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London – A Jolly Good Town

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Written by Angela Brya.

As the Brits would say, it was just smashing! I have to say London is one of the most amazing cities in the world. For a visitor from any part of the world, there is an incredibly diverse variety of attractions to be experienced. This densely populated city provides a feast of history and beauty in its monuments, cathedrals, artistic treasures, architecture, and ceremonial grandeur. But London is not only a museum of the past. There is a viable and lively present-day culture, which offers the best in drama, art, and music. The joys of England’s countryside are world famous for the sheer beauty of the natural landscape and for the charm of the villages, as well as for the majestic public monuments to be found throughout the country. It is a destination where the American traveler will feel right at home.

Europe itself is a fairly easy place to travel to. You can arrive in London after only 7 ½ hours on a direct non-stop flight from Detroit Metro. The only requirement is a valid passport. There is a tremendous variety of accommodations, from bed and breakfast hotels, country homes, and farmhouses.

London is extremely easy to get around. Transportation in and around the city consist of the red, double-decker buses, the subway (officially called the “underground”), also known as “the tube,” and taxis. Travel by subway is usually the fastest way to get around town. There are several types of tickets available for extensive travel on the subway and/or the buses, that offer unlimited travel on both for specified periods of time.

There are many historical sights that are a must to see. No visit to London would be complete without a glimpse of Westminster Abbey, where the Kings and Queens of England are crowned. It is also a national shrine the artists, poets, heroes, and statesmen of Britain. You can combine a visit to the Abbey with a look at the adjacent House of Parliament, which offers the world’s most famous clock tower, Big Ben. A mile or so down the Thames river is the Tower of London, where you can see the beautiful Crown Jewels. Nearby is the magnificent Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

During the summer, every morning at 11:30, and alternate days in the winter, the famous ceremony of Changing the Guard takes place in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s London Residence. There are many interesting museums and galleries which house great beauty, history, and riches. The British Museum has an amusing collection of clocks and one of the most important libraries in the world. The National Gallery, Trafalger Square, has a collection of European paintings. Next door at the National Portrait Gallery is a collection of portraits of famous Britons through the ages. The Tate Gallery houses British and modern art.

If you really want a taste of London’s nightlife, you should spend a night out with dinner at Flanagan’s where you will enjoy a three-course meal in a pub style atmosphere and a theater performance of Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon or Beauty and the Beast. After the show you could go to the original Hard Rock Café or Planet Hollywood.

London’s extensive system of parks and gardens give you the opportunity to walk and enjoy rural surrounding right in the middle of the city. Hyde Park has a lovely, winding body of water, the Serpentine, and there are flowers and ponds in the adjoining Kensington Gardens. St. James’ Park is famous for its variety of birds. If given the opportunity, you should venture outside the city of London and visit Bath, Windsor or Bristol. I took the time to visit Windsor, which is only 45 minutes away by car. Windsor is a quaint little village with cobblestone streets, unique shops and a bobbie on the corner watching the entrance to the famous Windsor Castle. The Castle is surrounded by the most gorgeous garden I have ever seen. The Queen is in residence there only two weeks a year and it just happened to be when I was there.

Keep London in mind as a gift this holiday season. Off season rates can make London a great value-sometimes under $600.00 for complete packages including air. If you would like to venture out to this magnificent city please don’t hesitate to contact me. It is definitely a trip of a lifetime!