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Top 5 places to get your caffeine fix in London

 By Payal Budhraja

By Payal Budhraja

My favorite pass time on lazy weekends is to explore a new area of London. What motivates me to do that? The fact that I get to try a local coffee shop! Whilst for some coffee is just the caffeine,for me it’s about the experience of the café and the ambience.

I have spent a ton of time browsing through recommendations to find a nice and cosy coffee shop to spend a quiet afternoon and get some work done. Some experiences turned out amazing, others were just like any other. Here’s some of those amazing finds:

 

Drury Lane Café – Covent Garden

I have mentioned this place before as part of my brunch recommendations but I have more often visited this place for its cappuccino. When someone asks me where to go to get the best coffee in London, it’s been Drury Lane for me so far. Although my hunt always continues!

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Artigiano Espresso and Wine Bar – St. Paul’s

This coffee shop is located right across St. Paul’s Cathedral and is one of the few places I absolutely enjoyed sitting and working. Facing a pedestrian only alleyway with the chimes of the bell ringing at the cathedral, it’s a peaceful place to relish your afternoon and of course the coffee is worth the visit!

 

The CoffeeWorks Project - Angel

The CoffeeWorks Project has a nice selection of drip coffees from various regions across the globe.  It was my curiosity to try something new that drew me here. I absolutely loved sitting by the window side in this little café and another place I would go to be productive.

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Monmouth Coffee Company – Covent Garden

It is meant to be one of the most popular coffee shops in London. I was surprised to see the continuous inflow of people from the moment I entered until the time I left. While their coffee selection is something I would go back for, it is not a place I would recommend to sit and work due to the business throughout the day! You will be lucky to not encounter a queue here but  their speciality filter coffee is worth the wait.

 

Notes – King’s Cross

King’s Cross has always been my to go place. It was one of the closest places to where I lived and Notes was the perfect spot to chill with a delicious Cappuccino. However, more than the coffee, a unique thing on their menu is one of their teas, Genmai Cha. It is essentially Green Tea with rice and was something new to me. The tea turned out to be pleasantly delicious.

My list can go on and I continue searching for new spots to add to this list. I hope you can sense my excitement to try local cafes and experimenting with my coffee sensitive taste buds.

Exploring London: Beyond the TripAdvisor Recommendations

 By Payal  Budhraja

By Payal Budhraja

I spent my summer interning in London and had the opportunity to explore some more local destinations.

The London Underground connects the whole city and is probably the quickest way to find your way to all these places.

1. Notting Hill Gate

One of the secluded housing areas with vibrant and colourful houses, I spent an afternoon walking in the neighbourhood and visiting the local Portobello Road Market. I started my day by visiting a local brunch place called Eggbreak. As the name suggests, the menu had an extensive choice of eggs prepared in a variety of ways and they are delicious! The market is closed on Sundays (which of course was the day I picked to go) but a sunny summer day is perfect to enjoy the market to shop.  

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2. The Theatre District

Like Broadway in New York City, London’s West End is well known for musicals and if you are a theatre fan, I would definitely recommend catching one. I saw The Phantom of the Opera during my break, but there are many others including Disney’s Lion King and Aladdin. Shows run all week with two shows on weekends.

3. Shoreditch Street Art

Shoreditch, one of London’s popular areas known for its street art, is a must visit if you enjoy looking at creative graffiti and works of art. It has a very hipster-like feel to it. As usual when I visited, I started my day with a local brunch place called Friends of Ours after which I went on my graffiti quest. Just off Brick Lane (below), there are walls of colourful and eccentric graffiti on the streets. I’m not the kind of person who understands the nitty-gritties of art but this experience was still exciting and I was able to witness some amazing creations.

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 4.Brick Lane

Brick Lane is another street which has rows and rows of cafés, local shops and a local market which unlike Notting Hill Gate, is open on Sunday’s. They had a range of food stalls, local coffee places and street artists performing. Enjoying the entertainment and liveliness of the afternoon, I visited Cereal Killer Café (you’ve probably gathered that I enjoy my weekend brunches). As the name suggests, it’s one of the places you can customize your breakfast plate full of cereal and enjoy tempting shakes. Once in awhile, a cheat day is allowed, isn’t it? I loved their wall full of cereal display and little beds to sit and have your own delicious bowl of cereal.

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This is just a snippet of my London exploration over the summer. There is still a lot on my list to visit and experience in this bustling city!

London Transport isn't always so clear

 By Rebecca Meagher

By Rebecca Meagher

In the center of London there are a few forms of public transportation: Tube, Bus, Bike.

Oystercards:

One of the first things that you should do when arriving in London (or even before arriving to London depending on how organized you are) is to get an Oystercard. This can be done a couple of ways:

  • at a tube station  

  • at certain local shops (just look for a sign out front with the logo).

To learn about the most convenient place for you to get your Oystercard as well as information on the additional Travelcard and Bus and Tram passes look here: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/where-to-top-up-and-buy-tickets
 

Tickets:

Although paper tickets exist, they are hardly realistic. A journey with a paper ticket often will end up costing you more! Oystercards and contactless cards can be used for pay as you go fares. Depending on your transportation use, this may be the most cost effective option for you. They can be used on the Tube, bus, DLR, Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line, River Bus and many National Rail trips.

Pay as you go fares have a daily cap, which depends on the transport types you use. For example the Zone 1-6 cap is 12 pounds while the Zone 1 cap is 6.60 pounds. If you travel only twice a day on the Tube everyday it is recommended that you use pay as you go rather than a 7 Day Travelcard for the cost savings.

For others, 7 Day Travelcards may be more cost effective if you travel over four days a week. The 7 Day travel card works for unlimited travel if your travel includes Zone 1. They can be purchased at the Tube ticket machines or from Overground or TfL rail stations. Travelcards can also be bought online in advance.

In general, peak hours on all services other than the bus are from 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning and 4:00-7:00 in the evening. This is when rush hour is, so tickets are more expensive.

Tube

During the workweek the tube closes at varying times depending on the line, however they do not run all night. During the weekend certain tube lines have night hours, however the tube may not stop at every stop. When going out at night be sure to know how you are getting home. Nothing kills a night like a £50 taxi fee.

It’s worth noting that the tube can be very warm in the summer (and even during the winter), so make sure to remain sufficiently hydrated throughout your journey.

To learn more about the one way fare of you trip click here: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/fares/single-fare-finder?intcmp=1660
 

Bus

You must have an Oyster card or a Contactless to pay for a bus fare, they do not take cash. There are hopper fares when you make two journeys on a bus or tram within an hour which makes the second trip on the bus or tram free provided you do not take any other form of transport in between the two bus fares. If you don’t have enough credit on your Oyster card to pay the fare or your Travelcard has just expired, it’s possible to make one more journey on the bus despite the lack of credit.

If you prefer the bus or the bus is your most convenient form of travel, it is possible to purchase a 7 day bus and tram pass. This can provide cost savings if you make over 14 trips a week on the bus or tram.

There are a lot of moving parts to the prices of public transport in London, so take a look at the website to learn more! https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/

To learn more about caps: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/oyster/using-oyster/price-capping

Bike

If you are up for a bit of a challenge, Santander bikes are a third option of transportation. There are bike ports on many street corners in London. For casual bike users you will need to have a credit card or debit card in order to take out a bike. This pay as you go method can give you 24 hour access to bikes for just 2 pounds, just keep the ride to less than 30 minutes increments . If you use the bikes regularly you should look into becoming a member for 90 pounds a year.

To learn more details on how it works see here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles/how-it-works

It's Not Too Late!

 By Olivia Wisden

By Olivia Wisden

You may be thinking that it's too late to plan your summer international internship, but that is where I'll stop you. Do I recommend you start planning your international internship in May? No, I would not recommend it but at the same time it does not make it impossible. It just means that you have a busy month coming up.

My first recommendation is to plan for your internship to start mid to late June. This means that you can apply for the internship and visa and still have 6+ weeks to get organized. 

If you find that your dream internship is in London, you just got a bit more work ahead of you. First you will want to apply for your certificate of sponsorship through BUNAC ASAP. You do not need to have an internship planned to start your application, but you will need to have it secured for them to give you your sponsorship. There are other sponsorship programs but BUNAC is the quickest and easiest, though it does come with a $755 price tag. You will be able to talk with a BUNAC representative so be sure to tell them you are on a deadline. They will work with you to get your application processed quickly.

After you get your certificate of sponsorship you will have to apply for a Tier 5 Visa. BUNAC will provide assistance with the visa application but make sure you expedite your visa application since it can take upwards of 8 weeks otherwise.

Talk with your internship in London and see if you can begin working for them remotely while your visa processes. That way you are slightly familiar with the team and projects before you enter London on a later date.

If you find an opportunity in Dublin you are in luck! Unpaid internships in Dublin do not require visas if they are for less than 3 months. This means that all you have to do is buy your plane ticket and book your accommodation!  

For a comprehensive list of things you should plan before going to the other side of the pond check out our checklist made just for you!

A traveler's list

 By Olivia Wisden

By Olivia Wisden

Every traveler will be able to give you a list of websites/apps/tools that they swear by when traveling. We have provided you with a short list of some of the favorites to get you started.


If you have any must-use sites you think others should know about click here to send us your recommendation!