It seems to be London’s year this year. It’s the Queen’s Jubilee, there’s that big sport event happening at the moment, and the city got a visit from me. In stark contrast to the peacefulness and natural beauty of Scotland, the buzzing city of London is all about being on the move.
Before I begin, I must mention two things; number one, I love the underground. I come from a place where the public transport is so bad it’s pretty much obsolete. So, experiencing the tube is like christmas and my birthday combined times two. Number two; even in our week long stay, there was no way we could visit or experience everything that London had to offer, there is just so much. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I took this trip to the UK with my mum. I had been to London before, but mum hadn’t, so the things we did included a lot of the traditional sites and tourist attractions of London, as well as a few bits and pieces of what we particularly wanted to do. So here we go…
Our first outing was to see Buckingham Palace of course! We had just gotten to London, and it was late but we still wanted to see something so we got off the Tube at Green Park and walked down to see where the good ole’ Queenie lives. Despite the fact that the huge wealth of the royal family makes me cringe a little, the palace is still a very beautiful building that does make you say ‘wow’. We then got our walking shoes on (metaphorically of course, as they were already on) and walked up the Mall, through St James Park, past the Horse Guards Parade, around Parliament Square and up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square.
For our second day in London we decided to do a bus tour and a cruise down the Thames. Our main reasoning for doing so was because we wanted to be able to orientate ourselves and have a general look around before going to particular places. Now, most people have a skewed view about tour groups. They might imagine they are full of loud and obnoxious tourists wearing bumbags and visors saying thinks like, “oh my gawd honey that man’s wearing a fluffy hat, doesn’t he look silly!”
However, in actual fact they are a very handy way to get a good view of the city, especially if you have limited time and don’t know where you want to go. The guides are also full of sometimes odd and strange facts that you might not find out about any other way. Such as the church spire which tiered wedding cakes were modelled after, who knew?! The cruise also gave a great view of the city from a different perspective. You could really appreciate the beautiful old buildings, as well as some of London’s stranger new ones (the Gherkin and the Shard for example). Check out some of the photos below.
We then went and had a look inside Parliament. Luckily for us, our timing was perfect as both the House of Commons and the House of Lords were sitting, so we saw both houses in action. We firstly had to make our way through lots of security, have photos taken and attached to a lanyard around our necks, and sign various declarations saying we wouldn’t be disruptive. But we did make it in to the viewing gallery eventually. Although they weren’t necessarily interesting topics being debated and discussed (proven by the many empty MP seats), in was still fascinating to see the beautiful rooms that have played host some of the most influential people in English history.
One of the things I love about London is the mix of the old and the new, from buildings to traditions, there’s something for everyone. We indulged this mix by visiting one of London’s most wonderfully old attractions before moving across the river to one that houses all things modern. Our plan was, St Paul’s Cathedral then over the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern. St Paul’s is pretty unbelievable. The intricate designs and details that cover the walls, floors and ceilings are beautiful. I’ve been to a fair number of cathedrals and churches on my previous travels, but each one still manages to be unique. The dome of St Paul’s is of course what sets it apart from all others.
Crossing the Millennium Bridge gave us a great view up and down the river. It was blowing a gale though and we had to have our heads down, bums up to ensure we weren’t blown away. But, it’s just a bridge, and it is much more interesting looking at the bridge from a far, rather than on it as you don’t see much of the design.
Now, the Tate…ahhhhh. Oh it was wonderful. I’m not particularly fond of all types of modern art (I’m more of an impressionist girl myself) but I did enjoy lots of parts of the Tate. The surrealism section wasn’t really for me, but there were some beautiful pieces of art on display. I feel in love with a Kandinsky (and rightly purchased a print of it), and some of the black and white photographs were gorgeous. The building itself is also a piece of modern art. From a far, it looks like an old factory, but up close, the bricks are a beautiful shade of red. Inside, the spaces are very open and industrial . It’s very fitting to have all this wonderful modern art housed in a wonderful industrial building.
One of my favourite days in London was when we went walking in Hyde Park which is a wonderful expanse of lush green grass and trees, walking paths and the Serpentine Lake. The park was alive with picnickers, dog walkers and runners on the beautiful sunny day we visited.We meandered along the edge of lake to my favourite statue in all of London, Peter Pan, visited the newly refurbished Kensington Palace, the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall. It was a perfect day for a stroll through the park, and we just took our time wandering around and sitting on benches people watching.
We finished the day by taking a ride in what I call the pod wheel, the London Eye. Despite my slight fear of heights, I was absolutely determined to go on the Eye. It is the most visited attraction in London, and not surprisingly there were so many people lining up to get one. We splurged and actually bought the fast track tickets, which saved about an hour of queueing for the tickets and to get on the wheel. The 360 degree views that you get of London are spectacular! You can see right out to the outer suburbs, down the Thames and see all the wonderful buildings as well. I would definitely recommend this ride in the sky.
I absolutely love London. Remember that top 3 favourite cities list, London is number 1. This was my second visit and I still did about 10 things I hadn’t done on the previous trip. Along with the things I’ve mentioned, we saw Matilda the musical (which is AMAZING), ate delicious food at different restaurants, did a fair bit of damage on the bank cards on Oxford St, visited Harrods and Fortnum and Masons, wandered around Soho and the holy grail of all things London…I saw platform 9 3/4.