London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Why You Should Still Go to London

28/07/2005, By Candice Caster

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 16616 votes


Chinatown

“I refuse to give up London,” my friend on the East Coast wrote in her e-mail to me in response to recent disturbing headlines featuring our favorite city. I could sense the emotion behind her words - the frustration and anger that this was happening to London. I felt the same way. Would we stop traveling to London? No! I could no more do that than cut off my right arm! My husband and I can truthfully say that some of the happiest moments in our lives have occurred in London.

Then there was an e-mail from a friend scheduled to fly to London next month, posing a question: Candy, should we still go? Yes, without a doubt, I typed furiously. Go!! You’ve never been to London, and you have to experience it! Buy yourself a “London A to Z,” pack your bags, and get on that plane!

For the wonders of London are many! I say go to London because of:

Dennis Severs House

• Dennis Severs House, offering a unique journey into the past where a “still life drama” brings 1800’s London to life through the senses of sight, smell and sound as the “family in residence” is always slightly out of reach, but we hear their footsteps and soft laughter in the hallways, and pots and pans banging in the kitchen.

• Wallace Collection, one of the finest collections of paintings and objets d’art in all of Europe, given to Britain with the stipulation that nothing ever be added -- or taken away.

• Rubens paintings on the ceiling of the Banqueting House.

• Tulip Staircase in the Queen’s House in Greenwich.

• Whispering Gallery in St. Paul’s Cathedral, masterpiece of the master architect Christopher Wren.

• Royal Costume and Court Dress Collection at Kensington Palace, home of Diana, Princess of Wales, for many years.

• Faberge eggs at the Queen’s Gallery, a fine display of a portion of the Royal Family’s elaborate collection open to the public at Buckingham Palace.

• Sweet-sounding voices of the boy’s choir during Evensong, ringing from the medieval arches in magnificent Westminster Abbey, site of the coronation of all the kings and queens of England since 1066.

Snow in Westminster

• Impeccable rooms of the Geffrye Museum, with furnishings and works of art representing English homes from the early 1600’s to the present.

• Brandenburg Concertos at the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, home of the world-famous Academy that has produced over 500 recordings.

• Chamber music at Wigmore Hall, an elegant concert hall attracting Europe’s finest musicians.

• Expansive parks, squares, gardens and, of course, flowers.

• Sun shining on the canal boats in Little Venice on a bright, wintry day.

• Snowflakes falling on the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben on an incredibly still morning.

• Sticky toffee pudding at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese eaten before a coal-burning fire on a chilly January afternoon; pizza and wine at Gourmet Pizza Company on Gabriel’s Wharf with a fabulous view of the skyline across the Thames at night; and meat pies at Porters English Restaurant in Covent Garden any time of the day - or year.

• Authentic Chinese food from nearly any of the fine Chinese restaurants lining Gerrard Street in China Town.

• Chocolates and stem ginger biscuits/cookies from Harrods’ amazing Food Hall.

Tower Bridge

• Tea from Twinings on Fleet Street, its original location since 1706.

• Albert Bridge lit up after dark.

• Tower Bridge seen from a boat on the way to Greenwich through a light, misty rain.

• Roman bronzes from Pompeii, a wooden mummy case, and a Sarcophagus, only a fraction of the antiquities from arguably the most eclectic collection a person will ever see, at the former home of the eccentric architectural genius, Sir John Soane.

• Best production of Les Miserables anywhere and a true bargain - for we paid twice the amount to see it in Chicago recently.

These are only a few of my favorite memories of time spent in London. Simple, every-day pleasures - taking a walk or sitting down to a meal - are intensified when carried out against a backdrop of some of the grandest buildings in the world. Like the proverbial moth to the flame, we are drawn back to this city, time and time again. And so, my friends, I advise you: go to London. Your lives will be much richer for the experience.

Candice Caster

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