Snapshots of London, England: Just a tiny bit of time for a whole-lot-of-city.
1. Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery
Trafalgar Square is an enormous public square at the intersection of three streets. With the Nelson column rising up from the middle, guarded by four massive lion statues, a fountain and numerous commemorative statues, it’s an impressive square to say the least. That said, the real gem of the Square is the National Gallery, a massive (free) museum with art from the 13th to the 20th century. I was impressed with the cleanliness, gallery layout and especially with the collection of art! Even with only a short time in London, the National Gallery is worth every minute.
2. Buckingham Palace
We were early for the birth of the Prince and Princess’ new baby girl, but no one can forget the view of Buckingham Palace and its square packed with people for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. Today the Palace is an art gallery and tourist attraction, but more importantly a home and symbol of the British monarchy.
3. Westminster Palace
Also known as the Parliament, Westminster Palace is the massive building perhaps most known by tourists as the home of Big Ben, which actually refers to the bell and not the entire bell tower, though popular usage has slightly changed that over time.
4. London Eye
Perhaps the epitome of tourist attraction, the London Eye is your one-stop shop of London skyline. You can think of it like the hop-on hop-off tourist busses, only you can’t get off until it’s over and you only see things from far away…in a giant bubble…for thirty minutes. It also costs £29,95 for a general ticket, but it does add a unique touch to the London skyline!
5. Convent Garden
Not a garden at all, Convent Garden is a partially covered market area with restaurants and mostly food-good stores. A bit high class but very beautiful, you can often catch live performers in its lower courtyard. Unfortunately we only heard the sounds of an older comedian’s raunchy jokes hitting the cobblestones.
Though historically there have been a few different Chinatowns locations throughout London, current day Chinatown is still a very strong presence in the city. With bilingual English/Chinese street signs, it has an enormous choice in eateries as well as markets selling traditional Chinese ingredients and products, as well as massage parlors, acupuncturists and a variety of other stores.
7. Hyde Park and Green Park
One of the most populated cities in the world, London saves itself with all of its gorgeous English parks. A city without a park is like a house without windows. It’s necessary for our health and sanity. Plus, it’s pretty! It’s easy to pass away a day strolling through the enormous Hyde Park, but even smaller Green Park near to Buckingham Palace or any of the other parks dotting the cosmopolitan city offer a green respite from the hectic city.
8. Notting Hill and Portobello Road
Though I’ve never seen the movie, the neighborhood definitely had a familiar face. In any case it certainly was beautiful! Dotted with large white houses, villas and luxury apartments (or what seemed like luxury) a visit to Notting Hill provided a welcome chance to rest our feet during the bus ride there, and a glimpse at the pastel colored houses of Portobello Road and its quirky Saturday morning market.
Whether you drink or not, you can’t leave London without visiting a pub – and you’ll have plenty to choose from! The city is filled with traditional style wood pubs, many supplemented with flower pots, brick walls or even stain glassed windows.