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Visiting London

  • Published
  • By Natalie Benge
  • 48th Fighter Wing Communtiy Relations Advisor
I have spent the last three years living and working in London and have grown to love the buzz of the city and thought I'd take this opportunity to share some experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the capital and tried my best to experience as much of the culture as possible. With so much to offer I have managed to see a fraction of the sights in my time there and had a few interesting moments along the way.

While visiting the city it's well worth wandering off the beaten track. This is where you'll find the real London. Many well known historical sights are still livingand breathing, while other are unfamiliar but worth looking at.

Getting Around

There are a variety of transportation options to use when visiting London although I find the best way to cover it is on foot - with a very comfortable pair of shoes. It can seem like a daunting task, spread over miles of winding streets but all the main sights are within a short walk and what better way to experience the city atmosphere. For transportation information, visit www.londontransport. co.uk.

Safety

It is well worth noting that you can find yourself a little overwhelmed in London and so I always recommend exercising caution whilst travelling around the city. Personal safety goes without saying but perhaps more importantly, and from personal experience, be wary of the traffic and roads as the traffic moves quickly and unpredictably.

Congestion Charge

Central London has a congestion charging scheme that is in place to reduce the amount of vehicles in the City, to ease overcrowding on the roads and benefit the environment. The charge is currently £8 per day Monday through Friday and you must be paid that day or in advance of travel otherwise you may incur fines up to £150. If you want to take your car into London visit www.cclondon.com for information on how to pay the charge and areas covered.

My Top Sights

The first settlement in London was established in 43 AD during the Romans conquest of Britain. The Romans forded the River Thames at the shallowest point and built a timber bridge on the site where Tower Bridge now stands. It was from this point the network of roads, towns and forts were built and London rapidly became a large commercial trading area.

Today many famous sights from St Paul's Cathedral to Henry VIII's hunting lodge in the centre of Soho Square are still visible in the city. There is a variety of attractions to see.

The Royal Opera House - I have experienced both the ballet Giselle and the opera La Traviata at the Royal Opera house and both performances were sensational. The building itself dates back to 1732 and is a beautiful venue for a night out although tickets are pricey.

British Museum-You can see everything from Egyptian mummies to buried treasure in this museum and it's free. The museum has been open for more than 250 years and is a great way to while away a few hours looking at all the artifacts from cultures around the world.

Shopping- Shopping is great in London although not so good for the bank balance at the end of the month! There are so many great places to head for, Oxford Street and Bond Street being the most famous. I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Monmouth and Endell Streets though if you're looking for something a little bit different as there are selections of small boutique shops one of a kind designs and gifts.

Covent Garden Piazza - This is my favourite place in London to experience a chaotic and lively piece of city life. The Piazza is an interesting place packed full of unique shops and market stalls. Visitors can expect to be entertained by a variety of street performers and I would highly recommend having a drink in the Amphitheatre Café or the Punch and Judy for a great view of the roof tops of London.

Portobello Road- Situated in Notting Hill, Portobello Road is a lively and colourful place full of weird and wonderful items. Here you will find antique shops, cafes, bars, curiosity shops, delis and some great European restaurants. On the weekend there is a flea market toward the Northern end selling clothes, shoes and jewellery. During your visit you may even spot one of the eccentric local residents who can be seen roller-skating in just his underpants, even in the winter.

Battersea Park - Battersea Park is a peaceful haven in the middle of the city. You can really enjoy escaping from the busy city by taking a leisurely stroll around Festival Gardens, a boat across the lake or just stop for a moment at the peace pagoda for a moment of reflection.

Useful Websites

To prepare for your visit to London these websites can provide you with useful tips and information to help you make the most of your visit.

www.londontown.com
www.london.gov.uk
http://www.london.gov.uk