Tuesday, July 19, 2016

London ~ We Are Where we Are!

“We are where we are. Why DO you need the map?”

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London's Theatre District
That is The Scout’s response when we set off on a DIY (do it yourself) exploration and invariably somewhere along our route, I start searching for the map that has disappeared in my purse. (No, we don’t do apps or downloaded pre-recorded tours.)

When you think about it, it is an excellent question and one to which I really have no answer.  Maybe I just like to get my bearings. Maybe I don’t want to miss something that might be nearby.

But in reality, we are where we are. . .what does it matter?

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A garden on Park Lane - London
As I told you in earlier posts, circumstances prompted an earlier than planned return to Seattle from Greece, so we gave ourselves a few days layover in London with little thought to what we would do when we got there. We were blessed by the travel gods with blue sky and sunshine which encouraged our decision to explore the city on foot with no particular destination in mind.  So this week, take a look at some of the places we ended up with this devil-may-care approach. . .

The Old and New

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Old and ornate giving way to sleek and modern
No matter what direction we walked there was evidence of the old, ornate architecture giving way to new buildings. Or they’d given way to new train connections which will certainly ease traffic woes in the city, but on the other hand, it seemed in some places have lost a bit of charm. Sleek, modern high rise buildings made it look like any other city.

Gardens and Squares

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Manchester Square - Marylebone - London
There were squares scattered about the city – some were open and inviting and others, like the one above, Manchester Square, had no public access. All were different but picturesque.  This 18th-century Georgian garden square, not far from Oxford Street in the Marylebone area is in front of a mansion that is now the home of the Wallace Collection, a major collection of fine and decorative arts. It is open to the public free of charge.

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Home of the Wallace Collection - Marylebone - London
St. James’s Park, near Buckingham Palace, is always a people-magnet and in spring its blooms were irresistible.  It is also open to the public free of charge.

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St. James Park in springtime blooms - London
Buckingham Palace

You can’t visit London and not be drawn to Buckingham Palace. . .even if you are wandering as aimlessly as we were.  And sometimes you find you’ve arrived at just the right time, because the Queen just might be passing by. . . (She’s in the car on the right but I wasn’t expecting to see the Queen come by so didn’t have time to zoom in.)

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The Queen really is in this photo - London
Even knowing the Queen isn't inside, one really must take a moment to admire the palace. How many times have we watched our television screens to watch the Royal Family step onto that balcony?

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Buckingham Palace - London
Travel Tip:  Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk

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Diana Memorial Walk plaque - London
If you want to do a DIY tour but aren’t ready to set out as aimlessly as we did, you might give the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk a try. It is a 7-mile loop marked with 90 sidewalk plaques like the one in the photo above. It leads to four parks, past three palaces and two mansions.  A downloadable PDF map can be found at: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park/things-to-see-and-do/self-guided-walks/the-diana-princess-of-wales-memorial-walk

Guards Museum

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Palace Guards at Work - London
Another bit of free entertainment we happened upon was at the Guards Museum, located near Buckingham Palace and just across Birdcage Walk from St. James’s Park. Troops were out practicing formations – and we had a front row spot at the fence because most tourists were back at the Palace waiting for the changing of the guard there.

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Big Ben - London
I’ll sign off this week with a photo of Big Ben. I don't want you thinking we missed all the tourist ‘sites’ that London has to offer - our wanderings took us to many of them.   We walked 33.5 miles in the four days we had in this jolly ol’ town. There is so much to see and do that we could have doubled that distance, had we had the time and energy.  London isn’t an inexpensive city but there are ways to ‘do it’ inexpensively, as we’ve shown you in recent posts.

How about you?  Any money-saving travel tips for those heading to London?

We thank you for the time you’ve spent with us and so appreciate your comments. Hopefully you’ll be back again next week and bring a friend or two with you. . .we’ve got some travel plans to tell you about that might make some of you want to join us and may simply bring on a wave of discomfort for others of you. Until next week, safe and healthy travels to you and yours ~  

Take a minute or two and visit these linkup parties:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

28 comments:

  1. Wow! You found so many lovely spots on your adventure. :-) Peering in to courtyard gardens is one of my favorite things. :-)

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    1. The more courtyards and gardens the better when I visit big cities. . .must be that Pacific Northwest influence or something :-) ??

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  2. I love the "What does it matter" approach when exploring a new city without an itinerary and it looks like the perfect way to discover London for yourself! So many of our best memories have been about serendipity (like watching the Palace Guards practice without the crowds) and it looks like you have many of those moments from your DIY tour. I think I could have spent hours wandering through the St. James Park myself!

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    1. I could easily -- on a sunny day anyway -- do nothing but stroll through the parks, sit on a bench and people watch and at day's end I would consider it one well spent. Thanks for the visit, Anita.

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  3. That is a great suggestion to do the Diana walk. We haven't been to London in recent history, but I'd like to do that walk.

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    1. I saw the medallion in the sidewalk outside Buckingham Palace and then researched it after we got home. Wish I had known about it before, because I too would like to do it. "Next time. . ."

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  4. I do not do apps or tour with a guide in my phone either. I do not know, I feel like something is lost when you go that route (my opinion, of course). Glad you had good weather in London.

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    1. Ruth, I so agree. Those apps and pre-loaded tours are like tour groups to me, so very limiting and so much of the 'real' or 'everyday' is missed. Yes, the good weather helped! Thanks for the comment.

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  5. Great that travel Gods were kind and you some fantastic captures! Noting down this walk with deep desire to do it some day when I am there!

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    1. Indrani, I also plan to do the Diana walk the next time we get back to London! Thanks much for stopping by.

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  6. Looks like a great walk about. You've found some interesting things that I did not see when I was there.

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    1. There is so much to see and do in London that you could go there once a year and never get to everything. I bet you found places that we never got close to. . .and loved it all the same! Thanks much for the visit~

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  7. Wow, must have been an interesting walk filled with historical monuments.

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    1. It was an amazing tour - a bit of tourist and a bit of everyday; my favorite kind. Thanks for the visit~

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  8. I've been to London many times and never tire of it. Will have to do the Lady Di walk next time.

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  9. London is a great city to just wander around (with or without a map). Love your photos. The old and new images have struck me too in my most recent visits. So many building cranes on the skyline now! My money-saving tips are to spend time walking - lots to see. Also, many excellent museums have free admission. And then there are half-price theatre tickets in Leicester Square. I did a post on London money-saving tips a couple of years ago - http://www.destinationsdetoursdreams.com/2013/10/saving-money-in-london/

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  10. Well, I am glad you are back in Seattle so we can meet. Hopefully our second attempt would be more successful. Wow, I missed that Diana Walk Memorial. But we also found the Guards Museum and felt the very same thing, like we hit the jackpot!

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    1. Sorry we didn't get together Carol, but you never know where our paths may cross!

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  11. I agree ... it doesn't matter where you are in London, you're always going to see or stumble upon something interesting. Money saving tips - stay in a cheap hotel at Heathrow and get the Tube into the city. That way you're close to the airport when you leave and it's much less expensive.

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    1. We were surprised at the cost of the tube though Jo. We took it back to our hotel from Big Ben and paid more for two tickets than had we taken a black cab so I am now cautioning to check those tube prices before booking too far out. It was sticker shock at the finest. We are staying at Heathrow this fall and our hotel is $176 a night compared to $300 - $500 a night at Paddington Station! Good tip.

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  12. Great selection of pictures in my favourite city

    mollyxxx

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  13. Oh, London is my favorite. Well done on capturing its essence. Great post.

    Lisa @ Life Thru the Lens

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    1. Thanks much Lisa, glad you enjoyed the post!

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  14. Wonderful post! We are heading to London this fall, so I'm paying attention to all your discoveries there! I hadn't heard of the Princess Diana Memorial Walk. I hope we see some of those plaques, and now we'll know what that's all about!

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    1. Oh Sharon, you will have a fantastic time!! Do write and let us know of your discoveries as well!

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  15. London is a great city to ramble in. Personally, when I am operating without an itinerary, I like to start at least with a destination--perhaps a museum or sight--and then just wander in that area after. London is also great for this because you can always jump in a cab for a direct shot back to your hotel or wherever.

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    1. We usually had something in mind as a destination but didn't cast it in stone, if we got there fine, and if we found something else of interest or a different direction, that was fine too. It worked well! And I agree with hopping a cab after a marathon walk (sometimes they are cheaper than the Tube)!

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