Monday, April 2, 2012

Out and About in London

After two weeks in London I definitely think I have covered some ground.  When I was here 15 years ago it was just for 3 days and everything seemed so spread out.  Now having time to really know the city I can walk and see pretty much all the main attractions in a day.

Piccadilly Circus is about a 15 minute walk from our apartment.  I did not go to this area too often because it is consistently crowded and at night it is even worse.

Trafalgar Square is a little less crowded than Piccadilly Circus but much prettier with the National Gallery right in the center and the water fountains.
National Gallery at Trafalgar Square.

The Monument, located near the northern end of London Bridge, commemorates the Great Fire of London.  The monument was built at the actual sight where the fire started on September 2, 1666.

Tower of London is a historic castle located on the north bank and next to Tower Bridge. The Royal Palace was also a prison, place of execution, zoo and jewel house.
Tower Bridge
The British Museum is considered one of the greatest museums in human history.  With eight million works, the museum is the largest in existence in documenting the story of human culture from the beginning to current day. 
Inside the entrance of the museum, very impressive!

St. Paul's Cathedral is one of the most recognized sights in London.  There have been many celebrations that have taken place at the cathedral but the most known is probably the marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer.  

My last trip to London I did not have time to visit the Notting Hill area.  Then a couple years after I was here the movie Notting Hill came out and I was disappointed because it looked like a very neat area.  The Portobello Market is one of the most famous street markets in the world and the busiest time is on Saturdays.  I decided I should go during the week to see the area without the massive group of people and then Scott and I planned on going again when his sister and my friend Gina arrived.

The most visited modern art gallery in the world is Tate Modern. 
 Spears into Crows over the town.  You have to love Modern art!  

The Kensington Palace just opened up this past week after their $12 million renovation.  The palace is divided into two - the historic state apartments, which you can visit, and a separate private wing for the royal family.  Soon to be Prince William and Kate's new home.  
The tour is broken into four sections.  One room is the called Diana - a glimpse of a modern princess.  The photo is one of my favorites.
The walls are all covered in customized wallpaper of Princess Diana.
 Some of her dresses on display
 This is the dress from the photo above.
 Entering into the King and Queen's state apartments
 Queen Victoria, currently holds the longest reign in British history - 63 years.  Queen Elizabeth is celebrating her 60 years this year so it looks like she might surpass Queen Victoria.   
 Palace gardens

The Natural History Museum is massive and should be a must for anyone who visits London.  
 When in London you have to get a photo in a telephone booth!

 Lastly, we went on the Jack the Ripper night tour.  I was a bit skeptical about the tour but for only $13 US per person it was enjoyable and I definitely learned a lot about the history and horrific murders that took place by Jack the Ripper in 1888.  

Our tour guide for the evening was Steve and he did a great job.
The Ten Bells Pub is supposedly the place where Jack the Ripper stalked one of his victims. 
 This particular tour company had something called Ripper-Vision.  The guide would project images on the building of what the street / area looked like back in the 1800's to what it is today.  It really made the tour more enjoyable since you could actually see the photo versus trying to imagine it in your head. 
 Another gentlemen joined half way through the tour.

 Our three weeks has come to an end and we are heading to Belfast, Ireland.  We had a great time in London but we are both excited about Ireland.  Scott has been to parts of the country but not Belfast so it will be a new trip for both of us.  We plan on heading to Dublin one weekend but since we are just there for two weeks we won't have time to see much more of the country.  Next time!
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