…when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…
~ Samuel Johnson
London is a big city. Probably one of the biggest I have ever visited. And yet, it felt very familiar. It felt, at times, (and I may be shot for this) very much like being in South Africa, just with more old and pretty buildings. I think part of the familiarity is the language and the diversity of the people, but probably also has to do with the lingering influences of the British empire in South Africa.
While we spent just over a week in the United Kingdom, we really only visited London three times in that time and so, I am sure, we only saw a fraction of what there is to see. Here are some of the highlights from our visit:
The Tate Modern is a really, really, really big art gallery. And, unless you want to see the special exhibitions, entry is free. Even if you’re not a big art connoisseur, there will be something here for you to see. It was fantastic seeing everything from Klimpt to Goya to my favourites, Dali and Van Gogh, live in person, so to speak. The store is also well worth checking out, but make sure you have some cash to spend. While most things are relatively inexpensive, you may want to buy the whole store, especially if you have a fondness for stationery and art supplies.
This is one of the biggest food markets I have ever visited, and was quite impressed with the range of foods offered. There are also some lovely vegetarian and vegan stands. I really enjoyed the bunless vegan burger I had for breakfast.
In our quest to find the original Globe theatre, we discovered the Rose theatre, which was where a young Shakespeare started out. It was truly a wonderful find, as the Rose is such an important historical landmark, and there are some great things happening here to preserve a bit of history.
Give yourself at least two hours for this visit, as there is a wonderful video to watch, and then a fantastic talk by a very passionate employee (whose name I unfortunately missed) about the history of the Rose and what is happening now with the conservation project.
Be sure to have some £££ available to spend in the giftshop. There are some great items for sale, and all the proceeds go to saving the Rose.
The Thames canal cruise
We always try and make use of one of the hop-on-hop-off busses when we visit a new city, and our visit to London was no different. We pre-bought the tickets online using the Original London Sightseeing tour, which also included a free Thames Canal Cruise. As always, the bus tour did not disappoint, giving us access to sights in London we may not have seen otherwise, but the highlight was definitely the canal tour. Our impromptu tour guide, in the form of one of the ship's mates, was absolutely fantastic, and gave one a very different view of the buildings along the Thames, including a lovely view of Traitors Gate.
London Walking Tour
On our last day in London, we took a lovely walking tour from Trafalgar Square to St Pauls Cathedral. The tour guide was bloody brilliant, and his knowledge of London and its quirky side alleys and things was massively impressive. The tour was booked by my lovely bestie Mandy, and I unfortunately lost all the other details, but it is well worth the sore feet at the end of the day.
While London is a fantastic city, I left with mixed feelings. There was so much to see, much more than I even touched on in this post, but in some ways it felt a little too much like home for me to fall in love with it. That said, I will definitely visit again.