Showing posts with label on foot in London. Show all posts
Showing posts with label on foot in London. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

London ~ We Are Where we Are!

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

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?

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

PicMonkey Collage
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

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.

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.

PicMonkey Collage
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.)

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?

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

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:

Guards Museum

PicMonkey Collage
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.

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Thirsting for History ~ A DIY London Pub Crawl

You can work up a thirst when you DIY (do it yourself) tour a city.  Especially when the temperatures are in the 80’s (26C) and the city is London, England.

We found there’s no better place than an old traditional English pub to provide a means of quenching your thirst while providing a taste of history. 

Ale taps at Audley Pub - Mayfair District
One of our favorite public houses – that is from where the word ‘pub’ comes --  is the Audley Pub, a block from Grosvenor Square in the Mayflower district, on the corner of Mount and South Audley streets.  It was an easy few blocks walk from our hotel. We’d been so charmed by it on a London stopover a few years ago that we headed back to it within hours of our arrival this spring. 

Interior Audley Pub - Mayfair District - London 
This traditional old watering hole was established back in 1730 as The Bricklayers Arms. It was rebuilt in 1888 at the instruction of the Duke of Westminster and the landlord at the time was allowed to keep his lease but had to change the name to the ‘more respectable’ Audley Hotel.

P1000651 (2)
Stand up and sip outside the Audley Pub - Mayfair District
No longer a hotel, there is a cozy restaurant area on the pub’s second floor that served up some of the best pub grub we found in London during our visit a few years ago. It was closed for a private party the evening we were there this spring, so it still seems to be popular.

The Audley, like most pubs in London, is crowded in the early evenings with a mix of professionals who’ve come from their ‘dress-for-success’ offices and are still ‘talking shop’ and other more casually dressed drinkers, like us, who simply want a beverage and atmosphere.

George, a private club, occupies part of building across the street from Audley Pub

Audley Pub provided hearty servings of both beverage and atmosphere. We aren’t ale fans, but found a good selection of wine from which to choose. And once selected, we headed to the sidewalk (where smokers partake of tobacco because of recent anti-smoking laws) and others of us were there to enjoy the good weather and neighborhood surroundings.

A change we noticed from our last London visit, was that each pub had a security officer to make sure the patrons don’t block sidewalks or worse, step out into traffic.

PicMonkey Collage
Audley House - Mayfair District - London
Our sidewalk sipping was kitty-corner from the ornate entry to Audley House, built in 1881. It has been the home of James Purdey & Sons Gun and Rifle Shop since 1883, and back then it was considered ‘the most prestigious gun shop in the country’. The shop continues to flourish in this stately building that bears a plaque where shrapnel from a World War II air raid damaged pillars. (Windows on its east side were destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1972.)  

We’d pondered its history while sipping our wine and having  researched it since returning home, we plan to go in next time to see its Long Room which was used during WWII by General Dwight Eisenhower’s staff to plan battles. 

British Pubs – Here today – gone tomorrow?

While British pubs are as iconic a part of London as its red phone booths and double-decker buses, there aren’t as many of them around as there used to be.  In 2014 the British Beer and Pub Association reported there were 51,900 pubs in the United Kingdom, a sharp decrease from 1982 when 67,800 pubs operated there.

The Salisbury - theatre district - London
Any number of reasons have contributed to the closing of more than 7,000 U.K. pubs; among them are the anti-smoking laws I mentioned above, beer prices at supermarkets, and the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. According to the Association the British are drinking 23 percent less ale than a decade ago; their trend is toward drinking wine in ‘trendier’ bars.  In London, the hot housing market had pub owners selling businesses which were converted to houses or apartments. Many of the pubs are now owned and operated by breweries.

The Salisbury - London pub
One pub that is still going strong is The Salisbury at 90 St. Martin Lane, in the heart of the Theatre District. It opened in 1892 as a gin palace and in recent years has been featured in a number of films. This pub offers an app you can download for do-it-yourself ‘themed pub tours, such as a ghost tour, or a shopping tour. To download the app:

The Iron Duke - Mayfair District - London
We had another taste of history, along with a glass of wine, at The Iron Duke, 11 Avery Row, back in the Mayfair District, as the pub’s name is for that of the “Iron Duke”, the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, a decorated army commander who ruled as Prime Minister in the late 1820’s.
(You’ll note here we were surrounded by the dress-for-success-after-work crowd.)

PicMonkey Collage
Prince Regent Pub - Marylebone High StreetAdd caption
And some pubs just call out because they are in an interesting neighborhood or they are housed in picturesque buildings, like the case of the Prince Regent pub we sipped at on the Marylebone High Street.

Marylebone is an affluent area, walking distance from our hotel near Hyde Park in Mayfair - for those who are able to walk several blocks. Its High Street is alive with small shops and cafes. According to Wikipedia, “Marylebone gets its name from a church dedicated to St Mary, represented now by St. Marylebone Parish Church(1817); the original church was built on the bank of a small stream or “bourne”.

Angel in the Fields - Maryleborne - London
As I told you in last week’s post, we spent a few days exploring London on our own without any particular plan. Several of the pubs we visited during our stay, we’d discovered on previous stops in London and we were pleased to see they were still in existence. Even with the decrease in their overall numbers, luckily, old traditional pubs are still easy to find in London.

If you aren’t up to setting out on your own, simply “Google” London pub tours and a variety of options will appear.  I did a quick search and found a 3-hour afternoon walk from $33.81US; a 4-hour west end tour from $64.91US and a Literary Pub Crawl and Tavern Tour from $24.34US.

Ale taps - Prince Regent Pub - Maryleborne
That’s it for this week.  We thank you for your time and hope you’ll be back to see what’s ‘on tap’ next week!  Until then, safe and healthy travels to you and yours ~

Linking up this week:

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


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...