What’s to see in London? Lots. So how do you know what is worth seeing? That depends on what kind of thing you like to see. A relative of mine was visiting with a friend and they didn’t think it worth the 18 pound to visit the inside of St Pauls, so they didn’t go. I, however, wouldn’t have missed it for the world, and for me, it’s a ‘must see’. But then, I’m particularly interested in architecture, particularly of the gothic variety. I also, having done some research, had a National Rail week’s travel ticket that gave me a two for one deal on many sights including St Pauls and Westminster Abbey. So my daughter and I got in for 9 pounds (roughly 18 AUD) which is a lot more reasonable than 18 pounds or roughly 36 AUD each.
As some of you know, I made travel vlogs of my recent travels. These are on You Tube now, but I’ll be posting more here on my travels over the coming months. One thing I discovered from doing videos is that, though I enjoy making videos, I prefer writing, and there were some things I wanted to say about the places I visited, that I didn’t say in the videos.
So, to London, my first stop in Europe.
London in general
I was pleasantly surprised with London. I expected it to be just a big dirty city, but I stayed in a lovely Air BNB in Golders Green, which is really pretty. It’s in central London a couple of stops just before the end of the tube system. Everywhere you look, it looks like England, unmistakably so. The weather was changeable, but not as cold as I expected, and was still warmer than home (south coastal NSW Australia) for July.
How long to spend there.
At least a week. I had one week and could have had another couple of days, but then I don’t like to do too much in one day.
Travel: what to get.
If you’re staying in central London and are planning to use rail to get around, which is the best way to do it. Get a National Rail weekly travel pass. It gives you travel on tube and above ground rail on one ticket AND you get the two for one deal on a huge number of attractions that I mentioned early. If you’re going with a friend, it’s a really good investment. You have to get them from an above ground railway ticket office (National Rail) and you need a passport photo to get one. If they don’t ask for a passport photo, you’re not getting the right ticket, and you have to get a booklet of vouchers for the two for one deals.
The Tube is REALLY hot by the way, and I don’t mean sexy! You need layers.
Places to see
Big Ben and houses of Parliament
Take the tube because you get out of the tube at Westminster and Big Ben is right there in front of you, and it’s quite a sight. And the houses of parliament are so incredibly intricate in their design, they are amazing.
St Pauls Cathedral
One thing that in hindsight strikes me about St Pauls and Westminster Abbey is how different they are to the European Cathedrals. Yes, they are very similar in style, but at the same time, they are different, just as the Italian churches are similar but different to those in France and Spain. You can’t film inside them, though I got a sneak shot of St Pauls before I realised.
I loved the cathedral, just adored it. We sat there meditating for quite some time and immersed ourselves in the residue of centuries of devotion.
I loved the atmosphere inside, even with the tourists, the power of the place (and St Pauls) is enormous. Almost every square inch of wall has a stature on it, and every statue is a work of art. It’s like a memorial gallery of famous British people. We were abled to film in the cloisters here, and I got some lovely shots.
I adored the cloisters. Such a lovely spot for contemplatingthe moment.
This last photo isn’t actually the Abbey, it’s the back of St Mary’s which is next to it. Notable for it’s beautiful Gothic detail.
This is a delightful place. You get to experience English countryside without having to leave London.
Camden Locke Market
For some this is just an ordinary shopping centre and market, but if you’re looking for steampunk, gothic or tribal clothing, then this is the place to go. You can also get some quite cheap Italian cotton clothing there. There’s an excellent food area as well.
The making of Harry Potter Warner Brothers Exhibition
This was an excellent exhibition that showcases the talents of the artists involved in bringing the books to life. You get a real sense of the process and the enormity of the undertaking.
I always thought that Buckingham Palace wasn’t a particularly noteworthy building and my visit didn’t change my mind. The gates, however, are worth seeing. There are other palaces you can see and I would have liked to, but I didn’t have time. I would’ve liked to have seen a well-appointed manor house as well, but that didn’t happen either. maybe next time!
And now for the videos:
The first shows Hampstead Heath.
And this is of the main tourist attractions.
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And please take a look in my bookshop before you go. In The Locksmith’s Secret, Prunella Smith travels from Australia to London, and there will be more travel in my next novel, The Rise of the Aether Mages.