Author: Ashley Munson
Every major city in the world will tell you about the culture and history you can absorb from stepping through their streets or getting on an open top bus. They can all offer a variety of museums and galleries, they can all offer a ‘highest building’ offering views of the city and every city will offer a wide range of bars, restaurants and clubs in which you can either take in the lifestyle or escape from the hustle and bustle depending on your preference.
Those lines that are peddled out by tourism boards are not lies and whilst they can be wonderful experiences, they aren’t unique, but London can be. Here are five things that you can tick from your bucket list in London throughout 2019 – and they’ll all leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
5 – DINE IN THE SKY
London is blessed with a wide selection of restaurants ranging from your chain offerings to Michelin star fine dining and everything in between. They are available all year round but if you’re quick you could reserve your place at a ‘once in a lifetime table’.
Dine in the Sky offers high quality food and drinks menu, which is served on an open sided table suspended 100ft in the air outside of the O2 arena. The other beauty is that meals are offered throughout the day so you can choose your preferred time to dine and take in the London skyline from a vantage point that very few will be able to share. The experience is only available until mid-July so you might want to act swiftly.
4 – THE ORBITAL SLIDE
It’s time to channel your inner child and descend the worlds longest tunnel slide. The structure, which stands within the Olympic Park region of London, was designed by artists Carsten Holler and Sir Anish Kapoor ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.
The slide runs for a whopping 178m and features a dozen twists and turns. If you’re brave enough keep your eyes open as alternating oblique and transparent sections toy with your nerves and treat you to glimpses of the city skyline.
3 – THE NFL COMES TO LONDON
It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to watch America’s number one sport in the UK’s number one city, but for four dates you can as the NFL matchups are about to touchdown in London. The Cincinnati Bengals and LA Rams face one another at the national stadium, Wembley, on 27th October before the Houston Texans play Jacksonville Jaguars a week later.
Wembley Way is an experience in itself and seeing the arch is one for your Instagram feed. However, if you want the freshest stadium marked from your bucket list then you need to check out two earlier fixtures. The Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders go head to head on October 6th and the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers take to the field on the 13th at the new home of Tottenham Hotspurs.
The stadium, which has been 12 years in the making and holds over 62,000 people, contains a Michelin star restaurant, its own brewery and offers the longest bar in Europe at 65 meters long.
2 – THE GARDEN IN THE SKY
Whilst the crowds flock to the Shard, break the trend and head to 20 Fenchurch Street, or the Walkie Talkie as it’s more commonly known. There are 35 floors and what you’ll find at the top is not only 360-degree views of London but a range of Mediterranean and African plants to walk amongst as well.
A genuine garden in the sky. The best bit – it’s completely free but advance booking is required and, don’t fear, food and drinks are available up there too!
1 – BUCKINGHAM PALACE
Okay, so you’ll have to put up with the crowds here but you cannot go to London and not pay a trip to the residence of the Queen – after all, there is no other place in the world that can offer you an inside look at Buckingham Palace. Availability for the tours is from 20th July to 29th September and spaces are limited so book soon!
There you have it, a few options to make your trip to London different to the usual so when you chat with friends and they say ‘I’ve been to London’ you can rest easy knowing that whilst that might be the case, your experience was out of the ordinary.
Hiking up and around the Caldera of Santorini
Can we think to typical summer destination where sunbathers go to revel in the sandy beaches. In fact, what draws visitors to this volcanic island is its unique architecture of white-washed houses sitting atop of the caldera, accompanied by the most amazing sunsets Instagram is so full of.
The only way to really appreciate the beauty of this island is to explore it on foot. There are several hiking trails on Santorini that will take you up and down the winding paths connecting the points of interest you shouldn’t miss. Grab some comfortable footwear and prepare to be stunned by the scenery along the way.
Hiking Trail of Ancient Thira
This trail can be done in two ways – either from Kamari Beach to Thira or from Perissa Beach to Thira and vice versa. Seeing as Santorini is one of Greece’s most spectacular islands, it goes without saying that it is abundant in historical monuments and the ancient Thira is one of the greatest representatives. For this reason, hiking to Thira is ideal for those with a knack for history and the love of nature.
This is an easy trail lasting around an hour and a half (around 3 kilometers). You can start at Kamari known for its unique black-sand beach. You should head uphill toward Zoodohoos Pigi chapel and Ancient Thira where you can spend some time exploring the archeological sites. After that, the descent toward Perissa starts and the beach will come into view shortly. Parissa beach is 4 kilometers long, well-organized with lots of beach bars and restaurants you can enjoy after a lovely hike.
Hiking Trail from Pyrgos to Kamari or Perissa
Pyrgos is a small inland village that often gets overlooked in the face of Fira, Oia, or Imerovigli but it’s actually rather charming and picturesque. This is why you can choose to hike through it and avoid the crowd usually encountered on the other more popular trails.
Once you are in Pyrgos, it will take you around 6 kilometers to get to Kamari or Perissa. First, the path will lead you to Profitis Ilias Monastery which is also the highest point of the island so you can expect to catch some stunning views of the surroundings. Continue south and after 1 kilometer, you will come across yet another picturesque church – the Church of Christ. Similar to the previous trail, you will walk through the Ancient Thira where a signpost will await, telling you there is about an hour and a half until you reach Kamari or Perissa. From there on, you can choose your path depending on the beach you want to visit.
Hiking Trail from Fira to Oia
This is one of the most scenic and extensive walks along the Santorini’s caldera that will take you from Fira (the island’s capital) all the way to the northwestern tip of the island where Oia is located. The route is approximately 6.5 miles long which translates to 2 to 5 hours of walking, depending on your fitness level and the duration of breaks you make.
Your route should start in Fira where you will head toward the north in the direction of Firostefani. The sea should be on your left the whole time and don’t rely on the signposts too much as they are scarce. After reaching Firostefani, your next stop should be Imerovigli, a village just 8 minutes from Fira perched on a cliff of the caldera. Once in Imerovigli, you can choose between several mazy paths if you want to take a detour around the village. If not, just follow the path you came across which will push you forward toward Oia. This uphill walk will take you across one short section of the road where cars pass but that’s just a 200-meter section after which you continue via a dirt path until you finally start descending toward Oia.
Hiking Trail in Thirassia
This hiking trail is not actually located on Santorini but on its neighboring Thirassia. Not only does it represent a stunning hiking experience but it also provides hikers with a unique opportunity to gaze at the caldera from an entirely different perspective.
Ferries run regularly from Oia to Thirassia several times a day and the tickets are rather cheap so you can easily hop to Santorini’s sister island. You can start at the village of Manolas and continue uphill until you reach the chapel of Prophet Elias. From then on, you will push ahead toward the southernmost part of the island where the monastery of Panagia is located. All the while, the majestic caldera will be visible just like the Aegean sea stretching in all directions. This track is almost 3 kilometers long and moderately difficult, easily crossed in less than an hour and 15 minutes.
Additional Tips for Santorini Hiking
- Stack up on water and snacks as there will be few shops along the way, some of which may not even be open at the time of your hike.
- Embark on the journey as early as possible in order not to get scorched by the summer sun which reaches zenith as early as 11 am.
- Prepare your route thoroughly and talk to the passers-by you meet along the trail in case you are not sure about the directions.
- There is little to no shade along any of the trails so make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen.
Unmissable, Romantic New York For Couples
New York is the perfect destination for couples for so many reasons! There are incredible vistas and delicious food. Then there are the quirky bars and endless entertainments. There are even some pretty romantic spots to experience together if you know where to look. Something that we aim to help you with in the post below.
Picnic In Central Park
A long strip of green, in the grey of the metropolis, Central Park is a must for couples visiting New York. In fact, despite its diminutive size, there is no shortage of romantic spots to hang out here.
For those with a literary bent try Conservatory Water were bronze statues of Alice in Wonderland, and Hans Christian Anderson are to be found. Alternatively, visiting Belvedere Castle can make you feel as if you have been transported into a fairytale. A place especially beautiful when the sun goes down and the moonlight glints off windows and turrets at night,
Of course, if you want to add an extra layer of romance, taking along your own picnic is a smart idea. You can even go to places that will pack up a luxe lunch for you if you like?
Take In A Broadway Show
Next, if you are looking for an enjoyable couples experience in the city that never sleeps, heading to the bright lights of Broadway should be your next consideration. In fact, it is where you will find some of the most famous productions in the world are being performed.
Of course, how much you enjoy this experience as a couple, will have a lot to do with making the right show selection. Happily, there are so many shows to choose from, it should be relatively easy to find something that will delight you both.
You can even get things like these Book of Mormon tickets online before your trip. Something that means you won’t have to waste time queuing outside in the often bad weather to nab a seat.
The Hayden Planetarium
Another popular location for couples to visit while in New York is the famous Hayden Planetarium. In fact, there you will find some pretty impressive science and natural history based exhibitions to geek out on.
Then there is the fantastic Dark Universe show projected onto the huge curved planetarium room. An experience that many couples enjoy together.
Walk Brooklyn Bridge
Finally, one of the most romantic spots in the whole of New York is the Brooklyn Bridge. What many people do not realise is that it’s entirely possible to walk the bridge. In fact, doing so can make an enjoyable couples-based activity.
Of course, you can choose to make this 30-minute journey on foot at any time of the day. Although, once the sun goes down, and all the city lights are glowing is the most magical time. An experience that makes a stroll along Brooklyn Bridge perfect for couples looking for a romantic promenade. With the added bonus of getting to look out over the glorious city that is New York!
A Quick Guide to Some of the Best Restaurants on Timog Avenue
Timog Avenue (and its neighboring street, Tomas Morato) is well-known among the hip and young of Metro Manila as the place to be for a night of drinks and parties. Still, there’s so much more to Timog than just craft beer, tasty cocktails, and pumping beats. Specifically, this long stretch of road in Quezon City is home to some of the best restaurants in town. It doesn’t matter if you love Japanese, Korean, Italian, or Chinese cuisine; you’re sure to find something here to satisfy your taste buds and your hungry tummy.
Are you ready for the ultimate gastronomic experience? Here’s a short list of some of the best restaurants on Timog.
Steak 77, as the name suggests, is one of the best places to get juicy, flavorful steaks in the city. For something straightforward, go for the Steak 77 Ribeye. It has the perfect balance of seasonings, and it doesn’t come with any sauces or unnecessary frills that will distract you from the succulent, melt-in-your mouth goodness of U.S. beef. Other must-try recipes here include the Classic Ribeye, the Classic Kagoshima Wagyu A5 Ribeye, and the US Angus Tomahawk. For some decadent indulgence, order the rich and tender Osso Buco. Steak 77 is located near Santi’s Delicatessen, across the street from Go Hotel Timog. Drop by one of these days to satisfy your steak cravings!
If you love sushi and maki, then you’ll love 81 Seihai. It’s a fairly new restaurant, with big, bold, and modern Japanese decor that stretches wall-to-wall and up to the ceiling. One of the best sellers at 81 Seihai is the Flaming Maki, which features a generous blanket of melted cheese and a dusting of togarashi for a spicy kick. Of course, there are also plenty of Japanese favorites in the menu like chicken karaage, gyoza, maki, ramen, and even wagyu cubes. There’s also a wide array of main dishes if you’re looking for a full meal, like the Beef Yakiniku Steak and the Grilled Salmon Teriyaki. The highlight of the restaurant, however, are their sushi specials. Executive chef Ronnie de Guzman has more than 10 years of experience in Japanese food preparation, so you know that every dish here is always up to stellar standards. If you’re looking for a chill night out with some delicious Japanese fare to go with it, 81 Seihai is the perfect place.
Seoul in Timog
Are you a big fan of eat-all-you-can Korean barbecue? How about Korean buffets? Well, Seoul in Timog offers both. This bright, spacious, and minimalistically designed restaurant has everything you want in an “unli samgyup” place: quality cuts of meat at affordable prices. What’s even better is that their Php 499 rate is already good for the eat-all-you-can Korean barbecue AND the buffet table. Talk about value for money! In addition, you don’t have to worry about falling in line for too long, since the restaurant is quite big and can seat a lot of people. If you prefer, you can come in at odd hours. They’re open from 11 AM up to 7 AM of the following day! Make sure to try their herb-based pork for a delicate, aromatic flavor.
Causeway Seafood Restaurant
If you prefer Chinese food and dimsum in a family-style setting, Causeway Seafood Restaurant is a trusted name. You can find a wide range of Chinese favorites here, from yang chow fried rice to wonton shrimp noodles. They also serve beancurd rolls, tausi-style dishes, white chicken, sweet and sour pork, and egg yolk pie. For those who love dimsum, visit Causeway from 2 PM to 6 PM for their half-price deal. The place often gets crowded, which means the service slows down during peak hours. Despite this, people keep coming back time and again to enjoy Causeway’s delicious food!
Cucina di Paulina
This Italian restaurant with a twist is located in 8 Seas Food Park. Just head up the stairs, and you’ll be greeted by this unassuming restaurant that serves creative and delicious food. The owner, Bombay Suarez, is actually a wrestler. He’s one of the pioneers of PWR (Philippine Wrestling Revolution),and he brings his passion in the PWR ring straight into kitchen of Cucina di Paulina. You can see and taste this in dishes like the Pigzza, a putok-batok pizza topped with bacon, chicharon, ham, lechon kawali, Italian sausage, pepperoni, and sisig. Eat it at your own risk! If you’re more of a cheese aficionado than a meat-lover, then the Trio Formaggi is the pizza for you. For something lighter, go for the pasta dishes like the Pesto with Shrimp or the Truffled Chicken & Mushroom Alfredo.
These are just five of the many excellent restaurants and diners dotting the length of Timog Avenue. Give them a try the next time you’re craving some good food!
Meet Cole and Adela
We 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...
New on Four Jandals
- Hiking up and around the Caldera of Santorini September 11, 2019
- Unmissable, Romantic New York For Couples September 6, 2019
- A Quick Guide to Some of the Best Restaurants on Timog Avenue September 5, 2019
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