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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.



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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  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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Amsterdam Food Guide

If you think of Amsterdam you don’t think of food. However if you try the food here in our Amsterdam food guide you might get lucky.




Amsterdam Food Waffles

We are total foodies and our travelling has allowed our passion for food to grow considerably (not to mention our waist lines)!  We love trying new food when we visit foreign countries and always make a huge effort to eat the local cuisine. Check out some of the food we ate below in our cheap and delicious Amsterdam Food Guide.

Amsterdam Food Waffles

We had heard from a number of people that the Amsterdam food was nothing to rave about. To be honest food was not really our main interest in visiting but then again neither was an Amsterdam Peep show and we ended up enjoying that!

However we were pleasantly surprised. I think the people whom we had talked to had it wrong. Sure Holland doesn’t really have a local cuisine but once we got over this fact we realised there is still some damn good food to be had from the various Amsterdam Restaurants.

Amsterdam Food

The best meal we had was actually next door to the Red Light district in Chinatown. Crossing the canal to the east away from the neon lights your nostrils are attacked and your mouth begins salivating from the delicious smells wafting along the narrow cobbled streets.

As we walked into Bird Thai restaurant the enticing aroma hit us instantly leaving us drooling in anticipation. It was definitely up there with some of the best Thai food we have had. We went for the classic Green curry, fried rice and duck combo.

The Green curry was so flavoursome with the richness of the coconut milk blending perfectly with the traditional spices.  The duck was cooked to perfection and for the first few minutes of the meal all you could hear was the crunching of the crispy outside layer as we devoured the duck in minutes. Needless to say the fried rice was a taste explosion too!

Cheap and delicious Amsterdam food is easy to come by. With hangovers and munchies affecting your hunger it is no surprise that there are an abundance of Fast Food chains and takeaways in Amsterdam. In fact it was actually more the way that the fast food was served that surprised us as you could buy it out of massive vending machines at Febo!

Amsterdam Food Febo

Hidden workers stand behind the vending machines churning out burgers, fries and sausage rolls so all you has to do is insert a Euro and “hey presto” you have a hot meal in your hungry hands.

Then there were the frites stores which seemed to be on every corner. The first thing you noticed about these was the tantalising smell. There is nothing like the smell of chips straight out of the fryer and covered in salt to get you tummy rumbling. Served in a triangle cardboard carton and covered in mayo which meant that that you couldn’t reach the chips at the bottom without covering your greedy fingers in sauce. Just a tad annoying!

But there is nothing like hot chips to warm you up on a cold day.

Finally, while hot chocolates are not typically food I feel they still deserve a mention especially because the usually come paired with waffles! Ahhhh the perfect breakfast.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

We loved nipping into a cafe or bar like Cafe Bar Eddy in Amsterdam to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. It literally tasted like they had melted chocolate down and added cream. Heaven in a cup. And the choice of waffles was daunting as you could have whatever you wanted. Fruit, chocolate, syrups, cream or all of the above!

If you are heading here then don’t expect to find an array of traditional Amsterdam food. Instead treat yourself to a hot chocolate and waffle for breakfast, grab a quick bite from a vending machine and sample some of the different cuisines found near the Red Light District.

If you stick to this Amsterdam food guide then your taste buds will have a great holiday too!

If you have visited before then what did you think of Amsterdam food?

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How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Check out our guide for the first timer in Amsterdam visiting a coffeeshop.



How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Before getting started I just want to clarify that we are not drug users. We don’t condone using illegal drugs. And we are not telling you to go and smoke weed in Amsterdam. BUT, our goal of this travel blog is to help advise, educate and provide travel tips for ALL situations. So if you are headed to Amsterdam then we hope our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam will help you out.

And check out this smoker friendly accommodation for your next trip.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam Coffeeshop

When you tell people that you are visiting Amsterdam then they immediately think of one thing and one thing only. Weed. Dope. Herb. Buds. Spliff. Whacky Tobbacky. Pot. Marijuana. Cannabis. 

Call it what you will but just know that the biggest name for it is “ILLEGAL”.

Yes it is actually illegal to smoke weed in Amsterdam. But for now the Netherlands government do tolerate smoking in designated “coffeeshops”. This is slowly changing as the Government tries to moderate the tourism drug trade and in 2013 there will be new laws which we won’t go in to now as they are continuously changing.

In the meantime if you obey the rules, are not a moron and use our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam then you are going to be fine.

Smoke weed in Amsterdam

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t smoke weed in Amsterdam in public such as on the streets. There are over 300 designated coffee shops where you are tolerated to smoke weed. These places are regulated and everything is done in the open.

Don’t get confused and try to smoke in a koffiehuis (coffee house) which sells coffee and light meals or a café that is a casual restaurant and/or bar.

The coffeeshops are super easy to spot with marijuana leaves in the windows and Bob Marley paintings on the doors. Not to mention the smell wafting through the cold breeze. There will also be the usual tourists that have stupidly over-indulged and are glassy eyed.

We visited one of the five Bulldog coffeeshops when we were in Amsterdam and had no complaints. We even enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate while we were there!

Bulldog Coffeeshop in Amsterdam

Buying weed in Amsterdam

As long as you are over 18 then you will be allowed to buy up to 5 grams of weed in the regulated coffeeshops. Plus you have the added security knowing that your marijuana is not going to be laced with anything else if you are attempting to buy it off someone on the street. And who knows, they might be setting you up to get busted.

We were (and are) total amateurs and had no idea what to do once we actually stepped foot in the coffeeshop. But quickly sussed it out. There will generally be a “dealer bar” with full menu’s and everything for you to choose. So if you are an expert you will probably know what to order! Prices will of course vary by quantity (grams, bags, individual joints) and quality.

For a beginner ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy like we were. Ask the staff what they recommend and what effects each type has. They will know then that you are a newbie and will guide you. Just know that they are very accustomed to tourists who don’t know exactly how to go about the whole process.

What we found out is that it is actually perfectly fine for you to visit other coffeeshops and smoke weed that you have already purchased somewhere else. However, it is considered rude not to at least buy a hot chocolate or coffee if you do this. Coffeeshops do also have some of the best coffee in Amsterdam.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t be an idiot

Number 1 rule: Don’t smoke too much weed in Amsterdam! Even if you are a pot loving hippie from a commune you are probably going to find the marijuana really strong in Amsterdam. Just take it slow.

If you are enjoying a drink as well then again take it easy with the booze. All the coffeshops won’t sell you beer as well as cannabis.

EAT! Don’t go drinking and smoking on an empty stomach as cannabis lowers your blood sugar level and this can turn a fun day into a disaster if you haven’t eaten recently. Check out our Amsterdam Food Guide for some quick eating tips here.

A final word of warning, please watch out for the spacecake! Eating cannabis will knock you on your ass and is much stronger than when smoked.

Finally, enjoy yourselves and for goodness sake obey the rules, laws and customs while you are smoking weed in Amsterdam.

If you have an addiction to drugs then reach out and seek some help.

Check out these Weed Products for your next travel adventure.

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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



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

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

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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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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