The unexpected (but very much welcome) sunny weather in London last weekend had me truly wanting to soak up every beam of sunshine. I couldn’t have been happier to have clear blue skies and the regrettable coat choice weather well above the usual crisp degrees this time of the year. So obviously, we did what every Londoner does when the sun emerges from behind the clouds – pack up a picnic and invade the nearest park, or in our case, Kew Gardens (aka Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
Coincidentally, the annual Kew orchid festival was on, this time showcasing the world’s most biodiverse country and bursting with surprises in every corner. From February 9th to March 10th, wonderful colours fill the Princess of Wales Conservatory in celebration of Colombia’s remarkable biodiversity and vibrant culture, where orchids represent a key part of the ecosystems of this South American nation. Naturally, walking into the conservatory was arguably the easiest decision I had to make (especially when the entry is included in your pass!).
Did you know the Barbican Centre is home to the second biggest conservatory in London? Unbelievable, right? Concealed among the brutalist complex lies a dreamlike urban jungle with more than 2000 species of tropical flora. Often overshadowed by the impressive botanical collections at Kew Gardens, many tourists and Londoners are oblivious to the hidden oasis that grows within the heart of the city.
As a true London lover and someone who enjoys exploring the secret corners of my home, it wasn’t long until I added Barbican Conservatory to my Ultimate London Bucket List. I was somehow attracted to the flawless balance between the unnoticeable botanical scenery and its metropolitan surroundings.
Getting to meet the penguins was by far one of the most entertaining encounters I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. Have you seen how insanely charming they all are? What about those fluffy lil’ baby ones? Cute, right? And please let’s not ignore the fact that penguins mate for life! I am sorry but that is just too adorbs.
There is something special about these stunning animals that I’ve always found incredibly captivating. In fact, the Meet the Penguins experience at ZSL London Zoo was part of my Ultimate London Bucket Listfor a really long time. So naturally, Sam and I couldn’t believe our luck when the amazing ZSL London Zoo team retweeted our Friday night escape to Zoo Nights and crowned us as the (ehem, ultimate) winners of that week’s Meet the Animals competition!
So what was it going to be? Meet the penguins, the rain forest animals or the giraffes? Our decision was already made even before our beloved Meet the Animals Gift Pack reached our home. Although we wouldn’t get to “P-P-Pick Up a Penguin” *insert 80s tv ad theme here*, how could we resist meeting plenty of them?
Have you ever wondered what happens at ZSL London Zoo when the sun goes down? Once all the visitors have left and the night zookeepers are the only ones wandering around, the zoo is pretty much animal territory once again. Thousands of different animal species from all over the world call London Zoo their home. Opened in 1828, initially only with scientific and educational study purposes, London Zoo receives hundreds of visitors each day. Tourists, parents and their kids, hopeless animal lovers, school trips (loads of kids), researchers, more kids…
The zoo is only for kids yeah? Wrong. As a self-sufficient adult (midlife crisis approaching), I’ve always found zoos quite fascinating and educational. They provide answers to wildlife’s most important questions. Do platypuses sweat milk? How do different species make babies? What are baby goats called? You know, all the interesting stuff. During the summer, ZSL London Zoo offers the opportunity to learn all about fauna in the most excellent Friday night plan, Zoo Nights. And yes, you guessed it, it’s ADULTS ONLY (sorry kids). Get ready to explore the secrets behind the zoo’s doors after hours, with loads of entertainment, delicious food and of course, wildlife without the horde of children and crowds of school trips! I obvioulsy had to add this to my Ultimate London Bucket List.
London’s architectural diversity has always fascinated me. The more I walk these old streets and get to know the city, the more I realise how differently shaped the British capital is. Throughout history, London has faced the need to rebuild from scratch after several catastrophic destructions and the transformation brought by the economic and social evolution. The Great Fire of 1666, a multitude of historical wars and the Industrial Revolution, to name a few, have defined London’s skyline. As a result, a mix of architectural styles have become inextricably intertwined, ranging from historical architectural styles (Victorian, Baroque, Edwardian) to innovative modern buildings (Brutalist, Skyscrapers).
Now, what if I told you, you can admire London’s most iconic buildings, parks and the River Thames from above? And even better, that you can do so for FREE? Our latest adventure took us to the top of 20 Fenchurch St. where the magnificent Sky Garden rewarded us with the most incredible views over the city.
Sketch is at the top of the game when it comes to afternoon tea. To be honest, I have been a bit obsessed with it ever since it was included in Vogue’s guide for best afternoon tea in London for 2018. An iconic pink plush heaven in the middle of Mayfair, with playful illustrations by David Shrigley and a quintessentially British afternoon tea experience? Plus it blooms every May to host the Mayfair Flower Show? Naturally, I couldn’t resist adding it to My Ultimate London Bucket List.
So on one of the most glorious sunny days of this year’s early May Bank Holiday weekend, we finally headed west to 9 Conduit Street to one of the most instagrammable spots in London.
I believe life is about making the most out of every place, situation and day. My love for travelling and exploring is heavily influenced by My Ultimate Travel Bucket List, but the reality is that it is always nice (and necessary) to come back home.
They say that home is where the heart is, and my heart is in London. Back in 2011 when I first visited the British capital, I said to myself that this is where I’d live one day, and I made it my mission to move here when I was ready. And here I am, 7 years later, writing my London Bucket List from my new home in London. More than a year has passed since I moved to London and it is safe to say I have learnt to accept the commute, embrace the not-so-common sunny weather and love a good Aperol Spritz at a rooftop bar. For some reason, you end up loving all the madness.