England’s famous and historic capital is the largest city in the United Kingdom, with a well-deserved reputation for cultural diversity. London is a huge and bustling metropolis, a central hub of finance, art, fashion and so much more! Not surprisingly, it hosts about 28 million visitors annually, and this year, my niece Nancy and I were among them, on a delightful return visit.
I don’t know anyone who isn’t passionate about this city. I fell in love long ago with London’s neighbourhoods, architecture, culture and history. I also adore Londoners, who, on the whole, are polite and respectful people who know so much about good living.
When you think about the city, iconic images quickly come to mind: Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the London Eye, the double-decker buses, the classic red phone booths and black taxi cabs… They may be clichés, but we all have pictures of them on our phones!
It’s hard to avoid the crowds in a city of 10 million (not counting tourists). But it doesn’t matter. It’s still wonderful to walk the streets, take the tube, stop in one of the countless pubs, visit a museum, take in a performance of The Phantom of the Opera (again)—there is never a shortage of things to do.
You do have to go to Harrods, if only just to experience the place. It’s not just the ultimate in elegant department stores—Shoe Heaven makes me weak in the knees—it’s also a fabulous place for lunch. So is Borough Market, a London classic and one of Europe’s oldest public markets, located on the south side of the Thames. People from every background come here to shop for gourmet foods from around the world and enjoy the offerings of multiple pubs and restaurants. If you want to know what it’s like to live in London, spend a little time in Borough Market.
Which restaurant to choose? Amoung the many fine eateries in the city, we enjoyed Frenchie and Gymkhana.
When night falls, dining in London presents a challenge: which restaurant to choose? Among the many fine eateries in the city, we enjoyed Frenchie and Gymkhana, famous for its fine Indian cuisine. Another must is afternoon tea, of course. For more traditional, go to the Savoy and for more contemporary, try the English Tea Room at Brown’s Hotel. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. Just be sure to book ahead!
You’ll want to leave time for the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, a visit to Westminster Abbey, the crown jewels and loads of history at the Tower of London, and perhaps a quick tour of the beautiful homes of Notting Hill.
Time to spare? The Belmond British Pullman Train (the old Orient Express) offers a number of luxurious options. If you wish to have tea with a member of the British royalty, or perhaps visit a private castle in the English countryside, Adams & Butler is the high-end tour operator for you.
I can hardly wait to go back!