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  1.  (7166.1)
    Polling all London-dwellers: what are some neat places to visit in London?

    I thought I'd start this early enough to get a nice-sized harem of suggestions going, and so that I have adequate time for planning, time-wise and monies-wise.

    Here's an idea of what I'd love to hear more about: touristy things that are actually worth it, interesting curio shops, antique bookstores and the like, calm and cozy pubs with great beer. NOT big on clubs at all. I love fine dining and restaurants, but I seriously doubt I have the money for more than one nice dinner, and I was already thinking of Acorn - read some good things about it.

    The trip will be for early June. I'll be staying with parents of a friend, somewhere unknown but "a fifteen-minute train ride from central London." My wife is a huge Hardy fan and has already claimed the better part of a day to sit by his heart in the Poet's Corner. Also decided are a Jack the Ripper Tour (which is best?) and Tower of London, I think.

    So, any suggestions? At all? I am a total n00b to England and Europe in general, by the way.
  2.  (7166.2)
    I'm not from London, but the Tate Modern's definitely worth a look. The Natural History Museum too.
  3.  (7166.3)
    I'd second the Tate Modern, also the old Tate, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, British Museum. hMS Belfast is pretty cool as well. Pubs - don't know that many but my local at work is the Olde Mitre in Hatton Garden, also quite like the Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street.
    • CommentTimeNov 6th 2009
    Re: Jack the Ripper walks - I've not done any JR walks specifically but London Walks ( have a couple Jack specialists and the walks that I've done with them have been well researched and interesting (most of their guides also hold Blue badges) and are def. not scams like some JR walks.

    Pubwise, I'll second @joncarpenter's recs of the Old Mitre (it can be hard to find - it's down a passageway off Hatton Garden. It's also tiny.) and the Cheshire Cheese, both of locals of mine when I worked in the area. Slightly further along, near Holborn tube is also the Princess Louisa (same brewery as Cheshire cheese, Sam Smiths -- disclaimer: I worked for Sam Smiths for a while) which was recently refitted with replacement victorian style pub fittings/nooks)

    The John Soames museum in Lincoln's Inn Field is free and full of awesome stuff (like the rake's progress!). Plus, it's just across the fields (where maaaany catholic martyrs were hung, drawn and quartered, after the secret masses in the Ship Inn around the corner were raided....) is the Hunterian museum in the royal college of surgeons. Also free and full of things in jars/first world war plastic surgery pictures/skeleton of the Irish Giant.

    tbh, the London denizens of Whitechapel could probably be easily lured to a pub.
    • CommentTimeNov 6th 2009
    The Hunterian Museum is a must-see. A fascinating mix of human and animal anatomy and pathology specimens, wax teaching models, surgical and dental instruments as well as paintings, drawings and sculpture. Awesome.

    The Wellcome collection. Galleries devoted to the history and development of medicine, featuring Wellcome's unique collection of curiosities from around the world.

    Around the corner, on Marchmont Street, you'll find two of the best second-hand bookstores in London, Judd Books and Skoob. Judd specialises in remainder academic books, and Skoob in fiction mostly. The area is lovely, near Russell Square and the British Museum and five minutes away from the British Library. Always some cool free exhibitions on there. Some great pubs in the area too, with good selections of beers and excellent food, like the Marquis Cornwallis and the Norfolk Arms.

    Most antique bookstores are situated around Charing Cross road and Cecil's Court.

    The Churchill Arms. Really cool pub in Notting Hill, which also houses a very good Thai restaurant.
    Don't forget to visit the awesome Book and Comics exchange in the area too.

    Behind Centre Point, at Tottenham Court Road Station, there's a series of tiny Korean restaurants that are pretty good.

    Second halcyonday, by the way, always up for a pint.
  4.  (7166.6)
    Awesome. Thanks everyone. I just might put out a pint bulletin when I'm there.

    I'm intrigued by the suggestions so far - I could probably lose myself in Charing Cross for days, and the wife is a Victorian specialist so she'll probably love the wellcome collection. Everything sounds neat!
  5.  (7166.7)
    re: the jack the ripper walks

    London walks are the best walks. I recommend doing the Sunday evening walk as it usually done by their main Ripper expert. Plus the city of London is totally deserted over the weekend and it´s pretty eerie walking though a part of london thats really quiet! Be warned though that the weekend walks are usually done my up to 100 fellow americans. When we went on the walk, the expert was getting pretty annoyed by fielding dozen of questions from Americans about Patricia Cornwells attempts to find out who the Jack the ripper was (i think he called her a "no talent Hack"), then they all shat themselves by the sight of 2 drunken Arsenal Fans singing down the street (those feared hooligans they must have heard about)

    I also recommend some ofthe ghost walks especially the APPARITIONS, ALLEYWAYS & ALE walk. It was a lot of fun
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2009
    The Wellcome Collection is awesome, and I'm not really that much of a sciency person, but their exhibitions are amazing - the medical models one where some of the models were so explicit they were behind a curtain was especially good, and free.

    I'd say Tate Britain over Tate Modern any day though, or the Victoria and Albert for a less traditionally 'culture' museam, the rooms with theatre stuff in are really amazing, and all the fashion exhibitions, as well as the more traditional museum stuff.
  6.  (7166.9)
    @nigredo - I work weekends in that very Book & Comics Exchange! Good to hear you like it.

    If you're up for some surfabilly then the in-house band at the Black Gardenia on Dean Street is always fun and so small that they can only really get 30 people in there. It's free before 9p.m. and £5 thereafter - I usually get in before 9, get myself a stamp, head to the John Snow [another excellent Sammy Smiths] just off Berwick Street have a cheap pint then make my way back for 10.30 when the music's kicked off. That same Soho area is supposedly the Red Light District of London but it's mostly friendly and a good laugh.

    I'm a mild specialist in all things free - that's right, I'm cheap. So be sure to check the Poetry Library's event listings to see if there are any free poetry events going on when you're here as there probably will be. Not forgetting the free excellence that is a Southbank walk - you can walk past the Millennium Wheel, the National Theatre, the OXO tower [look it up, it's got an interesting history] and many more including the Tate Modern and The Globe! Ah The Globe, how I love your cheap-as-chips £3 concessionary standing tickets. Also, there's usually still some street theatre or street musicians on the South Bank. Peak tourist season sees a shedload of 'silver statue men' in hitler make-up and tutus - utter London brilliance.

    There's more down South, i.e. my way, but few venture into our Murky Depths because it is as Alan Moore put it in The Black Dossier - "Here be South Londoners".

    Thirded on the pint/pints. I've not been to a Whitechapel meet yet so would be glad to meet some of our cohorts.

    *edited to correct my poor H'english
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2009
    Dude, the Black Gardenia is closing soon. Will be there tomorrow, btw, a friend of mine is playing. Would be cool to meet.

    I was at the Exchange today, at about 14:00!!!! There were three assistants there, I seem to of my fave shops in London, but I don't go as often as I would like to, unfortunately. Have made awesome finds there.
  7.  (7166.11)
    The Gardenia's closing? Shiiiiiiit. It would be cool to meet - especially since there's only a short amount of time left for the Gardenia - but I'm afraid I've already made arrangements to see emigrating friends off. They're making their final moves to Vienna tomorrow and I promised 'em a good send off.

    I should have added in the previous job mention "...except this weekend" because I've devoted it to writing and getting myself along to ComICA! There's no rest for Comic bookshop keepers. :) The three you probably saw today were Kirk, Bruce and one of the Matts. Kirk's an excellently wry man of the world; Bruce is an old metaller in a youngish man's body whose constantly attached to a coffee mug and depending on which Matt it was, they both could have had moustaches. Working there's a riot except when we get hordes of tourists asking us if our shop is the bookshop from Notting Hill - I almost wish it was sometimes - and hen not believing us that it isn't.

    Sometimes it's easier to tell 'em it is and let them take photos.

    I'm there irregularly at the mo because we have another exchange on Berwick St and my other jobs are picking up here, there and everywhere.

    I'm Ben though. I look like the photos here so if you see me in there, say hello!
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2009
    Ha, doesn't sound like any of the guys I remember seeing there.

    Anyway, used to be cool at the shop I work at too, but it's been going downhill for some time now, so I jumped ship and will be starting work at a Waterstones soon (glorious 33% discount). Needs must when the devil drives, I suppose.
  8.  (7166.13)
    I third (fourth? fifth? I lost count) London Walks. I did close on a dozen of them when I was in London and enjoyed every minute (well, apart from the fact that my feet were reduced to bloody stumps by the end of the trip). The night walks are fantastic, the City totally transforms once everyone clears out at the end of the working day (Covent Garden and Leadenhall Market are particularly atmospheric). If you're thinking of doing several walks, make sure you get one of their discount cards.

    Depending on your tastes Tower Bridge can be quite good. Wandering around the inside of the bridge is mildly interesting (nice views up and down the river) but the real treat is the engine rooms with the massive steam engines that used to build up the power to raise and lower the bridge.

    The newish Churchill museum at the Cabinet War Rooms is fantastic if you're at all interested in the man, or World War II.
  9.  (7166.14)
    Yay for the Marquis Cornwallis love. Excellent Euro and regional British beer selection and very reasonably-priced locavore-heavy food-list.

    (And for having said this in public I've probably doomed it to close again. More the fool I).
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2009
    torture garden
    • CommentAuthorDan Kelly
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2009
    Good suggestions already.

    Sam Smiths pubs are about as close as you'll get in central london to "real" pubs. Plus they're cheap.

    I'd suggest the Wapping Project for food only if you are rich and brave enough to go the wilds

    Rather than Camden Markets, which you've probably heard of, id suggest the Sunday Upmarket in Whitechapel which a) has the vibe that made Camden famous before the developers got hold of it, and b) gets you down to Whitechapel :)

    Will think on some more...
  10.  (7166.17)
    @ap Minos - can't believe I forgot about the Globe. Thanks for the reminder!

    @icelandbob, in regards the weekends - yeah, what's up with that? When we were first thinking about the trip and toying with nonexistent monies, we were considering spending a night or two at the Lanesborough just cause - and it was something like $150 cheaper on the weekend. Over here it's quite the opposite.

    @Dan Kelly - please, please tell me that the Sam Smith pubs have SS draught. It doesn't exist except in bottle in the States, which is fine because it's great beer, but if I can get it on tap I'd die.

    Here's a question all - and keep in mind we're willing to travel outside, I think the wife wants to go to Dorset for a night or two, Thomas Hardy again - I read somewhere, that back in ye olden days pubs for towns and villages etc. would serve their own locally brewed beer, as in you'd walk in and order a pint of bitter and they'd pour you the bitter they make there at the pub. Do people still/did people ever do that? Maybe even unpasteurized variety somewhere lurking in the shadows?

    I think, for sure, that the Whitechapelers will have a standing invitation to some pub whenever my wife is busy licking TH's heart stone in Westminster. I will post with the details when the time arrives.

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