London Favorite Tips by pedersdottir
London Favorites: 1,780 reviews and 2,029 photos
Favorite thing: The name reportedly originates in a hunting call, when the dogs were set loose to collect prey. The crush of narrow streets and tiny houses in this part of London are lightyears away from any resemblance of former Royal Hunting Grounds. Unless you count night stalkers.
Over the centuries immigrants crowded into this district and brought their trades with them: Hugenots and silkweaving; Mozart and musicmaking; Marx and class alienation. The latest arrivals are Hong Kong Chinese and their restaurants.
Somewhere along the way the sex trade slipped though the red doors.
Notre Dame de France is still home to a French-speaking congregation, although St. Ann's is considered to be the parish church for Soho district. She presides over the Soho Mural. Under her skirts are the plaques representing the guilds and crafts that once flourished here: cabinetmaking and saddlery, upholsterers and miniaturists. You can find her hanging around Broadwick Street at the corner of Carnaby.
Where have all the boatmen gone?
Favorite thing: Standing near the western entrance to the Victoria Embankment Gardens, the Villiers Watergate is the last remaining remnant of a once-lavish London house fronting the Thames.
The Dukes of Buckingham made their home here. Now the gate stands watch over potted palms and meandering footpaths. The waters that once lapped at these steps has been pushed away by the creation of the sewage system installed underfoot. Walking through Embankment Gardens the visitor is strolling atop a prime example of Victorian plumbing genius.
Take time for Villiers Street
Favorite thing: Bearing the family name of the rather notorious Dukes of Buckingham, this road
connects the tube stops Embankment and Charing Cross. Running immediately east of the Thistle Charing Cross hotel, it is packed with interesting little eateries. Also houses a good pub or two.
Duck under the space-age triangle clock pictured here, and you can escape the rain while exploring shops in the cavernous arches that support the Charing Cross train station overhead.
Villiers Street provides easy access to the Victoria Embankment gardens.
Fresh air artist
Favorite thing: Leicester Square. Not as difficult as it looks. Just say 'Lester Squah' and you'll be directed to this charming spot where public laundry used to be hung out to dry.
Busts of Hogarth and Reynolds are a clue that this area was a haven for artists. The Charlie Chaplin statue and bright red cinema remind you that movies play a huge role in the local economy. And the low-roofed TKTS booth tells you this is the official source for 1/2 price seats in London theatres.
Let's all give a nice round of applause to Albert Grant, Esq. MP, whose foresight and financial backing ensured that lovely Leicester Square forever will be maintained for the 'free use and enjoyment of the public.'
Tulips at the Bridge
Favorite thing: Regent's Park. Oasis of calm in the rush of the city.
With playgrounds, a boating lake, and the London Zoo, Regent's Park is the perfect place to spend a fine day in the great outdoors.
A park-within-the park, Queen Mary's Gardens contain formal rose beds, boxwood-edged knot gardens, and a duck pond with Japanese serenity garden all within the Inner CIrcle.
Lining the boulevards to the east and south of the Park are crescents of finely whitewashed Georgian Townhouses, surely deluxe housing for a fortunate few.
The Park is reached via the tube, Regent's Park stop, or the #453 bus.
White walls in Charing Cross
Favorite thing: Waste not - want not. That seems to be the motto of London city planners as defunct buildings are revived and outfitted for a new purpose.
Banks become pubs. Arcades become banks. In this case, Charing Cross Hospital became a new outpost for the metropolitan police. This station is located off the Strand, behind St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church.
Lloyd's Bank facing at the Royal Courts of Justice
Favorite thing: Stroll along the Strand. At one spot the 4 C's of English history meet. The church, the corpsmen, commerce and the courts are joined right here.
First, St. Clement Danes, Central Church of the Royal Air Force. It is a minor masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren. Then Lloyd's Bank, representing centuries of English trade and mercantile exchange around the world. It faces the Royal Courts of Justice, separated by a sliver of road and a monument to Queen Victoria and her Prince Albert. There are sufficient historical connections along this 100 meter stretch to provide half a dozen prospective PhD's with dissertation material, don't you think?
Covent Garden vendor's stall
Favorite thing: No convent is to be seen, no garden could possibly spring up between the the tightly pieced cobblestones. The name Covent Garden is all that is left to remind us of what once stood on this square.
No longer the vast fruit and veggie market of days gone by, the Garden still offers produce from colorful stalls like the one pictured. Other market stalls sell crafts, artisan goods or coffee. While away a lazy afternoon, listening to the opera singer or string quartet in the lower courtyard. Take in the juggler performing his act precariously perched on a unicycle at 'center stage', or the mimes acting up in front of the actor's church of St. Paul's behind the square. Adjacent shops are both high fashion (near the Opera House) or bargain basement (next to the Transport Museum). A smattering of everything that London has to offer is found right here, off Wellington and Maiden Lane.
Favorite thing: Carnaby Street. Calls to mind the Swinging Sixties. Mary Quant. Big eye makeup and bobbed hair.
For three decades the look was out of fashion and out of mind. On Carnaby Street it has re-emerged with a passion. Miniskirts and fishnet stockings. Vinyl slickers and Cleopatra eyes. Psychodelic colors.
Along with the fashion scene there has been a renovation and refitting of local buildings. It is worth a visit, if only for the nostalgia of it all.
Carnaby Street is between the London Palladium and Piccadilly Circus, off Regent Street.
From Southbank to St. Paul's
Favorite thing: Any visit of a week or more should include at least one walk across the Thames.
The city makes it easy, by offering a number of pedestrian bridges. Two favorites are the Waterloo Bridge (which you will share with road traffic) and the minimalist Millenium Bridge (pedestrians only, pictured here). To walk the circuit created by these two and their connecting walkways is a day's adventure. It spans the spectrum of London history.
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