The first few images that strike us when we think about London, the capital city of England, is one, the Big Ben and two, the London bridge; all thanks to our Bollywood films that  give us a tour of the world abroad, by merely sitting in front of a screen. 

The most popular mode for visiting the tourist attractions is the London Best, with a hop on-hop off service. But the easiest means of transport still remains the tube (London Underground). Not only that, no matter how much you try, you can never get lost in London! With all the well organized maps and instructions at every station, nothing could be more blissful for a traveller (especially if you have encountered asking directions in India and been sent through complicated nukkads and gullis). The beautiful architecture of the St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminister’s Abbey, Trafalgar’s square, Piccadilly Circus, these are no more just names off a guide book.     

The moment I learnt that every place has its own uniqueness, I decided to explore using the maps, just like every other tourist.                                                               

An interesting fact about London:- one can experience all the four seasons in a single DAY! If, in the morning it is bright and shiny, you would never even predict and your afternoon will witness pouring showers. The evening is a little humid but the night is cool and pleasant.

The National Art Gallery at the Trafalgar square houses the eminent works and master pieces of the world renowned painters, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vincent Van Gogh, etc.  I am no painter or artist, but these paintings are filled with so much life, that they automatically leave an impression on your mind making you envy the beauty and serenity of our predecessors (although they were no Indians, they were equally human, and gosh! They were strikingly beautiful).

Since our visit clashed with the diamond jubilee celebrations of the queen’s rule, we couldn’t visit the Buckingham palace, (if fellow passengers are to be believed, it simply is a must-visit otherwise. 

Every street that I passed, emitted signs of an ancestral history attached to it, every Londoner beamed with pride of belonging there; and the best part is, there was hardly the sound of a horn out there! I swear! I was there for almost three weeks, and also managed to cover most of the typical tourist attractions, and suddenly I realized that on the roads, people patiently waited for the traffic signals to change and they gave first preference to the pedestrians! Plus one for London!

The Tower of London is yet another monument that is preserved with the utmost care and precaution. The star attractions are the crown jewels of royalty, that are flamboyantly on display (including the famous Kohinoor). Each tower has its own story, and it is fascinating when you learn the legends behind the lifestyle of the people (especially the prisoners), back in yester-years.

Apart from that, are these annoyingly screechy, but equally ferocious birds- ravens! Stories abound that the worst form of death sentence to be executed in the olden days, was being tied and fed to these ravens! As far as looks go, they could be called the stuffier version of crows, but when you hear them screech, there is an unknown fear that resonates in the air; I had goose bumps all over!

The London Bridge located on the River Thames, is a sight worth cherishing. The same river Thames that is described in the sonnets of famous poets, and even in the nursery rhyme “London bridge is falling down”?

Other tourist attractions include “The London Dungeons”, which comprises of the centuries old history of the life of the localites that resided there. It is supposedly said that if you wish to overcome your fears, the London Dungeons is a must. Just the ambience gives you the creeps, not to forget the people who literally merge with the background and pop out from absolutely nowhere! Thinking about it still sends a shiver down my spine. But the coolest part of the Dungeons is the shopping arena! You can purchase all the creepy scary items there: from an eye in a bottle as a keychain, to a skull as a mug and lots more!

The second best part, London has a mini India in it; the favourite Indian food joint being  ‘Nandos’ (you’ve simply got to taste the pepper chicken there).  There also is a “Hare Krishna Hare Rama” temple, surrounded by lush greenery all around (the prasad is simply yummm there!) 

No matter what, do not miss the London eye experience! (especially at night) Watching the city glowing from a height of around 400+ft, is magnificent and enchanting. In the evenings, the streets next to the London eye are filled with gimmicks and artists. From Astrix to Mission Impossible, from Mr. Bean to Tom & Jerry, painters, caricatures, street artists, mimicry artists, its totally like a mini circus out there!

Last but not the least, if you have been to London, and haven’t visited the Madame Tussauds, you surely have missed a glorious opportunity to meet all your favourite stars! From Tom Cruise, to Amitabh Bachchan; From Marilyn Monroe, to Sachin Tendulker, they are all there, and all made out of WAX! Each statue made up to perfection, right from the eye lashes, to the toe nails! You even get to meet the royal family, some famous sportsperson and even a few cartoon characters; not to forget, the legendary BEATLES! It totally gives you the feel of being with your favourite celebrity!

Oops! How could I forget the cultural and artistic aspect of London! The theatre, the opera! I was truly blessed to watch “The Phantom of the Opera”! An amazing musical, mesmerizing stage decor, and beautifully woven screenplay. It has been successfully running for over a 60 years now and still continues to attract an audience in leaps and bounds from all parts of the world.

Another spectacularly developed tourist attraction is the recently inaugurated, ‘The Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio’; located at Leavesden. As the great era of the legendary magical creatures of Hogwarts (originally created by J.K.Rowling) came to an end last year, the Warner brothers studio decided to display the collection of all the possible props utilized in the Harry Potter movie series; right from the wands to Muggles’ newspaper to the potions. Not only were there mini sets of the dorms and the offices (Dumbledore’s, Snape’s Lupin’s, etc) but there also was a room that gave a virtual experience of how the visual effects were used in the film (especially the flying car and the quidditch match). Although I am not a much of a Harry Potter fan, seeing the sets was truly an unforgettable experience.

The great Shakespeare was born not much far in Stratford-Upon-Avon and the place where this great romantic writer was born, now remains as a documented source of inspiration for the masses. If you seek adventure, The Alton Towers is your destination, from roller coasters to topsy-turvy rides, games, it has lots of crazy stuff! Then just a little further is a marvel called The Lego Land where every tiny bit of structure is created by legos. There is still more to visit in London, especially, if one is willing enough to explore!

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meenal bale

meenal bale

loves traveling, exploring places; reading randomly picked novels, watching movies, and talking about any topic under the sun :D