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Love it or hate it London is beautiful – Photo Essay

Whether you love or hate London there is one thing everyone can agree on. London is Beautiful.

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Buckingham Palace London is beautiful

You either love it or your hate it. But no matter which side of the fence you sit on, London is beautiful.

London is Beautiful

To be honest we haven’t really given London the time of day since our flights to London nearly 2 years ago. Our first steps on UK soil were only in transit through Heathrow on our way to our new lives up north in Edinburgh. So even though a lot of our friends live in London we can’t decide whether we like London or not.

Our only memorable trip so far was when we went down for Wimbledon last year which was one of the coolest things we did in 2011. Luckily London turned it on for us and we ended up with some really beautiful weather. So we did have to concede one point, London is beautiful.

London is Beautiful, Big Ben

There a wide selection of affordable holiday apartments in London’s city center which allow you to tick off most of the major sights like Big Ben and the London Eye in just one day. Often you will find that apartments work out cheaper when you are travelling as a couple because you can then cook all your own food. And everyone knows London is super expensive!

London is Beautiful, London Eye

To save money on tourist traps like the London Eye its always a good idea to pre-purchase tickets. You can even get London hotel and show deals if you want to catch Les Miserables!

London is Beautiful, Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbeys white stone manages to catch and reflect the sunlight on the rare sunny days in London.

London is Beautiful, Westminster Abbey

We do enjoy all the greenspaces around London and I even found out this week that apparently 1/3 of London is actually designated parks!

London is Beautiful

Parliament House is beautiful in black and white and colour.

Houses of Parliament, London is Beautiful

Nothing says London is beautiful more so than the home of the Queen, Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace London is beautiful

Have you been to London? What did you think? Love it or hate it? Let us know below!

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Ayngelina

    April 18, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Love the photos but I don’t like London, I don’t hate it but I do hate how expensive it is.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 18, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      Cheers Ayngelina. We don’t technically hate it either (way to strong a word). But we don’t really enjoy our time there. Can’t believe how much some of our friends pay for rent!

  2. EurotripTips

    April 18, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    I love London with all my heart – the only place I love more is my hometown Montreal, but given the chance, I would move back to London in a heartbeat. In fact, I have several photo essays of London on my blog. I love your beautiful photos!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:16 AM

      Thanks 🙂 We were really lucky to hit it on such a nice day. And in our opinion, Montreal is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!! We loved it there on our road trip across Canada. Definitely want to go back.

  3. Lucy

    April 18, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    I lived in London for 10 years and still have a love/hate relationship with the city. The crowds, the expense and being rammed onto the Tube are awful, but there are so many amazing things to see and do. Plus you can always escape the madness to some of the areas further out, like Islington for great bars and restaurants, or Hampstead Heath for a green oasis in the city. I wouldn’t live there any more but London still has a little place in my heart!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      It is just annoying that if you want to escape then it takes you an hour (or longer) on the tube to get around Lucy! But we should give it another chance 🙂

  4. D.J. - The World of Deej

    April 18, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Great pics guys…Not sure why anyone would hate London:)

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      It’s a love/hate relationship I think it most cases!

  5. Aisleen

    April 18, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Always interesting to see London and the UK as a whole from an ‘outsiders’ perspective! Us Brits are happy for you guys to view it in this light – your pics really do make it look beautiful – just keep out of the backstreets and the Boroughs or you’ll certainly change your mind!:)

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      Haha point taken Aisleen. We really need to spend more time down there to give it a better chance I think

  6. Shanna Schultz

    April 18, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Love it. Definitely love it. Great photos, thanks for my daily British fix!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      No worries Shanna! Glad we could help you out 🙂

  7. Geri

    April 18, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Great pictures. It’s amazing how lovely London can look when the sun shines. We’ve been living here for almost a year and we have mixed emotions about the city, nothing negative enough to motivate us to move though!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      Have you checked out Edinburgh yet Geri? You might fall in love up here with it just like we did 🙂

  8. Rob

    April 18, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    I’m just impressed how you managed to pick a day when the skies were so blue. Its always cloudy when I go down there 🙂

    PS: Parliament House is called the Palace of Westminster or Houses of Parliament.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      Thanks Rob for the correction 🙂 I think I wrote it in various forms haha.

  9. dtravelsround

    April 18, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    London is definitely charming and beautiful. That being said, it isn’t a place I fell in love with. I found it to be quite crowded and overpriced. I would rather explore the smaller towns and stay there, then maybe bop into London for a day or so.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      Totally agree with you. We prefer Edinburgh just because we can walk everywhere and don’t have to hop on the tube for an hour to visit friends!

  10. Lesley Peterson

    April 18, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    I LOVE London! Spending rainy afternoons in a fabulous museum or settling into a historic theatre to watch one of my favorite actors or two in a play, having a g&t at intermission, then going for fish & chips, wonderful…

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      We are still planning on seeing a show down there hopefully soon Lesley! Thanks for pushing us back in to organising that 🙂

  11. Natasha von Geldern

    April 19, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Ha, London is not as expensive as living or travelling in Australia or New Zealand these days! Great photos guys and yes it is gorgeous on a good day.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      Haha point taken Natasha 🙂 We haven’t been home in a while but have heard horror stories on how expensive it is now in NZ!

  12. Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    April 19, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    I love London! I studied there about 5 years ago now and my favorite this about living in the city is that you’ll always find something new. No matter how many times I walked a route or even just one street, I always found a new alley way full of stores or something special. Great photos!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 7:51 PM

      We definitely need to spend more time down there checking out some of those hidden spots then Bobbi!

  13. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    April 19, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    I’m in the “love” camp as well – Kali and I think London is the bees’ knees. I think a large part of that is because we got to spend so much time in the city (a month) AND we were housesitting so we didn’t have to pay for it! At that point London would have had to been horrible for us to hate it, lol.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2012 at 8:06 PM

      Haha not paying for it might have been a huge plus!

  14. Laurence

    April 24, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    I love London. I lived there for a couple of years, and enjoyed every minute of it. I never liked it prior to living there though – found it too busy and expensive as a visitor. When I lived there though I was able to live centrally, and thus walk pretty much everywhere. Once you no longer rely on the public transport system, you feel less like a badly treated cow, and can enjoy all the beauty of the city at your own pace. It is, admittedly, seriously expensive, but I thought totally worth it as a life experience 😀

    • Cole Burmester

      April 24, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      We definitely need to experience living there before we can really pass judgement. But so far it is leaning towards dislike!

  15. Wanderplex

    April 25, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    I’m not sure why anyone would hate London… but then again, maybe that’s because I’m Australian and we all pretty much aspire to move there one day, haha. I think it’s a great city with lots of beautiful historic buildings, amazing (and free!) museums and fun people.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 28, 2012 at 6:59 AM

      Have you been to Edinburgh? You might prefer it over London like we do 😉

  16. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    April 26, 2012 at 1:25 AM

    That first photo is one of my favorite buildings in London.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 27, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      I think we were just lucky to get it on such a nice day so it made it all look so great. Love that building too though as it is nestled between all the office towers.

  17. Lee Carter

    April 29, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    Would never live there but love it every time I visit.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 7, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      We have been tossing up whether or not to try living there but love Edinburgh too much!

  18. Laura @Travelocafe

    April 29, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Wow, great pics! The buildings look as amazing as I remember them. I would love to move to London and live there for a year.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 6, 2012 at 3:55 PM

      Thanks Laura 🙂 If you make your way to the UK then you should definitely consider Edinburgh as a spot to live as well. We prefer it over London (but just our opinion haha)

  19. Ali

    April 30, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    I haven’t spent enough time in London to have enough of an opinion but I love how much history there is in one city!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 6, 2012 at 3:57 PM

      We are the same Ali. We really need to spend more time there before we make up our minds as some people reckon it can take a year for it to grow on you!

  20. Wandergirl

    May 17, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    I think London is a place that grows on you. I don’t think it’s really good for tourists, despite all its attractions. I lived there for almost a year and spent the first few months feeling uncomfortable, homesick, suffocated and constantly ripped off. Haha. But then it was like one day I woke up and suddenly I was IN LOVE. I miss it so much, though maybe now that I’m living in London, Ontario (which is not terribly exciting, haha) I’m idealising the “real” London too much.

    I love Edinburgh though! My sister-in-law and her fiance are moving from London to Edinburgh so we’ll see which they like better! 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      May 18, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      Haha you always remember the good stuff (well most of the time) of places you visit. We quickly forget the bad things which is quite good I guess. They should get in touch with us when they get to Edinburgh!

  21. Cornelius Aesop

    October 24, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    Wonderful photos. I can’t wait till I start my adventure, I’ve been improving my photography skills so that I can take some great photos like these.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      Photos will be one of the best things you take away from your RTW trip! Enjoy 🙂

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Europe

Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show

Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here

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Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

An Amsterdam peep show is a must, just like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay slightly different. But you have got to go!

And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam then more than likely you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be worthwhile checking out this Amsterdam’s Red Light District – The ultimate guide.

Amsterdam Moulin Rouge Red Light District

There is something about the red light district that draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe it is the bright red neon lights that illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.

Or maybe it is just the fact that sex really does sell.

When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends we actually spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough.

Not like that of course!

We just couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room were staggering.

However, we were not enticed ourselves to fork over $50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I just want to clarify here that it was actually Adela that was the most keen. I just didn’t want to let her down so went along with it…

Amsterdam Red Light District

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaynekaye/4792525797

Visiting the Amsterdam peep show

Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!

The very originally named “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entrance way your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds and disturbingly smell.

All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A white board lists the movies that you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:

The circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along it’s walls. 

Each of those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.

The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out $2 euro coins for ease of watching.

Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. With her flexibility she could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics!

Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattmangum/2301545978

I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can actually just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.

The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night the booths were doing a roaring trade. Obviously nearly everyone else, from the hens parties to the couples, were there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.

The shifty eyed single men on the other hand skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.

If you ever get the chance then we actually do highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!

Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or Sex show? Tell us about your experience below.

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Europe

5 European Cities to Visit in the Dead of Winter

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As one of the most polarizing seasons, winter could be termed as both a blessing and a curse by those who like making the most out of nature.

After all, while it brings about the opportunity to build snowmen and to ski on magnificent ice slopes, it also brings a chill to the bone and a desire to never get away from the fireplace.

Don’t forget about the hot chocolate either.

That is why, when it comes to vacationing in winter, it gets quite difficult to choose from a location – especially when the destination is as diverse in climate as Europe. Do you select a place that’s sunny and warm? Or somewhere that lets you enjoy the ice and cold in the best ways possible?

To make that decision easier for you, here are 5 European cities that you could visit in the dead of winter, with the assurance that you would come out of the vacation phase with a smile on your face.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a city that is synonymous with sunshine, warmth, and some of the world’s most breathtaking architecture.

The temperature rarely drops below 45 degrees even in the coldest months of the year. While the sunshine remains present amidst the rainy days. This means that you can enjoy the best effects of winter without having to endure the worst of them.

If you happen to be a fan of football, then these effects can be increased by several times. This beautiful city is home to one of the greatest football clubs of all time and with Barcelona FC in contention for a championship virtually every year, odds are you’ll be walking out with a smile on your face after watching a win. Not a bad way to take a break from the beach!

Athens, Greece

While you wouldn’t be able to go to Mount Olympus’ mythical version in this day and age, you can still experience Greece’s magnificence through the beautiful city of Athens.

Like Barcelona, Athens also sees rare drops in temperature while being consistent around 45 degrees throughout the heaviest months in winter. With the architecture that you can experience under the sun, this weather can actually be ideal for an exploratory walk.

And if you are a fan of Greek food, then checking out local restaurants for authentic dishes would only add to the overall experience of your trip.

Venice, Italy

Since Italy is full of some of the most breathtaking architecture in the world, it would be quite debatable to say that Venice is the crown jewel of the country in terms of structural beauty.

But it is.

From the way that the city has been designed to the manner that the buildings have been developed, Venice remains a breathtaking sight for anyone who visits it.

That remains true even in the months of winter, where the does drop to around 30 degrees, but still provides the tourists and inhabitants with a way to enjoy the magnificent sights under the sun.

Zugspitze, Germany

Germany is considered to be one of the coldest countries in Europe, but it is a good thing for those who enjoy a bit of snow during their travels.

And for those who do, there are perhaps not many places that are as marvelous as Zugspitze in terms of a memorable winter experience.

With snow covered mountains and a temperature that dances around -14 degrees in winter, you can enjoy an array of winter sports such as skiing, sledding, and snowboarding to your heart’s desire. If you are one to enjoy snow and everything good there is about the season of winter, then Zugspitze is the place to go.

Marseilles, France

While Paris gets quite cold in winter without the weather enhancing any effects of life within the city, Marseille seems to be quite the opposite. The city is as lively in the winter as it is during its busiest days in summer, with plenty to do in adjacent areas.

You may visit the many architectural sites and tourist attractions in Marseilles itself, but you can add to that experience when you choose to visit the Christmas markets in Aix en Provence or Avignon.

With that, the many warm and steamy French soups and bouillon based dishes that you can enjoy in Marseilles only add to the trip. This means that by the time you are done with your visit to Marseilles, you are bound to be fed well, have some goods in your shopping bags, and some memorable pictures in your phone to boot.

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Europe

Even the Most Expensive Cities Have Cheaper Alternatives: Paris

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According to the results of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Worldwide Cost of Living” survey, Singapore, Paris, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Oslo are the most expensive places to live – and visit – this year. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit them, though – actually if your budget allows it, you should cross them off your bucket list as soon as you can. But this doesn’t mean you have to break all your piggy banks and sell your soul only to spend a weekend in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Unless you’re adamant that it’s “Paris or bust”, there are alternatives to this crowded and top-dollar destination you might want to consider – and start saving for your dream trip nonetheless.

Lyon

Lyon has a history of almost two millennia, and it shows: the remains of the Roman settlement Lugdunum, built at the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône, are showing to this day. Lyon might not be a capital city – it doesn’t have the size or the population – but its role in the everyday life of France was always important, both as a trade and a cultural hub.

The city has many gorgeous sights to see, like the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the Tour Métallique (a tall TV tower that replicates the top of the Eiffel Tower), among others, covering every age from the birth of the city to its modern times. Plus, it has museums, parks, gardens, and a street art group that has been designated the cultural ambassador for the city. Not to mention its cuisine, the unique and popular Lyonnaise cuisine that has become a worldwide sensation.

Lille

A relatively small city in the north of France, Lille is another charming alternative to a crowded and overpriced Paris. It features many distinct architectural styles, most of them with a clear Flemish influence. Among its landmarks, you find its Cathedral (Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille), its Citadel, its palaces, and gardens. Lille is also the place with the biggest flea market in Europe – Braderie de Lille takes place on the first Sunday of September, with millions of attendees and over 10,000 sellers gathering in the streets of the city. It’s a charming, agreeable, and colorful city that will offer its visitors a beautiful experience.

Strasbourg

Last but not least, let us mention a city with a double significance – on one hand, it’s the official seat of the European Parliament, on the other, it’s a wonderful place to visit and a great alternative to an overcrowded Paris.

Strasbourg is a place where French and German architecture mingle in a unique way, with an Old Town filled with timber-framed houses surrounding typical French landmarks and churches. It also has many notable parks, some with historic significance, and almost too many museums for its small size. Plus, it’s a distinctively multicultural city where visitors will find it easy to fit in.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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