Piccadilly Circus is a road junction and public space of London’s
West End in the city of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect
Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly Circus.
Circus in Latin is circle, a round open space at a street junction.
Piccadilly links directly to the theaters on Shaftesbury Avenue, as
well as Haymarket, Coventry Street and Leicester Square.
The circus is close to major shopping and entertainment areas in the
West End. It’s a major traffic junction and a busy meeting place and
tourist attraction with its video displays and neon signs. It is chocked
full of restaurants, bars, shopping and theaters. It is a great place to
come at night and people watch.
In all the times I have been to London, I never made it to Westminster
Abbey. No idea why, just never could fit it in. But I was determined
this trip that I would, and was so happy that I did. It is truly beautiful.
When you see it on television it looks much bigger. Now don’t get
me wrong, it is huge, but not near what I thought it would be. So
much history in this abbey that is over 1000 years old.
Westminster Abbey is a gothic church in the city of Westminster.
It is one of the most notable religious buildings in the United
Kingdom and has been the traditional place for Coronations and
burial sites for the English, and later, British Monarchs.
The Abbey has witnessed 38 coronations since 1066, the most recent
was that of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953.
What I remember, of course, was after Princess Diana was killed
in a car accident on August 31, 1997, her body laid in state at St. James
Palace until the funeral in Westminister Abbey on September 6,1997.
What I love about staying in the Sloane Square area is that we will
usually do the 30 minute walk up Sloane Street to Brompton, the
street that Harrods is located on, at least once a day. The walk is
lovely as we pass a couple of churches, a lovely small park with a
garden area, several townhouses, and always the unique and upscale
shops that we can only afford to window shop, but what fun that is.
The windows of these stores are lovely, colorful and certainly tempting.
Sloane street runs right into Knightbridge, a major street with hundreds
of stores and restaurants. If you turn right, Harvey Nichols Department
Store, a very upscale establishment, is right there taking up a few
blocks, and further down is the lovely Hyde Park. If you turn left,
you will pass several stores, restaurants, and finally the famous
Harrods Department Store.
Harrods is an upscale department store located on Brompton Rd.
in Knightsbridge. I never miss an opportunity to go into this store.
It is like something you have to see to believe. It’s not only beautiful
but is mammoth in size. It has over 330 departments which offer
a wide range of products and services. It has 32 restaurants, serving
everything from high tea to tapas to pub food to haute cuisine.
It offers a personal shopping assistance program known as “By
Appointment”, a watch repair, a pharmacy, beauty spa, Harrods
Financial Services, food delivery, a wine steward, private events
planner, and many many more. It even sells gold bars from Harrods
Bank. Harrods Food Hall is actually exactly that, a huge hall full
of food. Displays after displays of meats, fruit, salads, sushi, candy,
teas, fish, and so much more. It is truly unbelievable what this store
offers. They say it is visited, by sometimes on a peak day, over
330,000 people. There is even a dress code in place for the visitor.
I personally have never been stopped, (I would hope not) but I have
never gone in there with short cutoff jeans, dirty clothes, smelly,
swimwear, cycling shorts or flip flops. They say security staff has
the right to not let those examples in the store.
Usually if I go to a place more then once or twice, I try to see at least
a couple of different places that I had not visited on previous visits.
One of those would be our day trip to Kew Gardens about a thirty
minute tube ride from Sloane Square.
Stepping out of the station, in the Village of Kew, was certainly a delight.
It is a typical small English town, quaint and lovely, I knew at once
this would be a good day. After doing a little exploring around town,
we proceeded to take the six minute walk to Kew Gardens, passing
several beautiful English homes with lovely attached gardens.
The Royal Botanical Gardens, otherwise know as Kew Gardens, has the
largest collection of living plants, over 30,000 different kinds. The
grounds have beautiful landscapes, glasshouses full of rare and
beautiful plants, Historical buildings, botanical art galleries and a
soaring treetop walkway. Also on the grounds is a beautiful Temple
built for the Japan British Expedition in 1910 and moved to Kew in
1911. The Imperial Envoys Gateway, a four-fifths scale replica of the
Mishima houngan-ji Temple in Kyoto. Also, in the southeast corner of
Kew, stand the Great Pagoda erected in 1762. You can take a tram
around the entire grounds with a guide who explains the areas, the
history, and also points out several details that we would otherwise
have not known.
The grounds are simply stunning. Also on the grounds is Kew Palace,
a British Royal Palace, which actually is the size of a Manor. Amongst
the British royalty attached to the palace, was King George III who lived
here with his wife Queen Charlotte in the 1700’s. On April 21, 2006,
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, hosted an 80th birthday celebration
for his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
After spending the day at the gardens, we walked back to town and had
dinner at Ma Crusine, a french bistro with retro gingham tablecloths
and an exposed barn like ceiling. It was a great place to have a good
meal and reflect all we had experienced today.
What would a visit to London, England be without a spot of tea. We
will usually do tea once or twice while we are here and today it was at
Fortnum and Mason, an upscale department store in central London.
Fortnum has been selling tea for over 300 years. The quality is superb
and the blends make for a perfect cup of tea at any time of the day.
The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon was lovely and the service impeccable.
This is a British tradition that has continued through hundreds of years,
and still going strong.
Our week was coming to an end and sadly it would be time to have to
leave our wonderful flat on Sloane Square. There is definitely something
to be said about renting a flat or apartment while on vacation. It gives
you the feeling you are at home with all the conveniences needed to
live while traveling. You can have a leisurely breakfast without the
worries that the breakfast room will stop serving before you get there.
It saves money on food, you can do a little or lot of cooking in your
rental or not. There are so many advantages to staying in an apartment
while on vacation, and how lucky am I, that I have had the luxury of
staying in this flat, in London, several times.
“By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as
the world can show”. Samuel Johnson