It’s a ROYAL Place….London

I have been waiting for the arrival of the Royal Baby before doing a blog about London which is truly one of my favorite places to visit on
Earth.  So, in honor of the arrival of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, this blogs for all the London Lovers out there.

As I mentioned London is truly one of my favorite cities to visit.  The city is full of history, energy and welcoming people.  I have yet to run
across a Londoner that wasn’t willing to chat with an out-of-towner such as myself.  Always helpful to give advise about things to see or
places to eat.

The thing about London is, you could spend 7 full days in this city and sightsee from 8am till 8pm and still not see everything in the matter of
7 days.  If your time is limited on your visit to London then you do need to sit down and figure out in advance all the great things you want to
see and do during your short visit.

First of all let’s talk about transportation and getting around the city.  There is no better transportation system to be found like the TUBE or
“Underground” in London.  It’s the easiest system to use that you will find anywhere.  If you’re a tourist there for a few days, just buy the pass
that offers the most flexibility and you don’t have to worry about the times of the day that you need to jump on a train and head somewhere.
There are cheaper passes a person can purchase but they limit you as to the times of day you can travel on the trains (mainly you won’t be
using those trains during any rush hours if you buy the cheap pass).  As a tourist that is always on the move, I do not like restrictions so the
more flexible more expensive passes work best for me.  Oh did I mention that the trains are Clean and well Kept?  Note to the physically
challenged…not all tube stops/stations are accessible with elevators.  Please check the maps prior to going anywhere in the city so you’ll know
what stops work best for wheelchairs.

Onward… so what’s the 1st thing to do when you get to London?  Well, I guess that’s all going to depend on you.  I’ll go through some of the
highlights and give you some suggestions.  If you are booking a trip to London through my office, all you need to do is tell us how busy you
want to be each day sightseeing and we will be more than happy to map out a schedule for you so that you see everything you want to.

A lot of people insist that you must see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. I think it’s pretty neat because the only thing
that we have here in the states that I could compare it to (which really isn’t even a comparison)  is the changing or the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldiers.  Anyway, back to the changing of the guard ceremony….In the summer the ceremony takes places daily (every other day
in off season), to verify schedules check the official website click here: “Changing of the Guard“.  I found that I enjoy standing right to the
side of the main gate (front row) but another great place to see all the events are by standing directly in front of the gates up on top of the
Victoria Monument.  The key to the entire event is to get there early and stake out your spot.  Bring a beverage & a snack that you can enjoy
while you wait on the activities to begin.  The guards with the bands start arriving at the gates about 11:15am.  You want to be there well
before then to see it all. You get to see the band and the beefeaters enter the palace do their inspections and then relive the current soldiers
on duty at which point they will exit the gate.  Go ahead see if you can make one of them smile.

Interested in seeing the official cars of the Royal Family, including the Royal Horses or getting a peek at some of the artwork that rotates in and
out of Buckingham Palace?  Check out the Royal Mews and the Queens Gallery after you leave the guard ceremony. These 2 locations are
just right around the corner from the front gate so why not stop on in.  If your dream is to step foot into Buckingham Palace then you better
schedule your visit during August (and sometimes September) when the Queen takes her summer holiday.  This is the only time you are
allowed into see the state rooms of the palace.  Always check the official schedule before planning your trip around this! 

If a church visit or two is on your agenda, I highly recommend a visit to Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Westminster Abbey
is where the Kings and Queens of England have been crowned and buried since 1066.  You can choose between an audio guide or a guided
tour of the Cloisters and the Abbey museum.  Both are reasonable in pricing and if you are taking the time to visit, you should at least know
what you are seeing.  When you see the tomb “Elizabeth’s” be advised that this is the tomb of both Elizabeth I and Mary I, both ladies are buried
beneath this tomb.  Check out the Chapel of King Henry VII and   the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots. Note that no touring of the Abbey is
allowed on Sundays. It is a place of worship so if your desire is to attend mass, it’s a get day to go.  St. Paul’s is another great stop on the
church tours of London.  The Dome is a highlight of this cathedral and you can even climb to the top of the dome (409 steps). The journey
up the steps is an adventure of its own…read up on it if you plan to make the climb. And don’t forget to visit the Crypt at St. Paul’s!

Because the U.K. is an old and established country a you can’t even begin to imagine the amount of history items a person can spend looking
at during their visit to London.  The British Library –  if you are short on time focus on the “Treasures Room”. What can you see here?
How about the Codex Sinaiticus (C.A.D 350), The Kings James Bible (1611), Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook, The Magna Carta, and what about
the hand written manuscripts by Lennon & McCartney of the Beatles!

My favorite stop in the history department of touring London is of course the Tower of London.  How cool is it to be able to see the Royal
Gems up close!  Hear the story of the Tower of London and get your picture next to a beefeater.  This is one stop on your trip that is a must
do in my opinion.  If you are booking a trip to London with my office, ask us about a “special free tour” option that we want to share with you.

If ART is your love, then you will have lots of opportunities to see what your heart desires. Here’s some of the great places you can visit to
see art.  The British Museum, The National Gallery , The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Britain.  My favorite is the National Gallery
because I love to see Monet’s Water-Lily Pond (1899) and Van  Gogh’s – Sunflowers (1888).  All the greats can be found at the National Gallery including but not limited to, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Monet and Leonardo da Vinci .  I recommend you get the audio guide so that you can
explore the pieces that interest you.   Art is a personal thing so please make sure you check out each of the links above to see which museums showcase what you love most.  Also, there are numerous other museums in London to explore so it wouldn’t hurt to Google
“Museums in London” to obtain a full list. Want an “off the wall” museum to visit?  Well, this one isn’t for the weak at heart! Check out the
Old Operating Museum Theater where you will see the actual 1st operating theater in London.  Look closely enough and you might just see
some old blood stains from when they would saw off limbs.  It truly is an interesting walk through early medicine and medical operating in
early London (1821).  Again, parts of this exhibit can be graphic so this one might not be suitable for everyone. 

Tired of the museums and in need of some retail therapy?  I need not say anything more than HARRODS!  Harrods is London’s most famous
& touristy department store. Don’t bring big bags or backpacks into this store- they’ll charge you to store them. Make sure you grab a free
store guide when you enter so you can find your way around.  On the lower ground floor you will find a memorial to Princess Diane and Dodi
Fayed (Dodi’s father owns Harrods). At the memorial you will see the engagement ring that Dodi had purchased for Diana the day before they
died as well as the wine glass that was used at their last dinner together (still dirty).  Want to buy your child a kids size hummer? No Problem,
it will only cost you about $15,000 USD items like this are available in the toy kingdom of this fabulous department store.  Anything your
overspending heart can desire can be found at Harrods.  Getting a tad hungry while shopping, no need to worry, I think you have about 22
different dining options to chose from at Harrods.  Everything from afternoon tea to pizza to cavier! Even a Disney Café to please the little
ones traveling with you.

Speaking of dining…London is nothing like Greece or Paris or Asia  where to have unique foods of your region.  Londoners do have of course 
have the Fish & Chips but what about a cool dining experience?  Well, have you ever eaten in a Crypt before?  If not, go check out the Café in
the Crypt where you can dine with historical tombstones at your feet.  Café in the Crypt is located at St. Martin in the Fields – downstairs.
Check their website for operating hours. Or what about a Medieval Banquet.  This is not just dinner it’s dinner and an experience.  Fun for all
ages. What better place to do a medieval dinner than in London right?  Or, if your a foodie and want to check out a local celebrity’s venue,
head to one of Gordon Ramsay’s many dining venues, I think he has 11 now in London? Wow guess you can’t go wrong with Gordon!

What’s some other interesting unique things to do in London?  Well, what about a 30 minute trip around at the London Eye.  They offer all
kinds of ticket experiences so you’re sure to find something to please you.  I even took a friend that was afraid of heights and they didn’t
seem to have an issue during the ride although I will admit she didn’t lean up against any of the windows. You’ll have great views of London
from the top along with Big Ben and the River Thames.  What about a visit to the Famous Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks.  See  your favorite
stars waxed for eternity and have your photo taken with them.  I wonder how long it will be before Baby Prince George gets in there? There is
one section in there called the Chamber of Horrors which might not be suitable for small children or those that do not like horror films.  Want
a scary night tour?  I recommend the Jack the Ripper night walking tour.  It’s filled with lots of history details about the city along with
the story of Jack the Ripper. Make sure you pick an experienced and reputable tour company to get the best experience. And what about a
visit to a famous icon of London?  The Tower Bridge! Yes, you can tour the bridge including the Engine Rooms.

What’s the best way to see as much of London as possible without breaking the bank?  The London Pass of course!  I HIGHLY recommend this
to anyone traveling to London that plans to visit as much as possible during their visit.

There are so many great things to do in London and so many great places to go in London that I’ve decided to end this blog off with the short
list above and will continue with more London adventures at a later time.  Maybe we will wait until Prince George turns 1?  Just a thought.
But remember this, if you want to visit this fun, fabulous city yourself, give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to help make your trip an experience you will never forget!

Wishing you all safe & happy travels!
Diane

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