What better place to start a trip around the planet than London? There is so much to see and do in London that you could spend months here, and still have something new to do each day.
London has some iconic sights which are famous the world over, such as Trafalgar Square, overlooked by lions on plinths, and Nelson high up on his column, while the bubbling fountains tumble down into blue pools. Here you are surrounded by impressive buildings such as The National Gallery, St Martin’s in the Fields, and South Africa House, once the scene of vibrant protests, and a non-stop demo, back in the evil days of apartheid.
From Trafalgar Square you can walk under Admiralty Arch, and take a stroll down the tree lined Mall to Buckingham Palace. Walk the other way down Whitehall and you arrive at the magnificent gothic Palace of Westminster on the River Thames, where you can have your photo taken with Big Ben in the background. Nearby is Westminster Abbey, with its hushed interior, medieval stained glass, and Poets’ Corner. From the West End of London you can walk along Fleet Street, once the home of all the national newspapers, and then find yourself close to St Paul’s Cathedral with its imposing dome. While you are at that end of the town you might even like to pop into central London’s only Art Nouveau pub, The Black Friar, a wedge shaped pub on a corner, with the most amazing interior of marble, mosaic and sculpture.
London does not just have its great buildings, but also its wide green open spaces such as Hyde Park, Green Park and Regents Park, where you can get fresh air and exercise. Hyde Park has a lake, known as the Serpentine, where you can go boating.
A good way to get a vista of the whole area is by taking a ride on the London Eye, which gives you magnificent views of London as you slowly get higher and higher above the city.
As for shopping – you can hunt for bargains in the market at Petticoat Lane, take a look at the fine things for sale in the up-market shops of Knightsbridge, enjoy the chic delights of Covent Garden with its street performers and outdoor cafes, or go up to Camden Lock and see rather novel handmade gifts and second hand clothes.
If you are mad about history and books, then how about taking a look at the British Museum, and its famous reading room?
London is a delight for those who love art – as well as The National Gallery, there is The Victoria and Albert Museum, the traditional Tate Britain, and the exciting Tate Modern, which is dramatically housed in an old power station on the Thames.
And in the evening, when you are most likely exhausted from all that activity, why not put your feet up in one of the many traditional old English pubs, and enjoy a glass of that delicious beer known as ale?
As this blog goes on, I will have more to say about London, including some of its lesser known nooks and crannies.
Whatever your interests, London has something for everyone – it was Samuel Johnson who said that when you are tired of London, you are tired of life, and I guess he was right.