First Public Commercial Flight Simulators To Open In London

Courtesy Emirates Airlines

The first public commercial flight simulators, including two Airbus 380s and two Boeing 777s, are the centerpiece of a new aviation-themed attraction by Dubai-based Emirates Airlines that will open in London this July.

The simulators will utilize full landscape visuals to allow visitors to test what it feels like to take off and land commercial jets. The technology is one part of what is called the Emirates Aviation Experience, an attraction situated at the south side of the Emirates Air Line, a cable car that stretches across the River Thames. The attraction will also give a nod to aviation history and achievements through interactive displays.

“The purpose of this centre is to provide a fun, yet educational, overview of just what it takes to successfully get a 560 tonne aircraft off the ground and 40,000 feet into the sky. Our aim is to explain the intricate science of modern aviation, in a hands-on, entertaining and instructive environment,” said Emirates Airline President Tim Clark in a press release.

Emirates has been investing heavily in the United Kingdom since the company first began operating services there in 1987. The airline is the first sponsor to feature a company logo on the London Tube map, and this new attraction will further broaden their presence and increase their visibility in the U.K. But for travelers, it’s just another fun thing to do in London.

London’s Hippest Places To Eat Right Now

London‘s food landscape is constantly changing. As new restaurants come and go, it can be hard to keep up with what’s hip and happening. If you happen to be stopping through in the next few months, here are some of London’s trendiest restaurants right now.

Ceviche
This small Soho restaurant is London’s only pisco bar and cevicheria. Besides plenty of Peru‘s national drink and dish, visitors can dine on small plates packed with flavor, including chancha (crunchy corn), yucas (fried cassava), lomo saltado (sirloin marinated in soy sauce and spices), octopus skewers and quinoa salad. Just don’t come expecting servers donning hokey ponchos and serving roasted guinea pig to a background of music on the pan flute: here you’ll find a chromed-out bar that resembles a fish market and walls filled with screen-printed posters from classic and modern Peruvian artists, all of which were handpicked by proprietor Martin Morales. Morales makes sure all of the music is 100 percent Peruvian, from ’60s psychedelic rock to the latest Afro-Peruvian electronic music, and he even goes so far as to put some of the bands out on vinyl under his record label Tiger’s Milk, a moniker that gives a nod to the nickname for leftover ceviche marinade.
17 Frith St., London W1D 4RG


Duck & Waffle

This new restaurant serves tasty British-influenced dishes, but what really draws visitors are the amazing city views. The restaurant is perched on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, a high rise in the heart of London near busy Liverpool Street Station. The building is set very close to London’s famous Gherkin, and from high above you can see all the landmarks along the Thames River. Even better, you can take in the birds-eye-view morning, noon and night: this place is open 24/7, meaning you can stop in late after a night of club hopping or drop in early to get breakfast before a day of sightseeing. If you stop in for breakfast, the steak & egg benedict (above) was perfectly poached and smothered in delicious hollandaise sauce, and you can’t go wrong with an English breakfast, a traditional dish that includes two eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, trotter-braised beans, hash browns and Scottish black pudding.
110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

Evans & Peel Detective Agency
An American phenomenon is taking a hold on London: speakeasy-themed bars and restaurants set in 1920s prohibition-era hideaways. One such place is Evans & Peel Detective Agency, a restaurant under the guise of a private investigation agency. Visitors need to make an advanced “appointment” with a detective and state their case before even being approved for their reservation. The unassuming entrance is to the side of busy Earl’s Court Road, and diners are buzzed down into a room where a stern detective leads an interrogation about your case (it’s okay if you giggle while lauding him with a made up tale about your search for a runaway husband, like my friend and I did). From there, I won’t ruin the experience for anyone wanting to check this out for themselves, but I will say the owners spared no expense at making this seem like a real, candlelit safe house for illegal boozing. The menu is mostly American-style finger food, plus some inventive cocktails using whiskey as the main ingredient.
310c Earl’s Court Rd., London SW5 9AQ

The Wilton Way Café
This independently owned cafe is filled with young artists and bohemians who inhabit Hackney, one of London’s up-and-coming hipster havens. The tiny cafe is notable because it is also home to London Fields Radio, a station broadcasting podcasts filled with eclectic musical selections and conversations about London’s creative community. If you want to find the pulse of London’s creative heart, this is the place to be. Luckily, the food and coffee match the vision of these creative types; Wilton Way Cafe serves up fresh croissants and cakes from nearby bakeries, and makes their coffee with locally roasted Climpson & Sons beans.
63 Wilton Way, London E8 1BG


Sunday (Up)Market
If you find yourself in London on a Sunday, heading to Brick Lane is an absolute must. Rain or shine, young Londoners flock here to shop for new and second-hand wares, making sure to stop for a bite to eat at what is called the Sunday UpMarket inside the Old Truman Brewery. Here, you’ll find a collection of small but tantalizing food stalls, each with artfully crafted displays of everything from hand-rolled sushi to Spanish paellas and empanadas. You’ll also find Mexican, Ethiopian, Turkish, Indian, Argentinian and more. My suggestion is to bring a friend so you can sample more than just one type of cuisine. When you’re finished, browse more than 140 stalls selling fashion and accessories, also located in the building. If you’re up for more, Old Spitalfields Market is also nearby.
The Old Truman Brewery, London E1 6QL

If you’re looking for additional suggestions on where to eat in London, check out Visit London-I found several of the above restaurants through their website.

[Photo credit: blogger Libby Zay]

The Shard, London’s Tallest Skyscraper, Opens To Public Today


Today London officially opens its newest landmark, a 1,016-foot skyscraper that has been under construction since 2009. As you can see above, the irregular pyramid-shaped building is entirely covered in glass, and resembles an icicle or chip of glass – hence the name, The Shard.

At 87 stories, the building is the tallest in the European Union. From the 68th to the 72nd floor, the new skyscraper has a viewing gallery and an open-air observation deck called The View from the Shard. Thanks to the fine folks at Visit London, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the new attraction just a few days before it opened to the public. Although it was a snowy, overcast morning, the panoramic views from the top were impressive. From the 72nd floor, it was easy to let your eye follow the dramatic curves of the Thames River and spot many of London’s famous landmarks. Officials said on clear days, visibility could reach up to 40 miles.

For those who are not familiar with London’s cityscape, The Shard has made things easy. Several telescopic viewfinders not only let you zoom in to various spots around London, but have also been programmed to point out historical and otherwise important places and monuments. As you point the viewfinder in any direction, the names of certain landmarks pop up on a screen. If something is unfamiliar, just tap the name to learn more. It’s a great way to orient yourself and learn more about the city – and even if it ends up being an overcast day, the markers can indicate what isn’t visible beyond the clouds.

Besides the observation galleries, the building will house 600,000 square feet of office space, 10 luxury residences valued at $50 million each, a Shangri-La hotel, and three floors of restaurants and retail space.

The building marks a new phase for an improvement plan in the surrounding area, which will soon be known as the London Bridge Quarter. In addition to The Shard, a shorter building called London Bridge Place will be built nearby, and major updates are underway in the London Bridge rail and Underground station.

Reports from London say Mayor Boris Johnson officially cut the ribbon for The Shard earlier today, and a couple has already gotten engaged at the top. Now that it’s open, the attraction is expected to draw more than two million visitors a year, and comes with an entrance fee of £24.95, or about $39, for adults.

[Photo credit: blogger Libby Zay]

10 Stunning And Iconic Shots Of London

london eye With the 2012 Olympic Games only a few days away, we wanted to celebrate the beauty of London through unique photographs of the city’s iconic images and sites. While the Tower Bridge is a must-see attraction during the day, it’s even more worthwhile at night when it sparkles against a golden moon backdrop. Moreover, pictures of Big Ben at sunset, the city skyline reflected on the River Thames and an old-fashioned black and white photograph of the Houses of Parliament all pay tribute to this stunning city.

For a more visual idea of these beautiful and iconic shots, take at look at the gallery below. Looking for more London inspiration? Check out:

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[Above image via john.purvis; Gallery images via Big Stock]