St. Dunstan

St. Dunstan-in-the-East, London

Don’t be disappointed once you reach St. Dunstan-in-the-East between Monument and the Tower of London. It is often listed as a secret hint for travelers but it is more or less a small park you can sit down at, observe some squirrels and read a book while being in the city center of London. What makes it special is that the Gothic-style church from the 13th century was destroyed by a German attack in World War II; only the tower designed by Sir Christopher Wren is still fully intact. Therefore there is now a park within the walls of a former church without a roof.

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Ally Pally

City seen from Alexandra Palace, London

If you want to have a great view on the skyline of London there are different places to consider like Parliament Hill at Hampstead Heath or Muswell hill, but the best place I discovered by incident: the terrace of the Alexandra Palace located inside Alexandra Park. It is an event location known for darts and snooker tournaments, but Ally Pally is also the best option for Londoners to ride their sledges in the rare events of snow in the city.

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Highgate Cemetery

Lebanon circle, Highgate Cemetery, London

One of Londons highlights outside the city center is the historic Highgate Cemetery. Located in the north in todays city quarter Camden it was opened in 1839, became the graveyard for many persons living in exile and it had to close around the year 1960. Fifteen years later a friend’s association acquired the land and therefore it can these days be visited again and also burials are again happening in this place. That feels a bit odd in the beginning, but seems to work well.

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Japanese curry

Katsu curry, CoCo Ichibanya, London

When I went to Japan 15 years ago my favorite Japanese food was initially sushi, but I learned that there is something better: Japanese curry (Karē). It was introduced into Japanese culture only in the late 1860s when Japan had to give up its self-chosen isolation and came into contact with the British Empire. Karē was by that time a military dish, today it is a beloved everyday meal ubiquitously available. While travelling through the country I often stopped by at a chain restaurant called CoCo Ichibanya serving delicious Katsu karē.

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Courtauld Gallery

Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London

A visit to the Courtauld Gallery leads you into a very special building, the Somerset House. It was built in 1776 and was for long time the seat of aristocracy, later it was turned into a government building. Today Somerset House is a center of art which hosts an ice skating rink in winter and it is often used as backdrop in blockbuster movies. Since 1989 it houses the Courtauld Gallery which is focused on French impressionism and post-impressionism – a very good reasons to stop at Somerset House.

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Saatchi Gallery, London

If you’re into contemporary art, the Saatchi Gallery at London is for you. Located at Chelsea close to the Sloane Square station it offers rather small exhibitions in a beautiful building; some free of charge, some ticketed. It was opened by art collector Charles Saatchi in 1985 to make his own collection accessible to the public. The building itself is the former headquarter of the Duke of York. Artists exhibited here are British ones like Damien Hirst; but you can also find works of some German artists like Jörg Immendorff.

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Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens, London

We all know the famous Hyde Park at London and when looking on a map you’ll see one big green rectangle between Paddington and South Kensington – but in fact the West Carriage Drive going from North to South in the center of it divides the Hyde Park in the East from the Kensington Gardens in the West. The latter is named after the Kensington Palace that was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built in 1689 for William of Orange to cure his asthma.

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Battersea Park, London

Well, Battersea is just a city quarter of London at the river Thames, but it has two important highlights that first time London visitors might not drop by. The first is the Battersea Park, a vast garden opened in 1858. It is great for a walk, for doing some sports like jogging, or playing tennis. But it also has a large lake on which you can ride a paddleboat, the Peace Pagoda and good bars to sit outside and enjoy nice weather (if there is some).

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Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf, London

Within the Docklands in the East of London you can find the shiny modern city quarter Canary Wharf, named like this because it was once used for trading with the Canary Islands. On the Isle of Dogs surrounded by river Thames you can find some of the highest towers of the United Kingdom. Many banks are now settled here, making the area a rival to the historic financial center at the City of London.

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Elizabeth line, London

I hadn’t been to London for over four years and when I headed through the underground of the Heathrow airport towards the Heathrow Express I noticed a major change in public transport: the tracks used by the high-speed train to Paddington are now also used by the new Elizabeth Line colored in purple. The new line was created in a project called Crossrail, because it is a connection from East to West throughout the city – opened in autumn 2022.

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