Friday, 8 August 2014

Accidental Tourist in London

Poppies at the Tower WWI Anniversary

London has always attracted tourists, including me, even though I am technically a native. But how it's changed from being a primarily working city to a haven for visitors.

On a blazing hot summer day this week, we took in the 'Poppy' Exhibition at The Tower Of London  to commemorate WWI.

Then we joined the Thames Walk along the North Bank at Tower Bridge and walked along the sparkling riverside to St Pauls, via HMS Belfast, Southwark Cathedral, The Golden Hinde, The Globe Theatre, [these last four are on the South Bank] and the Millennium Bridge.

Once, the only source of refreshment for tired walkers tended to be overpriced kiosks which served weak tea in paper cups, sandwiches with uninspiring fillings, and stale cake in two varieties. Restaurants and public houses were aimed at the business community and not only expensive and few and far between, but always full during the customary lunch period between 12 noon and 2.30pm. We would invariably de-camp to the West End to find anywhere decent for a meal or a coffee.

Today though, the city is full of modern food courts complete with modern sculptures and outside entertainment in places like Covent Garden. 

St Paul’s Cathedral for example now sits in a plaza crammed with cafes and eating houses where not only is the food reasonably priced and excellent quality, there is a choice. The changes in licencing laws and eating habits have helped, but now anything from coffee and cake to a three course meal can be obtained at any time of the day so I was able to ponder on Christopher Wren’s masterpiece from a continental style pavement cafĂ©.

Christmas in London has changed too, with ice skating at Somerset House, Alexandra Palace and The Tower, The Frost Fair on the South Bank, The Winter Festival at Hyde Park, which is basically a row of beer tents interspersed with bratwurst stands and fairground rides, but still good fun – roll on winter!


Petrea Burchard said...

I'll have to come back! I loved it 15 years ago and it sounds like I'll love it even more now.

Anita Davison said...

Be certain to give me a heads up if you do come, Petrea, I would love to show you the sights.

Petrea Burchard said...

I wouldn't miss an opportunity to traipse about London with you, Anita!

Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

You outline a good tour - parts of London are like being on mainland Europe. It's less sooty, more sparkly and generally a Much Nicer now I'm not working in it most days. It's also completely unlike the rest of the UK!

Jen Black said...

London always seems a bit foreign to me, Mike.