“ "The City" -London's historic centre and financial district.There's over 500 foreign banks located here (an area of approximately one sqaure mile). St Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge can all be found here. „
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I have heard a lot of good things about London, which is one reason why; when Vicky and I needed a break and only had a few days spare, we jumped onto the bus to spend a few days sightseeing in our own country. Unfortunately the fact that we had to get the bus was the first thing we picked up on. You see driving in London is not something one does if one wants some recreation. London is an extremely busy city, and so traffic jams are a frequent annoyance as you navigate the city's streets. If that wasn't bad enough you also have to pay a toll on many of London's roads and as a result the cost of driving would be too great. Due to this we have always preferred using public transportation whenever we have needed to visit London. This means that upon arrival you will have to figure out the local transportation system. Thankfully the city council has built their famous underground railway to take you anywhere you need inside the city limits. Despite an initial panic on looking at the map we found the underground no harder to navigate than the average road map. It was quite a handy little service really as; other than one changeover to get to the hotel, we found we could get to all the big stations from the hotel in one journey. Unfortunately the underground did not come without a large sting in its tail. You see my wife Vicky is disabled, and the designers of the London underground did not give a thought to this when slapping the thing together. Of the 56 stops in zone one of the underground (the only zone we needed to use for tourism) five stops proudly advertised their disabled access on the map. Unfortunately this left 51 stops in which Vicky had to climb three flights of stairs on and off the Underground. Usually an escalator was made available for one flight, but otherwise you had to climb them unsupported yourself. Luckily for us Vicky is able to use a crutch (and my right arm) for small journeys so navigation was possible. However if you are dependent on a wheelchair then you will find the Underground impossible to use and so seeing any of the sites outside the train stations will involve a series of extremely expensive taxi fares. Even for someone as mobile as Vicky the two night trip has left her in agony and unable to walk to the bathroom without my support. (Temporarily) This unfortunate situation is something that the local population did not really help with. You can encounter selfish people anywhere, but in London you tend to meet those same selfish people in a major rush. People will often barge past you on the escalators in an effort to save precious seconds before they reach the bottom. Ironically these ones would usually end up waiting with us for the train anyway. However what was most frustrating was when they would run for the train to make sure they get seats, even if that meant taking the seats reserved for the elderly and disabled. Sadly it's true that these people are everywhere, but in the hustle and bustle of London it was a lot harder for Vicky to cope. So if you do have any physical disabilities then please take that into consideration when planning your trip. Now so far this review has been pretty bitter and negative, but there was a reason Vicky and I decided to go to London as tourists. London does contain several popular tourist locations and Vicky and I had a blast with the ones we chose to visit. The London Eye Our first stop was the famous London Eye. This is one giant Ferris wheel that towers over the London Skyline and enables a fantastic view of the city. Sadly we did not find the skyline all that interesting as 99% of the buildings are functional rather than beautiful. It was enjoyable enough at first pointing to different places (the building from The Apprentice, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben) but around half way to the top (after 10-15 mins) we had seen everything and were getting bored. This left us a further 30-40 minutes to contemplate the fact that we were towering over a giant open sewer. Your ticket also includes entrance to the London Eye 4D tour, a 3D movie of the London skyline with seagulls floating at you. We never bothered to go in to be honest. Madame Tussauds Our ticket to the London Eye was a combination ticket with the famous wax museum, so this was our next stop. This was far more like it. We had a lot of fun looking at these statues and taking photos of ourselves with various celebrities. The models were placed on the floors with no barriers between you and them, so getting close and admiring the detail is allowed. You are also allowed to get really close and pose with the celebrities, although I did not risk physically touching any of them. Each floor was themed according to the celebrities you would see, from actors, singers, and historical figures. One notable floor was 'the vault of horrors' which recreated some of history's biggest killers. It also included one series of corridors where real people would run out of the shadows in mock attacks. None of them made physical contact but it was a creepy experience that made me start a few times, and Vicky kept her eyes firmly closed the entire time. For a small additional fee (though if you have purchased a full price ticket this would be included) we were admitted to the Marvel Comics section of the museum. This was my reason for visiting, and it was here that I lit up like a school boy on Prozac. There were several Marvel statues inside including Spiderman, Ironman, Wolverine (the Hugh Jackman variant I am afraid), Nick Fury, and a two story high rampaging Hulk. I was disappointed with the limited number of statues to be honest. Captain America was notably absent. Yet I did enjoy certain photo points such as a Wolverine claw you could place your hand into. However the day was not fully made until we witnessed the Marvel 4D tour. This was a fun 3D movie that saw the Marvel heroes defending London from the sinister Doctor Doom. Throughout this really cool film you will be treated to a degree of interactivity with the characters. For instance when Hulk sneezes into the camera you get sprayed with water, and when robot spiders flood Madam Tussuad's jets of compressed air ensure you can feel them at your feet. We both wanted to do this twice, but could not. The London Museum Of Film The next day I managed to beg and grovel Vicky into joining me at the film museum. This was actually an exciting experience for me, and Vicky insists my excitement was infectious. There was some cool memorabilia inside to photograph including the actual Gong from the old J Arthur Rank films, Brandon Routh's Superman outfit, and even Little Nellie from You Only Live Twice. These and other things managed to entertain me until we hit the Harryhausen exhibit where photography was sadly not allowed. There was some very cool memorabilia inside including a fully preserved Bubo the Owl. Plus the memories brought back seeing original models and surviving meshes from some of Harryhausen's classic monsters got me pumped up to watch some of his films again. There was also a Chaplin exhibit that we were not interested in and a disappointing Star Wars room with not one piece of original memorabilia. Green Park And Buckingham Palace What a dive! The palace itself is a fairly basic building with nothing but a few guards to make it stand out. While it was entertaining to see the guards doing their funny little march I soon grew bored. The park outside the palace was also a fairly poor effort, with no play areas for kids, no flowers, and no gates. There was nothing but trees, grass, benches, and pigeons. We decided not to picnic there after all. The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre Our final stop was Vicky's choice, but one that I was able to enjoy as well. I have seen a few of the Phantom of the Opera movies but none of them captured the sense of horror as well as the opera does here. It helped that Vicky and I had the good seats as management saw her disability and upgraded us to the second floor rather than the balconies. Yay management! The singing and acting on display was phenomenal and the sense of spectacle and wander was captured nicely through superb use of smoke and mirrors. The illusion of water in the sewer scenes was particularly eerie. I would definitely recommend it, and in fact it was I who came up with the idea of going back next year to see another play. There is plenty more to see and do in London; including The London Dungeons, Big Ben, and Downing Street (snore). I would heartily recommend visiting Covent Gardens for a coffee and a sandwich while you are there as I found it a very pleasant spot to sit and relax. Though as with anywhere in London it tends to get decidedly busy, so you should pick your time wisely. In terms of accommodation I cannot comment on an average experience. There are tons of hotels in London, but Vicky and I stayed in a basic bed and breakfast Travelodge and got what we paid for. Cold undercooked breakfasts, broken windows, and a mouldy bath were not entirely pleasant. There are plenty of much nicer places to stay in London but this was all that we could afford. The reason was that everything in London is so expensive! Two packets of crisps, two bottles of Pepsi, and a chocolate bar set us back nearly £8. On the Underground we purchased one day passes for zones 1-2 which set up back £7 a day and lasts until 6:00PM. The day we went to the theatre we had to buy a single fair back for £4.50. We lucked out on a lot of the attractions as they were generally considerate of Vicky's disability. The Film Museum cost us £12 as I got in free as Vicky's carer. Eating out cost us an expensive £50. Though I have to be honest, this was in order to recreate our first date at TGI Fridays. All in all we spent nearly £600 on our first two day trip as everything was so expensive and we had to add travel and accommodation onto our tourist ventures. For fully able bodied people you can add a little extra to that, but you will have the benefit of enjoying yourselves pain free. Also I should admit that on returning to London we have learned to count our pennies and either eat fast food, or homemade sandwiches. This frees up significant money for sightseeing. I would probably recommend London only if you can handle a lot of walking/standing and have some spare cash. The exhibits are definitely worth a look, though the city and architecture is fairly bland. If you can afford it then the shopping is always popular, and the theatres well worthwhile. Just don't expect a weekend of rest and relaxation and you should be fine.
London is the city to visit if you are considering traveling to the United Kingdom. With it's unique spots like Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, which is 135mm high and the world's tallest observation wheel and some of London's most wonderful theaters, galleries and museum ensure that there is something to see and do for everyone. The West End shops are a must to see on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road, along with Camden town. There are the markets too in various parts of London, such as Portobello Road, Camden, Greenwich and Convent Garden. London is a vast city with many places to see that with one visit it is just not enough. Visit Greenwich Meridian and set your watch by the red Time Ball that drops every day at 1pm. Visit Greenwich's popular market too. Also, take a tour on one of London's open air Top Buses and get to see the sights on offer before starting your tours around London. It's a good way to see what will most interest you first in case you do not have much time in London. Another area you may to see is the London Bridge and the Tower of London, where you can see the Crown Jewels and visit the castle. Not far from there, is the London Dungeons, which is an enjoyable excursion along with being scary. Here you get to see the history of the days of Jack the Ripper and learn about the Great Fire of London. Visit Madam Tussuad, which is definitely a place you must not miss. This is a place where famous wax works can be seen. In the evening, take in a show or play at one of Convent Garden's theaters or in Piccadilly Circus. Take a walk all around Convent Garden, where there are many artists on the streets performing, along with going to the market. One place you most not forget is the famous Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square. Leicester Square has cinemas where all London Premieres take place, along with more theaters. Walk around Trafalgar Square and see Nelsen's statue. Another place to visit is the Buckingham Palace, which is now open to public viewing. This is the home of the present Queen Elizabeth. Watch the Changing of the Guard too. There is, also, some museums that not be missed. There is the British Museum, Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Museum of London, which shows special exhibitions like London's Burning that explores the Great Fire of London. This is the most interesting one of all in my opinion. It is very exciting to visit London, which is where I was born. So, if you are thinking of taking a trip there, then make sure you write down what you want to see in order of preference, as there is so much to choose from. Read more: http://www.bukisa.com/articles/52429_the-city-of-london#ixzz0mxFfxSYg written Denise Larkin, myself.
The City of London The City is not to be confused with the city! Also known as the ‘Square Mile’, for the obvious reason that that’s its approximate size, the City is small in area but is in some ways the heart of London. It used to be the whole of London, confined by city walls, until the establishment of a market just outside its walls around Covent Garden and a palace and abbey at Westminster started the process of extending the metropolis until it reached its current vast size. Even in the seventeenth century, most of the population lived here: the Great Fire in 1666 centred on the heart of this area. The City has never altogether lost its autonomy, and still has its own police force and Lord Mayor. However, the City is now barely populated and is instead the financial heart of London. For this reason, it is best visited on weekdays during office hours: in the late evenings and at weekends, it is almost deserted. Given its long history, it is unsurprising that the City contains some major tourist attractions of which the best known are the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. That there are not more is perhaps in part a reflection of the Great Fire, which destroyed most older buildings including many churches. Many more historic buildings were damaged or even destroyed in the bombing of World War II. However, there are a huge number of places of interest, less well-known than the Tower or Cathedral. Better still, and perhaps surprisingly in an area devoted to the making of money, many of them are free. Here are just a very few of my favourites. Nobody is sure what the original purpose of LONDON STONE was. Theories include that it was a Roman milestone, of mystical importance, or of legal significance. Apparently, all distances to London were once measured from this stone. What is certain is that it was used as the site for events such as legal proclamations, it is mentio ned by Shakespeare, and it was used for various functions including the smashing of substandard lenses and frames by the seventeenth-century Company of Spectaclemakers! Sadly, its more recent history is much less illustrious. It’s had a rather turbulent time: it used to be much taller, but only a piece remains. Originally on the site of Cannon Street Station, it was moved across the road in the eighteenth century and set within the wall of St Swithin’s Church. That church was bombed in World War II and the stone is at the same location, set into the Overseas Bank of China. It sits behind a grate, floodlit and almost totally ignored by passers-by. If you’re feeling really fit, you can climb MONUMENT and get wonderful views over the city. There is an admission charge (£1.50 for adults); frankly, with that many steps – 311 - they’d have to pay me to climb it! As well as offering a splendid vantage point, this Wren-designed structure is a memorial to the Great Fire. It is 202 feet high, representing the distance from its base to the site of the baker’s on Pudding Lane where the fire started, and topped with a golden basket of flames. Apparently, the original plan was for a statue of Charles II on top, but he objected as he didn’t want to be associated so closely with the fire. LEADENHALL MARKET is a beautiful structure, with its small shops and arched, ornate walkways roofed in wrought iron and glass. Established in the 14th century, and rebuilt after the Great Fire, then again in 1881, it was originally known for its meat, fish and poultry but now houses more cafes and fashionable shops than butchers. Perhaps best visited outside the lunch hour, when it’s crowded with City workers. The MUSEUM OF LONDON, in the Barbican complex, has recently opened new galleries. It’s a wonderful place, chronologically narrating London’s history right from its prehistoric beginnings , and regularly featuring London-themed exhibitions. You can even see one of the few remaining fragments of the old city walls. Entry is now free, so you should definitely try to visit! You’ll be agreeably surprised by the BANK OF ENGLAND MUSEUM, tucked inside the Bank. It much more interesting than you might imagine – there are fascinating displays, including a reconstruction of a trading hall from Sir John Soanes’ original building as well as films, exhibits and documents setting out the history of the Bank (including the South Sea Bubble, riots and crime). You can even try your hand as a stock market trader. Yet again, admission is free. You can’t go into the halls of the OLD BAILEY itself unless you’re involved in a case. Although the old part of the building is lovely, it’s not worth a life of crime to see it! Forget the architecture and instead, watch a trial from the public galleries. Courts tend to sit between 10 or 10.30am and 4.30pm, with a break for lunch between 1 and 2pm. Still in legal London, although strictly speaking right on the border of the City, TEMPLE was originally the home of the Knights Templar. However, their property was confiscated when their power and wealth threatened that of the king, and this area later became home to two of the Inns of Court (four societies; all barristers in England and Wales must belong to one of these): Inner Temple and Middle Temple. Just off Fleet Street, the sudden quiet and calm is almost shocking. Originally, barristers would live and work here; now they mostly just have their chambers (offices) here, most of the buildings dating from the 18th century (with rebuilding to repair bombing damage). Fountain Court is a particularly lovely place to sit for a few minutes, and there are also gardens although these are not open to the public (just gaze longingly through the railings…). Middle Temple Hall was used for the first perfo rmance of Twelfth Night. Temple Church, now used mainly by barristers, was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century. Back on Fleet Street, look across the road to a sight familiar from the news: the marvellous nineteenth-century ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE. Unlike the Old Bailey, these are fully open to the public and the building is well worth a look. There are displays about its history and an exhibition of judicial dress. Nearby is Temple Bar, one of the boundary stones of the City topped with a dragon. Above all, though, just walk around this amazing area. The mixture of old buildings (a few even pre-date the Fire of 1666) and new skyscrapers, the contrast between busy main streets and tiny cobbled alleys, guild halls and Guildhall, the historic pubs and markets, stratospherically expensive shops, and numerous churches, all make this an amazing place to explore. PRACTICAL INFORMATION London Stone: Cannon Street, opposite the station – cross the road and it’s a little way on your right. Monument, Monument Street: admission £1.50 for adults. Leadenhall Market, off Leadenhall Street. Open weekdays. Museum of London: follow the signs from Barbican underground station. Admission free. Bank of England Museum, Bartholomew Lane (Bank underground station). 10am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Admission free. Old Bailey: St Paul’s underground station. Be prepared for security checks. http://www.londontourist.org/city.html has lots more great information. Andrew Duncan’s book ‘Walking London’ has two great routes to follow around the City.
In Roman times what we now know as the City of London WAS the city of London. This is where London was born, remaining within the area defined by its Roman walls until medieval times. Today, though, the Square Mile is almost the sole province of besuited financial sector workers, emptying of human life by 8pm every weekday evening (and deserted at weekends). Hardly anyone actually lives within the boundaries of the City anymore - a great pity, as this is one of the most fascinating areas of London. Only the Tower of London and St Paul's draw tourists to the City in any numbers, but there's a wealth of other attractions. Foremost among these are the stunning collection of churches - almost all of which are the post-Great Fire (1666) work of the prolific Sir Christopher Wren. Some of the best include St Stephen Walbrook (39 Walbrook), St Mary Abchurch (Abchurch Lane), St Mary-le-Bow on Cheapside(home of the famous Bow bells) and St Bartholomew-the-Great (West Smithfield) - the latter was founded in the 12th century and is London's oldest and most atmospheric parish church. Other worthwhile stops include the Monument (built to commemorate the Great Fire), the ornate Guildhall, Dr Johnson's House (off Fleet Street) and, as Johnson would have agreed himself, some marvellous old pubs.