Helen Ochyra

Correspondent

  • London, England, UK

Helen Ochyra is a London correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide. Ochyra’s articles have been published in U.K. newspapers The Guardian, The Times and The Independent, as well as in a wide variety of international magazines. She has written guidebooks for Rough Guides and Michelin and an app called Quirky London. Aside from London and the U.K., Ochyra also specializes in writing about the U.S. and Australia. She lives in Enfield, North London, with her husband, Douglas.

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  • On January 16, 2013
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    What is public transportation like in London?

    Public transport in London is excellent – despite what some locals might say! Visitors are most likely to get around by tube or bus but don't forget to plan for some walking too – it's by far the best way to see the city and can often be the quickest too. All public transport is generally very safe and women need not fear travelling alone in most areas.

    The tube
    The London Underground, known to most as the tube, is the world's oldest underground railway system and, as such, you will need to make some allowances! There are scheduled engineering works, often at weekends or later on in the evenings (check tfl.gov.uk and the information boards at stations for track closures), and some stations require you to walk up or down quite a lot of steps.
    Having said that, most visitors will find the tube extremely useful and easy to navigate. The tube map is very simple to understand, with each line colour-coded, and (more often than not) matched to the decor on the train itself – so you won't mix up a district line train with the circle line even though they travel on the same tracks, for example. Signage on the tube is very clear and there are maps at all stations.
    Bear in mind that early mornings between about 7am and 9.30am and evenings between about 5 and 7pm are extremely busy on most lines as Londoners make their way home from work. Avoid the tube if you can at these times.
    Avoid travelling between the following stations too – the walk above ground is quicker and probably shorter than the one down to the train and back up again: Covent Garden and Leicester Square; Charing Cross and Embankment; Oxford Circus and Bond Street.
    Note that the tube shuts nightly at around 12.30am (earlier on Sundays).

    The bus network
    The bus network reaches the areas the tube can't and many routes run 24 hours a day. Area bus route maps are located in the shelter at all stops, and a pole by the side of the road tells you which buses stop at that stop and gives specific route information for each one.

    Visit tfl.gov.uk for more information on London transport.
  • On January 16, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best bars in London?

    London has a bar for every mood. Here is my guide to where to go when.
     
    Feeling lazy
    Take a seat by the crackling fire in the Three Kings in Clerkenwell and order real ales and hearty pub grub. This traditional pub may be comfy, but it's certainly not dull - kitsch bric a brac and an ancient jukebox make the decor as appealing as the atmosphere.
     
    Feeling glam
    Style and substance combine at Bob Bob Ricard, where the basement bar resembles a very glamorous classic train carriage and the cocktail list is packed with delicious blends. Dress up for a night out here.

    Feeling funky
    Joe's in Camden can't be beat for a fun night out without the hassle. This 1950s American rock and roll bar attracts a slightly older, more discerning crowd who wash down their hotdogs with cocktails and pack the dancefloor daily until 3am.

    Feeling chatty
    A quiet pub in central London can be hard to find but thanks to its position tucked away on Ely Place, near Farringdon, Ye Olde Mitre remains delightfully undiscovered - and so makes a great place for proper chat over a proper pint. There's heavyweight history here too - Queen Elizabeth is said to have danced around the cherry tree at the door with Sir Christopher Hatton.

    Feeling flush
    Relatively few London bars have view out over the city, so those that do can afford to charge prices as sky high as they are. Madison at new development One New Change offers an extensive wine list at fair prices (from £6 a glass) and gorgeous views over St Pauls Cathedral.
  • On January 16, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best restaurants in London?

    London has a dining scene that is second to none with cuisine from every corner of the globe and a restaurant for every occasion. The choice can be overwhelming so here's my pick of the very best.

    For a pre-theatre quick bite
    Bali Bali is in the heart of theatreland and serves delicious Malaysian and Indonesian dishes in a relaxed, laidback atmosphere. Don't expect faultless service; do expect fantastically tasty food and a quick turnaround when it counts. Particularly good for those who like a bit of spice!
     
    For a casual pub dinner
    English pub food has come on leaps in bounds in recent years but my favourite London pub food remains the Thai menu at Churchill's in Kensington. Packed with flavour, served speedily and costing well under a tenner, the curries and stir fries available here offer unbeatable value.
     
    For dinner with friends
    Tapas is the perfect sharing food, and Camino has a particularly authentic selection. Try the calamari, pata negra ham and patatas bravas, or sample the daily special. The always-packed bar is a great place for drinks too, and serves what is surely the most wide-ranging selection of Spanish wines in the capital.
     
    For a lively night out
    La Perla on Maiden Lane is ideally located for Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square. This fun restaurant has delicious Mexican food and a lively up-for-it atmosphere, plus a bar area serving cracking margaritas. The fajitas are a particular favourite - and generously sized.
     
    For a truly special occasion
    If you can afford to splash the cash, there's no better place than Restaurant Gordon Ramsey in Chelsea. Book far in advance, dress up, order the tasting menu and settle in for several hours of lip-smacking, mind-bending food. There's no wine matching package but there are sommeliers on hand to tailor your drinks to the food you order, and the waiting staff couldn't be more professional.
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  • On January 14, 2013
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    What are the best activities to do in London?

    Take a walk along the Thames, from the Houses of Parliament to Tower Bridge to see the city from its best angle and take in performances by the street performers who congregate in this area, or head out to the 'burbs for a hike on Hampstead Heath or around deer-filled Richmond Park.
    Families will love meeting the animals at London Zoo, while shopaholics shouldn't miss a trip to Europe's largest shopping mall at Westfield Stratford, home to more than 330 shops.
    But for something a little more daring, it has to be the Thames Rib Experience - an exhilarating 50-minute round trip to Canary Wharf from Embankment Pier on a super-fast speed boat. Expect to get wet!
  • On January 14, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best attractions in London?

    From February 1st, the best attraction in London will be The Shard, which is home to a brand new viewing gallery. Located on the 69th and 72nd floors with views of up to 40 miles in every direction, the viewing gallery is an eye-popping introduction to London – and the very best place to view the city's other hotspots, which include the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.
    Other unmissable attractions include Buckingham Palace, where the Changing of the Guard takes place most days at 11.30am, and Harrods department store in Knightsbridge.
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