October 18, 2012

London Time - Part I

Oh London,
how I love thee. 

This wasn't my first time in the magical city of double decker red buses, 
although the only things that really stick from my visit there 20 years ago 
are the cute animals at the Zoo, and the overwhelming amount of toys at the Toy Museum
I remember it as being lovely,
and lovely it still is. 
There is SO much to see and do in this enormous city,
that even 6 days wasn't enough. 
I'm thinking I need at least a year, so that I can explore every little crevice thoroughly. 
From royal palaces, to bridges, to amazing museums,
we were on the go the whole time. 

Below is the first installment of my recommendations for things that can't be missed..

Where to Stay:
Since we were in London for almost a full week,
we decided to split our time between two neighborhoods. 
Our first stint was at the London Waldorf,
right in the center of the Theater District and only two blocks away from the Covent Garden tube stop. 
This is obviously a luxurious place to stay,
and is perfect for kicking back and relaxing after a long day of sight-seeing. 

For the second leg of our London stay,
we shacked up at the Caesar Hotel,
which was a lot more low key, and right around the corner from Hyde Park. 

I highly recommend both places.
The latter is a lot more affordable, but to each their own.

What to See:
Where do you even begin as a tourist in London? 
Like I mentioned earlier, there's just SO much to see. 
We decided that the best route was to split our days into territories. 
We actually took all the London walking tours with Sandemans New Europe company,
which I highly, highly recommend! 
The guides are young, energetic, and so smart that they put me to shame. 
Both Erik and I feel like we learned so much on this trip, 
and in large part, it's thanks to those tours. 

Ok, so of course we saw all the touristy stuff first,
and I could go on and on. 

Here are some fun facts that stood out to me:
*Buckingham Palace is The Queen's official London residence, 
but St. James's Palace is the ceremonial Royal residence.
With all that, The Queen still prefers to spend her weekends at Windsor Castle,
a place I'll tell you about in a future post.

*During the night of July 9, 1982,
one very drunk Irishman by the name of Michael Fagan proceeded to successfully break into the Buckingham Palace and join The Queen in her bed chambers. 
Apparently security wasn't all it's cracked up to be back then,
because Michael was able to easily hop the fence after a few lot of drinks at a local pub, and go on to explore the royal palace. 
After consuming half a bottle of the Queen's wine and munching on a little bit of her dogs' food,
Fagan wandered into her actual bedroom, where her majesty was peacefully sleeping. 
Long story short, it took nearly 45 minutes for the royal guards to figure out that security system was not "surely malfunctioning", 
and that there was, in fact, an intruder.
When Fagan was finally arrested, all he was officially charged with was theft... of half a bottle of wine and some dog food. 
True story. 
Now don't go wild and start hopping fences tonight.. the laws have surely changed since 1982.

*The Tower of London is not really a tower.
I mean, I guess "technically it is", 
but when the guide told us it was straight ahead yet there was no tip to be seen up above,
I was definitely confused. 
It looks more like a castle, or a fortress, but definitely not a tower.
Silly Englishmen.
*The Westminister Abbey is Britain's largest church. 
It's massive, and beautiful, and seems a lot bigger in person as opposed to when I saw it on the TV for William and Kate's wedding last year. 
The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. 

*The official name for Big Ben is St. Stephen's tower...
it picked up its nickname after the tower's largest bell, 
which, by the way, is not the original bell. 
The original had to be replaced after it was rang only once... the poor thing cracked under all that pressure. Tee hee. Get it?

The London Eye (previously known as the Millennium Wheel) was one of the structures built in Britain to celebrate the new old Millennium.
It was actually supposed to be decomissioned after all the celebrations, 
but after the government realized how much profit was at stake, the original plans were quickly abandoned.
It is the most popularly visited paid attraction in all of Great Britain, 
taking in an average of 3 - 3.5 million visitors each year.
Simple math will tell you that at about 19 GBP per ticket, this baby brings in a whole lotta mula!
I can keep going, and going, and going and.. 
Ok, fine. I'll stop. 
In the next post I'll be talking about a much more exciting subject... FOOD!

Have you ever been to London?
What stands out the most to you?



Jay said...

I haven't been to London yet - it always ends up sliding down the list because it's so easy to get to.

I find it funny that so many attractions were meant to be decommissioned --- like the Eiffel Tower and the Atomium in Brussels. I'm happy they stuck around ;)

Regina Lily said...

Great post! I am going in April and I can't wait!

lauren | eyes/ears/mouth+lens said...

I'm going to London this summer and these photos just got me way too excited, and they're lovely! Definitely taking note of your tips.

pearl said...

London is definitely on my list one day!