Two Offbeat London Activities Actually Worth Paying For


In my last post, I wrote extensively about the many free things to see and do in London. With so many free attractions at your disposal, I outlined how it is entirely possible to fill over a week in London town without spending anything above and beyond your lodging, food and transport, and to do so quite happily and without any major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) taking hold.

As I also mentioned, however, London has plenty of rather pricey attractions—so many that it can be rather difficult to decide where your travel fund is best spent. During our time in London, we were lucky enough to have two wonderful experiences—each off the beaten path in its own way—that we consider to be highlights of our time in this amazing city. Due to the generosity of friends, we were able to enjoy both of these activities for free, but we both agreed that they were each so fantastic that we would have happily dug into our travel fund in order to experience each one because they were well worth their respective admission fees. You don’t need our help to find your way to things like the Tower of London, the London Eye or Buckingham Palace, but I figured both of the following activities are sufficiently unconventional that you might overlook them in favor of some of the city’s more famous attractions and that would be a real shame.

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Chewing the Fat with A Cruising Couple!

Chewing the Fat logo

Given that today’s Chewing the Fat interviewess  have been taking the travel blogging world by storm over the past year with their epic adventures through Asia, Europe and South & Central America, I assume everyone’s familiar with them. In case you’re not, however, a little introduction: Dan and Casey are two lovebirds, world travelers, and adventurers extraordinaire. Their website, A Cruising Couple, is all about adventure travel – with a dash of class. They enjoy being outdoors, working from trendy cafes, and gorging on Mexican food… something we talk an awful lot about in this interview!

If we have any regrets from our Big Trip, it’s generally that we frequently stumbled upon an awesome expat travel blog long after we had already come, seen, and eaten our way through the country in question. Such was the case with  Dan & Casey. Back when we first discovered their blog, they were living and working as English teachers in Taiwan—one of our favorite countries when it comes to delicious eats and culinary indulgence. Little did we know that while we were prowling the streets of Taipei solo looking for our next great meal, Casey & Dan were nearby doing the exact same thing! Catching up on their blog, we quickly realized that this dynamic duo definitely knows how to eat and it pained us to no end that we had missed a chance to hang out with them in person. Since we didn’t get to eat our way through Taipei together, I decided it was time to make up for that oversight with the next best thing: this interview. After all, we all know that food brings people together—whether it’s actually sharing a meal, or just talking about it. I consider this interview an appetizer for when our paths one day cross again; I know it will happen because although the world may be a big place, we gastronomic globetrotters have a way of finding one another!

Read on as Dan & Casey discuss what makes Mexican food the best, North Carolina state fair delicacies (Krispy Kreme burgers anyone?), the pitfalls of getting “hangry” while traveling, and so much more!

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A Cheapskate’s Guide to London Attractions

The British Museum

It’s hard to think of a place that we could have started our time in Europe that wallops your budget harder than London does. Regardless of where in the world you’re coming from, London is expensive, plain and simple. From the cost of a “cozy hotel room” (read: cramped) in a “local neighborhood with character” (read: dodgy), a ride on the Tube, a cuppa or a pint down at the pub, for all the things that London does well, it will also drain your budget alarmingly fast. And if your home currency isn’t the pound, then watch the prices inflate even more dramatically and your travel fund dwindle all the quicker.

By the time you’ve paid for unavoidable necessities, like lodging, transport and food, you may feel as though you don’t even have two pence left to rub together, never mind actually enjoy the city with. Although we were lucky enough to have friends with a spare bedroom while visiting London, coming from Asia we still had our fair share of sticker shock to deal with. Which is why we decided that during our time in London, we would do our best to enjoy the city without paying a single pence or pound on attractions or entertainment.

Given that London is currently the most expensive city in the world, you might expect that our miserly stance would result in us doing a whole lot of nothing and missing out on much of what the city has to offer. In actual fact, we were overwhelmed by the number of free things to do in London. Read on for activities and attractions that enriched our time in London without making us a penny poorer at the end of our visit, as well as tips & tricks for how to make your budget stretch when spending some money can’t be avoided.

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A Tale of Two London Markets

Brixton Market, London

Every long-term traveler has a different catalyst that starts them on their journey and that keeps them excited out there on the road. Some want to hop from one beautiful beach to the next chasing perpetual summer (an idea that doesn’t sound so bad as I sit here writing this in chilly Toronto!), whereas others set out to climb mountains, dive the planet’s best reefs, visit the world’s best art museums or volunteer with animals. Those are all admirable and perfectly valid reasons to pack your bags and hop on a plane, and we certainly enjoyed doing many of them, but none of those things were the main reason we decided to travel. Our reason was far simpler: Eat All The Things.

We didn’t just want to see the world—we wanted to taste it too.

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London Love

The London Underground and Big Ben

London calls to me. London enraptures me. London ties my tongue—and my heart—up into knots.

It’s always been this way. For as long as I can remember, England has felt like the center of the universe, exerting a gravitational pull on me. Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved its writers, its musicians, its television shows and movies; I remember spending more than one moody afternoon staring up at my ceiling—BritRock blasting at top volume—completely convinced I had been born in the wrong country and ruing the day the Harrisons of Bristol decided to migrate westward across the Atlantic.

At the center of my obsession, was the city of London. A sprawling city full of art, music, literature, and a history so rich and deep, I could hardly fathom it. A city of soot and stories, cutting-edge culture, and the seat of urban civility. A million lifetimes could be had (and indeed, have been had!) within the city of London… was it too much to ask that I get to experience just one of them?

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