Cell phone essentials

A curated list of apps and websites I recommend for my family coming to visit London this summer.

Citymapper.

Comprehensive, easy to use and also playful, Citymapper is my favourite travel app. It offers more detailed journey planner information than Google, including real-time departures and disruption alerts, as well as Uber integration and cycle routes. You can also see approximately how many calories you’d burn if you walked!

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Museum Exhibits, London 2017

Here are just some of the museum exhibits I’m keen to see this year, listed in chronological order of exhibit closing date. What are your cultural must-sees of 2017?

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Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 1932 
Royal Academy, 11 February through 17 April

I saw this and recommend it unreservedly. I’ll write a review soon!

  • One hundred years on from the Russian Revolution, this powerful exhibition explores one of the most momentous periods in modern world history through the lens of its groundbreaking art. Taking inspiration from a remarkable exhibition shown in Russia just before Stalin’s clampdown, the RA marks the historic centenary by focusing on the 15-year period between 1917 and 1932 when possibilities initially seemed limitless and Russian art flourished across every medium.

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Lunchtime in London

You’ll see cafe and restaurant chains all over the city, but how do you choose where to grab a quick bite to eat?

The UK lunch market is worth £16 billion to the economy. “Which lunch market? Greenwich, Spitalfields, Borough?” I hear you ask. Actually, I’m taking about the sector of the food industry. And as fewer and fewer people in Britain bring homemade lunches to work, the lunch market is growing by about 3% each year.

According to the BBC, we are more likely to dash to the nearest takeaway to grab something quick and then bring it back to their desk. On average, we spend £670 a year on takeaway lunches, with those of us in London spending at least £830 each year.

I first noticed this when I tried to explain chains like Pret a Manger, Itsu, and Vital Ingredient to my family back in the United States. Now, I will be the first to admit that cities like New York, Chicago, Austin and my hometown of Seattle have plenty of great takeaway lunch options. However, I’m unaware of any widespread chains that aren’t blatantly in the “fast food” category. While Americans have plenty of burger and chicken places, I wouldn’t consider Pret to be like MacDonalds (despite the latter being the parent company).

Londoners especially have mercurial food tastes: we move seamlessly between cuisines and formats. So what do I recommend for lunch when you’re in the Big Smoke? If I’m in need of something cheap and cheerful, usually head for one of the following chains.

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Best for Soups and Sandwiches – Pret
Pret offers Sandwiches, baguettes, desserts, fruit cups, crisps and bakery items, as well as sushi, salads, soups, and cakes. They also have hot and cold drinks, including smoothies. There really is something for everyone at Pret. The company emphasises the use of natural ingredients and advertises all sandwiches are made on the day of purchase.
Budget £5 for a sandwich or salad with a can of fizzy drink or bottled water.

Runner up – EAT.
EAT offers a really good rotation of weekly hot food, like chicken pot pie and macaroni and cheese. They also have sandwiches that you can toast – toasties!
Budget £5 for a sandwich or salad with a can of fizzy drink or bottled water.

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London espresso: East End Trend

Part of a series highlighting one area of London.

Shoreditch is the inner city district in the historic East End of London and modern Central London. It lies within the London Borough of Hackney, lying immediately to the north of the financial district, known as the City of London. The districts of Hoxton and Haggerston are part of Shoreditch. As such, when you hear about Shoreditch, Hoxton, and Haggerston, know that those places are generally “the East End.”

Shoreditch was once described as ‘desolate and rough’ by the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, but now the area is evolving into what’s been described as the ‘new Prime Shoreditch’ with one bedroom flats averaging around £565,464.
– from 20 Facts about Shoreditch

Indeed, the East End used to be synonymous with grime and poverty. Before experiencing what the area is like today, I highly recommend viewing photos of Victorian East London, so that you can appreciate just how much has changed – and what hasn’t.

Although still a poor part of town when compared to the absurd wealth of the West End, I  consider the East End to be London’s best neighbourhood for art, fashion and food – it’s an important part of my London story. The East End was where I first lived in London, and I now work in the nearby City. Read on for my suggested tour of the area which I recommend for the afternoon, as it can be pretty sleepy in the mornings.

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Hand Luggage Essentials

Whether I’m taking a three-hour train ride or an eight-hour long haul flight, there are a few things I always have by my side. Here are my carry-on essentials for travel.

  • Scarf.  I tend to get cold quite easily and particularly on air conditioned planes, so no matter the weather I always take a scarf. It’s a lightweight blanket, pillow, and fashion accessory all in one!
  • Toiletries.  It’s always nice to freshen up before landing, so I like to carry small toiletries like makeup wipes, a disposable toothbrush, small deodorant and body spray.
  • Hair accessories.  When my hair  has been messed up by headrests or from sleeping against a window pane, it’s an easy fix thanks to a small hair brush, hair ties, and bobby pins.

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Fine Dining in Europe

This is not an exhaustive list, but rather my curated list of restaurants I’ve been to, and those I’d love to visit.

Key
Michelin Stars  ★
Been ✔

United Kingdom

South

The Fat Duck, London  ★★★

Midsummer House, Cambridge  ★★
✔  September 2016

Marcus, London  ★★

Kitchen Table, London  ★
✔  February 2016

Alimentum, Cambridge  ★

North

L’Enclume, Cartmel  ★★
✔  December 2014

Gilpin, Windermere  ★

Forest Side, Grasmere  ★

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