Tag : london

Big Ben

The perfect guide to some of the top destinations in Europe

There’s no shortage of reasons as to why traveling through Europe should be one of your top vacation priorities. It’s a place where the historical and the modern seem to coexist happily together, and home to some of the world’s most renowned architecture, museums, monuments, and parks. Furthermore, travel by train in Europe is fast and affordable, making it possible for you to plan a multi-city itinerary.

Big Ben

While you’re there, be sure to hit up the highlights in these cities:


There’s plenty of history and tradition to experience during your stay in London. You won’t want to miss your opportunity to see the city’s most celebrated buildings, which include Westminster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Take a stroll through the tranquil St. James Park or enjoy the commotion of Covent Garden. Finish off your visit with a ride on the London Eye after sunset


Paris is known for its beautiful edifices and monuments, all of which are increasingly more charming by nightfall. Fall in love with Paris in person by paying a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral, climbing the Eiffel Tower, and discovering monuments like the Triumphal Arch on foot. You can also visit the Latin Quarter for a stroll through Sorbonne’s campus or the picturesque Luxembourg Gardens. Make sure to take advantage of the city’s free museums—including the Paris History Museum, Modern Art Museum, and Fine Art Museum—for some wonderful exhibits.


Spend a day across the channel and get to know Calais. Here, you’ll find a charming Flemish-style town hall and Rodin’s bronze Six Burghers masterpiece sculpture. You can also visit a number of important museums, including Le Blockhause d’Eperlecques and the War Museum.


The first thing you should do during a visit to Lille is to experience the hustle and bustle of the city’s central hub, Place Charles de Gaulle. While you’re there, you can also pay a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts or the Hospital Museums for some impressive—and informative—exhibits.


Start your visit to Brussels by exploring the landmarks in Old Town—the Grand Place, the Town Hall, the Manneken Pis, and St. Nicolas. Then, it’s time to enjoy the views from the Atomium and explore the sphere’s many expositions. At the base of the Atomium, do a quick tour of Mini Europe, where you’ll pass by 350 iconic European edifices in miniature form. You also won’t want to miss your opportunity to visit the Chocolate Museum (and buy some sweets afterward), or grab a locally-made brew at Delirium Café.


The most famous landmark in this German city is the towering Koln Cathedral, which is even more stunning by nightfall. While you’re there, you should also make stops at the town hall, the Groß St. Martin church, the Mikveh Jewish ritual bath, and the two Ludwig museums.


Spend a quiet day walking around the streets of Aachen to admire its brightly-colored buildings and its pedestrian-only shopping streets. Take in the splendor of the Aachen Cathedral and the town hall, and make sure to leave some time to visit one of the city’s famous spas.


First, get an unbeatable view of the city on a boat tour along Amsterdam’s main canals. Then head to Museum Square to check out Amsterdam’s top museums—Rijksmuseum (Holland’s National Museum), the Van Gogh Musuem, and Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam City Museum). You’ll also want to spend some time relaxing in the beautiful Vondelpark. If you have some spare time, rent a bike and enjoy a cruise around the city.

Categories: Blog, Inspiration

london paris bike ride

The London to Paris Charity Cycle

Are you considering a trip in Europe in the near future? Are you busy looking into rail passes, bus tickets, and flight deals? Well, there are certainly many ways to travel around Europe, but when it comes to getting from London to Paris, there is one way that you may have not considered: cycling! The London to Paris Charity Cycle definitely requires a little more leg power than other forms of transportation, but the pay-off is enormous!

london paris bike ride

What is the London to Paris Bike Ride?

The London to Paris Bike Ride is a 5 day charity cycle that offers an amazingly unique and challenging experience to all participants. Participants are able to select a charity of their choice (the organizers work with over 500 charities, and are always creating new partnerships), raise money for their chosen charity, and then carry out the almost 500km bike ride from London to Paris. The route is organized in a way that makes sure participants will see as much of the beautiful countryside as possible and it passes important landmarks such as World War I battlefields, historic towns, and gothic churches.

Who can participate in the London to Paris Bike Ride?

The minimum age to participate is 18. There is no age maximum, though those over age 65 are asked to get a medical form signed by their doctor. You do not need to be a professional cyclist to join the challenge! The majority of participants are of average fitness level, and are simply looking for a healthy way to meet new people, challenge themselves, and raise money for a cause that is close to their heart. Support vehicles are always nearby to help out, and will make sure no one gets left behind! If you are a vegetarian, or have any dietary restrictions, don’t worry! Meals can be catered to accommodate any special needs. All participants are asked to raise a minimum of £1,450 for their selected charity in order to take part in the challenge, and there is an additional £99 deposit required. Organizers will provide guidance to help you meet your fundraising goal.

What do I need?

Naturally, you will need a bike. While renting a bike is always a possibility, it is suggested that you use a bike of your own, so that you have the opportunity to train and get comfortable with it before your big ride. It’s also always a good idea to familiarize yourself with basic bike repair; simple repair kits are light and easy to carry. However, there will be mechanics on hand should you need them. In order to participate in the challenge, you will also need proof of travel insurance. This can be obtained on your own, or with the help of the challenge organizers. Meals are included in the trip (with the exception of dinner on the ferry to France, and lunch and dinner on the final day in Paris), as are accommodations, luggage transport, ferry travel to France, and return travel to London on a Eurostar train. Upon registering, participants will be provided with a comprehensive packing list.

How do I sign up?

London to Paris Charity Cycles takes place during various periods throughout the year. The next scheduled event will be taking place from September 4th-8th 2013, and then one will be happening from September 18th-22nd. Places are limited, and can fill up quickly, so don’t wait until the last minute! Booking can be done online. Free informational packages can also be ordered for those who would like more detailed information and testimonials.

Categories: Blog, Inspiration

Unusual things to do in London

Tourist handbooks and websites will most likely give you a good idea of the main attractions in London. But what about the lesser-known wonders of the big city? Try some of these ideas for a memorable trip to the UK’s capital.

Step back in time at Dennis Severs House 

Dennis Severs House is intended to make you feel as though you’re walking through an old painting. Designed by the late Dennis Severs as a habitable home, the house was made to look and operate as it would have done in the early 18th Century. Candlelight and an open fire are the only sources of light within the house and each of the rooms is styled to reflect a different period of London’s history.

Take one of the house’s Silent Night tours where you explore the building in silence and then enjoy a glass of champagne and a chat with the curator.


Visit Europe’s oldest operating theatre

Hidden in the roof space of an English Baroque church lays Europe’s oldest operating theatre. The word ‘theatre’ is well-placed to describe this bizarre space as the room received its fair share of attention in its time. Medical students would frequently visit the theatre to witness operations and learn from their more experienced colleagues. Tours of the space may be slightly morbid, so don’t eat in advance!


Take a language class 

London is a diverse city with tourists visiting from all over the world. Why not try your hand at a new language during your stay and expand your knowledge of a different culture? Tourists and locals alike can visit UIC London to discover a full range of language courses to suit all levels. For those seeking German courses in London, there are a wide range of groups and services all across the city.


Work up a sweat while sight-seeing

Fancy an outing which will keep you fit? City Jogging Tours will keep you on the go while showing you the best of iconic London. The 6km tour starts at Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square and will take you around some of the most famous sights in the city.


Take a pie-making class

 manonthelam_2Marika’s Kitchen offers expert pie-making classes, using only fresh ingredients, for small groups looking to experience one of England’s culinary treasures. Pies have a strong presence in British history, almost becoming an art form during the reign of Henry VIII. Master the essential techniques of pie-making and recreate your London experience whenever you like.

Enjoy Richmond Park on horseback

One of the most beautiful public grounds in London, Richmond Park is far too large to experience in just one day. However, on horseback it’s a real delight which allows you to see the best of the grounds at your leisure. Kingston Riding Centre offers horse tours with experienced horse-back guides – making your visit a memorable one.


Go bowling, retro-style

The Shake, Rattle and Bowl combines the best music of the 50’s and 60’s with some great American food. Opened in 2006, the diner attracts locals and tourists alike for bowling, dancing and fun.


Categories: Blog, Inspiration, Travel Tips

Changing of the guard london

5 Things To Do For Free in London

Check out the view from Parliament Hill in Hampstead

The view from Hampstead’s Parliament Hill is a top contending rival when compared to the vastly more extortionate Eye of London panorama. This open parkland has made a name for itself as a homey haven just north of London, boating views of Canary Wharf, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London skyline. Be sure to look out for the flock of pink flamingos that inhabit the hill!

Changing of the guard london

Changing ouf the Guard in London

Board the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 ¾

Don’t be late the train leaves exactly at 11 o’clock! Just kidding, if you were a fan of the series, don’t miss your opportunity to get wizardy at Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station. Posing with the semi vanished trolley will be like stepping into the wonder of the book all over again.


Watch the changing of the guards

A must see in London and for free! Yep, you heard it right. The Changing of the Guard happens every day at 11:30am in the summer and every other day in the winter. The Queens Royal Guard switches with a symbolic handing-over of the palace keys. There is a live drum line and, often times, other live music!


Become the victim of a Convent Garden street performer

The Covent Garden Market is home to a multifaceted array of street performers that make it their duty to entertain the patrons of the area each afternoon. While they may mean to entertain, they do have the tendency to call on random audience members to help in their acts! It’s all fun and games until you are made to kiss a stranger in front of a sizeable crowd. That’ll almost make you regret going to English School in London…


Peruse the shops at Camden Market

While the shopping factor of this excursion may not be free of charge, it doesn’t cost a single pence to browse through the handcrafted gifts and vintage wear that line the street on weekends. Attracting 100,000 visitors each weekend, the market is well known for its casual vibe and eclectic memorabilia. There is also a good nightlife scene in the area, so be sure to pick up some leaflets at the Camden Town Tube station on your way to the market!


*Carson Lane

Categories: Blog, Travel Tips