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Oxford Street, Carnaby Street & Buckingham Palace


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The Contrasts of London

Published by Oat Sitalasai — 4 years ago

People travel for all sorts of reason, but for us, the younger and more dynamic generation, we tend to travel to enjoy ourselves and be exposed to new cultures, way of life, history, and society. Okay, let's be realistic. Some of us completely ignore all of this ''deep'' elements at times, and in all honestly, all we need every once in a while is full on shopping. If you happen to be visiting london, there is no where else that you would rather be than at the world renowned oxford street.

As a matter of fact, it is actually misleading to call oxford street a ''street''. I mean, I see this as more of an avenue of a boulevard, since i am more familiar to this sort of category over in the united states and over here across the body of water in france. Over here in paris where i currently reside, the equivalent to oxford street is our champs élysées, which again is visited daily by thousands of shoppers and window shopping from all over the world.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

Oxford street is a massive road full of shops on both side and within its smaller streets on the sides as well. In the past few years, researches and surveys have actually shown that oxford street is one of the busiest and most dynamic shopping district in the whole continent of europe. To get to oxford street and get your shopping on, I would suggest taking the tube (also known to us american english speakers as the metro or the underground train) to stations oxford circus, bond street and / or tottenham court road. if you want to begin from one end, I would recommend starting off from tottenham court road, since it is from here that if you continue along oxford street that you will get to see all the shops as well as the cheap eateries before you get to more ''expensive stuff''. Alternatively, you could also start from the exact opposite side, at bond street or even further at marble arch, whereby you are just a few minutes away from the famous hyde park. If you are to start from this side, they will not be many eateries, but rather you will come into closing distance with various shopping malls.

If you are to start your experience from tottenham court road :

You will come face to face with so many restaurants that it will give you a headache as to which one you should pick for a meal. Just to ease away the stress from you, I will give you a heads up of the restaurants you could choose from. If you're not too hungry but just want something to fill you up, let's say, something healthy and not too fatty, then you will have boost juice bar. Boost is also running the very same concept over in australia, so for australians and those that have lived in australia like me, then you should be familiar with the healthy options of smoothies, blends and fresh juices over here. Other than boost juice bar, you also have subway, an international sandwich joint that really needs no introduction; needless to further explanation, this would be an appropriate place should you want to ''eat fresh''.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

You can also select from a few japanese eateries with the usual menu items such as but limited to japanese curries, salmon salad, gyozas, katsudon and fried rice. Just opposite the japanese joints on the other side of oxford street, there is a place by the name of china express, in which a bunch of pre made that you just point through the display window. I actually really wanted to eat here, but given that my friend was not keen for chinese food action, I had to forced myself to look away. Other than this option, you can also order fresh food form their a la carte menu. If you want something that is completely different, then head over to açai brazilian cafe where you are sure to find something. While i was there over in december, the christmas period, they were having a theme of organic products that are good for you. This is such a wise marketing choice considering all the competitions around them.

Enough for the food, let's talk ''real'' shopping! This part of oxford street is very well-known for their souvenir shops. These souvenir shops are everywhere, and they are massive in size. You can find almost everything here from magnets to coaster, to coffee mugs, to tea cups, to towels, to of course football jerseys (fake ones), bottles openers, you name it they have it. Other than these items for the tourists like you and me, they also have some weirder items that you would not normally see in a souvenir shop, like doctor dre's beats headphones which i doubt are authentic. They also have other electronics and gadgets, which i find quite... Different, to say the very least.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

As you continue along oxford street, still closer to tottenham court road station, you will find plenty more restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops, but now you have the addition of more sophisticated stores. Around here, which is roughly around the cross road with newman street and wardour street, you will get shops such as the sunglass hut, vera modo, italian suit, the body shop, holland & barrett, foot locker, united colors of benetton, american apparel, the official samsung store, claire's accessories and elizabeth arden.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

If you think that was a handful, wait until you are one block away from oxford circus, where you will be greeted with the shiny display windows of uniqlo, sports direct (the best sports store you can find in london), marks & spencer, swarovski, coolway, ee, barton designs, h&m (my number one, favourite store), muji, next, new look, zara, bershka, mango, gap and urban outfitters.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

One thing i will give to oxford street that is definitely way better than the champs élysées of paris is that there is more variety in shops along the street. You have shops here for everyone and they're not necessarily for the rich or the upper class. This is clear in the way that you have cheap eats and randoms shops along the way. In paris, no, you just need to be in another arrondissement! - and voila ladies and gentlemen, you are now at oxford circus station, where you can expect to : you can expect to see loads of restaurants (yet again) for a starter. Everything from our best friends for late night post drinks like mcdonald's, eat, angus steakhouse, bella italia, costa coffee, starbucks and a thai eatery called thai square.

The list of shops go on and on. Some of the shops packed along this section of oxford street are pandora, jd sports, carpisa, clarks shoes, warehouse and many more. Enough of this boring list, but just to let you know, there is a massive nike store that stretches across three stories. There is a huge section for every type of sport and is definitely worth a visit for those who are really into sports and well-being like myself. In addition to that, I would now like to take you away from oxford street and into something a little bit different, like a little ''shopping village''.

This shopping paradise (this whole district is already a paradise on its own) is called carnaby street. If you would like to skip all the shopping and find a place to eat or drink, then i have just the right place for you, called mother mash. if you want to find out more about what i think of mother mash, just head over to my profile and scroll down. I did an experience post there and i will just leave it that they have a fantastic cuisine serving some really interesting choices of mash potatoes, pies, british sausages, and of course, every good meal in london will need some good, high quality local beers. Not to leave out that the staff here are also super nice, this is definitely worth your time.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

Anyhow, carnaby street is once again full of shops and every corner you turn, you will see shop after shop with bars and coffee shops squeezing in between. Should you now become sick of all the walking and shopping and your hands are all so tired from carrying your very own shopping bags, you may now want a massive change from shopping. Once again, I have just the right solution for you. This time, we will step far, far away from this shopping heaven, and do something, should i say, a little bit more ''touristy''.

We are heading to the one and only buckingham palace. the palace is actually not a very long walk from another major attraction which is the big ben and westminster, so if you are short in time, I would recommend visiting these places during one period. Should you continue walking straight up from the bridge and towards the big ben, and just continue right along birdcage walk, you will eventually meet up with st. James's park. it is here that you can relax under the greeneries and completely forget that you are in the capital city of england. This is a great place to have a picnic on a nicer day, and this something that we really should have done.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

If you are to bring food into the premises of st. James's park though, please be advised that there are wild lives here that may be keen on having a bite of your food. By wild life, I am not referring to lions or tigers or elefants in the park, but rather, cute little squirrels. I was told by a friend here in france to go out and look for squirrels in one of these london parks. I failed on every single attempt, even in hyde park, until i finally managed to find some here in st. James's park. I would not advise that you feed these squirrels, but in saying this, they are quite friendly (or at least i would assume so) as they are so familiar with coming in contact with humans. Other than the beautiful sceneries of the park, I would say that half of the people that walk through the premises are here for these cute, little creatures.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

And now for the main attraction that is buckingham palace. You will not be able to enter the palace, but you are more than welcome to stand outside to appreciate the home of the british royal family. I mean, viewing everything from the outside is already a privilege, as you could imagine how tight the security really should be for these very, extremely important leaders of the country, and as a matter of fact, the whole world.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

It is at this very spot that you can see the daily change of guards, which always happens as a very specific time every single day. The bad part about this event is that if you miss it for the day, you will have to wait until the next day to see it. Just imagine how many people would be in your shoes and how many people will rushing in front of the fence just to see the guards change their shift.

THE CONTRASTS OF LONDON

Since there is really nothing to much to see and your visit just around the gate should really take no more than half an hour, we decided to continue along the left hand side of the palace. This would lead us to basically nothing, but our curiosity paid off as we came to visit the official gift shop. You may now wonder, but what is so interesting about gift shops? Well, the answer is very simple : i love the diversity of products they have here, as well as how exclusive and ''royal'' looking they are. As you could see from the picture that i took - and trust me, it was very difficult to take pictures inside the souvenir shop for security reasons - you can see that everything about this tea maker screams out ''royal'' and the buckingham palace. There are also other interesting items such as exclusive wines, teas, cookies, biscuits and many more. As you could only see the palace through the fences - or at least that's what you could do without buying a proper ticket - you might as well make the most of the royal experience by checking out their souvenir shop.

the contrasts of london

And this brings us to a conclusion of the two very different activities you could get to do here in london. For more information on the aforementioned attractions, head over to the bottom of this post and transfer yourself to the appropriate pages! Just one last piece of advice to you is, to be extra careful with your belongings. Just like paris, london is also a dangerous place especially with pick pocketers blending in amongst us. We were fortunate to not have had anything stolen from us, but stories from friends of friends, which i will now pass on to you as wise words of warning, is to be very super cautious and always be vigilant of your surroundings. In other words, always have fun and soak in the london life, but at the same tie, look after yourself!

oxford street shopping district

what to do in london - carnaby shopping street

exclusive guided tours and visits of the buckingham palace

the official web page for the buckingham palace

If you like the content of this post, or just want to check out some pictures that i take on my adventure, feel free to like and/or follow me on instagram at oat93, cheers!

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Kingly Court and Carnaby Street

Translated by Ross Smith — 2 years ago

Original text by Patricia Saiz Díaz

Kingly Court and Carnaby Street

Kingly Court is a small and charming shopping centre with an open patio in the middle which is found on Carnaby Street, and makes up one of the places of fashion in the West End of London. It's characterised especially by the vintage shops, art galleries and bohemian cafés. The shops that I got to see were "Marshmallow", "Black Pearl", "Sam Greenberg" and "Stromboli's Circus", all of which had the vintage atmosphere of Malasaña in Madrid but with a much more British style. I didn't buy anything but the simple fact of strolling through it's streets and having a look at the clothes, accessories and decorations is all really pleasing. My favourite café around here is the Kingly Court Brasserie, which has a French touch and exquisite baked goods, my favourite is the carrot cake which I always order, but all of them in general look really good; the apple cake, the brownies, the cupcakes...

Kingly Court and Carnaby Street

Furthermore, there are many boutiques (a total of 28) which are spread out over the 3 floors which divide the building; some are quite expensive but other are fairly affordable and are nothing like the luxury shops like Chanel or Louis Vuitton in Green Park. There are also hairdressers and shops which specialise in children's and babies clothes. The last restaurants opening their doors inside are the Japanese sushi place "Oka Robata Grill", the cake café "Crumbs & Doilies", the pizzeria "Pizza Pilgrims", the Greek restaurant "The Life Goddess", the Peruvian restaurant "Señor Cevivhe", the American restaurant "Stax", the bar "Soho Grind", one of the first comprehensive food restaurants "The Detox Kitchen", the Indian restaurant "Vivek Singh", a seafood restaurant "Wright Brothers Soho", a restaurant specialising in chicken and beer "Whyte & Brown", an Asian restaurant "Cha Cha Moon", a British cuisine restaurant "Shampers" and restaurant "Shoryu Carnaby", as well as the yoga studio which has opened its doors in the café "Retreat Café".

Kingly Court and Carnaby Street

At Christmas, the time that I had taken these photos, the place has even more charm thanks to the Christmas decorations that they put in the trees and on the handrails, what's more, if you don't want to eat anything in the different restaurants, on the lower floor, there are circular benches where you can sit and contemplate the shopping atmosphere, it's never too busy, so it's a good place to relax after an intense and exhausting day of shopping, as it was in my case - I chose this place to finish the day as I had started the day in Picadilly, Regents Street and Oxford Street...

There are two types of marquees hanging from the ceiling in the shape of a cone or funnel, since the place doesn't have a roof and thanks to the climate in London which is well known for rain, these marquees are used as a way to protect the place. So, the centre is open-air during the summer and covered during the winter. I would describe it as a chic place which you can retreat to get away from the chain stores and commercial streets which surround it. A different experience of shopping, and at the same time, contemplating art. As for Carnaby Street, the street where this place is located, it's a pedestrian zone more about fashion, crowded and Soho-esque behind Regents Street. As well as the world renowned Carnaby Street, the streets which are close by are home to many smaller independent boutiques.

The name "Carnaby Street" is synonymous of the 1960's name "Swinging London" - a phrase which was used by Time reviews. Nowadays, the area has gone through a rebirth period and now benefits from an avant-garde and modern style. With more than 140 shops, bars and restaurants to choose from, it's definitely worth a visit. Customers will find an impressive variety of urban shops such as Replay, Diesel, Howies, American Apparel and Puma. There is also a series of streets in the surrounding area - especially Newburgh Street, which is parallel, with more shops of the same style and numerous studios. Carnaby Street is a fantastic place to buy sports clothes, casual clothes and footwear, but there is also a number of cosmetic shops such as MAC. A mix of cultures which entangle pedestrians in a vintage, hipster, futuristic and urban atmosphere.

Kingly Court and Carnaby Street

A little about the history of Carnaby Street

This street is named after Karnaby House, a great building on the side of this street, erected in 1683 by Richard Tyler, is the builder who is responsible for the development of the eastern section of Six Acre Close, and Pym, one of his associates. However, the reason behind why the house has this name remains a mystery. The street was probably designed in 1685 or 1686. It was almost completely urbanised by 1690 with small houses, although there was also a series of stables and a riding house.

Kingly Court and Carnaby Street

The first inhabitants were the French Protestants. Later, from around 1700 until 1721, one of the houses on the streets was occupied by the girls' charity school which later translated to Boyle Street and it is now the Burlington School. All of the first houses on Carnaby Street we reconstructed in the 1720's as part of a re-urbanisation of the Lowndes property which had followed the termination of the lease of the original Tyler building and the granting of residual property throughout the rest of Six Acre Close.

Despite these massive improvements, Carnaby Street didn't manage to convert itself into a residential area. The inhabitants during the 18th century were poor and in the 19th century, the houses were almost all occupied by commercial business. There came to be a reconstruction of the street in 1820, after the closure of Carnaby market, when the biggest part of the property that Lord Craven had bought on the side of the street between Ganton Street and Place de Foubert, was reconstructed under the supervision of Thomas Finden. The end of the street had been rebuilt with offices and warehouses, and the first character building is on the east side, by the station Old Saint James and Pall Mall electric company.

The most southern part of this building is a strange structure made from yellow coloured bricks, designed in a strange mix of Victorian Gothic with Baroque details. At the north of Ganton Street, on the east side, there are 2 very modified houses (numbers 22 and 23). From the beginning to the middle of the 18th century, some buildings were installed in the place which was previously occupies by the Carnaby market, with 4 stories and 2 and 3 wide vanes respectively. The rest of this part of the street is occupied by 2 groups of buildings constructed as part of the remodelling of the market in 1820. On the west side there is a series of Georgian houses. Numbers 5 and 6 on Carnaby street were built in 1720. Number 5 was the biggest house, number 6 was the conventional building, with a large living room and a staircase leading to the south of the back room.

Kingly Court and Carnaby Street

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