Friday, November 18, 2005


Months ago I promised Antoaneta a blog entry about places to visit when she goes to London. She's leaving in a couple of days so I'd better throw something together!

Caveat: although I did live in central London for more than a year, I am not the ideal person for recommending sites and activities to visitors. For you see, in London I lived the life of a penniless foreign grad student. I had plenty of time and zero money, which is kind of the opposite situation to most international tourists. For me, London life was things you can do for free: museums, parks, department stores (just looking, thanks!) and random neighborhood strolls. Also, I'm an archaeology geek. You have been warned. So here we go to Andrea's London!

Touristy Traps
Well, there's the famous stuff like the Houses of Parliament, Licester Square, Buckingham, the Tower, Tower Bridge etc, etc. I suppose you could stroll past those if you're in the area and haven't seen them before. Westminster Abbey is super-interesting and you really should go inside. I recommend taking the verger's tour if possible. Otherwise, buy a little guidebook to help you find the more secluded tombs.

Starting with The Big One: The BM. The awesome thing about museums in London these days is that admission is free so there's no more of that '45 minutes of lining up to pay and get in' nonsense. Just stroll in, check out what you like, leave a donation and come back when you feel like it. You don't have to do the entire thing at once. At the BM, there's lots to see but be sure to visit the British galleries (including part of the Sutton Hoo treasure), the stuff from Nineveh and the Elgin Marbles (oh, sorry, the Parthenon Marbles.) If it's a nice day when you're at the BM, consider having a hot drink in the pavilion in Russell Square, just north (behind) the BM. Oh yes, you can also see the magnificent domed library where I wrote my entire grad thesis in two weeks.

The V&A. Decorative arts from around the world and through time.

The Portrait Gallery. Portraits are cool, especially the really early ones. Pop in for a look.
The National Gallery. In case you haven't seen enough paintings. These last two galleries are pretty much side by side.
The Tate Modern - part of Andrea's London Wanders #1 which combines museums, tourist stuff, random walking and alcohol. Read on.

London Wander #1
When I arrived in London, there was only one person I knew in the entire UK. During my first week, he took me on this mini tour and it was really good. This is for a Friday or Saturday evening if the weather is okay. Start at St. Paul's Cathedral. After you've had enough of that, head on over to the Millennium Bridge. I love this bridge and I bet it'll be the funkiest you've ever crossed. On the other side of the bridge is Southwark (but don't pronounce it as 'Southwark'; it's 'Suvvuk'). Now you're going to need a map. Follow your map for a little south bank tour past The Globe Theatre and Southwark Cathedral (and also Bridget Jones' house), then go south down Borough High Street. You are looking for number 77, a gated entrance to The George Inn, one of London's most historic pubs. The beers on tap aren't anything special, but you're there for the atmosphere and architecture. After you've enjoyed a couple of pints, it's time to head back westwards to the Tate Modern (trust me, it's better with a buzz). The Tate Modern is open until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays (last admittance is at 9:15). So, take a look and the strangeness/creativity and by 10 o'clock, you're on your way to whatever you have planned for the night.

I'm not finished! I'll be covering parks, department stores, markets, walks and more later.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Thank you! This is great. Can't wait for part two.
- Antoaneta

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