London Journals

London - Cultural Powerhouse of Europe

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A travel journal to London by actonsteve

Somerset House Photo, London, England More Photos
Quote: London is one of those cities that always surprises. You turn a corner and there is always something new. The attractions are world famous but my suggestions are those known by Londoners and have yet to be deluged by the tourist hordes. Get there while they are still undiscovered.

London - Cultural Powerhouse of Europe

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Overview

London in winter Photo, London, England
Quote:
I'll give you a reason why I love this city.. One summer evening I took the tube from my home in North Acton to Tottenham Court Road to meet some friends for a drink in Covent Garden. I settled back with a good book - Daniel Defoe's "Journal of the Plague year" sending me back to 1665 and Restoration London. The journey sped by as I was immersed in a world of royals and commoners, actresses and highwaymen, all set in the parish of St Giles and its plague pits and carts. Eventually I finished the book, got off the tube, and went through the barriers. I turned left and - WHACK! I was in St Giles. There was the exact same church, the graveyard and the old parish inn. I was taken back to 1665 in a tri...Read More

Somerset House

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Attraction | "Somerset House - Palladian Mansion on the river"

Somerset House Photo, London, England
Quote:
This undiscovered Palladian gem was fully opened to the public this year. For 100 years the headquarters for the Revenue service, the great courtyard was cleared to create a magnificent palladian space complete with statues and fountains. It also contains the Cortauld gallery with contains works collected by the textile magnate Samuel Cortauld including Cezanne, Gaugin and a room full of Rubens. Originally residence of the dukes of Somerset, the entry rooms are still accessible and below is the watergate where it was accessible by boat from the Thames. But best of all is the restaurant terrace (entry gained from Waterloo bridge) where you can dine overlooking the river and enjoy the view ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 4, 2000

Somerset House
Somerset House
London, England WC2R 1LA
+1 020 7845 4676

Museum of London

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Attraction | "Vikings, Tudors and the Blitz - Museum of London"

Museum of London Photo, London, England
Quote:
The next time you land or change planes at Heathrow airport you will standing on the place where Julius Caesar set up camp on his invasion of Britain in 53BC. It's little gems like that which make this such a remarkable museum. To bring off 2,000 years of London history takes some doing but this museum achieves it in spectacular fashion. My advice to any visitor to London is to come here first. After that, when you wander the streets, everything around you will slide into context. To reach it take the circle/district/metropolitan line to Barbican. Then follow the signs of Dick Whittington and his cat out of the tube station and across the overpass. The Museum is part of the Barbican brutalist ar...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 4, 2000

Museum of London
150 London Wall
London, England EC2Y 5HN
+44 (207) 814 5613

Chiswick House

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Attraction | "A touch of elegance - Chiswick House and gardens"

Chiswick House Photo, London, England
Quote:
An undiscovered Palladian jewel set in its own grounds not far from central London. Built by Lord Burlington in 1727 and based on the Palladios Villa Rotonda in Vincenza, this is a wonderful afternoon's wander. To find it, come out of Turnham Green tube, turn left onto Chiswick High Street until you reach the signs pointing south for Chiswick House. Or alternately walk along the river from Hammersmith, Chiswick House is at the end of the Thames Walk. The house itself was built as a "temple to the arts" and was where Lord Burlington used to entertain his friends Swift, Handel and Alexander Pope. It's front facade is a magnificent with a Corinthian portico complete with Doric columns and st...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 10, 2000

Chiswick House
Burlington Lane
London, England W4 2RP
+44 20 8995 0508

British Library

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Attraction | ""Beowulf, anyone?" - the New British Library"

Quote:
If you are the kind of traveller that likes poring over old parchment or turning the pages of tomes that are hundreds of years old - then this attraction is for you. When the national collection of books grew too massive for the library at the old British museum a new building was designed at St. Pancras, only ten minutes walk away. At the time it was the most expensive building in Britain costing 500 million to build and taking over ten years to construct. It now stretches over 100,000 square metres and it's basement, which is the deepest in London has space for over 12 million books. This place is a bookworm's fantasy. It can be reached by walking along the Euston Road from either Kings Cross...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 3, 2001

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

Drinking den of ner 'do wells.... Photo, London, England
Quote:
Londoners have recently rediscovered their river. And now a pedestrian walkway means you can walk along the south bank of the Thames from the Houses of Parliament to Tower Bridge taking in spectacular views. Most days the walk becomes a favourite promenade for Londoners who enjoy the carnival atmosphere and good river views. The best way to see the city is on foot and this walk will take you past some of the great sights and through legendary Southwark and Bankside - the medieval fleshpots of London. Just strap on your walking boots and put plenty of film in your camera. Most people start at Westminster and the tube station can be reached on the District/Circle line. The station itself is worth ...Read More
Shad Thames - not the sugar passageways Photo, London, England
Quote:
This is by far the most interesting section of the walk and takes you through the ancient alleyways and streets of Bankside and Southwark. Here the lanes are so narrow that they block out the light and there is a real taste of Old London here with its alehouses and docks. As you follow the walk you may be able to imagine the London of Christopher Marlowe and Moll Flanders. Bankside and Southwark have always had a nefarious reputation. It was outside the puritancial jurisdiction of the city and all manner of vice sprang up - brothels, theatres, alehouses, bear-baiting, gambling houses, breweries, cockfighting and even gladitatorial contests. It was the abode of cutpurses and thieves, of pr...Read More
A good place for a book on a summers day Photo, London, England
Quote:
One of the most enchanting walks in London is from Little Venice all the way to Camden Market along the towpath of the Regents Canal. This is a city built for aimlessly walking. Sydney may have the sunshine but you can walk across its centre in 3 minutes. This walk will take you the best part of an afternoon and you will pass Baroque mansions, colourful canalboats, as well as giraffes, camels and zebras. To reach it come out of Paddington Station and head north, taking the underpass under the Westway to the periphery of St Johns Wood and Little Venice . This was a phrase coined by the poet Robert Browning to describe the area. The Regents Canal opens up into a basin overlooking by Georgian and Vic...Read More

Highgate Cemetery

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Attraction | "Karl Marx and Vampires - Highgate Cemetery"

Highgate Cemetery Photo, London, England
Quote:
I think Londoners are somewhat proud of having Karl Marx live and die in their city. He lived in posh Hampstead, completed 'Das Kapital' at the British Museum, had boozy pub-crawls down the Tottenham Court Road and got his maid pregnant when living in Dean Street, Soho. But he is buried in Highgate Cemetery. And for those who love urban gothic this is a wonderful place to come. Old Karl way be the star which brings in the crowds but to wander around this atmospheric Victorian cemetery with its ornate graves, mausoleums and creeping ivy is to step into a Hammer Horror film. To reach it from Central London take the Northern Line to Archway tube station. There take the exit leading to Highgate Hill...Read More

Highgate Cemetery
Swain's Lane
London, England N6
+44 20 8340 1834

Imperial War Museum London

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Attraction | ""Oh what a lovely war" - Imperial War Museum"

Quote:
Despite the jingoistic name, this is a museum dedicated to showing the depravities and agonies of war. Housed in the old Royal Bethlehem Asylum - Bedlam in Lambeth - this is a gem which doesn't get the attention it deserves. Reached by a small walk from South Lambeth tube station, this magnificent domed building is in a small park which contains a memorial to the Hiroshima bomb. Inside are exhibits about the wars of the 20th century. Spitfires and V-2 doodlebugs hang from the ceiling overlooking WWI tanks and lifeboats from destroyers. But the centrepieces are the exhibits on WWI and II. WWI contains old uniforms, gasmasks and pieces of old zeppelin. There is a recreation of a Flanders trench co...Read More

Imperial War Museum London
Lambeth Road
London, England SE1 6HZ
+44 (20) 7416 5000

Tate Modern

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Attraction | ""But is it art, sweetie?" - the new Tate Modern"

Tate Modern Photo, London, England
Quote:
Edina and Patsy from 'Absolutely Fabulous' would love the new Tate Modern. But then so does everybody else - it received one million visitors in the first month of it's opening and along with the 'London Eye' has been the big hit of Millennium year. Critics have praised it and the public love it. Even if you don't like or understand modern art the new Tate Modern is worth crossing the channel, or even the atlantic, to take a look. The collection of modern British art outgrew its old home in Pimlico and was moved from the gallery now christened the Tate Britain to the new gallery. It stands in a converted power station on the south bank of the Thames opposite St Pauls. It is a striking landmark ...Read More

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

Notting Hill

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Attraction | "Notting Hill: In search of Hugh Grant"

Notting Hill Photo, London, England
Quote:
We have the famous floppy-haired actor to thank for Notting Hill's new popularity. This neighborhoud has now reached dizzying heights of fashionability and is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon people-watching. It is one of those places in London that still has a community and it's main attraction - Portobello Road Market is unmissable for anyone who likes antiques. The pubs, restaurants and markets of Notting Hill are now firmly on the tourist trail, and who knows, you may get to spill orange juice over Julia Roberts as well.. Notting Hill has been around about a thousand years and was famous for its piggeries. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the rich built mansions in the area to take adv...Read More

Notting Hill
Notting Hill
London, England

Quote:
The 4th of November 2002 is a special anniversary - I've been a Londoner for ten years. Despite spending large amounts of time travelling and living in Paris - 'the big smoke' of London has been my home. I know it like the back of my hand, and have absorbed and come to love its ways, peoples and culture. And now is a good time to reflect on the changes to London that have occurred over the last ten years as it is a very special city. As a small boy I was stunned by the grand buildings and towering cathedrals. I grew up east of London and we would drive through on our way to Wales. The memory is still fresh of driving past the Tower in the early morning when the fish market used to be d...Read More