Top 10 London Vacation Hot Spots
London is a city for all seasons, people, moods, and attitudes. It is the city that saw the creation of Western democracy and its associated freedoms. London is just a cool place to be in to people watch and for me, above all to eat in. if you cannot find food to your liking in London then there is no hope for you. The really good thing is that the different ethnic centres are quite close to each other. Italian and Indian food is everywhere and Chinatown and the Greek food areas are very close. Fish and chips can be had for lunch in a pub. Shaftesbury Avenue is the place to be to find these places.
The really cool thing to do in London is “London”. Then there is the shopping.
Shopping in London is legendary. From the the classy emporiums of Oxford Street, Bond Street et.al., to the flea markets of the East End. London also has the finest toy shop in the world although the gents in San Francisco will disagree with me.
The shopping in London is not now concentrated in the West End. There are satellite centres in all directions located close to Main Line Railway Stations. The most well-established of these is Croydon with it's Whitgift Centre. This huge complex is located between East and West Croydon Stations, a journey of about 10-15 minutes from most Main Line London stations on the Southern and South Western Lines. The shopping here is every bit as comfortable and convenient as the West End, in fact it is not so crowded and Croydon has better pubs than the West End does.
A visit to London has to include Madame Tussaud's. To say that this is a waxwork museum is like calling a tiger “puddy tat”. It is a unique collection of waxwork dolls, memorabilia, and everything else associated with the rich and famous.
It is located a short walk from Marylebone Station, and a quick look at the queue stretching around the corner might prompt you to book ahead of time. One of the features of Madame Tussaud's is that you can have your picture taken with the stars, Royalty of all nations, criminals, murderers,saints and who ever takes your fancy.
The West End Theatre Scene
Sorry Broadway, but this is the finest collection of real live theatres anywhere in the world. Some of the shows have been running for years and do not look like ever stopping. It has seen the debut of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Macintosh, Tom Stoppard and countless other legendary names in the theatre industry.
A seat in the centre of the Dress Circle of any West End theatre is like heaven on earth. There is nothing quite like it anywhere. Couple all this with the aforementioned eating scene and you have the ultimate experience. It is unforgettable.
London has two of the finest classical music venues in the world. They are The Albert Hall and The Royal Festival Hall. The acoustics of the latter are said to be almost perfect. They are located in two entirely different areas.
The Albert Hall is in Kensington, on the southern side of Hyde Park. It is in a very genteel area and is named for the consort of Queen Victoria. It has plush victorian style interior decorations and has a very special ambience, especially at Chhristmas when there are many special events there. The singalong Messiah is very popular.
The Royal Festival Hall is situated on the South Bank of the Thames close to the docklands of South East London. The architecture has had its critics, barbaric is one popular desccription, but inside it is comfortable and a s said before the acoustics are magnificent.
A list of museums to visit in London is like a who's who.
There is an enclave of museums close to Knightsbridge Station, right where Harrod's is but just across the road.
The famous Natural History Museum is here and you can spend time with a dinosaur skeleton.
This museum is very interactive and appeals to kids as much as to research students.
Also located here are the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The British Museum is a bit further away near King's Cross Station. Here you can see the controversial Elgin Marbles and many other artifacts claimed to have been stolen during colonial times.
This used to be the place where all the fresh produce sold in London was brought for sale. Now it is a bustling area of chic boutiques and restaurants. It is also home of the Royal Opera House which is really the Royal Ballet.
It is very close to The Strand which has a large number of famous wine bars and pubs.. Brahms and Liszt is one of the most famous of these. It gets its name from a cockney rhyming slang reference to being intoxicated.
The area is the sole location licensed for street performers in the whole of London and the quality is very high.
The London Eye
The London Eye is a truly magnificent piece of engineering. It opened in 2000 and has flown (as they put it) tens of millions of people around London. It was originally called the Millennium Wheel, but that name wore itself out and it had a few names before the current one. It is owned by EDF, the local energy company, which in itself is French owned and operated.
It has full wheelchair access and is full of safety features and information, more than enough to placate the most scared of fliers. That would include me!
On a clear day you can see the very distinguishable tower of Windsor Castle, about twenty five miles away.
River Thames Cruises
Cruises on the Thames are available in both directions.
You can go from the area of The Strand to The Thames Barrier or in the other direction towards Chiswick and visit the Boat Race Course.
Both of these are very rewarding experiences. The first goes past The Docklands, Canary Wharf, London City Airport, Greenwich Observatory (0 degrees longitude), and ends at the Thames barrier. This was at one time the largest construction project in the world. It was designed to protect London from flash floods caused by freak tides and heavy rain.
The cruise in the other goes under the most beautiful of the London bridges and goes on Putney and Mortlake. This is where Oxford and Cambridge rowing crews fight it out every year at the Boat Race.
The Royal Parks
These are like lungs in the middle of London. Many people jog, walk, eat lunch, or just people watch there.
The parks are immaculately cared for and no dogs are allowed. They are all conveniently located near Underground stations.
The biggest of the Parks is Hyde Park, it is absolutely huge. There is a large underground car park there, and that is where you will go if you park your car illegally and it gets removed by the police. I believe the price to get it back is still one hundred and one pounds. Such a deal!