London Journals

London--above & underground

A May 2004 trip to London by akakd

Tower of London Photo, London, England More Photos
Quote: "The man who tires of London, tires of life. For there is in London all that life can afford."--Samual Johnson. Highlighted here are three separate trips to London. My aim is to provide useful, practical information for the independent traveler.

London--above & underground

Overview

Quote:
We know London above ground is grand & majestic. What few may know is that just below ground is a bunker used by Churchill during World War II. Known as the Cabinet War rooms, this excursion promises to be a fascinating trip back in time. The rooms were left just as they were when the war ended. A must see for anyone even remotely interested in the goings-on of World War II.

Quick Tips:

Best Way To Get Around:

The Ridgemount

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel

Quote:
The Ridgemount Hotel is more like a Bed & Breakfast. Rooms, typical of London, are small--but clean & modern. We chose a room w/ private bath; however, you can also get rooms w/ a shared bath. Breakfast was ample. Mr. Rees & his staff are friendly & helpful. The Ridgemount is convenient to Goodge Street Tube Station and very close to the wondrous British Museum. To keep prices low, Mr. Rees does not accept credit cards.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 3, 2001

The Ridgemount
65-67 Gower Street
London, England
(171) 636-1141

Craven Gardens Hotel Photo,
Quote:
Craven Gardens Hotel was conveniently located near Hyde Park. This is more of a B&B than a hotel. Our room was small (typical of London). The bedroom had aged wallpaper & bedspread, but the private bathroom was clean & modern. Full breakfast was included. The hotel had a nice lobby & bar area. Staff were not particularly helpful or friendly.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

Craven Gardens Hotel
16 Leinster Terrace
London, England
(171) 262-3167

St Giles Hotel Heathrow

Hotel | "St. Giles Hotel"

Quote:
Looking for a place to stay near Heathrow Airport in London, but don’t want the expense of an airport hotel? Try St. Giles on Hounslow Road in Feltham, about 15 minutes from Heathrow. The staff was helpful. Rooms were fair-sized, by London standards, with air conditioning and a television. The bathroom was equipped with a toilet, sink, and shower (the hand-held kind). We even had a nice view of the local church from our room. A hot buffet breakfast was included. Price was $49.50 per person per night, or $99 for the two of us per night. There’s a train station very close by that takes you to Waterloo Station, where, of course, you can catch the Underground anywhere in London. ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 19, 2004

St Giles Hotel Heathrow
HOUNSLOW ROAD
London, England
44 20 88177000

Bella Pasta

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

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Bella Pasta was lively & fun, just what we needed after an intense evening in the National Gallery. The music was upbeat, the waiter was humorous & attentive, & the food was unique! This definitely is not your typical Italian fare! Along w/ appetizers & drinks, we selected unusual main courses: my husband chose Smoked Spaghetti w/ Chicken while I dined on Black Cherry & Chocolate Ravioli!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

Bella Pasta
Hays Galleria, London Bridge
London, England

The Orangery at Kensington Gardens

Restaurant | "The Orangery"

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On the grounds of Kensington Palace is the pretty Orangery. We stopped in for a relaxing afternoon tea w/ wonderful scones & chocolates. This light, airy, cheerful tearoom was built in 1704 for Queen Anne. Even though we had come out of the rain & looked like rag-a-muffins, we were greeted warmly & given excellent, friendly service.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 3, 2001

The Orangery at Kensington Gardens
26 Eastcastle Street
London, England
(020) 7467-7455

Westminster Abbey

Attraction

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Westminster Abbey is the tallest Gothic structure in the British Isles. An awe-inspiring place, it was a privilege to pause a moment in prayer beneath the soaring vaults speaking of the unimaginable greatness of God.

On our 1998 visit, it was eerie to stand where Princess Diana's casket had lain so recently & to look up into the pulpit where her brother eulogized her with his powerful words.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 3, 2001

Westminster Abbey
20 Dean's Yard
London, England SW1P 3PA
+44 (20) 7222 5152

Tower of London

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Tower of London Photo, London, England
Quote:
Historically one of the most important & fascinating places in England, we were spellbound by the mesmerizing tales of the Yeoman Warders, popularly known as Beefeaters. Just the right mix of history & humor! (Important because the stories can be quite gruesome.) Our Beefeater focused carefully on the children in the group, answering their questions & having them walk w/ him. He also chided me for the Arizona "London Bridge". The Tower of London has been home to the British Crown Jewels since the 14th Century. Still worn by the Queen & her family today, the Crown Jewels are viewed from a conveyor belt that glides you past glass cases. The Queen Mother's crown contains the...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 3, 2001

Tower of London
Tower Hill
London, England EC3N 4AB
+44 (207) 709 0765

Greenwich Park

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Greenwich"

Greenwich Park Photo,
Quote:
Ready for a break from the sometimes hectic pace of London, we headed out to Greenwich. We rode the train out & returned by boat on the Thames. Greenwich is a lovely area w/ plenty to see & do. After viewing the old Cutty Sark tea clipper, our next stop was the Old Royal Naval College w/ it's Chapel & Painted Hall, each beautiful in it's own way. After a quick stop at the Trafalgar Tavern, we headed up to the Old Royal Observatory. En route, we came across a unique dolphin sundial w/ a cafe nearby for tea & scones. We then hiked up the hill to the Old Royal Observatory to see the rare electromagnetic 24 hour clock on which the International Time Zone is based & times around the world calculated. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

Greenwich Park
Blackheath Gate
London, England SE10 8QY
+44 20 8858 2608

Cabinet War Rooms

Attraction

Quote:
"There is to be no whistling or unnecessary noise in this passage." So the sign states near the entrance of the Cabinet War Rooms. A second sign reads, "Fine & Warm", giving the weather above ground to those working below. Here, in underground bunkers, Churchill lived & worked during WWII. Walking these passages gives one the feeling of being there. Sirens sound, phones ring, voices are heard. This turned out to be an incredible experience for us, really bringing home the happenings of World War II.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

Cabinet War Rooms
Clive Steps
London, England SW1A 2AQ
+44 20 7930 6961

Tower Bridge

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Tower Bridge Photo,
Quote:
Tower Bridge, near Tower of London, was built during the years 1886-1894. Ten men were killed during construction. Several daredevil pilots have flown through the 200-foot wide x 100-foot high gap between the towers, with at least one fatality. In 1952, a red double-decker bus jumped a 3-foot gap as the bridge was opening (the traffic light was stuck on green, indicating it was safe to go). Sounds like the movie "Speed"!

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 3, 2001

Tower Bridge
Tower Hill
London, England SE1 2UP
+44 (207) 403 3761

British Library

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

British Library Photo,
Quote:
Okay, it's not exactly a museum, but I couldn't find a category for the lavish British Library. The British Library is the UK's national library, funded by the government to be custodian of the most important research collection in the world, spanning almost 3000 years from every continent. Dominating the Library's piazza is Sir Eduardo Paolozzi's statue of Sir Isaac Newton, seated & bending forward to plot the immensity of the universe. What I went to see was the John Ritblat Gallery, which includes (among other things): original copies of the Magna Carta, a score of Handel's "Messiah", Beatles' songs in Paul McCartney's handwriting, Sir Isaac Newton's initial observations on the for...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

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

Freud Museum

Attraction

Freud Museum Photo,
Quote:
If you're at all interested in Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalysis, or both--you'll find the Sigmund Freud Museum in Hampstead most interesting. The Museum was actually Freud's home for the last year of his life, having come here to escape the horrors of WWII. A video showcasing his life, especially his final year of life, is shown upstairs. Downstairs is his infamous couch.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

Freud Museum
20 Maresfield Gardens
London, England NW3
+44 20 7435 2002

St Paul's Cathedral

Attraction | "St. Paul's Cathedral"

Quote:
Sir Christopher Wren's masterful St. Paul's Cathedral is one of London's greatest architectural treasures. This is where, instead of the more traditional Westminster Abbey, Prince Charles wed Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. My favorite part was the domed ceilings in the Quire (Choir).

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

St Paul's Cathedral
The Chapter House
London, England EC4M 8AD
+44 (20 7) 236 4128

Old Bailey

Attraction

Quote:
"Old Bailey"--officially known as Central Criminal Court--is known from the book, play, & film "Witness for the Prosecution". The dome of "Old Bailey" is topped by the magnificent gold statue of Justice, holding a sword in one hand & scales in the other---however, not sporting a blindfold.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

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

Trafalgar Square

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
"London has more tradition than Sydney, more history than Paris, more theater than New York, more culture than Rome, more romance than Venice. All life is in London."-Gerald Nathanson, London taxi tour guide. In & around Trafalgar Square, you can find all these things & more. Trafalgar Square, officially the centre of London, is often used for political demonstrations. Also, on New Year's Eve, a vast crowd gathers to ring in the New Year--marked by the chimes of Big Ben in the distance. Thousands of pigeons inhabit Trafalgar Square. As you can well imagine, this creates quite a mess. The British government is said to spend 100,000 British Pounds a year to remove up to a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

Trafalgar Square
Northumberland Avenue
London, England WC2

Hampton Court Palace Photo, Surrey, England
Quote:
Hampton Court Palace was Henry VIII's majestic palace. Here you can see State Apartments, King's Apartments, Queen's Apartments, Georgian Rooms, Tudor Kitchens, etc. There are also over 60 acres of gardens, including a Maze & 200 year old "Great Vine". One of my favorite things at Hampton Court Palace was the Astronomical Clock from 1540.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

Hampton Court Palace
Next To River Thames SW Of London
East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
44 20 8781 9500

Windsor Castle

Attraction

Quote:
"Seen for the first time, Windsor Castle is an unforgettable sight; its imposing towers & battlements creating one of the world's most spectacular skylines."

Windsor Castle is the oldest royal residence to have remained in continuous use by British monarchs for over 900 years. The present Queen Elizabeth II spent much of her childhood at Windsor. She still stays here many weekends, most of April, & part of June. The flagpole of the Round Tower flies the Royal Standard when the Queen is in residence.

One of many interesting features is Queen Mary's Doll House w/ working water, electricity, & miniature books handwritten by leading authors.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

Windsor Castle
Windsor
Berkshire, England SR4 1NJ
+44 1753 869 898

Stonehenge

Attraction

Quote:
As we crossed the great Salisbury Plain, the massive stone circle of Stonehenge was majestically silhouetted against the evening sky. We were awestruck, marveling at the mystery of how it was built over 4,000 years ago! The orientation of concentric stone circles suggests the secret of Stonehenge is linked to the cycle of moon & sun. Scholars cannot agree whether Stonehenge was for a sun-worshipping culture or a type of giant astronomical calendar. Regardless-it's awesome!

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 4, 2001

Stonehenge
2 miles west of Amesbury
Salisbury, England
01980 624 715

The London Eye

Attraction | "London Eye"

The London Eye Photo, London, England
Quote:
For great views of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Thames, and much more...take a "flight" on the London Eye, sponsored by British Airways. Allow plenty of time--lines are long. In 2000, the lines were closed right in front of us. This year, we managed to get on the last "flight" of the day. You walk on and walk off while the Eye is moving, so be alert. For more information, see ba-londoneye.com.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 20, 2004

The London Eye
South Bank of the River Thames
London, England SE1 9TA
+44 (870) 500 0600

National Gallery

Attraction

National Gallery Photo, London, England
Quote:
Discover the wondrous collection of the National Gallery! Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery covers art from 1250-1900. Best part of all, it's FREE!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 20, 2004

National Gallery
Trafalgar Square
London, England WC2N 5DN
+44 (207) 747 2885

Notre Dame de France Photo,
Quote:
After reading The Knights Templar, I became interested in the unusual Notre Dame de France in London next to Prince Charles Theater, near Leicester Square. The church dates from 1865. What I wanted to see was the curious mural by Cocteau, depicting the Crucifixion. If you go, just round the left side of the sanctuary to see the mural; it's not in plain sight, but worth seeing. Note the black sun, and a sinister, green-tinged, unidentified figure in the lower righthand corner. Note, too, the Roman soldier holding a shield with a bird emblazoned on it--a highly stylized bird suggesting an Egyptian rendering of Horus. Among the mourning women and dice-throwing centurions, there are two incongruo...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 20, 2004

Notre Dame de France
Next to Prince Charles Theater, Leicester Sq.
London, England