Member Travel Tips: London

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is London!

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." — Samuel Johnson

You can find so many lists of recommendations for what to see and do in London — the options are endless, and the information can be overwhelming. Here are just a few tips from your fellow members on how to make the most of your next visit. Cheers!

Lodging:

  • The Montague on the Gardens - a very nice hotel, great for special occasions. It's right by the British Museum. https://www.montaguehotel.com
  • Harlingford Hotel - Also by the British Museum, but less expensive/fewer stars. Perfectly pleasant. http://www.harlingfordhotel.com/
  • The Grosvenor Hotel - nice place, good breakfast buffet, *very* close to the Hamilton theater 🙂 https://www.guoman.com/en/london/the-grosvenor.html
  • Hotel Cafe Royal - sounds like a cafe but it was a beautiful hotel and it's a sister hotel to the Conservatorium. Very beautiful and has a spa. There is a famous tea room with a traditional English tea.
  • Chesterfield Mayfair - Very convenient location walking distance to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The Eye and the South Bank.

Restaurants:

  • You can't go wrong with any of Ottolenghi's restaurants. I've been to two: The Notting Hill location is quite small so great for takeaway salads and pastries, but the Islington location is more suitable for dinner.
  • Borough Market has endless stands and restaurants.
  • Vegan/vegetarian friendly list I've put together: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZHXoGo9dRB94n3FlOEbwSUtKkACkBSPp&usp=sharing
  • We particularly love Tibbit's, which is a buffet style, vegan/vegetarian restaurant with excellent food and drinks. It's open all day, so if you're hangry at a weird time, they will probably be able to feed you! https://www.tibits.co.uk/en/
  • Cocotte https://www.mycocotte.uk
  • https://www.cevichefamily.com/andina/andina-notting-hill 
  • There are several locations, but we went here: https://bananatree.co.uk/maida-vale/
  • Have brunch on a Sunday morning and then walk around the organic open air market: https://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/marylebonew1/
  • Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a favorite pub of Charles Dickens and Mark Twain
  • Afternoon Tea at the Orangerie in Kensington Gardens
  • balabaya.co.uk is tucked away near Southwark Station, worth seeking out. Ottelenghi influence.
  • Arabica Bar & Kitchen in Borough Market. +442030115151 Middle Eastern, baklava to die for!
  • Tapas Mariterra, family run and authentic. 14 Gambia St. SE1 0XS +442079287628 Don’t be put off by the cafe appearance.
  • www.oystershed.co.uk on the Thames bang in the financial city.
  • Hawksmoor - turns out there are a few of these restaurants but don't worry, it's not a chain atmosphere. Food was delicious. Go for the steak -which sometimes in the Netherlands, good steak is hard to find. The mac n cheese and a yorkshire pudding. Also the caesar salad - haven't had a good one since California but this one was remarkable!
  • Eat authentic Chinese food at Lin’s, 134 Southwark St SE10SW, it looks like a cafe but is always filled with Asian business people looking for a taste of home.

Activities:

  • Hamilton!!!!
  • London Eye is great, as long as the weather is decent so you can appreciate the view.
  • Tower of London is quite interesting.
  • The Roman Temple of Mithras is an archaeological site made into a tiny, free museum.
  • Hampstead Heath park has beautiful walking paths and a great view of the city.
  • The ceremony of the keys: You need to book well in advance: https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/whats-on/ceremony-of-the-keys/#gs.bl8scu
  • Visit bookstores: Daunt's https://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/
  • Artsy movies: https://www.everymancinema.com/ or https://www.picturehouses.com/cinemas
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, look at what is on for the special exhibits.
  • Tate Modern
  • While in the neighborhood of the above places visit the Tate Modern, walk along the river and see the Globe. Maybe you’ll even find the original location of the original one that was moved! Walk across the Millennium Bridge and admire the art painted on discarded chewing gum on the floor.
  • Portobello Road Saturday flea market and wandering through the Notting Hill neighborhood
  • Spitalfields Market in East London
  • Shopping at the food and home sections of Fortnum & Mason
  • Explore Lower Marsh, just outside Waterloo Station. Weekdays lunchtime lots of food stalls.Small Independent shops.
  • Seek out The Arches, Isabella Street. South Bank. SE1 8DD, a few restaurants tucked away. Nice Turkish food at Ev. Also a Thai restaurant here. Very hidden.
  • Take a tour via uk.funzing.com called Southwark’s Saucy Secrets and discover where ladies of ill repute are buried plus lots more!
  • If you watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, you will see something from any vantage point but you will not see the guards, except for the tops of their heads unless you are up close at the gate of Buckingham Palace. We could only see the top of the guards' fuzzy hats from where we were standing.
  • Windsor Castle
  • Westminster Abbey - book in advance
  • Kensington Palace
  • Hyde Park
  • Afternoon Tea At Fortnum and Mason
  • Churchill’s War Rooms

Other Tips:

  • Bring good walking shoes! The tube is great, but so is soaking in the sights.
  • The CityMapper app (which is great for getting around Amsterdam!) includes London and works very well
  • If you can, avoid Heathrow. It's huge and a huge pain.
    • Second this! City and Gatwick are much smaller and easier to fly in/out.
  • You can now use your PIN pass/smart card for public transportation instead of buying and topping up an OYSTER card.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, there's a lively conversation!

When Tulip Talk returns in September, we'll be sharing tips for Berlin! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

Member Travel Tips: Maastricht

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is Maastricht!

Maastricht is about as far as you can get while still in the Netherlands -- and it feels completely different than Amsterdam. Instead of canals there are man-made caves and even hills. You'll hear more French and German. And there are cute restaurants everywhere you turn. It's the perfect weekend getaway.

Lodging:

  • Kruisherenhotel - 3 recommendations, including one from Rhonda Jimenez. One member said, "We stayed a couple of nights at the Kruisherenhotel in Maastricht and loved it. It is an old monastery which has been converted to a hotel and inside is a mixture of the old architecture with modern elements. It is extremely convenient (very short walk) to the shopping area and Vrijthof. Best of all, they are pet friendly. They charge a pet fee, but they give you a bed, dog bowls and a chew toy! The restaurant was amazing, as well all of the staff there. They really bent over backwards for all our requests."
  • Le Home apartment (available on Booking.com) - Rhonda Jimenez says it's "located close to station in a beautiful townhouse. We stayed with 4 people. It does have a circular staircase up to the bathroom. Walking distance to the old city center."
  • Mabi - "a cool boutique hotel" got two votes
  • Château St. Gerlach - "beautiful!"
  • This Airbnb was beautiful -- very comfortable, and the hosts were really kind and thoughtful.

Restaurants:

  • Harry's
  • Cafe Sjiek (Be prepared for a lengthy wait!)
  • Restaurant 55
  • Vino & Friends
  • Kruisherenhotel for lunch and dinner
  • Au Coin des Bons Enfants - one member "had an unforgettable dinner" there!
  • The best gelato is at Candiero on Koestraat.
  • The best fries are at Frituur Reitz on the Markt -- worth the wait.
  • Pinky's waffles are a very popular (and delicious) snack.
  • Lunch, drinks or (early) dinner at Petit Cafe Moriaan -- the smallest restaurant in Maastricht.
  • Koestraat is an adorable street packed with restaurants and outside tables. You probably can't go wrong with any of them!
  • Try the local specialty, vlaii, at Bisschopsmolen (or any other bakery).
  • For a really special dinner, try Restaurant Le Bon Vivant.

Activities:

  • Drink coffee and visit the bookstore in the old Dominican church.
  • Shopping at the boutiques in Wyck ("little Paris"), followed by an outdoor lunch on one of the terraces there.
  • Shopping in the center: Platielstraat, St. Amorsplein, Minckelersstraat & Stokstraat area.
  • Cocktails at Mr. Smith, an underground speakeasy in the Rechtstraat.
  • Take a boat tour on the Maas River.
  • Try the "excellent" free walking tour: https://citysightsmaastricht.com/ "We met in front of oldest church. It was led by a young man who was very personable and funny. We loved it!"
  • Touring the North caves at Sint-Pietersberg is fascinating! There are English 1-hour tours daily -- book ahead and be sure to bring a jacket. The recreational area is really pretty, and you can also follow hiking routes at the Dutch version of a mountain (really a plateau between rivers).
  • Maastricht also has a Christmas market: Magical Maastricht.

Other Tips:

  • "Bike ride! Bike ride to Belgium! Bike ride to wineries! Yes! Wineries. I love Maastricht. Hills bring me a fresh perspective on The NL. Need hills!"
  • "You can also do a half day trip to Liege. Practice your French :)"
  • Or, a day trip to Aachen.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, there's a lively conversation!

Next month, we'll be sharing tips for the beautiful city of London! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

Member Travel Tips: Copenhagen

 

 

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is Copenhagen!

Lodging:

Restaurants:

Activities:

  • The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. A very interesting and well-done museum where we learned more about the Vikings (and maybe they were not as violent as portrayed but definitely fierce). And the cafe there serves a modern take using only foods of the Viking Age!
  • Climb to the top of the bell tower at Church of Our Saviour for the best view of Copenhagen. (It's so cool because the steps are on the outside of the spire. It was even on the Amazing Race.)
  • Tivoli Gardens - European amusement park and really fun. Be aware it's not open all 12 months! Check the dates before you make plans.
  • Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek - - an art museum housed in a gorgeous space. Lots of sculpture, some mummies and other ancient stuff, and small but really nice collection of French masterpieces and paintings from the Danish Golden Age. I imagine the King's Garden (Kongens Have) will be especially lovely in the summer! Or slightly later in the spring when things are blooming.
  • The Nyhavn neighbourhood looks like Amsterdam with pretty canal homes.
  • Rosenborg Castle.
  • Little Mermaid Statue. I guess it's a must-see but it's a bit underwhelming.
  • Walk or run along the water on the boardwalk. It’s near the Marriott. Fun outdoor exercise option.
  • First time we went we did a canal cruise, which is a good way to see some of the city.
  • AC Perch’s Thehandel is an old tea shop. So many options and some tasty tea!

Other Tips:

  • One of my favorite cities. Pretty, charming, clean, friendly people, good shopping, and great food!
  • We spent most of our time walking around, enjoying seeing the city. It's very walkable, but a canal tour is worthwhile when you're ready for a break!
  • It was pretty easy to take the train from the airport to the central station. There's a bank of ticket kiosks in Terminal 3, you can choose English on the machine, and there are people to help if you get confused. Uber doesn't operate in Copenhagen, but there are taxis if you need. The Copenhagen airport was actually really nice — definitely one of the quietest I've ever been in. We got to the airport a bit early for our flight home, and it was a pleasant place to relax and have a drink. There are also lots of stores there if you want to grab something on your way home (and don't want to schlep it around the city with you).

Do you have tips you'd like to add? On our members only Facebook page, there's a lively conversation!

Next month, we'll be sharing tips for the beautiful city of Maastricht! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

Member Travel Tips: Venice

photo of Venice canal with a gondola in the middle and houses lining the sides

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is Venice!

 

Lodging:

  • Hotel Amadeus - near the train station, about a 30 minute walk to St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)
  • Hotel Paganelli - "Great views, reasonable, and 5 minutes to St. Mark's Square"
  • Hotel Agli Alboretti - "There's a classic wine bar right nearby"
  • Another member suggested: "Try Airbnb for something central and authentic, but it's easy to stay in Mestre too. Mestre is like Buitenveldert to Amsterdam."

Restaurants:

Activities:

  • One member suggested taking a gondola rowing lesson and said, "it was a hit with the kids."
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • An Interpreti Veneziani concert - "The cellist is amazing! They perform in a lovely old church close to the Academia bridge. I've seen them several times. The first time I had my (then) teenage children with me. They loved it too."
  • Take the ferry to Burano island. "Great atmosphere and cute shops."
  • Pay the €6 per person (plus expensive coffee) to sit at St. Mark's Square and listen to music.

Other Tips:

  • Try to get a little lost and you will find wonderful things!
  • Drink your coffees and wine at the bar and not sitting down to save some money.
  • Check out "the area around Campo Santa Margarita. It's usually pretty lively and kind of a young crowd."
  • Another idea: "it's really fun to buy vino 'alla spina,' which is straight from a tap into a glass or plastic bottle. The wine isn't necessarily that great, but I love the idea that it's like buying the local beer in Germany or such."
  • "It's expensive, but if you are flying into Marco Polo, it is a fabulous experience to hire a private boat/taxi to take you to Venice proper (also a lot faster)."
  • Do you have tips you'd like to add? On our member's only Facebook page, there's a lively conversation! Comments about Venice can go here.

Next month, we'll be sharing tips for the beautiful city of Copenhagen! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.