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Monday, April 16, 2012

"Secret" London - Not to Be Missed

Most people have a list of things they want to do when they visit a particular city. 

Today I'm taking a few of the top 10 or so places to see in London and giving you some "insider" information.

Certainly one of the most popular tourist spots in London is Westminster Abbey.  And rightly so.  The Abbey is incredibly rich in history, and a sight not to be missed.

St. Paul's Cathedral is also right up there in terms of history and architectural beauty.  And the views from the top are breathtaking!

If you happen to be visiting on a Sunday, get up early and go to the 8:00 AM services at Westminster or St. Paul's.  In fact, stay for two Sundays and go to both.

You'd think that those services would be crowded, but you'd be wrong.  At Westminster, we had 32 people, including the two ministers.

32 people!  And you are sitting amongst all of this history.   Right at the foot of Isaac Newton's tomb.  If you've seen "The DaVinci Code" you'd recognize it.  We snapped this shot from outside as you can't take pictures inside.

And St. Paul's was even more intimate.  18 people.  We sat in the quire, looking at the altar where Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married.

And if you are at St. Paul's, make sure to take a walk across the Millenium Bridge to Tate Modern.

You'd don't have to actually go into Tate Modern.  It is free, but not worth even that much.  In my opinion.  I could be wrong.  But I'm probably not.

Anyway, walk across the bridge and turn around.  The view of St. Paul's from this side of the bridge is amazing!

Between St. Paul's and the Millenium Bridge you might want to stop at Knightrider Street (Kitt!  Come here - I need you!).  ;-)

A walk in Hyde Park is worth the time and effort.  And if you are there - be sure to visit Kensington Palace. That is where William and Katherine live.  And has beautiful gardens.  Have tea at The Orangery while you are there.  Delicious!

Just across the park is the Royal Albert Hall.  They give facility tours there  - very much worth your time.

And if you don't have children with you and can get there between 9:30 and 10:00 AM, take a little break at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground.

If you are visiting London you'll almost certainly go to the Tower of London.  The Tower is definitely not to be missed.

But right across the street, outside of Tower Hill underground station you will find the best-preserved remnant of the Roman wall which once formed part of the eastern defences of Roman Londinium. Built c. AD 200, the wall defined the shape and size of London for over a millennium.

You are likely to hear a lot about the War when you visit.  If you want to know more about it, visit the Imperial War Museum in South London.  Free, and definitely worth seeing.

You will probably see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.  (If you have the time, head to Windsor to see the Changing of the Guard - it is the same ceremony, except you can actually see it up close).  While you are at Buckingham, take in the Mews.  The Royal Mews is where the Queen keeps her state cars and coaches, and where most of her horses spend most of their time.

Her beautiful Rolls Royce Phantom.

One of the beautiful state coaches.

And you can see the Royal horses.  

If you'd like some fabulous views, head to the top of Monument.

The Monument was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City. You can see at the top that it is surmounted by a drum and a copper urn from which flames emerge, symbolising the Great Fire. The Monument is 202 feet high - the exact distance between it and the site in Pudding Lane where the fire began.

It's not for the faint of heart, or those with a fear of heights (and I speak from experience here).  You've got to walk up to the top of this.

311 of these narrow spiral steps.  Inside a stone column.

Well worth the effort, once you get past the heights.  Well, once I did anyway.  Most people don't have my crazy issues.  You can ignore the death grip I have on the railing in the picture below. 

If you've got just a little extra time, these are all worth the effort.  

Hope you are enjoying my London memories.  I'm nearing the end of them for those who are tiring of vacation.  Tomorrow I've got some incredible gardens.  Hope to see you then!


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  1. Cool! I have to go back and catch up on your other posts! It brings back memories of my two trips to London; although the Millennium Bridge was not there, probably because I was there in the 90's! Great pics! Thanks for taking us along with you!

  2. Lucky me--I was there the night the Millennium Bridge was dedicated--best fireworks I ever saw! Such a great end of town.