London Journals

Give Thanks for London!

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A November 2002 trip to London by Jenn966

Dover Castle Photo, Dover, England More Photos
Quote: While spending Thanksgiving weekend in England seemed a bit unpatriotic, I’m sure the founding fathers would have approved of my work ethic (no time off for the weekend trip) and thrift ($350 R/T airfare from Newark and about $75 a night for a hotel). Now, how to spend those 3 days?

Give Thanks for London!

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Overview

Quote:
Since this was my fifth trip to London, I’d already seen many of the major "sights." But Samuel Johnson was right: a man (or woman) who tires of London is tired of life, and there is always plenty to do and see.Great Walks: I’ve taken an Original London Walks tour on every London trip, and I’ve enjoyed them all. Exploring virtually every corner of London, with guides who are professional performers, experts in the walk subject or both, the tours are terrific.Great Dames: The deservedly mixed reviews of David Hare’s script for The Breath of Life didn’t reduce my enjoyment at seeing Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in their first-ever joint theater performan...Read More

Edward Lear Hotel

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Hotel

Quote:
Face it: hotel rooms in London are expensive. Very expensive. If you want to find a room that costs less than $100 a night, you’re going to have to compromise on something. Reviews of inexpensive lodgings suggested they were inconveniently located, less than acceptably clean, frequented by a clientele given to partying in hallways at all hours of the night or with small, dated rooms and shared baths. Given these options, I decided I could live with a small room and shared bath over any of the others. That’s how I decided on the Edward Lear. Location is the primary attraction of this small hotel, located two blocks from Marble Arch in two townhouses, one of which was briefly home to E...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 6, 2003

Edward Lear Hotel
28 30 SEYMOUR ST MARBLE ARCH
London, England W1H 7JA
44 20 7402 5401

Kulu Kulu Sushi

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Restaurant

Quote:
I’ve always been a little leery of sushi served via conveyor belt. While I tell myself that I don’t like the lack of personal service, the truth is that I don’t eat sushi often enough to recognize what I’m choosing. With a menu, at least I’ll know I’m not eating something I don’t think I’ll like (such as sea cucumber, which was described by a friend as the "least delicious" thing he ever ate). But it was almost 7pm and I was headed for the theater with a 7:45 curtain time, and I felt my choices coming down to Kulu Kulu or pizza. Since I can eat pizza any night of the week at home, I decided to brave the conveyor belt. Kulu Kulu is certainly not out to impress you with its décor. In ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 6, 2003

Kulu Kulu Sushi
76 Brewer Street
London, England W1F 9TU
(020) 7734-7316

Joury Bistro

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Restaurant

Quote:
Conveniently located near Oxford Street’s department stores, Joury offers a complete menu of Lebanese dishes, but its specialty is "mezza"–-the appetizers that can easily make a meal. It was after the lunch "rush" when I walked into Joury on a Thursday afternoon in late November. While turkey might have been more appropriate (it was Thanksgiving, after all), my fondness for falafel was the key in deciding among several restaurants located on Duke Street. Although I’ve never been to Provence, that was the word that entered my mind when I entered the dining room. The tile floor and brightly colored floral prints and wall hangings seemed to me more French than Lebanese. But the red-cushioned ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 6, 2003

Joury Bistro
72 Duke Street
London, England W1K 6JY
(020) 7493-8555

Dover Castle

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Attraction

Dover Castle Photo, Dover, England
Quote:
There are castles, and then, as I realized on my visit to Dover Castle, there are fortresses. Castles, it seems to me, are pretty places, well-suited for royalty dressed in gorgeous fabrics, sipping tea from exquisite china while gossiping and half-listening to string quartets playing softly in the background. Fortresses are for battles, with thick walls and few windows. One might feel pampered in a castle, but safe in a fortress. As it seemed most people headed directly for the keep, I set out to see the Roman lighthouse and Saxon church located nearby, which allowed me a roughly chronological view of the premises. Built of local stone in the first-century CE, the Roman lighthouse is now hidden f...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 7, 2003

Dover Castle
Harold's Road
Dover, Kent
01304 211067

Canterbury Cathedral

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Attraction

Canterbury Cathedral Photo, Canterbury, England
Quote:
I've long suspected that Europeans are rather amused by Americans' fascination with the age of Europe's buildings. Growing up in a country where buildings more than 150 years old are usually considered landmarks and seldom used for their original purpose, entering any building that has been standing since the 1st-millennium CE amazes me. And having been raised in the Catholic faith, I am even more blown away when I go into cathedrals in Europe and think that a thousand years ago, people stood in that place, saying the same prayers that I say today. Wherever I go, I seek the churches out, responding to a cultural connection I've only recently realized I had. So, as much as I may wonder whethe...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 7, 2003

Canterbury Cathedral
11 The Precincts
Canterbury, England CT1 2EH
01227 762 862

Blenheim Crescent

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Attraction

Quote:
The film Notting Hill didn’t bring Blenheim Crescent to my attention. The real-life Travel Bookshop is there, which might be enough to bring any red-blooded IgoUgo member to this small street off Portobello Road. But I was seeking another Mecca: Books for Cooks. Clarissa Dickson Wright ran the test kitchen in the self-described "best-smelling shop in the world" before becoming one of TV’s "Fat Ladies," whose delight at cooking with enough butter and cream to immediately induce clogged arteries is still a joy to watch. I love books, I love cooking, and I love traveling. Maybe "Nirvana" describes Blenheim Crescent better than "Mecca." Getting there was half the fun. Sleepless fo...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 6, 2003

Blenheim Crescent
Off Portobello Road in Notting Hill
London, England

British Library

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Attraction | "The New British Library"

Quote:
On my first visit to London, I just missed seeing the Magna Carta and other precious historical, literary, and religious works. They’d been removed from their home in a wing of the British Museum, but weren’t yet on display at the New British Library. With one thing and another, I missed the NBL on subsequent visits, but was determined to get there this time. Although the architecture of the building is relatively modern, its brick-covered exterior blends well with the heavily-ornamented St. Pancras train station standing nearby. Tall iron gates funnel visitors off Euston Road into a large plaza that leads to a conference center and the library itself. Entering the library building, you ste...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 6, 2003

British Library
96 Euston Road
London, England NW1 2DB
+44 20 7412 7000

Original London Walks

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Attraction | "The Original London Walks"

Quote:
For more than 40 years, The Original London Walks has been offering visitors and locals alike the opportunity to see sights in London where tour buses can’t go. Tours range from the royal (Strictly Confidential) to the flamboyant (The London of Oscar Wilde) to the inebriated (nightly pubwalks in different neighborhoods) to the downright scary (Jack the Ripper’s Haunts, especially when led by Donald Rumbelow). You’ll not only see famous sights (or places that should be), you’ll likely learn a fair amount about the history of London and its workings. On this trip, I took the Legal and Illegal London tour. Our tour guide Gillian met a group of about 40 people, mostl...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 6, 2003

Original London Walks
PO Box 1708
London, England NW6 4LW
+44 20 7624 3978

Quote:
This was my fifth trip to England. On previous visits, I visited relatives, who seemed happy to drive me to see the sights outside London. When they were working, I’d either take a train or coach tour, but those options had trade-offs. The train didn’t always leave me near my destination; I’d often find myself on a circuitous bus route or taking an expensive cab for the last part of the journey. Coach tours enforce a routine that didn’t leave enough time to see what I wanted to see and included at least one stop that-–while usually interesting and important-–wasn’t high on my must-see list.Although I had only three days in England over Thanksgiving weekend, I was determined to spend one day ...Read More