London Calling

Friday, May 04, 2007
By Yolanda Evans

London can be chaotic and confusing, but there is no other place like it. All at once it’s big, brash, and bustling, cutting-edge yet traditional, historical yet modern; it‘s the quintessential international metropolis – a world city by all accounts that people flock to. So whether you’re coming for fashion, history, or culture, it all can be found in London.

Although London is a very large city, you can do most of your sightseeing by foot. Since the layout of this city can be quite confusing, it might be best to buy a street map (the London A-Z is the bible for most Londoners) before you set off. Once you have that in hand, you’re ready to rock and roll.

If it’s history you’re looking for, there are loads of museums you can visit. And the best part is that most of them are free. Two of the most popular ones to visit are the British Museum and Victoria & Albert due to the fact they both contain huge collections from all over the world. Or you can head over to Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral to visit the final resting place of the great kings, queens, poets and writers of England. If it’s the present royal family that intrigues you, then you might want to head to Buckingham Palace. Since the palace is only open to the public in August, you’ll have to watch the Changing of the Guards any other time of the year. It starts at 11:30am sharp, but make sure you arrive early to get a good spot before it gets too crowded.


Victoria & Albert Museum

If there’s one thing you should see in London, it’s The Tower of London. It’s not free to get in but it’s worth every penny. Where else can you walk where Henry VIII lived and beheaded 3 of his 6 wives. Make sure you take the tour of the castle with the Beefeater, the guards of the castle. Not only are they informative, but humorous as well.

When visiting London, shopping is a must. After all you’re in one of the fashion capitals of the world. But now you have to decide what type of shopper you are. If money is no object, you might want to head to Knightsbridge where you can shop in such high end stores such as Harvey Nicholas or the famous Harrods. If your budget is a bit smaller, then there’s no better place to go than Oxford Street. This street has everything from H&M to Topshop to Primark. You can find the latest fashion at affordable prices. A little tip though, try shopping on weekdays when it’s less crowded, otherwise you’ll spend most of your time waiting in lines (or queue as the British call it). For more funky or avant-garde fashion, you should seek out street markets. Portobello Market in Notting Hill, Spitalfields/Brick Lane or Camden are the most popular ones in London.


Inside Harrods

Of course if you are tired from all that exploring, pop into a pub and have a drink. This is the best way to soak up some culture. You’re in England now and drinking is a big part British culture. Not only are you getting a bit of the culture, you also might meet a few nice Brits to chat with. Pubs can be found on almost every block, but if you want to go clubbing, you might want to head over to Piccadilly Square where there are many clubs to pick and choose from.

The best way to get a real feel for London is by losing yourself in the city. Since London is nearly 2000 years old, no matter where you’re at, there’s bound to be something interesting. You can find a ruin of an old Roman wall or walk by a house where John Keats lived and wrote his poetry. So yes, it is fun to do the typical tourist thing, but just try to wander off the beaten path. You never know what lies ahead. After all, London is how you make it.

Visit these sites to find out more about London:

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