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London’s famous bell and bridge

Westminster Bridge, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

There’s a lot more to the city than Big Ben, but this view is a classic – taken from western Golden Jubilee Bridge, one of the pair of pedestrian bridges with a train line between them. A much better view than from Westminster Bridge, in my opinion.

Interesting fact: ‘Big Ben’ is not the name of the clock nor the tower – just of the bell that chimes regularly. The tower was renamed ‘The Elizabeth Tower’ for the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012. It has been renamed before to honour Queen Victoria’s 60-year reign in 1860.

Check out my other posts about my previous trips to England and my relocation to London.

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Birthdays while travelling

Four years. Four birthdays. Four celebrations.

Of my 28 birthdays, I’ve spent four abroad and it’s been great. It’s interesting to celebrate in other countries, with new friends and in foreign languages.

Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Italy have all hosted my birthday celebrations (Italy twice) and they been as different as you could expect.
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Secrets of London’s Oyster Card

Planning a trip to London? Great! This post is for you.

Live in London and haven’t discovered all the perks of your Oyster Card yet? Read on.

London’s Oyster Card not only gets you around London but also offers secret 2-for-1 deals not prominently advertised and unique card designs you have to ask for specially.

Oyster Cards are more than just the travel card most people use them for. Even a Londoner can learn something here.
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Book review: The Devil’s Cup by Stewart Lee Allen

For all you caffeine fiends and java junkies out there, this is your book!

Stewart Lee Allen has travelled around the world and chronicled the history of the world according to coffee in The Devil’s Cup. From Ethiopia to India and from Paris to Oklahoma, this books leaves no ground unexplored – coffee grounds, that is.
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3 London markets

London is full of sites for tourists. Once you’ve had enough of the guidebook must-dos, there is still plenty more to see.

I enjoy going to markets. You can see where the locals really are (they aren’t at the museums) and experience day-to-day life a little better.

In London, the markets show off the city’s multicultural communities and culinary diversity. With this approach, London’s markets become a tourist attraction by themselves.
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London’s other side: What to see if it’s not your first time

To say London is large would be an understatement. The city is massive and it is stuffed to the gills with people from all over the world. Needless to say, there’s a lot to see.

While guidebooks can direct you to the major tourist areas, I like the off-beat sites and experiences. Here’s a list of some of my favourites.
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Diary of a mad Icelandic volcano – Grímsvötn attacks

Everyone heard about Eyjafjallajökull (say it with me: Aey-ya-fiat-la-yo-khult, Eyja means island, fjall means mountain and jökull means glacier), commonly referred to as ‘the volcano’ or simply ‘Eya’, that erupted in April 2010.

Most of Europe was affected for weeks by the ash cloud as it coated the continent and cancelled air travel.

When I visited Iceland in December 2010 I realised why.

Even 7-8 months after the eruption, there was still ash on the ground and every wind gust blew blinding ash at us, making driving difficult and causing our cameras to fail temporarily.

The fine ash from Eyjafjallajökull got into every nook and cranny. There was ash in our car and in our bags. It coated anything that was wet or damp and created a fine layer of ash on our skin.

It was an adventure and we laughed about it, but we could easily see why it wreaked so much havoc on the continent.
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