London Journals

On & Off the Tourist Trail in London

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A May 2002 trip to London by food&fun

Changing of the Guard Photo, London, England More Photos
Quote: London is a tourist town, no doubt about it, but there are also "famous" sights most tourists miss. Join me for the hot and the hidden corners of London.

On & Off the Tourist Trail in London

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Overview

The Inspection of the Guard Photo, London, England
Quote:
*Watch the drama of real life at Old Bailey, the criminal courts building. *Wander through the crowded streets of Chinatown (behind Leicester Square and the theater district), looking into the windows of the restaurants, with hanging roasted ducks and "variety meats" and browse the grocery stores for exotic sauces and dried seafood. *Miss the Changing of the Guard. See instead, the Inspection of the Guard, at the Barracks nearby. *Browse the row of used book stores along Charing Cross Road. *Get a view of the Tower Bridge from th...Read More

Changing of the Guard

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Attraction | "Inspection of the Guard"

Changing of the Guard Photo, London, England
Quote:
Everyone knows about the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, daily at 11:30. It is so crowded that you can hardly see what is happening. Skip that, and instead see the better show at the Guards' Barracks on Birdcage Walk at 11 a.m. when the guard is inspected before going to the Palace for the change ceremony. Few people know about it, so you can always get a good view. First, the regular troops march out and line up for inspection. Shortly, the band guys in the bearskin hats muster and march out. They march around in a circle for a bit, then stand at attention for inspection. Then they play a bit of music. The day I saw it, they played the theme from "Indiana Jones," which I'm sure mu...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 28, 2002

Changing of the Guard
Wellington Barracks
London, England SW1A 1AA
+44 (20) 7839 137

Old Bailey

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Attraction | "Old Bailey (Criminal Courts Building)"

Quote:
Old Bailey is the nickname for the Central Criminal Courts, located on Ludgate Hill (St. Paul's underground stop or Ludgate Hill bus stop). It's the best free show in town, and not heavily visited by tourists. The visitors' gallery in the new court wing is clearly marked. Follow the signs and courteously ask the bailiffs what is going on in the courts. They are very helpful and they will direct you to the most interesting proceedings -- perhaps even a murder trial. The barristers (trial lawyers) wear wigs and robes, just like on television, and they are far more formal and eloquent than their American counterparts. Note that the judge is called "M'Lord" (or "M'Lady"), not "Your Honor" and the de...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 28, 2002

Old Bailey
Old Bailey
London, England EC4M 7EH
+44 20 7248 3277

Tate Modern

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Attraction | "Tate Modern Museum"

Tate Modern Photo, London, England
Quote:
Take the underground or bus to St. Paul's Cathedral and walk across the Thames on the Millenium Bridge, a pedestrian-only bridge. The Tate Modern is housed in a converted power station. The lobby area is open all the way to the 7th floor ceiling. Admission is free. Open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. To me, the most unusual thing about the Tate Modern is the curator's choice in arrangement of the paintings. Instead of arranging them chronologically (or by artist) as most museums do, the paintings here are arranged by theme: History/Memory/Society, Nude/Action/Body, Landscape/Matter/Environment, Still Life/Object/Real Life (containing a favorite piece of mine, the Claes Oldenburg Gi...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 28, 2002

Tate Modern
Sumner Street
London SE1 9TG
+44 20 7887 8000

Victoria and Albert Museum

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Attraction

Quote:
The Victoria and Albert Museum is Britain's art and design museum. It is a most amazing collection. There is an entire gallery of wrought iron work. It would probably take days to see everything there is to see here. The French art-nouveau posters were breathtaking. I wanted to take it home with me! We spent an hour in the art glass gallery alone. The collection dates from 1000 BC to the most modern of glass. It is mind-boggling that the ancient glass pieces survived as long as they did. They had some gorgeous Tiffany vases. The depth of the collection is also unbelievable -- in some showcases, the display was at least three rows deep. And at the end of the gallery, there was a six-drawer c...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 28, 2002

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London, England SW7 2RL
+44 (20) 7942 2000

To Paris via the Eurostar

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Story/Tip

Quote:
The Eurostar is an interesting way to travel to Paris, and it's fast enough to make a day-trip possible, just a three-hour trip from Waterloo Station to Paris' Gare du Nord. (Note that France is one hour ahead of England, so you will arrive "four" hours later.) We went on to Paris after our stay in London, and oddly enough, we found it was cheaper to buy a same-day return ticket than to buy a one-way. Also, it is cheaper to buy in London than to buy ahead of time in the U.S. We splurged on first class tickets (about $150, compared with about $110 for second class). First class seating is two on one side of the aisle and one on the other. A pair of seats (or a single seat) face another pair, with...Read More