In East London, which was often viewed as the ‘poorer’ cousin in London, the amazing Olympic Park is open!
Over 2.5 km of industrial wasteland has been transformed into a huge Olympic Stadium and Park. This vast arena will be home to 8 Olympic Venues including:
The Olympic Stadium
The Aquatics Centre
To help visitors to London’s premier Olympic Stadium, the arena is divided into 4 zones, each with its own internal ‘culture’.
The Zones comprise:
1) The Street Market, which has live sports, a bandstand plus various sponsor interactive experiences and things to do. You can choose foods to eat from around the world. You can watch live sport at the Olympic Park’s Live Site also.
2) Britannia Row-this zone houses the London 2012 shop, the RUN art installation (3 9m letters made from glass and stell), a 3D theatre experience, and sponsor interactive experiences too. British food is focused on in this zone including adopted curry dishes.
3) World Square-This also contains a 2012 megastore and examples of beautiful British gardens together with the interactive EDF sponsor experience. International foods of all kinds are on offer. The Megastore stocks the largest range of London 2012 souvenirs.
4) The Orbit Circus-At the Orbit Circus Zone you can visit the Orbit (a towering 115 metre artwork structure, the tallest structure in Britain), see the Steles Art work, visit another London 2012 shop, see the 2012 Gardens and go for a walk in the park. Simple snack foods are on offer.
Here’s some additional info on the Orbit Experience:
The Orbit is an experience of a lifetime and also a work of art.
Once you enter you walk into a glass lift which takes you up 85 metres high to view the Olympic Park. Once high up, visitors can leave the lift and experience the stunning views. As you leave, there’s also a spiral staircase where you can stroll leisurely down and enjoy the City’s finest views.
The Orbit Experience lasts around half an hour but during the Olympic and Paralympic Games you need to book tickets in advance at www.tickets.london2012.com.
After the Games, the Orbit will re open in 2013 for those who don’t get to experience it first time round!
The City of London itself is surprisingly small. It is comprised of many historic and interesting landmarks.
Not least, there’s the stately and timeless Buckingham Palace with its regular changing of the Guard. It’s a great royal treat visiting this splendid house during the summer opening season. I personally need to go and catch a glimpse of Kate’s wedding dress on the ‘headless’ dummy!…
Nearby, there’s Pugin’s architectural masterpiece, the Houses of Parliament and the iconic clock, Big Ben, which faithfully chimes in England’s New Year.
Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral
Next door to the Houses of Parliament is Westminster Abbey, a fascinating Cathedral, originally Catholic (pre reformation and an Abbey for monks) which houses the tomb of St Edward the Confessor, King of England and a canonised Saint! Also in the Abbey is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier marking the deaths of all those who have lost their lives defending the Commonwealth.
If you’re looking for peace and tranquility though within a 10minute walk directly from the Abbey towards Victoria Station you get to Westminster Cathedral. This Cathedral is a ‘working Church’ with many Catholic services held throughout the day (so please be aware if you visit and keep silence as people are or should be praying in there). The Cathedral, dedicated to the Precious Blood of Christ is a Catholic powerhouse of prayer in the heart of London.
Many visit to sit in peace and stillness, Catholic and non Catholic alike and to gaze at the beautiful mosaics and statues in the Chapels surrounding the main Altar. Westminster Cathedral to me is a real gem of peace in the heart of London, it’s also overlooked by many.
Many Londoners, pour into the Cathedral after offices close to ease the stresses and strains of the day. The beautiful school choir at the 5.30pm daily Mass term time are a real treat, and it’s all free!
Then in the City there’s also the London Eye for an overview of the City, this can be quite fun if the weather is nice and it’s not too windy!
London Museumsand Galleries
As for Museums you’re spoilt for choice in London.
Women particulary love the Victoria & Albert Museum with its vintage dress and jewellery collections.
There’s also the Museum of London with it’s real life Victorian shop fronts and of course last but not least the ‘real life’ scale dinosaur exhibits that feature heavily in the Natural History Museum .
The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is a pictorial national treasure, as is the nearby National Portrait Gallery with it’s 160,000 portraits.
The modern Tate Gallery can be found at Bankside, London while Tate Britain is in Millbank, London. These house British art from 1500 onwards.
And what about a relaxing stroll through all the gorgeous and often royal parks?
There’s Regents Park which boasts a boating lake and an open air theatre. Also, Kensington Palace (Princess Diana lived there) has the public Kensington Gardens attached to it. St James’s Park is another wonderful park that is surrounded by the Houses of Parliament. The Tudor St James’s Palace still holds the title of the Court of St James even though the Monarch has lived in Buckingham Palace since 1837.
One of my favourite parks in London though is Hyde Park which you’ll find just at the top of the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street.
Speakers Corner at Hyde Park is a busy place with freedom of speech top on the agenda!
Very near to Speakers Corner in Hyde Park by the way is a national shrine to the English martyrs who died during the Reformation.
This, once again, is often overlooked but is a sea of tranquillity amongst the bustle of busy London life.
Tyburn was notorious as the main place where criminals were hung, drawn and quartered. Its bloodied history took on a new colour during the reformation and it’s a place of pilgrimage for many.
A Convent stands at Tyburn, just down Bayswater Road and in the Crypt which is open to the public, you can view relics and read about the Site. It’s a most informative visit for all denominations.
Visitors are welcome to ring on the bell during the day and visit the Crypt to discover the history of the Tyburn martyrs.
Visitors can also visit the beautifully set public chapel for a few moments of peace and quiet and quiet prayer, if you’re lucky you can hear the cloistered nuns who run the Convent and Shrine (and never go out) sing too!
As for shopping, in London you’re spoilt. There’s the upmarket Regent Street and the more High Street orientated Oxford Street nearby..
London is an incredible mix of vibrancy and energy at all times of the day and night. It’s a City that never sleeps! Combined with beautiful architecture and significant historical landmarks and museums you never run out of things to see and do.