London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Mind The Adventure - Our First Trip to London - What to See

26/10/2005, By Mike Turvey

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 24296 votes

Covent Garden

The most unused items we took with us: two umbrellas. It rained 2 hours one day, and sprinkled for one hour on two other days. The two most useful assets: the manager/concierge at the Harlingford Hotel where we stayed, and the SONY Photovault which allowed us each night to quickly and easily dump the pictures from our digital camera memory sticks onto a mini-CD.

We ended up with over 900 pictures and 4 videos on 10 mini-CD's. We had three memory sticks for our little pocket-sized SONY Cybershot, and three sets of rechargeable batteries. We had one set of batteries in the camera, carried one set with us for back-up, and the third set was in the hotel recharging. We could take up to 200 pictures a day, all day long.

London Eye

The other options that a digital camera gave us were most useful too, such as retaking a picture until it was one we wanted to keep, instead of being stuck with whatever was snapped on film. It meant we didnít just take home 900 pictures; we took home 900 pictures that we already knew we wanted. The pictures accompanying this article were some of the 900 taken by us during our trip.

To begin a London adventure, we found the London Eye and the Museum of London to be good sites to visit first. They provide insight into the layout and history of what you will be visiting during the rest of your stay. Places we found fascinating, other than those already mentioned, and in no particular order, include The Foundling Museum, Londonís first public art gallery.

Hampton Court Palace, a massively beautiful and historical palace reachable by a great inexpensive cruise up the Thames from Kew (one very important point: be at the pier least an hour early or you may miss the launch due to unpredictable tides); St. James Park, we thought it to be the most beautiful and peaceful park.

Also St. Paul's Cathedral, less crowded and cluttered than Westminster Abbey; The Millennium Footbridge, just to walk across the Thames from St. Paulís Cathedral to the Tate Modern museum is cool, but the views are outstanding too; Covent Garden Piazza, with both the Jubilee Market and the Apple Market in which to shop, as well as the stores and restaurants in the Piazza proper, and lovely and nearby St. Paulís Church with it's soothing and restful passage way and rose garden.

Portobello Market, over a mile of stalls selling antiques and flea market items, with fresh foods stalls and restaurants all along the way, making it a unique opportunity to wander between good souvenirs and great food all day; The British Museum, where the British earn there reputation of being the worldís best kleptomaniacs, easily a full dayís outing in itself with fine cafťs inside; The National Gallery, remarkable collections of paintings usually seen only in art textbooks; The National Portrait Gallery, singularly amazing collection of portraits and photos just around the corner from the National Gallery.

Middle Temple Hall, open only 3 hours a day and well worth the effort to find it if you investigate it online first to realize what you are about to see; Postman's Park, a memorial to everyday heroes near St. Bartís Hospital; and one of our favorite galleries, The Courtauld Institute of Art, in Somerset House with three levels of artwork including works by Degas, Van Gogh, Manet, and on, and on.

Sir John Soane's Museum, the lifelong collection of the widest range of items Iíve ever seen in one place, displayed exactly as his will stipulated, (ask to see the hidden moveable walls upstairs); The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Cast Room alone was beyond belief; Canterbury Cathedral, the best Cathedral we saw, in a town with a pre-Norman castle, and medieval town-walls and streets; the Dale Chihuly exhibits at Kew Gardens, may be gone if you don't go this year, but they, and Kew, were breathtaking.

The Chelsea Physic Garden, functional, historical and beautiful, all-in-one; Tate Britain Museum, worth your time for the William Blake and John Constable paintings alone; and Shakespeare's Globe with or without seeing a performance, we were delighted with having chosen the performance that stipulated it was performed with only the costumes and props available in the 16th century. (to be continued)

Mike Turvey

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