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Favorite thing: There are lots and lots of movies set in London and England, some of my favorites include
Layer Cake the best Guy Ritchie movies that he didn't make, it stars Daniel Craig as a man trying to get out of the drug business, just one more score....
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels speaking of Guy Ritchie movies...Rock N Rolla was good too
Love Actually a movie set at Christmas time in London with a huge cast and intertwined stories
Shakespeare in Love
Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett
Four Weddings and a Funeral starring Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell
There have been some great BBC miniseries that I've watched recently including
Downton Abbey, currently heading into it's 4th season, Maggie Smith is a delight and the show highlights the servants downstairs equally as much as the family upstairs
Call the Midwife set in the east end of London during the 1950s, the series follows the midwife Jenny Lee as she adapts to the different lifestyle of the people living in poverty
Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a 21st century version of Sherlock Holmes
Little Dorrit based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Updated Mar 11, 2013
Favorite thing: In recent years vivid green parakeets have become increasingly common in parts of London, adding an exotic touch to our birdlife. They belong to the species, rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri), and opinion is divided on how they came to be so settled here, but the most common theory is that they are descended from escaped pets. Other more imaginative ideas include the suggestion that that they were let out into the wild after being used in the filming of "The African Queen" which involved scenes using tropical birds; that they originate from a pair of parakeets that were released as part of Jimi Hendrix's shows; or that they managed to escape from aviary centres during a hurricane which hit the UK in 1987.
Whatever their origin, I have to say that I am among many who love to see them. Their cheerful colour brightens our skies and I never see them fly past without lancing up and smiling – even if their screeching cry is sometimes less welcome! Some commentators though are concerned about the possible impact of this new species on our native birdlife and on agriculture. There is not really enough evidence yet to prove or disprove their concerns, but a ”Project Parakeet” has been established to monitor roosting and sightings.
Written Mar 11, 2013
Favorite thing: I could go on for pages and pages about my favorite books set in London and the UK, most of them historical fiction
"Tale of Two Cities"-Charles Dickens-set in London and Paris during the French Revolution, one of my all time favorite books
"Wuthering Heights"-Emily Bronte-another of my all time favorite books and interestingly the only one written by Emily Bronte
Jane Austen-anything and everything!
"Jane Eyre"-Charlotte Bronte
"The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Queen's Fool"-Phillipa Gregory, historical fiction set during the time of Henry VIII and his children
"Wolf Hall" and "Bringing Up the Bodies" by Hillary Mantel
Updated Mar 5, 2013
Favorite thing: This tiny car was introduced to the public quite a few years ago as it was small and could navigate around London economically and find parking spots more easily. The engine is 660 cc's, and recently they have produced an electric version.
Written Nov 15, 2012
Favorite thing: We were walking towards Buckingham Palace on a wet day, when we noticed men in Top hats and tails, and Ladies in their finest hurrying past us in the rain. I did notice a lot of Police cars and Policemen, still it didn't click until we were infront of the Palace.
It was the "QUEEN'S GARDEN PARTY"
What a mess! Loads of people rushing out from Buckingham Palace archway, many without Umbrella's, as the day started off sunny and ended wet. I would have loved to watch if it had been fine, but we were in a hurry too!
The Garden Parties take place between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm, although the Palace gates are open from about 3.00 pm. Of course, YOU HAVE TO BE INVITED!
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by other members of the Royal Family, enter the garden at 4.00 pm, the National Anthem is played, and then the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh mingle with the guests.
At about 6.00 pm, The Queen and other members of the Royal Family leave the garden, when the National Anthem is played to mark the end of the party.
At Buckingham Palace the Yeoman of the Guard, Gentlemen at Arms and Gentlemen Ushers are on duty.
Updated Sep 7, 2012
Favorite thing: London is a pretty easy place to plan as far as weather goes- bring an umbrealla and you should be fine! ;) as far as not looking like a tourist.. well just wear what you would normally wear in the city that you are from and you should also fit right in!
Written Aug 16, 2012
Favorite thing: Travel is an intensely personal thing, and thankfully there is no 'one size fits all' solution. Each traveller needs to customise their itinerary to suit their available time, budget and personal interests, but starting with a blank sheet of paper can be an intimidating thing - especially for a city as large and complex as London - so here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.
What follows are a few suggestions for diverse attractions in certain areas that could be easily grouped together (if you're a purist, then just bear with some of the geographical liberties I've taken in my titles in order to make these itineraries accessible). This will probably be a 'work in progress', but hopefully it should help to kick start your planning process - just bear in mind that certain areas offer so much that you could easily occupy yourself for more than one day.
KENSINGTON: Natural History Museum (including outdoor ice skating in winter), Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Albert Memorial, Royal Albert Hall (including a performance), Kensington Gardens (including the Diana Memorial Fountain, Diana Memorial Playground and Peter Pan statue), Kensington Palace
WESTMINSTER: Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, London Aquarium, Florence Nightingale Museum, the Cenotaph,boat cruise on the Thames, Millenium Bridge, South Bank complex (including a performance)
VICTORIA (can also be easily combined with Westminster): Buckingham Palace, The Mall, St James' Park, Westminster Cathedral, Victoria theatres (including a show)
LEICESTER SQUARE: Trafalgar Square, National Portrait Gallery, stroll through Soho, Covent Garden, London Transport Museum, catch an iconic Routemaster bus down the Strand, West End theatres (including a performance)
BLOOMSBURY: British Museum, stroll around the various squares in Bloomsbury including Russell Square, British Library, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, St Pancras Station, Kings Cross Station (including Platform 9¾), various bits of London University (University College London, University College Hospital, Birkbeck College, Senate House, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, School of Tropical Medicine)
REGENTS PARK: Regents Park, wander around the Georgian squares, London Zoo, boat trip on the Regents Canal, Little Venice, Camden Lock Market (by boat)
VENTURE NORTH: Highgate Cemetery, Highgate Village, Hampstead Heath (including open air swimming in the Hampstead Ponds), Kenwood House (including an open air concert in summer), Hampstead Village, Lords cricket ground, High Barnet, Hadley Common and Hadley Highstone, Waltham Abbey, Waltham Cross
LOOK EAST: The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St Katherine's Dock, Docklands, Canary Wharf, Greenwich and the Thames Barrier.
GO WEST: Kew Gardens, Richmond, Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common, Windsor
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought, and with a little research, London will be your oyster (even if you opted for the Travelcard)! Happy planning!
Updated Aug 13, 2012
Favorite thing: (work in progress)
Maybe I'm biased, but I really don't think that you need to do a guided tour in London except if you are on a really tight itinerary. There is lots of tourist information available - sometimes too much, which can be confusing - but once you've got your A-Z (streetfinder) and have got the hang of the public transport system, you'll find it far more rewarding and cost effective to do it yourself. If you doubt that you have the confidence to put together an itinerary, then why not find some itineraries offered by tour operators whose focus appeals to you and then duplicate this yourself at a fraction of the cost?
For those who are not used to planning itineraries for large cities for themselves, I would suggest that the key is to be realistic in what you're trying to see. There is no better way to spoil a trip than to micromanage every last minute and get so obsessed to keeping up with your unrealistic itinerary that you don't have time to enjoy what you are seeing. Much of the attraction of historic cities such as London is to appreciate the sense of place/history/antiquity, and this is something that requires both time and peace of mind.
Unless you're planning to stay in London a month or more, you might as well accept that you won't see it properly in one visit, and anyway, even if you did, by the end of that time, you'd probably have long since got past the point of sensory overload.
Another good tip is to try and aim for diversity in your schedule. Although similar types of attractions tend to be grouped in certain geographical areas (for example, museums in South Kensington, Wren churches in the City, shopping along Oxford Street), after a few hours on a particular theme, you'll be all 'museumed/churched/shopped out' and will need a mental break. A change is as good as a rest, so I would advise you to intersperse museum visits with a stroll in the park, shopping with a theatre performance and so forth.
Just be aware that even Central London is a large and diverse area, so it's best to plan your trip so that you can tackle bite-sized chunks - for example, Kensington one day, Westminster/Whitehall the next. This approach is not only good for your health because you get to exercise - particularly important if you're doing longhaul flights - but also allows to you explore on foot (always the best way to get to know a city).
Updated Aug 12, 2012
Favorite thing: Canary Wharf is located in the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs in the Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London. The West India Docks once formed part of the busiest port in the world. after the docks were closed in 1980 the British Government adopted various policies to stimulate the redevelopment of the area, including through the creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation in 1981 and granting the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone status in 1982. In 1987 the Canadian company Olympia and York agreed to construct a major office devepment on the Isle of Dogs, with construction commencing in 1988.
Written Feb 13, 2012
Favorite thing: It was a surprise. Actually I was surprised that London has surprised me :)
I was surprised that, instead of a big crowded modern city as I have expected, I have found here the crowds moving between centuries of history and architecture with such normal appearances.
The old shaped taxis were shocking me, together with the birds moving free in St. James Park, the modern architecture “acting” behind the neo-classic heavy buildings…
I believed that I shall shout something like “Hei people… open your eyes… we’re in Londonnnn!
Look around for the corsairs descendants and the lavish gifts from the colonies!”
Amazing crowd, Brits and Scots, Polish and Romanians, Indians, Africans, Arabs, Russians and Normans … all together coming and going from/to their small lives in the big capital or around in this small global village.
Updated Dec 21, 2011
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