21 November, 2016

Stepping Out of Central London by Arham Muneer

While living in London, it can become easy to stick to your daily routine of home to school and back home followed occasionally by a play or concert you have to go to for class. I think I usually stay within Zones 1 and 2 of the Tube but the few times I have been gone further gave me a chance to see London the way locals see their city. I have gone to some of these places for a couple of classes to learn more about the area’s history and to others just for fun. Enjoy!

Brixton (Zone 2)



Okay so Brixton is still in Zone 2 but I’ve been there twice for two different classes and I really like the area and its history. Brixton is in the Lambeth borough of London and has a long and interesting political history. Some cool places to visit are the Brixton Market for food and cafes, the murals, including a David Bowie mural (he was born there), and the Bohemian art scene. 

Cool fact: Brixton has one of the oldest windmills still in operation (kinda). Yes, a 19th century windmill! I actually got to go in and get to the top because you know, when in London, you just gotta go to a windmill.

Wimbledon (Zone 3)

This trip was also for class and we walked from the Southfields tube station to the All England Lawn Tennis Club a.k.a Wimbledon. Being a tennis fan, I felt like I was in heaven. We got a tour of the tennis grounds, the players’ lounge, the press room, and other amazing things. We also spent some time at the museum and the shop. The tour costs a bit of money (£21) but it’s worth it if you love tennis. The general area was very suburban and truly gave a different perspective from what we see in central London. Far less people and traffic and yet still London.  



Cool fact: There is a man from Yorkshire (I think) who comes down every year to count every single blade of grass (which by the way, no one from the public can ever touch) before the tournament. Literally, his job title would grass-counter. #goals 



Southall (Zone 4)

Southall is located in the borough of Ealing. Also rich in history, today Southall is primarily a South Asian residential area. It was also the main location for the film Bend It Like Beckham. There is not much touristy stuff to do there but it’s still a cool place to visit to check out another side of London. 

These are just three out of a handful of places I’ve been to but I will hopefully get to see some more. If you are done traveling around Europe, I would suggest going to new places within London. It’s a huge city and while none of us can probably see it all, it’s worth it to get out of central or inner London. Worried about travel costs? Remember buses don’t operate on a zone based fare so you can essentially go anywhere in London on a bus (which might not be as slow as they are in central London).



07 November, 2016

Places To Eat In London! by Patty Quijada Salazar

I would say that I love food.  My Instagram probably has more photos of food than anything else.  With that being said, I’m going to let you know of the places I’ve been able to try in London so far, and also the places I have planned before the end of the semester. 

One of the first places I went to when I first came London was My Old Dutch.  I’ve been to the one near the High Street Kensington Station, and I’m glad I found it.  This place makes Dutch pancakes that vary from the savory to the sweet.  They also have other foods if you want to try them, but since I’m gluten free I stick with the pancakes.  The pancakes are pretty big and filling and they remind me of crepes more than American pancakes.  I’ve been here a couple more times after my first week in London, especially on Monday’s because they have a deal where the pancakes are £5.25 and I’m totally down to have pancakes when they are almost at half price. 

Another place I went to in the 2nd or 3rd week of the semester was Arepa & Co. This restaurant serves Venezuelan food.  I was very excited to go here because I had been wanting some home-like foods and you can’t get more Venezuelan then some 'Arepas'.  I had some 'Tajadas' and two 'Arepas'.  Tajadas are ripe plantains that are fried and usually come with some cheese sprinkled on top.  Arepas are basically cornbread that is filled with whatever you want.  

I had a Pabellón arepa and a Mariana arepa.  Pabellón which is a combination of shredded beef, cheese, black beans, and plantains.  The Mariana had chicken with mayo, avocado, cheese, and plantains. To drink, I had what my mom calls' Papelón con Limón', which is sugar cane lemonade – not what the British call lemonade – and it reminded me of my summer while growing up because my mom would make it during really hot days to help my siblings and I stay cool.   I would definitely recommend going here if you haven’t tried Venezuelan food because they have a lot of different Venezuelan foods that you can try that are still very traditional and at a decent price.  The dishes ranged from £3.75 – £12, which for dinner isn’t horrible for London.  They are in Haggerston area and open until 10:30 every day but Sunday

Another place I’ve gotten a treat from is Cookies and Scream in Camden Market.  Cookies and Scream vegan cookie bar that doesn’t use any dairy, egg, wheat, and gluten-free in their products.  Their location in Camden Market is tucked away in a stall area, and they are cozied up next to a couple of other food venders.  I originally found them last year on Buzzfeed and

Instagram after I found out I was going to London, and was super happy to finally go and try their stuff out.  I got their Cookie Dough Shake, which was super good! In the future I would just get something salty to go with it because I was super sweet and cookie doughy.  I also got a Peanut Butter Choco Locos to go for a treat after dinner that night.  If you’re ever in the Camden Market and are curious to try some vegan and gluten-free sweets, then I would definitely recommend trying this place out. They’ve also opened up another shop in Holloway Rd if you want to check that site out as well.  

I’ve also been to Gourmet Burger Kitchen.  I went once with my dad and again with some friends.  This place has, as the name says, gourmet burgers and it’s at a somewhat reasonable price.  They have a gluten-free menu for those of you that also need gluten-free foods.  I’ve gotten the Salvador Burger and the Avocado Bacon Burger.  They were both very good.  The only thing that wasn’t super great was the gluten-free bread is very dry and crumbly, which makes eating it hard.  I also got their Caramel Brownie that comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it was delicious

With only a little over a month left in London, I still have some many food places I want to go and try.  I want to explore new markets along with some I’ve already been to.  Some of the one’s I really want to go to is Borough Market, Pimlico Road Farmers’ Market, Old Spitalfields Market, and Maltby Street Market. 

01 November, 2016

Traveling within the British Isles

While studying abroad in London, traveling becomes an essential for everyone. Every weekend, a bunch of people pack up a small bag to venture out into Europe or go somewhere within the UK. Well, a couple of weeks ago, some friends and I decided to go on a small tour of the British Isles, and by British Isles, I just mean Liverpool, Manchester, and Belfast. And it was loads of fun, so keep reading.

We set out for Liverpool, our first stop, via bus for a 6-hour journey. Yes, it was very long and tiring! We got to Liverpool’s bus station around a little after midnight and then found a local bus to get us to our Airbnb – which to say the least, was not in the most prime location of Liverpool. Our host, a Mr. Jordy, was very hospitable but did manage to make us want to lock the door to the room. Just kidding. Or not.

The next morning, I set out to go on a tour of the beautiful Anfield stadium, home of the Liverpool Football Club. The tour guide was amazingly knowledgeable on the history of the club and gave an incredible tour to a very pleased crowd. And as a football fan, I just had to touch the actual turf and I will admit that I employed the oh-my-shoelace-is-untied-so-I-need-to-stand-right-next-to-the-little-barrier-and-tie-it-so-I-can-sneakily-grab-a-blade-or-two-or-three-of-the-turf gimmick. I stand by my decision. Following the tour, I joined my friends. The rest of the day was spent going to a few of the museums, including the Museum of Liverpool with its very interesting contemporary art and the Tate Liverpool where I got to see Tracy Emin’s “My Bed” (all the Art in London people should know what I’m talking about). We then spent some time at the beautiful Albert Dock followed by my three companions going off to the Beatles’ Story, which I did not go to because I’m not a fan (please don’t kill me). On an impulse, we decided to go on a ferris wheel ride, which gave us beautiful sights of the city and the Mersey River. At last we ended up in the city centre where we had dinner and spent some time walking around before making our way back to the Airbnb. Overall, I’d give Liverpool a 7.5/10.




The 45-minute train ride to Manchester went by incredibly quickly the following morning. We then got an Uber to get to our Airbnb which turned out to be in Bolton, about 40 minutes away from Manchester. However, our house was incredibly beautiful and in a great neighbourhood – a big jump from our last place. The city of Manchester was incredible. Our first stop was the John Rylands Library, a beautiful structure housing many rare books and artefacts. We then went to a cathedral (I can’t remember the name, sorry). We couldn’t visit it anyway as there was a grand wedding going on inside. But right in front of it, in the Albert Square, the Manchester Food and Drink Festival was happening where we got really delicious lunch. Our next stop was the Museum of Science and Industry which was very cool and interactive. We then went to the Manchester Central Library which was closing soon. Unfortunately, due to it being a weekend, most places closed early and we could not visit all the places we wanted to. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our time in Manchester a lot. The city has an incredible vibe and was lot of fun, and had some very good Pakistani food as well. We bid farewell to one of our companions here as he headed back to London. I’d give Manchester a 9/10. Can’t wait to go back!



The next morning we flew to Belfast, which to say the least, was stunningly beautiful even just getting to our Airbnb in an Uber. After a delayed flight (thanks, EasyJet), seeing such a beautiful place made it worth it. After settling in, we went for a walk around the area in search of food and found a not-so-decent Chinese place. After going to bed early, we set off the next day and walked to the city centre. We had lunch at an amazing, and very very cheap sandwich shop called Sandwich Station. After walking around a bit, we set out for the Titanic Belfast where we spent a good deal of time walking around enjoying the sights. On our return to the city centre, we decided to hike up to Cavehill Country Park and see an actual cave up there. It was a long and tiring hike but it was worth it once we saw the view from up at the (almost) top. We then had dinner at Lavery’s which was an amazing place with great food. It had a beer garden, a huge room with pool tables, outdoor seating on the roof, and the menu had a wide range of options. On top of all, it was very decently priced so I would definitely recommend it to anyone. After the long tiring day, we returned to our Airbnb. The following day, packed our bags and set out to the city centre to visit the City Hall. Tips for anyone going to Belfast, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, please book the tour in advance. And definitely go to Giant’s Causeway which we missed because we did not have enough time. Overall, we had a great time in Belfast. I’d give the city and 8.5/10.



I then flew back to London as my other two friends made their way down to Dublin and Cork. I had an incredible time traveling within England and Northern Ireland. I got to see some amazing places and learned more about the culture of this country. While you’re in London, definitely go visit other cities here and not just in Europe. It will enhance your experience a lot and you will learn a lot more about the culture and history.