By bike or taxi private cab: all the places and experiences to live in London
Walking around London gave us the feeling of having already been there. Familiar glimpses, angles already seen, atmospheres with a well-known flavor: in reality it is the deja-vù effect of a city loved by cinema, the news and the chronicles of the rose. It is here in fact that the most famous royal family in the world lives, that of the Windsors, whose most emblematic places are also the most visited in the entire city.
There are many ways to visit London, starting with efficient public transportation (such as the widespread metropolitan system) or the characteristic red double-decker buses (more comfortable if you are traveling with pushchairs or disabled to follow). Regardless of the season, don’t miss the chance to visit the city by pedaling. Choose one of the many London Bycicle tours ( londonbicycle.com ): group, private, expert or family. You will discover hidden corners and live a unique experience. We pedaled to Westminster Abbey, which you will remember because it hosted the wedding of Kate and Wiliam in 2011. In this Gothic church, which with its 156 meter long nave is the largest in the United Kingdom, celebrated writers and poets such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde are commemorated and Jane Austen, as well as the kings of all ages, here also crowned right on the throne facing the high altar. Westminster Abbey also hosted the funeral of Lady D, with performances by her singer friend Elton John who dedicated the now famous song “Candle in the wind – Goodbye England’s Rose”.
The walk on two wheels continued to Hyde Park , our favorite London park, which also includes Kensington Gardens , where there is the large playground with wooden toys for children of all ages dedicated to Lady D, and the statue of Peter Pan dedicated to the writer JM Barrie who lived here and found inspiration for his masterpiece. Not far away, in the residence of the same name, live Kate and William with their three children, George, Charlotte and little Louis.
If, on the other hand, you want to take the luxury of a private taxi, accompanied by a driver-guide who will run you by answering your questions and meeting your needs, choose the Black Cab Heritage Tours ( blackcabheritagetours.com ). There are as many as 10 tours within London and 9 excursions to the outside to choose from. An exclusive service that will make you feel like a celebrity. With a taxi cab heritage tour we went to discover Saint Paul Cathedral, where, instead, he married his own Lady D with Prince Charles. A cathedral that was second only to that of St. Peter in Rome, destroyed by the fire of 1666 and rebuilt several times. More than the marvelous ceiling frescoes, the cathedral is famous for the dome, which you can walk through three circular galleries, after 257 steps. Finally, in the huge crypt below, illustrious people like Nelson, Wellington and Churchill are buried.
We then continued to Buckingham Palace where the royal flag flies when the Queen is inside; only the British one, when it is somewhere else.
We returned a few days later to watch the changing of the guard , in particular the regiment on foot escorted by the military band in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace. Accompanied by a guide of the Universal Tour Guide ( universal-tourguide.com ), we have gained an excellent position that has allowed us to admire this show in the best way and to get to know the traditions and meanings of the gestures. The changing of the guard on horseback at the House Guards Parade is suggestive and much less crowded . On Sundays they are both held an hour away (at 10am the horse and at 11am the one on foot).
Another emblematic place of democracy, but with a profoundly regal aspect, is the Palace of Westminster , a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, almost completely rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1834. The iconic elements are certainly the towers, starting with the one that encloses the “Big Ben”, name of the largest bell, and under renovation until 2021. You can visit the Parliament building accompanied by a useful audio guide, also accessing the two chambers: the Comun and the Lords. From the throne present in this chamber that the Queen holds her speech on government projects. It is in this place of the history of the past that the exit of Great Britain from the European Union (better known as Brexit) is also being decided.
For those with a few extra days, here are a couple of wonders outside the center. First Greenwich , which we visited with a very well organized and pleasant tour by Greenwich Royal Tours ( greenwichroyaltours.com ). You will admire the exact point of the zero meridian, the Observatory and the Cutty Sark , clipper of 1869 that sailed on the route of the Indies for the tea and wool trade . Also close by is the Queen House , a former royal residence where you can admire the splendid Tulip Stairs(despite being a lilium!), the oldest spiral staircase, often the subject of legends about the ghosts that would inhabit it. A neighborhood with a maritime atmosphere, completely different from that of the center.
Another destination outside the center. On the banks of the south-west Thames, there are the Kew Gardens ( kew.org ), that is the royal botanical gardens. Three hundred acres of plants from all over the world, art exhibitions, art galleries and royal residences. A UNESCO World Heritage site, to be lived also with children (a large botanical themed playground with outdoor and indoor spaces was recently opened). Not far away is Richmond Park , the largest (one thousand hectares) and “wild” among the royal parks, once an enormous hunting reserve and now a fenced natural reserve where deer and fallow deer live among the many species.in freedom. Leaving the park through the Petersham Gate, follow the signs to reach the elegant downtown Richmond along the riverfront. A splendid walk among weeping willows and boats.
London, like all metropolises, has hotels for all tastes and (almost) for all budgets. Here are four addresses outside the big circuits, convenient and strategic, each for a different reason.
- Let’s start with Aldgate East Cuckooz ( www.cuckooz.co.uk ), a duplex apartment, with a corner kitchen, renovated, two double rooms with two bathrooms, and furnished in a contemporary style, where style, design furniture, comfort and home automation abound. . One block from the homonymous underground station and 15 min from Liverpool Station.
- In the same area there is also the Wynfrid House ( www.wynfridhouse.com ), with 34 single, double or family rooms (with en suite or on the floor), essential in furnishing, new, clean and with reasonable prices. TV and board games in the lounge room, a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge.
- Cheaper, more convenient for families and even more central, is Bankside House ( www.lsevacations.co.uk ), home to the students of the London School of Economics and in their absence open to the public. Spartan but spacious rooms (single, double, triple and quadruple with prices in proportion), abundant breakfast. In front of the Tate Modern and a stone’s throw from the Millennium Bridge.
- If you travel by car or land in Gatwick, the ideal is Rowan Park Lodge ( www.rowanparklodge.jimdo.com /) in a new residential area, well connected to the center and with free parking. The rooms, double and triple, are furnished to London theme and equipped with all comforts. It is managed by the Bolognese Giulia, who will delight you with the best Italian coffee in London. Low prices.
Maristella Mantuano texts
(Link to article – http://www.triptales.it/europa/RegnoUnito/londra3.html)