|One of the best ways to orient yourself is to take a double-decker bus tour. Those famous red two-storey buses provide a wonderful overview of London , pointing out the highlights so that you can go back on your own for closer inspection. They also feature a “hop on/hop off” service so if something in particular strikes your fancy, you can get off, take a look, and get back on later in the day.
In London , the play is definitely the thing. This city has always been associated with the theatre…from the time when William Shakespeare penned his comedies and dramas to present day when the West End attracts tourists from around the globe who come to London to see the newest plays which open here before they make it to Broadway.
Beyond the West End , there are many repertory theaters including The Royal National Theatre which performs musicals, classics, and new plays; The Royal Shakespeare Company; performances at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre; Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park; The Barbican Centre; and more. Other cultural venues include The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera House.
But if theatre is not your thing, there is plenty to do after dark that doesn't involve a curtain. In fact, London is well known for its wild clubs with dan cing and partying well into the morning hours (some until 9 a.m.!) — just remember that the Tube stops running around midnight (but the buses still go).
But let's get the traditional English fare out of the way first. Here's a quick primer on typical items that you may find on the menu so you know what they are ahead of time. Definitely go for the Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding (a glorified popover) which is considered a traditional Sunday lunch. It's a hearty meal and served pretty much all over town. Fish and Chips are also great for a quick and affordable lunch and they often come served with mushy green peas (you can skip the peas if you want).
Some tours come included with what is called a “Ploughman's Lunch”…don't expect too much here, it's basically a slice of cheese, some pickle and pickled onion, and bread. Shepherds Pie is also a winner…minced lamb or beef and veggies topped with mashed potatoes and grated cheese. Bangers and Mash are mashed potatoes and sausages, while Black Pudding, Blood Pudding, or Blood Sausage is made from the blood and fat of a cow or pig…definitely something to avoid…unless, of course, you go for that kind of stuff…maybe you also sleep during the day too.