London is not a city that you would want to visit in a hurry, believe me. This city has an amazing past as well as a fine modern history. It has witnessed French inquisition, Spanish conquests, Scottish rebellion as well as the modern artillery of the World Wars. The city is a chapter on history, from times immemorial to this day, it has a record of everything. The city has eveolved from being Londonium to being called London. So, a few days time is just not good enough to do justice to London.
But being a first time visitor, especially a tourist, can be tough. Its a tight schedule that you have to adhere to, as well as make most of the situation. So, let me just begin with the must-do things in London:
a. London Eye: This is a shining example of a modern marvel, jxtaposed with ancient historical monuments. Just 2 miles away from the Victoria Coach Station is the London Eye. It looks like a huge giant wheel, where people hop-in and hop-out. The cabin revolves to take you to a height of more than 100 metres from where you get a panaromic view of the city, and then brings you down in about close to 20 mins of fun ride. Its quite close to Waterloo station, for people using tubes.
b. The aquarium, Thames Boat Ride and Madame Tussauds: If you do visit the London Eye, then you can cover these 3 as well. The aquarium is fantastic with an added attraction of penguins and sharks, all in their artificially created habitat. Taking a ride on the Thames river is another important activity. This boat ride will take you close to the famed London bridge, and you can have a great pciture in the boat with the London Bridge forming a frame-like background. And if you haven’t seen Madam Tussauds in New York or any other place, then don’t miss this. Get photographed while rubbing shoulders with who’s who of thw world.
c. Towers of London: These towers are engraved with history. See the tower where Sir Walter Raleigh spent 19 years as a prisoner or the Bloody tower where Queen Mary Anne was kept captive. Also, these towers house the Crwon Jewels. You can see the Kohinoor jewel that was gifted by an Indian maharaja or the awesome cullinan from South Africa. From golden crowns to precious stone studded sceptre, its all kept here.
d. St.Paul’s Cathedral: When your cabin reaches the highest point in London Eye, you can see a huge round domed structure which you can easily mistake for Buckingham Palace or any other castle. But that marvellous structure is the St.Paul’s Cathedral. The Cathedral withstood the greta fire in 1666 as well as the bomb-shells during World War, and it still stands majestic. Its a beautiful piece of architecture which also serves as a mausoleum for many of the famous deads.
e. Buckingham Palace: Of course, you have come to London only for this. But the problem is, you don’t get tickets easily; especially for viewing the State Apartments. Most of the times, it requires advance booking or maybe a tour operator can obtain it for you. Nothing to be said about this, its that important.
f. Windsor Castle: Its not widely known that when the Queen is not housed in Buckingham Palace, then its here that the Queen resides. This is her home-away-from-home. Its a beautiful castle which located in Windsor, and the queue to see this can be really long. The castle also has a miniature London Eye and a few other miniature of other world famous structures. You can see the ‘change of guards’, then visit the Dolls’ House made by Queen Mary, checkout the royal State Apartments and visit St.George’s Chapel. You can easily spend more than half a day here, and find yourself lost in this huge castle.
g. Stonehenge: This isn’t very popular among people who don’t have any interest in how civilization evolved. This world heritage site has huge 40 ton stones that were dragged from miles and mysteriously placed here. Is it a sundial or an ancient burial site? Visit it to know more about this enigmatic structure.
h. Leeds Castle: Another beautiful castle but distinctly different because of the fact that it can be rented out for weddings or pompous birthday celebrations. Its a fine castle standing by a green water body. Its built over two very tiny islands which are separated by small stretch of water. Nonetheless, it has a majestic charm. The rental can go upto half a million pounds where you can use the dining and sitting area for solemnising weddings or throwing magnanimous parties.
i. Canterbury Cathedral: This medieval city is where English christianity originated. In the 12th century, the Arcbishop was murdered inside the cathedral as an act of contempt against the Pope, and the cathedral was plundered. It was then rebuilt into this fine structure what it now is. At the spot of the murder, a candle still flickers there. It has beautiful stained glass work, something to admire.
j. Oxford: Don’t miss out on the centre of academic excellence for over 900 years. This university town has become the model structure for every university that was built in the last 200 years. Sprawling gardens, separate blocks for each department, fantastic pathways and the captivating courtyards makes you feel like you are in a garden rather than a college. Checkout the library that houses over a million books from all over the world. Walk in the corridors where the famous of yesteryears have been.
What I have written is just being minimalistic. I have not even mentioned about the museums which are free for viewing, over a dozen other castles, Greenwich village and Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford. This city is filled with unexplored places that find a mention in many chapters of history or a passing mention in great novels of English literature. London for a first timer is always a treat, welcomes you with open arms.
This post was first published on Yahoo Network