As one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world, London most definitely lived up to its reputation as the home-base of the country that conquered the world. I was in London for just shy of a week and still feel that I barely scratched the surface.
With my family I stayed in Notting Hill, which looks just as picturesque as the movie made it out to be. The rows of white pillared homes and public parks remind you that people actually live their lives here, walking to the Portabello markets and laughing in the church gardens.
Not far from Notting Hill is quite possibly the most famous address in all of literature. 221b Baker Street is the fictional home of the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, and the actual location of the museum dedicated to him. The workers dress in period appropriate outfits, and the halls are filled with artifacts that date to the age. The one negative I will say, is the price is a tad bit high for entrance, and if you aren’t an avid Holmes reader you will not get much out of it, as it is based on the books not the television series or any of the movies. But as a lover of all things Holmes, I absolutely adored it myself.
An unexpectedly incredible tour was the one of the Tower of London. Home to the Crown Jewels and final resting place of Anne Boleyn, the Tower has both a rich and bloody history. Take my advice, visit and pay for the audio tour, then get Fish and Chips outside at the stand nearby and enjoy the view.
There is not much that can compare to experiencing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, which we accidentally stumbled upon while visiting the grounds. Following this we walked to Westminster Abbey which did not allow pictures but was a breathtaking splendor of art and life tribute, as the final resting place of Kings, Queens, authors, and scientists would be expected to be. We actually saw the construction going on the create a new hole in the floor to be the final resting place of Stephen Hawking, who was laid there just a few short days later between Sir Issac Newton and Charles Darwin.
The best way to view London and see how massively it expands is from above. By this of course I mean the London Eye. Many people skip this but I can tell you that it is honestly worth every penny to see the city spread out beneath you as you ride around.
For a piece of history, I recommend a visit to the British Museum. Remember how I said England conquered the world? Well this is where you can see all of their spoils of war! Artifacts range from the statues out of the Parthenon, to the mummy of Cleopatra herself. Entrance is free, so just pop in to see some of these incredible items.
What would a trip to London be without a show in the West End? This area is full of life and light, with posters splashed on each building and theaters around ever corner, you can almost hear the singing in the streets. The show we chose was ‘Strictly Ballroom’ based on the Austrian movie. This show made me laugh to the point of tears, and smile so hard my face hurt. We had purchased our tickets the morning of the show, and actually had our seats upgraded upon arrival!
The best way to experience London to me seems to be just accepting the tourist that you are. Take a picture at Platform 9 3/4, or with the lions at Trafalgar Square, or in a red phone booth on Fleet Street. Walk across Tower Bridge, shop at Piccadilly Circus, enjoy a formal tea time on the Tea Terrace of the House of Fraser. Experience the thrill of London, because it’s calling.