Once you get to London, where do you start?
So as you know, we got into London on Tuesday night, the 9th of September, and went straight to our fall palace in Limehouse. I say our fall palace since it seems that the Queen has multiple residences and uses them at different times of the year, so why can’t we???
In my case, I have not been back to England in 36 years, and Mary has never been here before.
Confronted with a city full of some of the most famous buildings and iconic landmarks in the world, where the heck do you start?
I should back up just a bit. For about a month before we caught a BA flight (a make-good for Zoom that was cancelled) over to Scotland and England, Mary and I starting making notes about what we wanted to see. As far as London was concerned we used three travel guides as primary sources, and did a lot of supplemental research on the Internet.
We actually divided the city of London up into 10 Zones and made little spreadsheets for each area. Let’s take one called Whitehall and Westminster as an example. On that page, we identified that it was best reached by three different underground stations – St. James Park, Westminster and Trafalgar Square. Then we listed all the sites within that quadrant that we wanted to see.
The list included Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Jewel Tower, 10 Downing Street, Parliament Square, Westminster Cathedral, The Cabinet War Room and the Winston Churchill Museum, the Guard’s Museum, the Horseguard’s Parade, Banqueting House and a few more minor landmarks and spots of interest.
On that page, we listed the hours and day each attraction/site was open, the entrance fee (if any), and things of interest (about each) we should be aware of.
Oh and during the course of our homework, we came across something called the London Pass. It is a multi-day pass that for a fixed price gives you access to all kinds of buildings, tours, attractions, as well as travel breaks, free audio-guides for tours, and a few other goodies. For 6 days this Pass cost 74 pounds (each), and it also provides Fast Track entry into some of the busier venues. We did the math and figured that there was well over 130 pounds worth of things we wanted to do (I have to keep typing that damn word pounds as I can’t find a way to insert the currency symbol for British currency), so we purchased two of them. We then went back to our self-made maps/guides and highlighted everything that the London Pass could get us into to.
This may seem like a lot of work to some of you, but we thought that if we approached London with at least some idea of what we wanted to do and see, we would spend less time playing Pinky and the Brain with each other………”what do you want to do today Pinky?”
So where do you start in London? If you go to New York, you start at Time Square so why would London be any different?
For me, that meant there was only possible starting place – Piccadilly Circus, and that’s where we headed first.
The next few lines and paragraphs are going to sound like something right out of some London sightseeing guide, but I don’t care since this is my blog, so this is how I’m going to handle it. Here is a highlight list of just some of the places we saw, toured and/or walked by in our first two days in London. Ready……..
Westminster Abby, Westminster Cathedral, Parliament Square, Big Ben (trivia for you, did you know that Big Ben is not the name of the clock, it is actually the name of the Bell that rings in the Clock Tower, – oh yeah I’ll take London trivia for $50 Alex), Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, Piccadilly Circus and the statue of Eros, the Jubilee Bridge, the Cenetaph, the Horseguard’s Palace, Admiralty Arch, Carnaby Street, All Soul’s Church, Leicester Square, Chinatown, the London Eye, St. Martin’s in the Field, Madame Toussards Wax Museum, the Beatles Store, the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Covent Gardens, the Embankment, Cleopatra’s Needle, and, several other churches, four of London’s eleven train stations, the outside of six theatres including Drury Lane (sight of my Favorite Python LP, yes I said LP not CD), and loads more.
We actually did all this in two days, and we really toured them too, and not by bus. Mary and I walked just over 37 kms on the first two days in London. Not bad for a couple of 50 plussers eh?I think my favorite thing on those first two days was ending up back at Trafalgar Square in the early evening of our first day, and from the steps of the National Gallery, you can see past Admiral Nelson, all the way down Whitehall, to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It absolutely took my breath away, and standing there looking at it while holding Mary’s hand, was just about the best thing in the world.
Oh, and on the second day, we did what every Fab Four fan (alliteration for Kathryn there) from the 60’s would love to do, we made the trek to St. John’s Wood, and walked across the crosswalk outside the Abbey Road studios – yup, site of probably the most famous album cover of all time.
When it comes right down to it, I can’t even begin to do justice to how exciting those first two days were. We saw so much, and the thing is we had hardly even scratched the surface at that point.
Lots more to tell, but I’ve just finished my cup of Twinings, and it is time for me to tuck in for the night.
So TTFN from Limehouse.