|Big Ben in capital city of London (Photo: Shutterstock)
Bao Tram: Hi Kieran! Nice to meet you again! When talking about the UK, the first place that crosses my mind is, of course, London, the capital city. Perhaps everyone knows about London – the home of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. What should I see there apart from these world-renowned sites?
Kieran Dave: Well, to be honest, you could spend two weeks just seeing the sights in London! Our capital city is incredibly vibrant with a rich history and culture. Of course, in Westminster district, you will find Big Ben and Buckingham Palace – the headquarters of our government and royalty. However, we also have many other palaces and churches to admire, like St Paul’s Cathedral and the 900 year old Tower of London.
Take the underground train and explore the city’s many amazing art galleries and museums – which are all free to enter. You can learn about global culture at The British Museum, explore physics at The Science Museum, and then walk with dinosaurs at The Natural History Museum. They’re so large, you would need 3-4 hours to fully see one of them! London also has many beautiful parks, historical bridges, as well as an eclectic mix of boutique markets.
In the evening, you can watch the street performers in Covent Garden, eat a curry on Brick Lane, and then head to the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus and take in a show at one of The West End’s 40 theatres!
|The seaside town of Brighton (Photo: visitbritain.com)
Bao Tram: It sounds amazing but how about outside London?
Kieran Dave: To be honest, London is very expensive, even for me! If you fancy somewhere more affordable and less crowded, I suggest first visiting the seaside town of Brighton. Brighton is located on the south coast of England. It’s famous for its beach, the 500metre long pier (where you play arcade games over the ocean waves) and the ornate Brighton Pavilion. Brighton is a very liberal and green city and is famous for its strong LGBT community. It has also been named ‘the happiest place in the UK.
From there, you can take the stunning train journey west, along the south coast of England, all the way to Cornwall. After hours of admiring long, clean beaches and lush green hills, the train will cross a 150-year-old bridge, 30 metres above the river Tamar, and you will arrive in Cornwall.
Cornwall is close to my heart, because I spent almost all my holidays there as a child. It’s a province the same size as Hanoi, but it’s mostly quiet countryside. It’s a great place to go hiking and camping in nature. Plus, it’s one of the best places in the world to go surfing.
|Port Isaac, Cornwall (Photo: Getty Images)
Bao Tram: Wow, such an ideal place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Now where should I go next?
Kieran Dave: Cornwall is in the southwest, so from there you can travel to the North West of England – home to the football-mad city of Manchester!
I studied at Manchester University and lived in the city for six years. The University has the largest campus in the UK, and has the most Nobel Prize winning lecturers among the teaching staff. Take a walk down Oxford Road and admire the red brick buildings. The University also includes the Manchester Museum, one of the few places in the world that you can see a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the John Rylands Library - a 100 year old gothic building, the interior of which resembles Hogwarts.
Of course, Manchester is also home to Old Trafford, The Ethiad Stadium and The National Football Museum – so it’s a great destination for footy fans. It’s also just an hour away from Liverpool by train. The two cities are big rivals: both will claim to have better football teams and a better musical legacy.
|The panorama of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, from Calton Hill
Bao Tram: The UK is four countries in one – England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. What’s the most unmissable destination outside of England?
Kieran Dave: I would have to say Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It’s a very cultural and historical city. It was founded 900 years ago by King David, and his castle still sits on a hill overlooking the city. In contrast to London, Edinburgh is not too crowded, the people are friendly, and it’s a very safe and affordable place to stay.
Every year the city is home to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s the world’s third largest ticketed event after The World Cup and the Olympics. For the whole month of August, the city’s theatres, pubs, bars, and restaurants become venues for actors and comedians. The performers will spend all year writing a show, and then perform every night in the same venue. The shows are often free to enter, with audience members paying what they feel on the way out! With over 50,000 performances over one month – there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
|A full English breakfast (Photo: Sainsbury’s)
Bao Tram: Well, I’m in a party mood! Which local dishes should I try there?
Kieran Dave: Great question! First, you should start the day in London with a full English breakfast from a local café or what we would call a “greasy spoon”. Traditionally, a “full English” breakfast consists of fried eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, tomato, mushrooms, and toast. Some places might add hash browns (a kind of potato cake) or black pudding (a sausage made from pig’s blood). When you get to Brighton, you should eat the classic seaside meal: fish and chips, covered in salt and vinegar, and served with curry sauce. Real British chips are fat and chunky, not like skinny American Fries!
Cornwall is home to my favourite British food: The Pasty! Cornish pasties are baked, half-moon shaped pastries that are filled with meat, spiced vegetables, or cheese and onion. They’re so delicious and are perfect for lunchtime!
When you’re in Manchester you must visit The Curry Mile. Located in Rusholme district, it is home to Wilmslow Road – 1.6km of Indian and Arabic restaurants. Here you can try Britain’s national dish – Chicken Tikka Masala – as well as a variety of other Indian food. The street is still vibrant and full of people well into the night.
Lastly, if you’re travelling to Scotland you should try the sweet and fruity Dundee cake, or buy a box of Scottish shortbread to take home as a gift.
Bao Tram: I’m dying for a trip to the UK. When is the best time for it?
Kieran Dave: Now that over half of the UK population has received a COVID vaccine, we hope that the country will be back to normal by June 21, 2021. It’s wise to avoid Britain between September and March – when the cold, dark and wet weather could spoil your holiday.
However, if you travel to Britain between May and August, the weather is usually warmer and much more pleasant.
Also, due to the country’s high latitude we get a lot of sunshine in summer. For example, on June 21, the sun will rise at about 4:30am and set at 9:30pm. The longest day, or summer solstice, is also the perfect time to visit Stonehenge, our mysterious 5,000 year old world heritage site. The massive stone circle was constructed by ancient witches to perfectly frame the sunrise at the start of the longest day.
Bao Tram: It seems a two-week trip is too short to know all about the UK. But at least we have had an idea about where to go and what to do there. Thank you, Kieran, for joining us!
Kieran Dave: Thanks so much for having me! Talk to you soon!