My Favorite Destinations…London
by Diana Hechler
(July 10, 2003) What’s the best way to
get acquainted with this venerable city? Try the hop-on,
run by The Big Bus
(red) or The Original Tour (brown). Both companies operate
open-air, double-decker buses throughout the day that visit
every major tourist site in the city. Ticket holders can
get on and off all day long at their convenience. Since some
of the most popular sites are a long walk from public transportation
(especially those across the Thames), the bus services really
do make sense. There’s a modest fee.
Once you’ve seen the Changing of the Guard and Westminster
Abbey, you’re ready for the rest of this wonderful
city. If you visit during July and August, be prepared for
lines at the major tourist sites.
If you’d like to start with a bird’s-eye view
of the city, set off for the British Air London Eye, a slow-moving
giant ferris wheel along the Thames River that will give
you a wonderful overview. You can buy tickets on-line in
advance or get them through your hotel’s concierge.
Tickets are sold for a specific time on a specific date.
The only disadvantage to purchasing in advance is that if
the weather is bad on your day and time, the view will be
Did you know that you could visit Parliament? Watching men
in wigs debate a proposed law is downright memorable.
If you’d rather hear from the people, make your way
to Hyde Park on Sunday mornings at 10 am for Speakers’ Corner.
Anyone can bring a soapbox and pontificate on any subject
imaginable – and they do. Heckling is a part of the
show and you might catch the next Karl Marx (or Groucho)
before he’s famous!"
And speaking of famous, be sure to keep your eyes open as
you wander about the city. Plaques abound on buildings, marking
everything from the discovery of penicillin to Sherlock Holmes’ fictional
residence. You never know what you’ll discover.
Even Sherlock Holmes, however, might have failed to unmask
Jack the Ripper. If you dare, screw up your courage for a
Jack the Ripper walking tour, a nocturnal journey to his
favorite stalking grounds. (Think carefully before bringing
young children; it is dramatic and creepy.) If you’re
lucky, fog will roll in and give you the full effect.
For history buffs, don’t overlook a visit to the Cabinet
War Rooms of Winston Churchill, recently reopened after renovation.
Faithful to their appearance during WWII, the chambers are
infused with Churchill’s spirit and personality. (Not
the same as the Imperial War Museum).
If You Have Children With You: Try the maze in the formal
gardens at Hampton Court Palace (30 minutes by train from
London). You might want to bring a thread along in case you
get stuck. I’m not kidding!