NFT Travel Guides: Little Greek Hideaway and More in London
One of our travel guides partners, Not For Tourists, has many funny and unique offerings for travelers on their website this week. Check out the following highlights from their London correspondents this week...
A Little Greek Hideaway
Sometimes you need a bit of respite from the restless city, never more so than when you're near the eye of the storm. Holborn is the ugly sister of Covent Garden with none of the theatres, shops and cafes that make that area so interesting to a tourist. Instead there's a monstrous road system with traffic angrily heading towards Oxford Street. Just off one of the main arteries however, is a little oasis of calm. Lambs Conduit Street itself is to be recommended as a whole; a pub at one end, a couple of cafes to rest at with tables scattered under a tree and chamber music to be had at the other end in Conway Hall. What got me intrigued enough to go into Casanova's Treats (apart from the saucy name) was the pretty exterior and the smell of grilled lamb coming out of the door. Turns out it's run by Greeks, who know a thing or two about cooking kebabs. Two skewers worth of the tenderest flesh landed on the table before me as I drank in the peace outside, with some rice, pitta, humus and salad as the supporting act. It was gone in a flash.
Massage and Cut
Biba's Hair and Beauty
Firstly, the good thing about Biba's is that you can book an appointment online, using the web address above. You then have to ring or stop by to confirm the appointment and pay a deposit. Secondly, I really, really needed a hair cut! My hair had been hiding in the library and the words 'shetland' and 'pony' had been mentioned. I stepped into the salon and had a chat with the lovely Zoe about how to rescue my sad barnet. I was then whisked over to the sinks and had the best head massage I have ever had. While my hair was being cut Zoe was really friendly, she worked really fast and had some sensible advice about products. So much so I actually bought some, because I was convinced, not because I was pushed into it. The salon isn't super-plush, but it was bright, clean and suprisingly quiet, which made for a relaxing 45 minutes. They use really nice Loreal and Aveda products. If you're looking for a reasonably priced but really good haircut in Central London (remember a cheap haircut is a false economy) head to Biba's.
Oasis Sports Centre
Do the shoppers on Oxford Street realise that just ten minutes away, they could be swimming outdoors? Most of them probably don't. Somewhere between Tottenham Court Road and Covent Garden, the Oasis Sports Centre is home to an outdoor swimming pool that is open all year round. Welcoming brave souls in the winter and skimpily clad masses in the summer, the outdoor pool in incongruously bordered on two sides by shabby council flats. The pool is heated in the colder months and perversely that is probably the best time to visit if you are serious about swimming as once the weather warms up and the schools let out, the pool becomes overcrowded with poseurs and children. There is still the indoor pool, but after outdoor swimming that never seems as good. So I recommend you wait until the winds are blowing, the snow or rain is falling, and then try out the Oasis pool. The Oasis also houses a gym and exercise studios, but the main draw for me will always be that outdoor pool.
Welcome to the Unusual & Enlightening
Warning: there are anti-masturbation devices on display at the Wellcome Collection, and glass eyes; false legs; mummies; paintings of obscure and painful looking medical treatments... Have I put you off yet? No? Good! Housed in an impressive marble building on the (frankly, pretty ugly) Euston Road, the Wellcome Collection houses some of the most unusual and enlightening objects to be seen in London. Based on the collection of Henry Wellcome (check out the Medicine Man display for amazing pictures of his ever-growing moustache), the Wellcome Collection aims to tell us the story of how we think about the body, medicine, life and disease. If you still have any appetite after wandering round the displays, head to the Peaton & Byrne cafe for amazing cup-cakes! There is also a Blackwell's Bookshop. If you want to find out more about the collection and the history of medicine, join the Wellcome Library, housed in the same building--for free! It's open to everyone and has free Wi-Fi too.
Retro Cool, Including the Attitude
"Don't Follow Fashion. Wear Something Already Out of Date" is Pop's mantra, emblazoned on their window and it seems like a pretty good idea to me. Pop mainly sells clothes for men and women, which are a mixture of genuine vintage items and clothes that have been made from re-fashioned vintage material. Their new-from-old clothes do change to follow current trends somewhat, despite the company motto, so a few seasons ago they had hooded leather bomber jackets similar to those on the high street. Pop also sells vintage homewares, which decorate the shelves and window display. Vintage coloured glass seems a particular favourite and you'll probably always find a retro ice bucket. They have a small stock of greetings cards, which have a retro angle in keeping with the rest of the shop. I love Pop's stuff but I have one grumble. The staff always seem to be in the process of putting out new stock, make a big show of looking busy, and act as if you are in the way coming into shop. Being made to feel unwelcome somewhat spoils the shopping experience.
To read more, please see:
Check out NFT's website - they have free downloadable guides, maps, gear, and of course, the travel guide books. Not to mention, they are pretty funny people. I am always laughing when I visit their site, or read their newsletter.
They also have sections of their guidebooks available for download at only $1.50.
Not For Tourists has offered a coupon for Wandering Educators - please use the coupon code: WE for a 10% discount.