terms of cultural activities, Hyde Park has also been known to host many music festivals and concerts in the past, so keep an eye out for any taking place in the upcoming months.

Greenwich Park

London Parks Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park, Image Source: Flickr User Jonnee

 

London’s Greenwich Park is an active park which has grown in popularity and visitors since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as the exposure this park gets through the London Marathon each year. Located on a hill, it offers a beautiful view on the River Thames, the Old Royal Observatory, The National Maritime Museum, and only minutes away from the Cutty Sark ship. Greenwich Park is well known for its variety of activities such as cruises on the lake, playing areas for children and its tennis courts, as well as Greenwich Village which offers a range of great outdoor restaurants and bars, making for a fun family day out.

Victoria Park

London Park Victoria Park

 

Victoria Park is described as the local’s favourite East End park, boarding Bethnal Green, Hackney, and Bow. Victoria Park houses canals, ponds and a pavilion, as well as tennis courts and sports fields which you can make great use of during the summer. Victoria Park is also used as a location that participates in many music festivals such as the famous Lovebox, especially during the warm seasons where you are able to listen to the best current bands such as the Clash and Radiohead.

Laid-Back Kos

 

“This is where people should go to retire”, said my significant other.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Kos, but I’ll try my best to explain what he meant.

Kos is a small island belonging to Greece in the Aegean Seam, but it doesn’t bask in the same level of notoriety that other Greek islands like Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos, and Santorini enjoy.  Geographically closer to Turkey than the Greek mainland, the climate here is pretty hot and dry, and you won’t find as many ancient ruins here compared to the more famous islands in the Aegean.  However, I don’t think that takes anything away from Kos if you’re in search of a laid-back beach holiday as opposed to an archeological hunt.

I arrived at Kos late on a Saturday night and took a bus into town.  Once it had journeyed from the airport in the center of the island to the northern coastline, I began to see dozens of tourists making their way between towns on foot in the middle the night without a care in the world. “This seems like a really safe place”, I said to my other half.

Kos, Greece

For our 5-night stay, I chose an apartment-hotel about a mile outside of Kos Town in a suburb called Lambi.  Our 75-Euro/night room was large, clean, air-conditioned, and came with a fully-stocked kitchenette. We were about a 5-minute walk from the ocean and a 15-minute walk into town, so for our first day we decided to take in the major sights of Kos Town.

Kos Castle

Kos is a very friendly island for pedestrians and cyclists, which is no doubt an adaptation made in response to the large number of Dutch tourists that come here each year.  Kos Town itself is a bit kitschy, but has a lovely port and a well preserved crusades-era castle, along with both Greek and Roman ruins.  There is also a bus from the center of town that will take you up to the Kos Asklepieion, which was where Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) received his medical training.

As far as dining was concerned, we struggled to rack up a bill exceeding 25 Euros, even after ordering alcohol.  The affordable prices allowed us to try all the Greek staples – gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, and even Greek wine. Add to this the fact that there were plenty of duty-free shops offering everything from traditional desserts and imported beer, and I found myself shoveling food into my mouth for almost the entire duration of my holiday.

Casual seaside dining @ Angelica’s

While an argument could be made that Kos doesn’t have much going on, it’s worth noting that it’s pretty easy to get on a boat and tour other islands from Kos Town.  There are frequent ferries to Bodrum, Turkey; Rhodes, Greece; as well as several other smaller islands.  A “3-island Boat Tour” is a must for all Kos visitors,  and was at the top of my to-do list.  For 30 Euros, you can get a day’s worth of island hopping, swimming in the Aegean Sea, and lunch.  Most boats stop at Kalymnos, Pserimos, and Plati.  These are all tiny islands that rely heavily on tourism, so the locals are naturally extremely friendly and appreciative.

Kalymnos

Back on Kos, we had a few days to really enjoy the island. All the major towns here are connected by fairly reliable and extremely affordable bus routes. From Kos Town, we took the bus to the resort town of Tigaki, which is known for its shallow beach. Most of Kos’ most famous beaches are in the resort areas of Kefalos and Kardamena, both of which were on the opposite side of the island from Kos. At just 20 minutes from our hotel, Tigaki was a great compromise. Tigaki beach is extremely long and broad enough to cram in thousands of sunbathers. Luckily, there were only a few hundred people lounging about when we visited in the peak of summer. The water off the coast was clear and shallow, which is perfect for those of use who aren’t strong swimmers.

Tigaki Beach

Kos may lack the “wow factor” of its more famous island cousins, but its also more laid-back and affordable. The locals are friendly and it’s perfectly safe to walk around town in the middle of the night. The beaches are nice, and getting around the island is as easy as hopping on a bus or renting a bicycle. So while I suppose it does fit the criteria of an ideal retirement community, it’s a pretty nice place for anyone to vacation as well.

A side trip to Bloomsbury Square

 
Bloomsbury Square Gardens

Bloomsbury Square Gardens

After nearly 4 years of living in London, I’m still coming across little pockets of the city that I haven’t yet discovered. It’s one of the perks of residing in such a large, historic city.

Over the weekend I visited the Viking exhibit at the British Museum and on the way back I stumbled across lovely Bloomsbury Square. Now that it’s nearly June, the trees of London are drenched in magnificent hues of green and nowhere is this more evident than in this tiny park.

Flats lining Bloomsbury Square Gardens

Flats lining Bloomsbury Square Gardens

Established in 1665, Bloomsbury is one of the oldest squares in London and has that oh-so-chic London look to it. The garden itself has a simple grid layout lined with hedges and sturdy trees. There are a few park benches, a play area for children, and paved pathways through the landscaped square. While all this is lovely, what makes the park really stand out are the gorgeous period buildings that surround it. From quintessential Georgian terraced homes with their gleaming white paint and black iron window dressing, to red brick Victorian flats, Bloomsbury Square is enveloped by the best architecture London has to offer.

Bloomsbury Square Gardens

Bloomsbury Square Gardens

At just a stone’s throw away from the British Museum, I wouldn’t call this park a hidden gem, but as I strolled through it on a Bank holiday weekend, there wasn’t a tourist to be seen.

If you’re find yourself visiting the British Museum, I recommend taking a slight detour through Bloomsbury Square on your way back to Holburn station, especially if you’re here during the summer months. Take a moment to soak in the views, or maybe even enjoy a picnic.

Bloomsbury Square Gardens

Map:

In London for the Summer

 

Hiya guys!

If you’re reading this sometime after 27 April, then chances are I’m in Bangkok. My schedule’s been a bit crazy of late, and for someone who runs a blog with London in the title, it feels like I’ve hardly spent any time in London this year!

However, after my trip to Thailand wraps up in mid-May, I’m happy to announce that I’ll be rockin’ it in London for pretty much the whole summer (yay!). It’s the first time in a long while that I’ve had a substantial break in my travel schedule and as much as I hate to admit it, I’m kind of looking forward to staying home and relaxing in London for a bit.

Summer fun – Hanging out on Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath

Though I do plan to pencil in plenty of time to sit on my butt and watch summer television, I am really looking forward to exploring more bits of London throughout May, June, and July and will of course be sharing it with all of you!

Here’s what I’ve got on the docket so far:

  • Richmond Park (it’s been on my to-visit list FOREVER)
  • The Vikings exhibition at the British Museum
  • Wimbledon (I don’t have tickets, but I’m going to try to stand in the queue!)
  • The Trooping of the Colour
  • Day trip to Brighton
  • Lots and lots of different food festivals, markets, and farmer’s markets.

What do you think? Did I miss anything? Let me know if there’s something you’d like me to attend and I’ll see if I can make it happen :)