Saturday, January 28, 2012

7 Things to do in London if you have a wee bit more time

Photo by bixentro

London's boring. You've been there, done that. Cathedrals all look the same after the first few. Museums? Blah, who'd fancy spending hours at one place? 10 things to do in London? Checked. Now what?

Cheer up, mate! There're loads more to do and here are a list of 7 things to do in London if you have a bit more time.

1. The Ghost Bus Tour

While you can still see some Routemaster plying the number 9 route across London, all have been replaced by larger and wider buses. The only reminder of the Routemaster's legacy is the trademark red colour. Even that, I suspect is more of a necessity (you can see red from a further distance) than not.

Regardless, Londoners will always have a soft spot for The Routemaster and everyone loves a good ghost story, so why not marry those two and give yourself a good scare on the o' bus while travelling around London when the night falls?

Photo by kenjonbro

The Ghost Bus Tours starts off near Trafalgar Square, go round City of London before heading to the West End and then south of Thames, and back again. Operating four days a week for most weeks, early bookings is advisable. That said, starting out at 7.30pm means that it would run right smack into London's peak night traffic. Expect some delays but rest assured that the bus crew have something up their sleeves.

2. Ripley's Believe It or Not

When you're tired of having scones and tea, and would like something more outlandish, check out Ripley's Believe It or Not. This global highly successful oddity franchise is filled with displays that dominate the Guinness Book of Records and much more. Think the world's tallest man, American Idol's Swarvoski crystals covered Mini Cooper, replica of Tower Bridge made of over 200,000 matchsticks, shrunken heads, well, you get the idea.

Photo by Cecil Lee

Located right at the heart of Piccadilly Circus, Ripley's Believe It or Not is one destination you can easily pack in if you're in London for only awhile.

3. Jack the Ripper Tour

The entrance of Tower Hill Tube station is always teeming with tourists in the evenings and with good reason too. That's when Jack the Ripper, the murderer that terrorised London in the late 1880s, comes alive again. Be led through the narrow streets of East London where the the women were slaughtered and then mutilated.

London Walk's Donald Rumbelow (author of The Complete Jack the Ripper) will thrill you with tales of the London in the late 19th century, much of it the Victorian England would prefer to forget. Expect blow by blow accounts of the Ripper going about his gruesome crimes, often within yards of unsuspecting passerby.

4. Underground Restaurant dining

Londoner just love eating out and the capital has got no lack of brilliant restaurants (see Top 10 Restaurants in London). But to be honest, restaurant dining does get a bit impersonal and monotonous at times.

Photo by Mark & Andrea Busse

In recent years, a host of underground kitchens have taken London by storm. There are test platforms for up and coming chefs, food writers who decided to put their money where their mouth are (see The Secret Larder) and food bloggers have joined in the fray (see Ms. Marmite Lover, author of the widely acclaimed Recipes and Notes from the Underground Restaurant), not to mention those who simply adore their food (see Plusixfive).  

Expect great conversations and company. Great food pipping hot from the kitchen, friendly hosts, chatty fellow diners, cosy environment, what there not to love? This is something that a 12.5% service charge can't buy.

5. Thames RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) ride

Ever seen those large passenger ships plying up and down the Thames blaring introductions that goes "on your right is the Tower of London and you would see the Mayor's office on the left"? Those are fine if it's your first time in London and it's all clean fun, plus you do get quite a bit of information from those hilarious commentaries.

Photo by kenjonbro

But if you're gunning for something more exciting, Thames RIB Experience is the one to go for. Imagine cutting the waves down the Thames in a high powered speedboat with James Bond music pumping in the background. Get your discounted tickets from Expect to get very wet.

6. London City Farms

Fancy some quiet farm life but would irk to go too far out? Not to fret for there are a number of little farms (some just over a hectare) sprinkled all over London. It's almost intriguing how many farm animals can be packed into these minuscule "city farms" and yet have place to roam about.


Most of these farms come with lovely little cafes raise some much needed income for the farms' daily operations. Essential to the parents, they allow for the brief respite after running around with their little ones around the farm.

Set aside some time for a trip down one of the city farm if possible. It'd be perfect for the kids. Here are some of the London City Farms:

Freightliners City Farm - Islington
Surrey Dock City Farm - South Wharf
Mudchute Farm and Park - Isle of Dogs

7. Secret Cinema

I'm still fascinated about how much a movie ticket costs in central London these days. You're looking at more than a tenner, which is a small fortune considering that you can watch a full production play for a few quid more.

Launched in 2007, Secret Cinema has a following in the thousands, which is kind of odd considering that press reviews can't divulge which movies have been screened and more importantly where they were screened. Small wonder that Secret Cinema's tagline is Tell No One.

The tickets for the once a month screening are snapped up almost the moment they are released. The only way of knowing the next screening's location and time is through registering at its website. And you don't even know which movie would be playing till it is actually screened. I'm sure you'd agree that this is far more thrilling than going to the theatre.

This are just a couple of things that you can do if you've a bit of time on your hands. Have you been to any of these? How were they? Have you got any to add to the list?

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