Strange times these have been. But as the new academic year draw nearer, London is slowly opening up again and life seems to be getting back to a seemingly normal course.
If you are one of the lucky freshers moving to London at the of Summer, here is a list of the best places you must see when you move in that keep the city alive and well.
London is of course known for its beautiful parks. The one you’ll get to know the most is Eel Brook Common, mainly because it’s the one just outside of campus, where students like to have a snack or take in some quick dose of vitamin D in between lectures. I you fancy a walk by the river, then Bishop’s park between Fulham and Putney is just what you need. And of course, if you want something more central and touristy, head straight to Hyde Park!
Once you’re done checking out typical touristic places in the city – Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square etc… – you will WANT to go check out these spots as a musician or music lover: obviously take a detour by the Abbey Road crosswalks and pose like a Beatle. If you’re a fan of Bowie, as I am, it’s not one but TWO landmarks I have for you: of course the Aladdin Sane mural just outside of Brixton station and the lesser known commemorative plaque on Heddon street where the cover of Ziggy Stardust was shot. Finally if you’re into music history, you can walk in the footsteps of the Rolling Stones or Black Sabbath and visit Regent Sounds Studios on Denmark street. The staff are always happy to share the shop’s brilliant history, and you can also pick up some guitar gear which leads me to my next point…
Shopping! Still on Denmark street, known as the Tin Pan Alley of London, you’ll find half a dozen music shops selling an incredible range of high end or refurbished instruments and gear as well as production equipment. Whether you’re a singer, producer or play an instrument, you’re guaranteed to find the best services there. In terms of shopping for music, head all the way East to my favourite record store slash bookshop slash label slash cafe slash music venue: I am talking of course about Rough Trade, in Brick Lane. Make sure you keep an eye on deals for record store day, and on their programs as they often host showcase events to promote artists on their labels. These events are small in attendance so its the perfect occasion to get up close and personal with your favourite artists and have a chat with them! Now if you’re a performer and like to play dress up on stage, your next stop is the Stables Market in Camden. Wander down the alleys from unique designer pop ups to thrift shops, checking out gothic steam punk glam rock attires. Bonus points if you find the Amy Winehouse statue!
Camden Market is also great with food. Near the river you’ll find the food stalls and can taste different food from around the world. If street food is your jam, also do check out the food market in Spitalfields, a bit more hipster of a vibe. Also, if you’re not scared off but the infamous rumour that claims British food isn’t tasty, do definitely go to your nearest gastropub and try a Shepherd’s pie, or a veggie roast on Sunday for you vegan peeps!
Ah, and before I forget. If you’re over 18, one place you’ll be at more than your own home during the year aside from campus: Spoons! Not from the UK? I’ll let you discover that on your own, it’s more fun this way!