London Tips from a Native

Get the most out of your trip to London with these reliable tips from native, Joseph Michalitsianos.

Make London something to remember.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Michalitsianos.

It is impossible to absolutely summarize London. It is an ever-changing, ever-growing international hub of humans. London is historically and contemporarily revered as the old, wise and flawed city of the global major cities. During the summer, London can be a compelling destination for those looking to travel and experience a culture and atmosphere unlike they ever have.

For those on the East Coast and in Montclair, this allure can be overwhelmingly strong, as you are only a seven hour flight from the capital of England. Many Montclair residents have found time to visit London, but for those that still have arriving at Heathrow airport in their future, here are some tips to ensure that you get the most out of the London experience and make a memorable trip.

  1. Don’t be afraid of the food! It has long been known that England isn’t the country for those that enjoy a commitment to good food. Nevertheless, the rumors of England and especially London’s lack of good food have been way overblown and saturated. It’s true; food that is truly native to England isn’t the most enticing for those that did not grow up with it, but London is home to one of the most diverse and eclectic restaurant networks in the world. As London has welcomed millions from around the globe, it has been blessed with an abundance of restaurants specializing in cuisines such as West African, Turkish and Indian food. While Montclair is home to some great foreign food such as Brick Lane and Dai Kichi on Valley Road, this is really as authentic as it gets. The owners of restaurants are proud, endearing people that generally just want people to taste their food. So don’t be afraid to dive right into the restaurants in London. Culturally, it’ll add a lot to your trip, and you don’t want to deny yourself great food.
  2. The sightseeing is worth it. For young travelers especially, sightseeing and touring historical places on vacation may seem like a waste of time. That is not the case when visiting London. The city itself is defined by what it has learned from it’s history – what it is proud of, ashamed of and wary of. Londoners share a great pride for their history, and that makes for some great sightseeing all over London. One of the things that people may not think about on vacation is museums. Many Montclair residents have only experienced Montclair’s exalted art museum, and may be still be missing the wonderful learning experience that visiting a museum can be. As most of the museums are government funded and therefore free in London, places such as the Imperial War Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of Natural History are unmissable. Historically, the Tower of London and many of the sightseeing tours are unbelievably informative and interesting. Sightseeing tours may seem like too tourist-y thing to do, but there is so much history crammed into London’s borders that it would take a professional to point everything out. The London Eye is a favorite, and for good reason. London isn’t the city of skyscrapers, so the Eye provides the best view of the whole city that you can find.

  3. Immerse yourself. London isn’t a city to be viewed from a window. To understand why London is London, you have to fully immerse yourself in it. Go to pubs. Pubs are the lifeblood of London. Dotted all over London streets, you’ll find the purest form of Londoner in a pub on a friday night. Visit the most popular inner-city hangout spots. The South Bank, which runs from the Tate Modern Art museum down to Big Ben, is a great place to spend hours. Filled with street-performers, great restaurants and outdoor music, it’s a place everyone should visit. Trafalgar square is also a good place to spend some time. It’s the “center” of London, the squished down, much-less populated version of Times Square.

However you go about it, traveling to London will be a life-changing experience. To experience one of the oldest Western cities in the world is to experience a colorful, bloody and rich history that can teach a lot about human nature and society as a whole. There are an impossible amount of things to love about London, and visiting will ensure you at least experience some of them.

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