Thursday, 26 July 2012

London Day trips

London Day trips
Below is a collection of ideas about places you might like to visit.  I have put together groups of places in the same vicinity where you might choose to spend a day.  Look up a few places to see what you might like.  I have listed opening times while we are there and prices just to give an indication.  Sometimes buying online or as a concession card holder will be cheaper.

St Paul’s Cathedral, Millenium Bridge, Tate Modern, The Globe (Shakespeare’s theatre), Borough markets, London Glassblowing
From 20120807 Junior Tour - England Pretour
St Pauls (£15 to go to top, cheaper online, otherwise free; 8:30am-4:00pm Mon-Sat)
- Beautiful cathedral
- Survived both World Wars when everything around it was destroyed
- Information Centre here is a great place for picking up a free map!

Millenium Bridge (free)
- Pedestrian bridge running between St Paul’s and Tate Modern
- It’s just a bridge
Tate Modern (10am-10pm Sun; 10am-6pm Mon-Thu)
- Modern art gallery
- Large sections free, top sections will have special (paid) galleries

The Globe (£13.50 for tour, various hours; to see a show, from £5 for matinee standing)
- The relocated, open-air theatre that Shakespeare wrote for
- Has tours and Shakespearian Shows

Borough Markets (10am-5pm Sun-Fri)
- An excellent place to find a fresh lunch and maybe some other (eating) treats. Eg. cheese, olives, bread, cakes

London Glassblowing (10am-6pm Mon-Sat)
- I have spent literally hours (at least 6) watching them create glass sculptures and vases in their workshop behind their gallery.
- I love this place.
- It’s in Bermondsey which is previously a industry/warehouse-type area and is now a centre for design (very hipster)

Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Monument, Bank of England
Basically all within the Square Mile of the City of London.  The walls of the Tower of London mark a corner of the square mile that was once a walled city.  You can see traces of the wall throughout the city.  The wall was built up at different times with whatever came to hand.  The City of London (even now) has a different police force to the rest of London.  This might be one reason why Jack the Ripper got away - all he had to do was cross the road and he was in a different jurisdiction.

Tower Bridge (free)
- This is the one in all the post-cards
- It does open to let boats through occasionally, you can find when here:

Tower of London (£20.90, cheaper online; 9/10am-5pm)
- Allow at least half a day
- See the Crown Jewels
- See various versions of Henry VIII’s armour
- Free tours by the guards that live there (Yeoman Warders).

Monument to the Fire of London (£3; 9:30am-5:30pm)
- If laid down, the tip of the gold monument reaches the origin of the fire
- Can climb the steps to the top for a view of the city, Thames, Tower Bridge

Bank of England
- Has a free museum taking through the history of the bank, explains inflation (yawn), and shows the first bank notes
- If you think it won’t interest you, you’re probably right
- Still kinda nice to walk in this direction/get lost in the myriad of roads of Central London (the square mile)

Buckingham Palace, Changing of the Guard, Mounting of the Guard, 10 Downing St, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery
Buckingham Palace (depends on which bit you want to see)
- I’ve never been in

Changing of the Guard
- I’ve never been, apparently there are lots of people and you have to wait around to get a half decent spot

Mounting of the Guard
- Apparently much better than Changing of the Guard
- I’ve never seen

10 Downing St
- Where the Prime Minister lives - all you can really see are some police guards outside a gate

Trafalgar Square
- Fountains, Giant lion statues, and a guy at the top of a pedestal (Nelson’s column) in the middle of a busy cross-roads that lots of red buses and black taxis go around

National Gallery (free; 10am-6pm)
- Lots of famous paintings in a beautiful setting
- Next to Trafalgar Square

National Portrait Gallery (free; 10am-6pm)
- Portraits of the who’s who in British history
- Next to National Gallery

Catch the train (~£23; ~1h each way) to Windsor & Eton Riverside. (The Olympic rowing is out this way, so will affect the timetable - check out for details)

To Do
- Visit Windsor Castle (£17, 10am-5pm) - at least half a day - to see amazingly decorated rooms, the most amazing dollhouse, a changing of the guard, a gorgeous church where the Knights of the Order of the Garter sit
- The Long Walk - a long street with park and trees either side. The Queen goes in and out of this entrance to Windsor Castle - this is where I saw her!
- Walk along the riverside with all the houseboats and ducks

I liked Windsor Castle better than the Tower of London - there was just so much more.  It was sumptuous and I could see why this is where the Queen likes to spend her time.

The Monopoly Board
- You know the streets

Shopping: Oxford St, Hamleys, Harrods
Oxford St
- A street full of mainstream shops - usually packed

Hamleys (188-196 Regent St  London, UK W1B 5BT)
- A 6 storey toy shop (fun!)
- Hard to walk out empty-handed

Harrods (87-135 Brompton Road  London SW1X 7XL)
- Expensive and known world-wide

- Big name brands at cheap prices.  Usually quality, but need to search a bit.

- Really cheap

And plenty of others

Southbank, The Eye, Houses of Parliament (Big Ben), Westminster Abbey
- Really nice to walk along the Thames
- often a festival atmosphere

The Eye
- Expensive to ride but fun to see

Houses of Parliament and the tower containing Big Ben
- Cool to see

Westminster Abbey (£16; 9:30am-3:30pm Mon-Tues)
- Beautiful
- History of coronations and weddings

Other Great Starting Places:
Walking Tours
These go everywhere, fairly cheaply, departing at a variety of times.  I am keen to go on the Harry Potter tour and can recommend the Jack the Ripper tour.

Hop-on-Hop-off buses
There are two main companies. They are comparable on price, quality and route.
The Big Red Bus
The Original London Tour Bus

Free Stuff!
There are free museums and galleries all over the place.  You can access all the permanent galleries for free (there are boxes for donations, but no obligation) and there are often featured shows for a price.

The National Gallery - some of the Big Name Painters of all time on display
The National Portrait Gallery - a history of Who’s Who in (mostly English) history
The V&A (Victoria and Albert) - Design Gallery (sculpture, paintings, jewellery, costumes...)
The Tate Modern - modern art
The British Museum - full of colonial plunder including Egyptian mummies
The Wellcome Museum - some weird stuff - science and art museum combined
The Natural History Museum - haven’t been, but heard good stuff
The London Museum - takes you through a history of how it was to live in the London area, from the point when it was only animals

Olympic Events
Women’s Marathon (Sunday 5th 11am)
Lookup Wikipedia for the route which has a start leg, followed by three loops of the same course passing sites such as: Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, Bank of England, Tower of London, The Monument, along the Thames opposite The Eye, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament.

Men’s Triathlon (Tuesday 7th 11:30am)
The 1.5 km swim, 40 km cycle and 10 km run will take place in Hyde Park, one of the eight Royal Parks of London. The swim will take place in the Serpentine which will have a pontoon constructed to act as the start. The cycle will involve athletes leaving the park via Queen Mother's Gate, travelling through Wellington Arch, down Constitution Hill and on to Birdcage Walk in front of Buckingham Palace before returning to the park to complete the event with a four lap run around the Serpentine.
A temporary 3000-capacity seating area will be constructed in the park in June 2012 and a three-metre high temporary fence will surround the events.

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