What’s Doing in London
London may be many things, but first and foremost it’s decidedly and obviously British. Brits have an indiscernible charm about them, one that renders them incredibly genuine and helpful, yet simultaneously and purposefully detached and distant. Before visiting London, I had never bumped into somebody on a crowded urban street and have him apologize for the accidental collision. Yet try to strike up a conversation with a Londoner on the tube and you’ll receive harsh glares from eyes peering over the London Standard, London’s free daily evening newspaper.
To go into this much detail describing British people is unavoidable since London, England, and the rest of the U.K. just wouldn’t be the same without them. Their character is essential and fundamental to the workings of their land, and their presence makes the experience – a visit to the island of Great Britain – unique. London is the most densely populated city in Europe; nearly 8.5 million people inhabit Greater London. As the capital of England and the U.K., it’s more than twice as populous as any other major European city. London’s history goes back to the city’s founding by the Romans, and can be studied in its countless museums.
WHAT TO DO
London has its share of recognizable tourist attractions. Iconic Big Ben is the most famous clock in the world and is instantly associated with London. One will inevitably see Big Ben during strolls about the city and then admire its majestic nature and put the ubiquitous traveler’s camera to good use. A more recent addition to the skyline, the London Eye is earning a similar status of recognition. Officially opened on New Year’s Eve 1999 but only opened to the public three months hence, the Eye is a massive Ferris wheel erected as a landmark and tourist attraction. Until quite recently, it was the tallest observation point in the city. Due to its very slow rotation, the London Eye offers a roughly 30 minute view of the city from the glass enclosed passenger capsules, each with a capacity of 25 people. Viewers have an unobstructed 360-degree view of the city and admission is £30 for adults (or less if you book in advance).
London is host to a number of other recognizable buildings, all suitable photographic subjects. Among these are the houses of parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin, and the BT Tower. Tower Bridge (often mistakenly called London Bridge, which was sold and moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona in 1968) is the most famous bridge in London, and for good reason. Pictures do not do it justice and to really appreciate its size and beauty, it’s worth taking the time to see the historical structure. London’s Millennium Footbridge, opened in 2000 but immediately closed for structural modifications, reopened in 2002 and offers pedestrians a free way to see the City of London and its most iconic landmarks. It connects the busier part of London with the artistic southern end, where the Globe theatre, the Bankside Gallery and Tate Modern are all within walking distance. Stroll northbound on the bridge for a stunning view of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Views from the bridge during the day and at night provide two very different but equally striking experiences.