“You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to
leave London. No sir, when a man is tired of London,
he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can
afford”. Samuel Johnson, 1777
I have been to London probably eight times and never ever tire of it.
It’s a bustling city that has so much to offer the visitor. The Tower
Bridge, the famous Red Telephone Booths, the Black Cabs, museums,
beautiful parks and gardens, shopping, history, the London Theatre,
beautiful buildings, Sherlock Holmes, Scotland Yard, all those
James Bond movies, and of course the Monarchy, which we all love
Springtime in London is lovely and May is the perfect time to visit this
wonderful city. The crowds are sparse and airfare usually is reasonable.
So on a beautiful morning in May, my friend Sandy and I landed at
Heathrow Airport in London and jump in a taxi that would take us to
our apartment (flat) as the British would say, for the next week. We
have been pretty lucky to be able to stay in this flat on Sloane Square,
the last several times we have been here.
Sloane Square is a small landscaped square on the boundaries of
Central London, districts of Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Chelsea,
southwest of Charing Cross, in the Royal Borough of Kensington
and Chelsea. The square lies at the east end of the trendy Kings
Road and at the south end of Sloane Street. The square has two
noticeable buildings, Peter Jones Department Store and The Royal
Court Theatre. Sloane Square Underground Tube Station is at the
Southeastern corner, actually almost right next store to our flat.
Sloane Square and it’s surroundings are one of the less crowded areas
of London. It is home to quiet neighborhoods of small mansions
and townhouses. There is even a nursery school in the area that
Princess Diana worked before she married Prince Charles. From
Sloane Square down Kings Road there is tons of boutiques, cafés,
restaurants, Patisserie Paul’s, with the best maroons, or Waterstones
Bookstore, just to name a few. Sloane Street is where the upscale
shops are such as, Gucci, Dior, Armani, Prada, Harvey Nichols, Louis
Vuitton, Versace, and many more. It’s just a great street to window
shop your way to Harrods.
This would be our apartment for the next week. It is so lovely.
It is in a typical townhouse like building on the bottom floor. We have
been lucky enough to have stayed here several times, so it felt like
coming home when we opened the door to this sweet place. The
flat has one bedroom and two full baths. I would sleep on the
pull out couch and have my own private full bath. It worked out
beautifully and besides our week stay here was always a gift to Sandy
and I was just lucky enough to be invited. London is a very expensive
city and this area is pretty upscale, but it has so much to offer and
the stores are pretty great. There is a wonderful store, Partridges,
it’s like an upscale Whole Foods or Trader Joes. It has everything
you could want with a great food section that is chock full of amazing
dishes. We will usually come here to do our shopping for the week.
On Saturday mornings, there is always a market on this square right
outside Patridges that sells everything from produce, sweets, fruit,
fish, you name it they sell it. With over 70 vendors you have your
choice of the freshest of the fresh. It’s fun to walk through the market
and people watch as all the Londoners are doing their shopping.
What is great about staying in this area is that you don’t have to
always eat in restaurants, you can shop for the best quality and
save money at the same time. I love this area.
“London has the trick of making the past, always
a part of its present. And for that reason it will
always have meaning for the future, because of
all it can teach about disaster, survival, and redemption.
It is all there in the streets, it is all there in the books”.
The various and diverse villages of London reflect the full spectrum
of the city’s residents. From exclusive elite establishments to dingy
dives, there is something for every visitor.
Walking the streets of London is a feast for the eyes. Century old
buildings and establishments like this, make London so lovely.
You feel like you have stepped back in time.
Buckingham Palace is the London Residence and principal workplace
of the Monarchy of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of
Westminster, the palace is often the center of state occasions and
royal hospitality. The palace has 830,000 sq ft of floor space . The
Picture Gallery is 55 yards long and has numerous works of art including
Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens and Vermeer. The Guard Room contains
white marble statues of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Bow
Room is where thousands of guests pass through annually to the Queens
Garden parties in the gardens beyond. The Ballroom is the largest
room in the Palace. There are so many more rooms in the Palace,
but this is just a tiny handful of descriptions to give you an idea. I
had the opportunity, many years ago, to go through the palace and it is
stunning. I actually need to do this again sometime. The Palace
State Rooms, have been open to the public during the months of
August and September, since 1993.
The forecourt of Buckingham Palace is used for the Changing
of the Guard, a major ceremony and tourist attraction daily
during the summer months; every other day in the winter.
The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons
and the House of Lords, which make up the Houses of Parliament.
The Palace of Westminster is a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1987.
The Elizabeth Tower, in particular, which is often referred to by the
name, “Big Ben”, is an iconic landmark of London.
One of the most popular attractions in London these days, is the
London Eye or otherwise known as the Millennium Wheel. It is a
giant Ferris Wheel on the south bank of the River Thames in London.
The entire structure is 443 ft. tall. It is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel and
is one of only two of the highest public viewing structures in London.
It opened to the public on March 9, 2000 and by June 5, 2008, it was
announced that 30 million people had ridden the London Eye since
it opened. That was in 2008, the numbers probably have doubled
since. Of course riding this giant Ferris wheel is really a delight.
Stepping into the air-conditioned capsule, I noticed that it is actually
larger than you think. We were able to walk around the capsule to
take pictures and I must say the views were spectacular.
It was Sir Richard Rogers, that said:
“The Eye has done for London what the Eiffel Tower did for
Paris, which is to give it a symbol and to let people climb above
the city and look back down on it. Not just specialists or rich people,
but everybody. That’s the beauty of it: it is public and accessible,
and it is in a great position at the heart of London”.