FRIDAY: LONDON CALLIN'
You just got to London and although you might want to try to deny it, you are wanting to photograph all the phone cabins and red buses you find. Take it easy: in the center you will see them everywhere. To do this, start the morning in Trafalgar Square, the square that commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and that has become the social epicenter of the city with the famous statues of lions, Nelson's Column and the building that houses the National Gallery. Go inside the museum and indulge yourself in works such as the Arnolfini Marriage by Jan Van Eyck, The Virgin of the Rocks by Da Vinci or Van Gogh's Sunflowers. From the entrance stairs to the gallery, you will also have a nice view of Trafalgar Square with the famous Big Ben in the background.
** Travel Hint: the Sky Bar, located on the terrace of The Trafalgar Hotel offers one of the best views over Trafalgar Square.
As you leave the museum, cross the square towards the Big Ben and, crossing Charing Cross, and start walking through Whitehall Street. After a few minutes you will reach the headquarters of the army known as Horse Guards, where you can meet the mythical guards with funny hats. Somewhat later you will see a small open alley on your right. This is Downing Street, where the home of British Prime Minister is located, specifically at number 11. At the end of Whitehall Street, you will arrive to Parliament Square, at the foot of Big Ben and next to Westminster Bridge and the London Eye. This is it, take out the camera: you are in one of the most famous places in the world.
** Travel Hint: at the end of Whitehall Street, go to the red telephone cabins located on your right. Although they seem more distant to the Big Ben, they are less crowded and the clock tower will be just you in the picture.
Walk through the small square near the Big Ben to find the popular Westminster Abbey, the traditional venue for weddings, coronations and royal funerals. Returning to the starting point, the end of Whitehall Street, go back to the right to get to St. James Park, a charming garden with lakes and swans on which very end you will find the impressive Buckingham Palace, home of the Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II.
At this point, hunger should begin to take its toll. In front of the palace, walk across the street to the left, Buckingham Gate, to reach the Victoria area, full of restaurants and shopping places. Enjoy and try to have lunch at a traditional English pub, our recommendation: any variety of Sunday roast!
** Travel Hint: in both London-Victoria area and around Soho, Covent Garden and Leicester Square, many musical theaters are located. Attending one of them is a very good plan!
From Victoria, take the light blue metro line, the one that takes actually the name Victoria, to Oxford Circus, the most important commercial and shopping area in London. From here, you will take a long walk for the rest of your Friday in which you will walk between sight seen monuments, classic and modern buildings, londonners, tourists and especially shopping stores. From Oxford Circus, take Regent Street to get to Piccadilly Circus, a square you will locate thanks to its fountain decorated with a little angel and its neon signs. You are in the Times Square of London. Get lost on the surrounding streets, called Soho, to enjoy its alternative venues, theaters, pubs and streets that ends in Chinatown (Macclesfield Street). If you get lost, find the W hotel or ask for the M&M's store, located between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. The night will have fallen on London and the lights will take you through Cranbourn, Garrick and King streets to Covent Garden, a charming square with a market and shops. Do the surrounding columns look familiar to you?? Maybe it is because Eliza Doolittle walked around this square in the movie My Fair Lady. This is for sure lovely place to end the day.
Saturday morning dawns in London and it smells like market: the famous Portobello in Notting Hill. As you have hopefully rested well, get up to arrive early to Ladbroke Grove Underground stop. As you exit, head left to find Portobello Street, a couple of miles that should be starting to become a real hotbed of vintage shops and stalls with items that probably you did not even know still existed, clothing, flowers, food and more. The Portobello Market is probably the most famous of London and is located in Notting Hill area, popularized by the famous eponymous film having Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant as protagonists. At the end of the road you will find the Metro Notting Hill Gate. Very close, walking to the left, begin the first stages of the enormous Hyde Park. Now, due to the length of the park, from here you can choose different options to save time and energy: take the tube from Notting Hill Gate to get off at Lancaster Gate (red-Central line) or take the walking path bordering the park or through it (about 15-20 minutes to Lancaster Gate).
Whichever option you choose, you have come to Lancaster Gate, one of Hyde Park’s entrances. Dig into the authentic green lung of London beginning with the so-called Italian Gardens, classic cut gardens with beautiful fountains and statues. The park is very well signposted, so now you should help yourself with the signs directing the statue of Peter Pan, to which you will arrive within a few minutes walking. According to the tale, the boy Peter was lost in this same area of the park to begin a journey that would lead him to Neverland. Once you have enjoyed the flashback to your earliest childhood, continue walking along the shore of the tiny river that crosses the park. After several minutes, a circular fountain on the floor will catch your eye. This is the monument that the city of London built in memory of Princess Diana of Wales.
If all went well, mealtime should have come. Leave behind the park and follow the signs to Knightsbridge Metro stop. Once you reach it, through Brompton Rd you will meet the famous store Harrods, where a statue of Lady Di is also exposed. You will easily find restaurants to eat in this area, get some strength and keep on!
** Travel Hint: if you do not want to buy fashion and luxury brands, make your ride in Harrods short. The galleries are large and will take too long
From Knightsbridge, take the subway back to South Kensington and there change to the green or yellow line to get to Tower Hill. Around this stop, the Tower of London is located, a historic castle guarding the famous Crown Jewels of England. The museum closes at 17: 30h, so it will be difficult to see it in our weekend. The tower is located next to the River Thames and the popular Tower Bridge in London, the bluish colors suspension bridge that you will recognize for photos and movies.
Back to the Tower of London, take the Great Tower Street to get to Monument Metro and continuing through the end of the Cannon St, where you will reach St Paul's Cathedral, a beautiful temple whose monumental stairs appeared in the movie Mary Poppins.
The last part of our Saturday is coming. On one side of St Paul you will find a tourist information office and at its side, a sloping street with stairs called Peter's Hill. Take it down to cross the Millenium Bridge and reach at the other side of the river the Museum of Contemporary Art Tate Modern, which on Saturday closes at 22h. The last hours of your busy day in London have arrived. Climb to the terrace of the museum and enjoy the wonderful views of the dome of St Paul and the River Thames. It has been worth it, right?
** Travel Hint: If you still have strength, go to Covent Garden and enjoy cocktails on the terrace of the ME London Hotel, the trendy Skybar in town!
Unfortunately, our weekend in London is coming to an end. Wake up slowly, after all Sundays were invented to rest and you certainly deserve it. Once you feel recovered, enjoy a good full English breakfast with sausage, eggs and roasted tomatoes and go to the Metro Station Tottenham Court Road, the latest adventure in the city begins in the heart of Oxford Street, with its theaters, cinemas and shops. From here, walk down New Oxford Street until you find to the left Museum St. At the end of it, the thick columns of the British Museum will welcome you.
** Travel Hint: if you prefer to have breakfast near the British, in Museum St you will find the Camera Cafe and facing the museum Le cordon bleu coffee itself.
The British Museum displays several of the world's most impressive art galleries. The Egyptian and Greek ones in particular, housing the pieces brought from the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens, are the most famous. Go go inside this huge museum and enjoy your Sunday morning.
If you are lucky enough to have purchased a return flight for Sunday night or even Monday morning, you have the option to enjoy the rest of the day in a remote area famous for having its own character: Camden Town. It is a neighborhood of alternative markets, craft shops and independent music, trendy cafes and restaurants with décor at least flamboyant. This is the perfect area to bring out our most surreal and original mood. Also, Camden is known because it was the residence of singer Amy Winehouse. From Tottenham Court Road underground, the black line connects directly to Camden Town.