London has come a long way since the dark celtic tribe settlements, before the Romans built Londinium beside the river Thames. It was a small town then. Now, it is a very large and exciting city, more than anything this summer of 2012 which promises to be very busy. The celebrations began with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, continuing with the prestigious Wimbledon Tennis Championship and the London 2012 Olympics.
It is impossible to cover all parts of London in one visit, I tried to sum up the best that London has to offer this summer 2012 along with some personal recommendations. The city should be walked slow and aimlessly, just around every corner you will surprise yourself with handsome Victorian buildings, gardens, pubs, churches, museums, shops and many sites to discover and explore.
Photo by David Iliff.
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LONDON PASS Sightseeing city card, free entry to over 55 top London attractions and tours and more.
HOP ON HOP OFF BUS If you have never been in London, it is advisable to take the tourist bus the first day of arrival to avoid wasting time and see the city at a glance.
LONDON TRAVEL PASS The travelcard will help you to move easily, quickly and economically around London’s Public Transport network. Can be purchased at Metro stations and you can choose between different types of use. If you buy your Travelcard at any National Rail station you can get discounts on major attractions.
TRANSPORT FOR LONDON Complete information on how to get around in London.
OYSTER CARD Is a smart card pre- loaded with pay as you go credit ready to use as soon as you arrive in London.
ARRIVAL IN LONDON
Arriving by plane. London has five major airports, Heathrow, Gatwick, the second largest airport in the UK, Stansted, Luton and City. On the airport websites you will find everything about departures and arrivals, transport to and from the airport, airport terminal maps and tools to plan and book your trip. Heathrow Airport , located in West London, is the main and busiest airport in the UK. Terminal 5 is the airport ‘s newest terminal, opened in March 2008. There is a restaurant by Gordon Ramsay (the Plane Food) at Terminal 5, which also sells you picnic takeout boxes for the trip. Terminal 5 is also a great place for shopping.
Arriving by train. St. Pancras International in Kings Cross is the largest railway station in England. Home to the Eurostar, the building is an example of Victorian Gothic Architecture. It is close and easy reach by metro, bus or taxi. Has shops, restaurants and bars, just like airports. And there are also events and music festivals. On the top floor there is a champagne bar and restaurant and a modern English pub, The Betjeman Arms.
LONDON BY DISTRICTS
Wimbledon is about 10km southwest of London and 30km from Heathrow Airport.. The residential area is divided into two, the village and the town. The High Street is part of the medieval town, which by the 14 century was a rural area where farmers coexisted with nobles and merchants of the city. In 1800 the public building The Dog & Fox was a stop for coaches ranging from London to Portsmouth. Wimbledon was recognized as “Wimbedounyng” in a charter signed by by King Edward The Peaceful in 959. The Wimbledon Village is very pretty, is where the city is mixed with the countryside, standing between the Wimbledon Town Centre and Wimbledon Common. It is possible to reach the Village by bus (numbers 200 or 93) or walking uphill 15-20 minutes from Wimbledon Town Center. There are bars, restaurants, cafes, boutiques all very picturesque.
WIMBLEDON VILLAGE STABLES 24A High Street. The stables boast a wide selection of quality horses on which competent riders can experience the beauty and tranquillity of Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park.
ALL ENGLAND LAWN TENNIS AND CROQUET CLUB Church Road. Venue of the world famous tennis tournament.
SOUTHSIDE HOUSE 3-4 Woodhayes Road, Wimbledon Common. Historic house open to visitors.
CENTER COURT SHOPPING Over 65 stores including H & M and Gap.
LYDON’S 67 High Street. Modern French restaurant in the heart of Wimbledon Village
WIMBLEDON FARMER’S MARKET Wimbledon Park Primary School, Havana Road, off Durnsford Road. Saturdays 9 to 1. The market takes place in an attractive school playground. There are usually around 20 stalls with a great range of produce and very knowledgeable farmers and producers to help you decide what to buy.
BAYLEY & SAGE 60 High Street. Delicatessen Gourmet. Perfect place to pack a basket with some delicatessen and go for a picnic to the fields of Wimbledon Common right next door. For a very british picnic basket I suggest to pack some strawberrys, cream, fresh fruit, smoked salmon, cheese, fresh salad, sandwiches tea and champagne.
CANNIZARO HOUSE HOTEL West Side Common. Cannizaro House is the only 4 star boutique hotel in Wimbledon. Has 46 individually designed bedrooms, restaurant and a terrace to enjoy stunning views over the 34 acres of Cannizaro Park.
High Street Wimbledon Courtesy Peter Trimming
The City of London is the area of central London, which was surrounded by ramparts in the Medieval Period. Now is a tiny part of the metropolis, often known as the Square Mile, the financial center of London. Underground Station: Tower Hill.
APEX CITY OF LONDON HOTEL No 1 Seething Lane. Apex City of London hotel is a four star hotel near to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Rooms from 129 GBP
Apex City of London Hotel Reception
BOROUGH MARKET The oldest and largest market of London. There is an Art Deco entrance at Borough Street and another on 8, Southwark Street, south side of the river Thames, near London Bridge station. Here you can find everything from local and all of Europe produce. There are also pubs, cafes and restaurants. A good choice is to buy some food and wine at the market and go for a picnic to the garden of Southwark Cathedral, nex to the market. Open from 11am to 5pm.
ROAST At The Floral Hall, Borough Market, Stoney Street. Traditional British food.
THE RAKE English Pub. 14, Winchester Walk, round the corner of Borough Market
BRAMAH MUSEUM Tea and coffee museum. 40, Southwark Street, very close of Borough Market. It is not very large and also has a very fashionable lounge serving afternoon tea and coffee, made the traditional way, served with cucumber sandwiches, all very British. The shop has a large selection of tea and coffe from around the world for sale.
GEORGE INN 75-77 Borough Street. The George Inn is London’s only remaining galleried coaching inn and has been serving customers for 300 years. Owned by the National Trust the George was a favorite place of Charles Dickens. The old inn, opened in 1676, still preserves its 17th century coffee room.
SWEETINGS 39 Queen Victoria Street, near St. Paul’s Cathedral. The restaurant first opened in 1889 and has carried out serving lunch ever since. Seafood specialties, lobster and crab bisque, and homemade puddings for dessert. Opening hours are from 11.30am to 3.00pm, Monday to Friday. No reservations taken.
The George Inn Image courtesy of Ewan Munro
TOWER OF LONDON In the early 1080s, William the Conqueror began to build a massive stone tower at the centre of his London fortress. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. Through the centuries that followed, successive monarchs added to the fortifications, which played different roles as fortress, palace and prison.
ST PAUL CATHEDRAL The present St Paul’s is the fifth cathedral to have stood on the site since 604, and was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. St Paul’s, with its world-famous dome, is an iconic feature of the London skyline. The Restaurant at St Paul’s serves English afternoon tea, cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, cakes and if you wish,a glass of English sparkling wine. Opening times Monday to Saturday 8.30a.m. – 4p.m. Tickets: 14.50 GBP.
A nice walk is to cross the London Bridge and stroll along the south bank of the river Thames to visit the Globe and the Tate Modern or if you come from the St Paul Cathedral, cross the Millenium FootBridge to the southern end.
THE GLOBE THEATRE The Globe was a theatre in London built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and was destroyed by fire on 29 June 1613. The “Shakespeare’s Globe”, opened in 1997 approximately 230 m from the site of the original theatre, is a faithful reconstruction of the open-air playhouse designed in 1599, where Shakespeare worked and for which he wrote many of his greatest plays.
TATE MODERN Exhibitions, films, conferences and talks. If I had to choose a museum to visit in this are I would chosse the Tate. Admission is free. Opening times Sunday – Thursday, 10.00–18.00 Friday – Saturday, 10.00–22.00
Globe Theatre Stage
The stores in this area are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, except for the shopping centre One New Change, which is open seven days a week and is perfect for weekend shopping. Several major brands have set up shops in the City, mainly in the triangle formed by The Royal Exchange.
ONE NEW CHANGE 1 New Change. A cathedral 1m Tube: St. Paul.
Here I leave a small map with major stores in the area.
I hope this has been useful. In the next post I will continue with a tour of Westiminster, Belgravia, Chelsea and Kensington.
- LONDON CALLING Summer 2012 (itinerariesnow.com)