How do you summarize the greatest city in the world? Simple… you call it London! Summarizing this portion of our trip is much more difficult as there are so many things you can do in London. No matter what you are into, there is something for everyone in this city. There are museums covering everything from art, cars, the city, history, natural history, science museums, tea and the list goes on and on. Beyond museums there are arcades, bicycle tours, boat tours, East India Trading Company, haunted houses, music experiences and so much more.
Due to its extensive transportation network, primarily the tube system, moving around London was extremely easy. In addition to the tube, there is a variety of bridges that allow you to move easily towards your destination. Some of the notable bridges we walked across were the Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Waterloo Bridge & Westminster Bridge.
On our first day in London we explored the Olympic Venues, British Museum and Wembley. I will touch more on the sport venues later. But for now we will explore more on the British Museum. The British Museum has a wide array of treasures from all around the world including the Mold Gold Cape, the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the Vindolanda Tablets, Rosetta Stone, 7000+ year old Jade and the Olduvai Stone chopping tool. There are so many items to explore a person could easily spend many hours here. The most awe inspiring of all the exhibits was the long hallway featuring the Elgin Marbles. This hall is full of almost half of the original frieze, some of the metopes and many figures, including Poseidon, from the Parthenon.
While visiting London we had to visit Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately during our visit, the Queen was staying at the Windsor Castle rather than at Buckingham as signaled by Union Jack flying over Buckingham Palace. We were able to take in the significance of not only Buckingham, but were able to see the Queen’s Guard diligently on duty. From Buckingham were able to stroll through some of the surrounding parks and gardens to enjoy the ambience of the scenic routes.
The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place for the House of Commons and House of Lords. The Palace of Westminster is more commonly known for the Elizabethan Tower that houses Big Ben. This not only served as an exciting place to visit and hear Big Ben, but it also served as a great landmark for navigating. Located next to the Palace of Westminster is Westminster Abbey. This fully operational church is not only an inspiring place to visit for a ceremony, but it also serves as a coronation and burial site. Some of the most famous people in history are buried here including Edward the Confessor, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Edward I, Edward III, Edward VI, Mary I, Mary Queen of Scots, Isaac Newton and many, many more. This was easily one of the most interesting places to visit in London and gave us the opportunity to learn more about the English culture.
Being in this area of the city afforded us the opportunity of seeing the Tower of London. This is considred a castle of great historical importance. Throughout history, this castle has changed control many times, often resulting in change of power in the country. Exploring this castle gave us an idea on what castle life was really like. This idea was further brought to life when actors took the role of typical castle dwellers. The castle also holds some of the most important items in history. This items range from the various Crown Jewels (including the crown of Queen Elizabeth), coronation swords, orbs, scepters to many golden dishwares.
One of the most impressive pieces of downtown London was the London Eye. This extremely large Ferris wheel is located on the River Thames giving us one of the best views of many of London’s biggest attractions. During its 30-minute rotation we were able to see the City of Westminster, St Paul’s Cathedral, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Cleopatra’s Needle, British Museum’s reading rooms, Waterloo Station, Elizabeth Tower, St. James Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Garden’s, Olympic venues and so much more! This experience is hands down one of the best ways to spend 30-minutes of your time!
We were also lucky enough to experience the O2 arena. This was one of the more interesting venues that you will see anywhere in the world. The architecture from the exterior is extremely unique and offers a very interesting vantage point from any corner. This outer shell houses a full arena, a cinema, a music club, restaurants, bars and most importantly (to us) the British Music Experience. This fully immersing exhibit allows people to come in and play right along with some of the UK’s greatest. We were able to see handwritten lyrics from Adele, guitars from the Sex Pistols, glasses and clothes from Elton John, the drum set from Pink Floyd’s the Wall album and tour and so much more.