London calling During the Festival, it
seems as if all of London comes to Scotland. So beat them at their own game and head south for a weekend.
Words: Simone Baird
If you live in London, it's the epicentre of the world. If, however, you're a tourist in London, it can be an expensive, polluted hellhole (although some residents will agree to that too). It's true that everyone should do the sights — Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, etc — before passing on to pastures greener. But if you're escaping from the tourist hordes in Scotland, the last thing that you want to do is jostle for space in an even bigger and totally unfamiliar city. London has scores to offer when you're out of sight of visitors' cameras — it’s all about knowing where to find it.
If you are seeking respite from the noise, head to Camley Street Natural Park. Hidden behind some gasworks in the unlikely Kings Cross area, it's a haven of natural meadows, flora and - best of all — peace and tranquility. Within walking distance of Camden Town tube station is Primrose Hill, an elevated criss-cross of paths with an excellent view of the city's skyline. It doesn't cost anything to wander round either, which makes it something of an endangered species in London.
Markets like Camden and Portobello are big attractions in their own right and thousands of people go there on the weekends, fighting for footpath space. If you want to get a real sense of market heaven, however, head to
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Sign of the chimes: Big Ben
Spitalfields, Brixton or Brick Lane. Spitalfields is a chilled and comfortable affair where you’ll pick up everything from Japanese paper paintings to original and second hand clothes, fresh noodles and organic food. Brixton is the place for Afro-Caribbean food; even if you're not doing your ethnic grocery shopping, the sounds, smells and characters make this a sure winner. Brick Lane has been suffering something of an invasion over the past year as the surrounding Shoreditch has become trendy, but its market is still interesting, with the old Bengali influence hanging on.
The Underground in London is undoubtably the easiest way to get around, but don't base your geography on the tube map: what will seem a good distance on paper is only just down the street. Get out and walk and you'll see more of this incredible city than you had ever planned. '
Stating The Obvious
Dinosaur snr: Natural History Museum
Trafalgar Square An enormous column, wuth Lord Nelson atop, domunates thus most famous of landmarks You too can play the art crutuc and duscuss the new Jesus statue un the fourth corner, but watch out for the pugeons.
Big Ben/Houses 0f Parliament Passung lavvs(nud HTHLKNTCHTQ nuOSt()fthe Western world for centurues, the
Vuctonan Gothuc buuldungs stull attract the t0urust masses eager to hear the chumes of Bug Ben.
The British Museum Attractung 6.7 mulluon vusutors a year, thus was the world’s furst publuc museum Make Sure you venture unto the basement: what used to be the unfam0us Bedlam Lunatuc Asylum us now a museum to the World Wars. The eerue rotatung clock-hand c0unts off the number of human luves lost to war, and the number us estumated to reach 100 undhon nextyear
Buckingham Palace Surprusungly unumpressuve, ut’s stull a laugh to see peOple aplenty pressed up agaunst the uron gates, hopung to catclu a glumpse of the Royal Famuly Nasty people hope the Guards wull trup over
Natural History Museum Whule some of the dusty exhubuts seem unchanged sunce uts openung un 7881, the dunosaurs here are defunutely where ut’s at v— see two reptules tear apart a much bugger foe
The List Alternative
Bah Humbug Set south of the Cuty madness un Bruxton, thus bar/cafe/restaurant us set beneath an old church Full of gorgeous mosuacs made by the owner and wuth the best bug cocuches you ever sat on, thus us one of the best hudden treasures of London. When you feel up to facung the hoards, head down Cold Harb0ur Lane to the Dogstar, one of the best bars around. The Crypt, St Matthew’s Peace Garden, 0777 738 3784
Yo! Below If you want to get a sluce of super-trendy London before everyone else knows ab0ut ut, head down to the new hangout underneath Yo! Sushu’ and smueg tell your fruends that you were there months before they heard about ut. 52 Poland Street, 0777 439 3660 Spitalfields/Brick Lane/Brixton markets Avoud the more tourusty and chaotuc Camden market and head down to the very casual and unterestung Sputalfuelds (Sundays), Bruck Lane (Sundays), Bruxton (Saturdays and
Asia specials with STA Travel
Asua us the largest of the contunents — a haven for culture, deserted tropucal beaches, shoppung or 24 hour parties. Whether you have months to travel or you choose to see the hughlughts un a couple of weeks, take advantage of our speCual offers and speak to Our well travelled staff, who wull help you plan the trup of a lufetume.
In August and September STA Travel have some uncreduble offers to Thauland and the rest of S0uth East Asua — and the furst 100 people bookung theur Asua trup wull receuve a Rough Guude 'Furst Tume ASua' book absolutely free.
Anyone bookung a tour uru South East ASua' wull receuve 5% off theur t0ur. M“ a:*:‘ rs '.' " a'; "11'. .u- "am -.»' '.: ..'s l‘fif ket:
And We are also offerung 10% off clothung, eguupment and vaCCunatuons from Nomads Traveller’s store maul order~-avaulable free by callung 0181 889 7014 and guotung STA Travel.
Special fares Bangkok fr £325 Beuuung fr £335 Hong Kong fr £359 Phuket fr £395 Laos fr £435 Tokyo fr £449 Balu fr £459 Saugon fr £479
Multi stop options Vusut sux Asuan destunatuons from £555 Vusut Asua and Australua from £594
Sungapore fr £335 Delhu fr £335 Manula fr £389 Colombo fr £409
Wuth accommodatuon startung at £8 per nught un Bangkok (4 star hotel) — we’ll ease you un to the culture shock and set you up to duscover thus wonderful contuuent
Sundays) for some multu-cultural atmosphere.
Primrose Hill/Camer Street Natural Park If you spend any tume un London, you’ll quuckly realuse the value of these quuet and unpopulated parks. Grab a good book, turn off your phone and leave the hustle of the Cuty at the gates.
Food For Thought Although ut us sutuated uru Covent Garden (ruot the most untoorusty of places) and you mught have to queue a wee whule to be served, thus us one of the best bargaun eats places un the Cuty. The vegetaruan fare us mouthwaterungly deluCuous and you won’t even notuce that us healthy as well. Upstaurs deals wuth quuck takeaway; uf you go down the narrow staurs, you can share a wooden table. £8.99 gets you theur cookbook, also hugth recommended 37 Neal Street, 0777 836 0239
STA Travel offers return fares from . Glasgow and Edunburgh from £70 unc tax.
STA Travel are at 184 Byres Road and The University of Strathclyde, 90 John Street Glasgow. Tel: 0141 338 6000
27 Forrest Road, Edinburgh. Tel 0131 226 7747 0 30 Upperkirkgate, Aberdeen. Tel 0122 465 8222 - www.statravel.co.uk
121m: usr 19—26 Aug 1999