Showing posts with label London. Show all posts
Showing posts with label London. Show all posts

Friday, June 18, 2010

London's "Novel Destinations"- Footloose Part II

As tempting as were the double-decker buses, we set off on foot to continue our one-day tour of London, this time heading to Russell Square and into the lobby area of the stately Hotel Russell .

We made a stop at the British Museum (free admission; donations suggested) en route to the Soho District. and back. Although we spent a good bit of time at the Museum, it will require a much longer stop on a future trip.

Readers of  this blog know of our quest for novel destinations  those places we are drawn to because of novels that are set in them - and destinations that lead us to books.  So the most memorable stop of the afternoon for me was at a bookstore located only a few minutes walk from Covent Gardens Piazza.

Imagine entering a bookstore that actually had an entire wall of ceiling high shelves of books labeled "Novel Destinations". On the opposite side of the room were similarly high shelves of travel guides - written by folks from all over the world. . .many of which we'd not seen on US bookshelves. Filling the space between the towering shelves were Another wall held shelves of journals just waiting to be filled with travel tales.

Stanfords Maps and Books, is a must for those who have a passion for travel and books - real books on real paper that is.  As it was, I broke my vow of 'buying nothing more' and found a way to stuff three new books (they were 3 for the price of 2) into our small suitcase.  I would return to London if for no other reason than to visit this store again but the good news is: they have a web site and ship anywhere in the world.

We were then off in search of the perfect pub. . .and that story makes up the next post.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Footloose in London - Part I

Just walking down a London street provides a free sightseeing feast to our way of thinking:  the old buildings snuggled in between the new, the hustle and bustle of pedestrians, the scurrying waves of black cabs and mountainous double-decker buses. 

There are also an enormous number of tourist sights to be seen for free, so armed with our city map and with our walking shoes on, we set out to see as much as possible:

             Covent Garden
Setting out on a route that took us past The Royal Opera House, we first visted The Piazza and Central Square at Covent Garden  in the early morning as vendors were just greeting the day. Our mid-day return was to a far more lively place - the square had filled with those eating and those entertaining - both were fun and free to watch.

Continuing on to Trafalgar Square we passed on the National Portrait Gallery but made a whirlwind trip through the National Gallery, where admission is free and donations are suggested. Note:  You would need days - if not weeks - to properly explore and absorb the more than 2,000 art pieces on display.

Then on to Whitehall where we watched the Changing of the Horse Guards - another free sidewalk show.

Our morning explorations ended underground in Churchill's War Rooms and Museum. This absolutely spell-binding time capsule provides a goose-bump look at of the realities of World War II in London gives you more than your money's worth (this one does cost). We spent two hours exploring the maze of Winston's underground command center and could have stayed longer but tired feet dictated a short break.

Our afternoon and evening freebie finds will come in the next post. . .

Friday, June 11, 2010

London in 48 Hours. . .or less

Flight connections from Greece required a one-night stay in London so instead of heading to an airport hotel,  we cashed in some Marriott points and gave ourselves a two-night, and almost-one-full-day mini-stay downtown. Within hours of our arrival we were wishing we'd allowed ourselves more time here.
Having arrived at Victoria Station aboard the Gatwick Express train, we climbed into one of the famous, ubiquitous black cabs, for a twisty, turny - rather pricey - trip through London's t rush hour traffic as we made our way to the  Renaissance Chancery Court in London's Holborn district.

Renaissance Chancery Court
This Edwardian High Baroque-style building, built over the two-year period,1912 - 1914, was the home to the Pearl Assurance Company until 1990.  In 1998 the building was transformed into its present-day marble-pillared hotel.


High Holborn, Gerkin in background
Our location on High Holborn, put us in an interesting historic area of the city; one known as being home to the legal and journalism professions (a perfect fit for the two of us).  The road itself is believed to follow the path of the Roman road from Londinium which was founded in the AD 50 - 100 time frame. We were walking distance to Covent Garden and the theatre district, just a few blocks beyond. Walking the opposite direction we would have been in The City, as it was, we had a view of its famous Gerkin Building.

We had enough time to get a basic introduction to the area that first evening, so we were ready to go exploring the next day. We packed a lot into that single day and the next post will tell you how we did it.


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