I lived near London, England for nearly 18 years and everytime I visited famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace or Westminster Abbey the excitement was as great as the first time.
 
One of the biggest cities in the world with a population of 9 million, Central London is fairly easy to get around. Whether it is by walking or using the tube or buses, you can see most major attractions easily within two days. My girlfriend had never been to London before and it's always so exciting to show someone around who's only ever seen London in the movies or in pictures.
 
The first thing you notice flying over the UK is how much greenery you see, forests, crops and fields in vibrant colours. And then you see London, which seems to go on forever. More than likely your pilot will tell you that they have to circle a few times before landing. This isn't a bad thing as it gives you time to spot several landmarks like The London Eye, Tower Bridge, The Houses of Parliament and Wembley Stadium. After landing and walking for what will seem like ages, you will finally be out of Heathrow Airport. Heathrow is the third busiest airport in the world with 5 Terminals!
 
We stayed with my mate who lives in Gerrards Cross which is located just outside London and is a 20 minute train ride to Marylebone Station and then we would catch the Tube from Baker Street.

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On our first day we first visited Picadilly Circus which is bright and busy with tourists, double decker buses and cars. We then went straight to Soho which is filled with shops, restaurants and pubs. There is something about have a pint of hand pulled bitter in a pub that is 200 years older than Canada!
 
Next it was off to visit Selfridge's Department Store. If you were a fan of the TV series like we were, you'll have to find time to visit this spectacular store and see where it all started for Harry Selfridge in 1909. Selfridge's is the second largest store in the UK behind Harrods’s and has been owned by Canadian Galen Weston since 2003.
 
We then walked down New and Old Bond Street which is famous for its dozens of luxury designer shops. Within a few blocks of Bond Street you'll find yourself coming out near Clarence House where Prince Charles and Camilla live.
 
You'll now be standing on The Mall and to your right will be Buckingham Palace. Seeing it for the first time will take your breath away! And of course like everyone else, you'll stand at the main gates looking up at the windows to see if the Queen happens to be peeking outside. Also seeing the Beefeater Guards March back and forth is a treat! If you have the time, you can purchase tickets to tour the Palace!

buckpalce

The Queen Victoria Statue is a perfect spot for a great pic with the Palace in the background and to the right is Canada Gate. Canada Gate was presented to London in 1911 as part of the Queen Victoria Memorial. All of the Provincial Crests are displayed on the gate that leads to Green Park.
 
After gazing at the Palace, take a walk through St. James Park on your way to Westminster AbbeyThe Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Westminster Abbey's beginnings started in 1066 and is where many Royal Weddings have taken place including Prince William and Catherine in 2011.
 
From Westminster Abbey you will see The Clock Tower, home of Big Ben. Many mistakenly consider The Tower or the clock to be Big Ben, when in fact Big Ben is the name for the bell that rings at the top and bottom of the hour.

big ben

Across The Westminster Bridge will bring you to where The Coca Cola London Eye is located. The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames. It was originally called The Millennium Wheel when opened in 2000. It’s 443 feet tall, with a diameter of 394 feet. It is one of the best ways to see across London. Lines can be long to get on to one of the pods, but it is worth the wait! Each pod holds about 25 people. I would suggest purchasing a Champagne Experience ticket which includes direct access onto your pod. And of course glasses of chilled champagne as you take in the sights. The entire rotation takes about 30 minutes to complete.

LDNEYE1

ldneye2

 

A walk back across the bridge and then down Parliament Street will bring you to The Red Lion Pub which started as a tavern in 1434! Many famous Londoners have frequented the pub over the years including Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and other British Prime Ministers.
 
As you head towards Trafalgar Square you’ll pass Downing Street. Of course Number 10 is the official residence of the Serving British Prime Minister.
 
Trafalgar Square is a huge gathering spot for tourists and is also close to home for all Canadians as Canada House, Canada’s High Commission, sits next to the square. 
 
 
From Trafalgar Square there are so many places you can go in The West End. Covent Garden with its many shops and Market, Leicester Square with its many restaurants and where they host the big movie premieres or you can venture into the hustle and bustle of Chinatown. The West End is also the home to all of the theatres with their live musicals and plays. Many of these performances have been going on for years including Mama Mia, The Lion King, Wicked and Les Miserables which has been running for 28 years!
 
Of course to help you refuel after all of the walking, (We walked 50kms in 3 days) you’ll need to grab yourself a big bag of chips and pour on some real malt vinegar and watch the world go by. One of the most famous places is Poppie’s on Old Compton Street in Soho.
 
There are many things to see and do in London, and many won’t cost you one pence, such as Galleries and Museums.
 
If you have the chance to head out of London, a great half day trip would be to Windsor Castle. The Castle offers daily tours and is worth the cost and time needed. After the tour you can visit the many souvenir shops in the area while enjoying a 99 with a flake. (A soft ice cream cone with a chocolate flake inserted into it)

windsor

With some pre planning and a list of the top things you want to see and do, visits around London can be done over a weekend. Weather permitting of course!
If you plan to go and need any tips, let me know! [email protected]

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