ISD road trip: London

Katelynn Mccollough

The time for the Olympics is finally upon us and that means the world’s attention will be focused on London for the next 17 days.

All that London coverage may certainly stir up some ideas to hop across the pond and see the historical city yourself. And why not? With so many things to do, London is truly the vacation spot of a lifetime.

London makes for a great city to visit for those traveling abroad for the first time ever. There are no language barriers; the money and public transportation systems are easy to figure out; and it is one of the most diverse cities in the world.

As I am currently visiting London myself, I can tell you firsthand life in this city is not cheap. But don’t worry, the city boasts of enough free things to do that you wont be able to see them all in a week.

To begin your adventure in London the first thing to do is make your way to one of three places: Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus.

These three areas of London are what many refer to as proper London, or the heart of the city. You can easily find any major landmark from these points including Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Parliament, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and a large variety of museums.

The best part? They are all within walking distance of each other and the majority of them are free to see, though donations are often requested.

You didn’t have to pay to close attention in school to pick up on just how long and rich the history of England is, a history you can see on every street while in London. The old and the new are everywhere and quite intermixed, meaning there is truly something for everyone.

With the help of their wide range of museums, including the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern art gallery, you can also see artifacts from across the globe. One of the most fascinating being the Rosetta Stone.

If museums aren’t really your thing, then head to Victoria or Hyde Park for some scenic views.

Oxford Street is not far from Hyde Park and can fulfill all of your shopping needs, though going to a market such as the ones in Camden, Portebello or Spitalfields can offer better prices and less tourist shops.

There is no shortage of food in London, but it’s also not what the city is known for. A traditional English meal will be bangers and mash, or to an American, sausage and mashed potatoes. Expect a serving of baked beans with your meal, no matter if it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. Also, afternoon tea with a tart is a must at least once on a trip to London.

The nightlife is always quite lively in the city. Start early at a pub, for they do last call at 11 and close by midnight. It is quite common to begin drinking immediately after work. From there head to a club, but be prepared to pay a hefty cover to get in.

The most important thing to remember about going out at night is the last tube is at 12:30 a.m. If you miss this, your only way home is a taxi or the night bus.

The city will be more than crowded for this year’s Olympics, which will be the third time London has been host to the Games. In fact, London is the only city in the world to host the Olympics that many times.

The events will be held across England, with most taking place around the city or within Olympic Park in Stratford, an area in east London.