Perhaps it was just because of the upcoming 2012 Olympics that the city of London was bustling with tourists. But something tells me it’s a little bit more…..
Portobello Road, Portobello Road,
street where the riches of ages are stowed.
Anything and everything a chap can unload,
is sold off the barrow at Portobello Road.
You’ll find what you want at the Portobello Road.
You may recognise these lyrics from the popular film ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’. The lyrics speak for themselves. Keen bargain hunters, both locals and tourists, lurk around Portobello Road. Anything from earrings to antique sewing machines is available for purchase at Portobello Road!
If you’re looking for a more tasteful experience, visit a rather unique store in Leicester Square. Everyone’s heard of M&Ms, but what about a whole store dedicated to them? London’s Leicester Square has done just that! In London’s 4-story M&M World, there’s more than just candy. You’ll find merchandise such as chess sets, kitchenware, clothing, jewellery, clothes and glassware. Located at the back of the building is a humungous wall of chocolate where you are able to create your own M&Ms selection from over 100 choices!
For a more historical feel, I would recommend visiting the Tower of London. In the early 1080s, William the Conqueror began building a stone tower at the centre of his London fortress at Tower Hill. Through the centuries, other monarchs have added to the reinforcement of the tower and left us with a wonderful historical precinct. The Crown Jewels can be viewed here. It is also said that the ghost of Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s second wife) loiters around the Tower of London, as she was executed in this fine structure.
Finding a restaurant in London isn’t testing, as there is a multitude of restaurants to suit everyone’s taste around every corner. One restaurant I would recommend is Garfunkel’s. It was at this restaurant that my parents shared their first date when they lived in London, in 1994. Seventeen years later (2011), they accompanied my sister and I to that same place. Garfunkel’s menu includes something for everyone. Not only do they include London classics on their menu, but fabulous cuisine from all over the world. A Garfunkel’s Banana Split is a ‘must-have dessert’!
For something a little fancier, visit Fortnum & Masons. I adore this place as it consists of several different restaurants of such diversity. These are, The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, The Fountain, The Gallery, The Parlour and 1707. What is now known as The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon was undergoing renovations when I visited, however, on 1 March 2012, the restaurant was opened by Her Majesty the Queen accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses The Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge. The Parlour, located on the first floor, is a favourite of mine. It allows you to indulge in sublime sorbets and incredible ice-cream. Their well-known hot chocolate is a winner in many eyes. Made by one of the greatest chocolatiers in the world, it sure makes for a mouth-watering experience. For customers that prefer savoury over sweet, The Parlour’s special sandwich is always available.
For the vast majority of travellers that visit London, Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard is on their list of things to do. This was the same for my family and I. We found this ceremony anything but great. My family and I arrived 30-40 minutes early, yet we still barely caught a glimpse of any of it. As you would most likely have your back pack with you carrying valuables like cameras, it’s quite risky due to the large amount of pickpockets lurking about. I would certainly recommend rubbing this off your to-do list!
There are lots of things that London is famous for: films, celebrities, history, shopping etc. But sitting quite high on that list would be musicals. For a great bargain, head straight to the Half-Price Ticket Booth in Leicester Square. You may have to line up for a while but it’s well worth it. The two musicals I viewed were ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Jersey Boys’. The Phantom was remarkable. The singing was fantastic as well as the instrumentals and acting – certainly my favourite musical of all time! Jersey Boys was impressive; however, I wouldn’t recommend it to children due to numerous scenes with coarse language. The songs were lively though and got the audience pumped.
The laughter of both children and parents rings through your ears as you enter Hamleys, the finest toy store in the world. From stuffed toys to magic tricks, Hamleys features everything you want. Staff are willing to do your nails with their special nail polish or let you paint just to lure you into buying their merchandise. With several floors of fun, hours can be spent looking at everything in Hamleys!
The iconic London double-decker bus is a great way to see the city. Who could come to London and not ride one? These buses stop at many of the sites I have been writing about, and often give you some tips on what to do and see at your location.
So, I guess there is something more to the reason London is bustling, not just the coming of the Olympics…. after all, who wouldn’t want to visit such a magnificent city?
May the Travel – Bug be with you…….
Things to do and Places to visit:
Westminster Abbey = http://www.westminster-abbey.org/
Garfunkel’s = http://www.garfunkels.co.uk/
Harrods = http://www.harrods.com/
M&Ms World = http://www.mymms.com/merchandise/
Hamleys = http://www.hamleys.com/
Fortnum & Masons = http://www.fortnumandmason.com/
London Eye = http://www.londoneye.com/
Half-Price Ticket Booth = http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/buy-tickets/tkts/