London, England, UK

3/25/16
WRITTEN BY: Ashley Dartnell
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With almost 17.5 million people visiting last year, London is the most popular tourist destination in the world. London literally has something for everyone, from theatre in the West End to Wimbledon. For locals, London is a hugely liveable city with lots of green space, free museums, and an incredibly diverse and friendly population.

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There’s so much to choose from! Get started on a hop on hop off bus tour to get the lay of the land and check out sights like the Tower of London, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Another ‘must see’ is Albertopolis the area centred on Exhibition Road, named after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, which includes the Victoria and Albert, Natural History and Science Museums — all of which have amazing permanent collections and special exhibits. At some point in your visit, take a magical tour of WB Harry Potter Studio, which is an easy and inexpensive half hour train ride. You’ll find an amazing model of Hogwarts, see behind the scenes of the films and drink butterbeer — altogether one of our best days out.

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The mouth-watering smell of all kinds of food will tempt you at Borough Market where over a hundred stalls sell fresh British and international food. Definitely time your visit around a meal — you won’t regret it. The market has existed since the 11th century in historic Southwark. A newer food sensation is the Ottolenghi restaurant chain started by an Israeli and a Palestinian and featuring incredibly fresh, locally-sourced, preservative-free food with a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern twist. There are several locations, so plan your day to pass by one of the shops for either a take-away or eat-in meal. The Wolesley has become a classic London stop — located in Piccadilly in a beautiful old building, this is the perfect place for a typical English High Tea.
All of these restaurants have gluten-free menu items.  However, here is a list of outstanding restaurants with a wide range of Gluten Free Options.
  • Borough Market’s meaty Roast, especially for breakfast and brunch.
  • One-dish restaurant Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote in Marylebone for simple steak and frites with “secret recipe sauce”.
  • Bombay café-inspired Indian Dishoom where there is always a dedicated GF menu, there are branches in Covent Garden, Shoreditch and King’s Cross.
  • Seasonal cooking at Elliot’s Café in Borough Market.
  • Wild Honey in Mayfair or Arbutus in Soho for a fine-dining treat — both have celiac head chefs so really know what they’re doing when it comes to gluten-free.
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You can rent a bike and cycle anywhere around London and one of the best routes is an easy nine-mile ride down the Regents Canal. We also love walking our dog around Hampstead Heath, which is one of the highest areas of London with great views. You can take a dip in one of the ponds, too, if you like wild water swimming. Another family favourite is walking along the Thames — whether you choose the beautiful green areas near Richmond and Kew or the hustle and bustle near the South Bank, you won’t go wrong.
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There is absolutely no way of pampering yourself better in London than going to the theatre. The National Theatre is always my first port of call for high quality productions and the Backstage Tour is really fun for all age groups. In the West End you will find a huge array of musicals and dramas and can often find well-priced tickets on the day at TKTS in Leicester Square.

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Dive into some great music whether at the Jazz Café in Camden where Amy Winehouse played or Albert Hall where you can hear the proms. Before Christmas, St Paul Cathedral’s free performance of the Messiah is a must see.

Or, leap into some sport: Arsenal and Chelsea Football teams regularly play in London. Lord’s Cricket Grounds just celebrated its 200th anniversary and is definitely the place to go to view a quintessentially British tradition.

Another very British institution is strawberries and champagne at Wimbledon. Getting tickets is often expensive and difficult, but every day during tennis season several hundred are put up for sale for the next day and people who leave the venue early often donate their tickets for resale.

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North American travelers to London should take out medical travel insurance, as you will not receive free service on the National Health Service. As London is a huge city, it is best to look up the closest hospital for accident and emergency. Additionally there are private walk-in clinics that we have used and they are excellent such as the self-pay Princess Grace Hospital.

In terms of pharmacies, (whilst there isn’t 24-hour ones), there are some late night and weekend options, and the best way to find the ones closest to you is checking HERE.

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DIABETES HELPERS by HelpAround is a smart phone app (download HERE) that connects you with other users who either have diabetes or are a parent of a child with diabetes.  Working with your location on your phone’s GPS, you will be instantly connected to someone in the trusted diabetes community, who can help when you are short on supplies or if you need recommendations, advice or have an emergency.



Ashley Dartnell

Ashley Dartnell is a writer. Her memoir, Farangi Girl describes her exciting life growing up in Iran in a Western family. Her daughter Cara was diagnosed with type 1 at age six and is now almost 17. Cara was lucky enough to carry the Olympic torch on behalf of people with type 1 during the London Olympics.