London is such a huge city, you could live here for ten years and still not being to scratch the surface of the culture hidden here. After living in London for a measly five months, we’ve tried our best to put together some quick and easy tips for you that we wish we knew when we first embarked on our Eurotrip in 2015.
Primark is your friend
When you’re an Australian travelling to London, it’s no time to be snobby with what brand of underwear you’re buying. Whatever Aussie dollar funds you have, you can expect to halve them when you convert them to pounds, leaving you needing to stinge wherever you can. Primark is a haven for students, travellers and newbies coming over on the two-year visa as you can find pretty much anything here for a fraction of the price you’d pay elsewhere. Running low on clean socks? Grab a five pack from Primark for £2. Forgot your PJs? Primark have got you covered for £10. Need a unicorn portable speaker for picnics in Hampstead Heath? They’ve got that too.
Wong Kei is the place to eat when you have no money
Known for having the worst service in London, Wong Kei is the only genuinely cheap place we’re found to get Asian food centrally. Located in China Town, it’s the standard of BBQ City in Adelaide, but sometimes when you’re hungover or a little homesick that’s exactly what you want. Spread over a number of floors, if you’re a group of two you might find yourself sharing a table of eight with six other fellow stragglers, but it’s a fun experience. Giggle as the menus get thrown at you, then smile with joy as you realise you can get some beef with black bean sauce for £7.20. We do need to give an honourable mention to one lovely waitress we had recently who gave us some of the best service we’ve ever had. Wong Kei is like a hot pot: you never really know what you’re going to get.
Be At One has 2-4-1 cocktails all day Sunday
For a good Sunday Sesh, Be At One is the place to be. Dotted around various areas in London, they specialise in doing fun cocktails, all of which are 2-4-1 on a Sunday. Averaging around £8-9 pounds a cocktail (or £8-9 pounds for two during happy hour), Be At One is the place to go to enjoy a few fun drinks around London without breaking the bank.
Not all tube lines are air-conditioned
And buses certainly aren’t. With the current ‘heatwave’ (30 degrees might not seem like a heatwave to Australians but when you’re surrounded by concrete and nowhere has air-conditioning, it can get pretty hot) sometimes it’s better to choose a line that might take you five minutes longer, rather than a faster, ventilated route. Avoid the Central Line during peak hour at all costs, unless you enjoy sniffing someone’s sweaty underarm on a train packed like sardines and with an average temperature of 50 degrees. The Circle, Hammersmith & City, District and Metropolitan lines are all newer trains that are more spacious and have AIRCON. When you feel like you’ve had it up to here with the heat and just want to sit in some air-conditioning, these tubes will be your lifeline.
Rooftops are the place to be
Another great way to escape the heat (and get a great view while you’re at it) is by retreating to a rooftop. London is a city with little fresh air and street space at ground level, so in answer to this problem it’s started utilising the many available rooftop spaces around the city. Among some of the most popular are Rooftop Film Club, dotted around three locations in London, Social Fun & Games Club, a circus-themed venue with tasty food, delicious cocktails and various games, and Queen of Hoxton, which this year has a fun Vegas theme on the rooftop.
There are other areas to explore than central London
The first time we came to London we made the mistake of staying central pretty much the whole time. We had a hostel in London Bridge, we went out in Soho and went shopping on Oxford Street. As a result we spent a whole lot of money and didn’t really begin to explore what London is really all about. If you’re not interested/ have already seen the Tower of London, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, we’d recommend heading out into areas East and West to shop, dine and party. Shoreditch is like Melbourne in the sense you’ll find great coffee, beetroot cured salmon brunch dishes and plenty of cool bars to hang out at. If you’re feeling a little homesick, head down to Clapham Common, AKA Aussie Central. Approximately 99% of residents in Clapham are from Australia and New Zealand, and also Aussie bars like The Slug in Fulham hold raucous events such as the infamous Bogan Bingo regularly.