Better than a Gold Medal By: Liam Dunch and Collette Vacations
London is one of the World’s great cities! Race out of ‘Olympics Fever’ and into one of the many cultural and historic sites that this location has to offer! In a city with no shortage of attractions, here are a few of my favorites that are a little more ‘off the beaten track’.
- Tate Modern Art Gallery Set on the banks of the Thames, the Tate Modern was created from the shell of a former power station and opened for the Millenium. The single disused chimney gives the Museum its characteristic silhouette. The Tate Modern displays contemporary art. For one of the best views in the city, enjoy a traditional afternoon cream tea at the restaurant on the 6th floor. Like all of Britain’s public museums, admission is free (except for temporary special exhibitions). For a bonus, take a walk afterwards across the Millenium Bridge, which connects the gallery to St. Paul’s Cathedral on the other side of the river. This was famously nicknamed the ‘bouncy bridge’ when it opened, as the structure was too flexible and the footpath bounced and shook as people walked across it (don’t worry, this has been fixed!).
- Sir John Soane’s Museum A prominent architect and London gentleman during the late Georgian and Victorian periods, Sir John Soane created a personal museum and library in the three houses that he lived in. Open to the public since his death in 1837, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse of the live and tastes of an educated collector. Ranging from Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian sculpture to medieval manuscripts and 18th century paintings, along with fine furniture and decorative arts, the collection is kept in the way Soane had originally displayed it. The museum is open from Tue-Sat and admission is free.
- Regent’s Canal & Camden Market Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city with a cruise on the Regent’s Canal. From Little Venice, a leafy residential enclave, the canal passes Regent’s Park (home of London Zoo and the summer Outdoor Theatre). Take an authentic narrow boat trip or hop on the water bus to get the view from the canal. At the west side of Regent’s Park you will find the trendy and busy area of Camden Lock Market. This market (really a collection of six adjoining market areas) attracts as many as 100,000 visitors on a typical weekend. Originally rooted in the ‘alternative cultures’ of the 60s and 70s, the markets offer clothing, crafts, art, food and many other things.
- Royal Greenwich<Br>A short distance downstream from the City of London lies the Royal Borough of Greenwich. A small village, Greenwich is known around the world as the home of Greenwich Mean Time. Take the Docklands Light Railway past the Olympics Stadium, or even better, cruise along the Thames. Boats leave frequently from Westminster, the London Eye and the Tower of London and an hour’s leisurely voyage will take you past many of London’s landmarks. At the dock you will see the Cutty Sark, the legendary tea clipper and in its day the fastest ship in the world. Stroll through Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory, home of the Prime Meridian. Here you can stand with one foot in the Eastern and one foot in the Western hemispheres! The Royal Naval College is situated on the site of the former royal palace, birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and the impressive public rooms can be visited. Also worthy of note is the National Maritime Museum, built in the former Royal Hospital, which is one of the world’s greatest maritime collections. End your day with a traditional “pie and mash” at Goddard’s on King William Walk. This family-owned business has been serving up homemade pies and other London specialties, such as jellied eels, since 1890.