London prince harry

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Prince Harry

Posted by & filed under London.

Perhaps equally as well-known as his older brother, William, Prince Harry is one of the most eligible bachelors in the country! Considered a bit of a ‘Jack the Lad,’ Harry has most recently been famed for his exploits in Las Vegas, helping cement is image as the ‘fun’ member of the Royal Family. But just what do you know about the late Princess Diana’s second son?

He’s a Virgo – Harry was born on the 15th of September 1984.

His name isn’t actually Harry – His given name is Henry Charles Albert David. Harry is just a nickname!

He was the first member of the Royal Family to go to the South Pole – In 2013 Prince Harry took part in the Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge, journeying with injured servicemen and women from across the globe on a successful trek to the South Pole.

He served in Afghanistan – In 2007/8 Harry served 77 days in Helmand, but was forced to return home after an Australian magazine published details of his whereabouts. However he again served a 20-week deployment in 2012/13 with the Army Air Corps.

He’s a football fan – In addition to enjoying playing FIFA, he supports the London football team Arsenal.

He’s the 3rd most popular member of the Royal Family – A poll taken in November 2012 showed that Harry was actually the 3rd most popular member of the family – right behind his grandmother, the Queen, and his brother, William.

He’s only just now receiving an inheritance – Both William and Harry received no inheritance until their 30th birthdays. In addition to a £10million sum, Harry has also inherited jewellery and his mother’s famous wedding dress.

He was raised to be ‘normal’  – Princess Diana wanted her children to have the same experiences as everybody else. This included trips to McDonalds, as well as waiting in line to visit Santa Clause at a department store!

He founded the Invictus Games  – An Olympics-style athletic event, the Invictus Games sees more than 400 participants – serving military personnel and veterans – from 13 countries competing in nine different sports.

He’s charitable – Harry set up the Sentebale charity to help AIDS orphans in South Africa. He is also involved with charities such as WellChild and MapAction. He maintains the Diana – Princess of Wales Memorial fund in memory of his late mother, a charity he set up when he was just 21 years old.

Read our blog posts on Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Will and Kate.

+++Learn more about Royal London on our Westminster walking tour!+++

London National Gallery

March in London

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Are you wondering what March is London, how the weather will be in London and what to do? Weatherwise, March can be a mixed bag in London. Although technically the beginning of Spring, it’s still a bit  of a chilly month. Average highs are about 11 C. (52F) with lows averaging around 4C (39F). It’s oftentimes a wet month, with rain falling for about 1/3rd of the month on average. Lots of clouds mean sunshine is limited and you can expect to see the sun for around 3 hours a day – make sure to get outside when the sun is out!

Wear layers and pack a waterproof jacket, if you’ve got one. You’ll likely not need shorts or skirts and it’s a good idea to pack a couple jumpers/sweaters with you, too!

Things to do in March in London
The Head of the River Race : While not quite as famous as the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the Head of the River Race follows the same route and is free to watch. Crews from all over the world will be completing a 4.25mile journey from Mortlake to Putney. A number of pubs line the river along the route, so grab a drink, and enjoy!

St. Patrick’s Day: Celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day include a parade, followed by a party in Trafalgar Square. The parade route runs through central London, beginning along Piccadilly at 12:00noon on Sunday, 15th March and will finish in Whitehall. Meanwhile, in Trafalgar Square the festivities will be in full flow: a celebration of Irish food, music, clothing, and dancing will be taking place. Many pubs throughout town will be commemorating St. Patricks’ Day, as well, so it’ll be easy to join in the festive fun, no matter which part of town you’re in! London’s City Hall has all the info you need here.

Mother’s Day: In the United Kingdom, Mother’s day is celebrated in March. This year it falls on 15th March, which means restaurants and hotels will be awfully busy. Perhaps think about taking your mum for a traditional afternoon tea – but be sure to book as soon as possible!

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty: Beginning in March, the Victoria & Albert Museum will be playing host to a retrospective of Alexander McQueen’s work. Previously displayed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and widely regarded as the most popular fashion exhibition in history, the exhibition begins on 14th March and will run until the 2nd of August. The exhibition is not free, and will likely sell out fast, so book your tickets pronto at the V&A Site

Self-Guided Piccadilly and St. James Walk

Self-Guided Piccadilly and St. James Walk

Posted by & filed under London.

SELF GUIDED PICCADILLY WALK

Start: Leicester Square
Finish: Berkeley Square, Mayfair
Link to Map

STOP 1 – Leicester Square (A)
London Leicester SquareOne of London’s best known locations, Leicester Square is right in the centre of town, in the heart of the West End Theatre District. Named after Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester who built himself a house here in 1635, by the 1700’s, Leicester Square was home to posh residential houses and was home to Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of King George II. By the late 19th century, Leicester Square had evolved and was no longer a fashionable neighbourhood, but instead began to be a hub of entertainment activity.

The first tourist attraction to be erected here was a giant globe, having been part of the Great Exhibition in 1851, that became a national curiosity and destination. After this, several hotels grew up in the area, marking it as a destination for tourists for decades to come. Rapidly, one theatre after the other was constructed around the Square, and the present-day versions of these still stand today. It is here in Leicester Square that the world-premieres of films take place, and fans can camp overnight here for days hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite celebrity.

 

In the centre of the square is a statue of William Shakespeare, a nod to the origins of English theatre, now so popular in this area. Most of the restaurants in the Square cater to the tourism industry and are – generally speaking – not worth visiting. But it is a good place to snap up cheap theatre tickets, and perhaps do some celebrity-spotting!

Leave Leicester Square through the NORTH-WEST corner, along the path known as SWISS COURT.

STOP 2 – Swiss Court and M&M’s World (B)
Now you will be standing outside the shining lights of M&M’s World. Officially opened in June 2011, this is the world’s largest candy store, spanning an incredible 35,000 square feet (3,250 sq. m.)! There are over 100 types of M&M’s available for purchase inside and there is also a small display outlining the history of M&M’s over the decades.

London M&M worldJust outside the shop is an odd looking clock, the Swiss Glockenspiel. Before M&M’s world existed, this location was the sight of the Swiss Centre – a building which showcased Swiss culture, constructed in the 1960’s. Rescued from the demolished building and restored in 2011, the glockenspiel here holds a staggering 27 bells and showcases figurines that appear, circling the clock, when the bells ring. The glockenspiel ‘performs’ at 12pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm and 8pm Monday to Friday and plays that schedule, plus extras at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm on the weekends/public holidays, so try to see it if you can!

Continue along and cross over Wardour Street, leaving Leicester Square behind you. Continue along Coventry Street until you get to the statue at PICCADILLY CIRCUS.

STOP 3 – Piccadilly Circus (C)
To some, Piccadilly Circus is THE heart of the West End! Boasting some of the first electric lights seen in London, the glitz and colour of vibrant Piccadilly Circus has been attracting visitors here for decades. With a somewhat confusing name, there has never been a circus at this location in the way modern visitors know it (acrobats, lion tamers, etc.) but instead circus is the Latin word for “circle.” Essentially a large traffic junction, Piccadilly Circus is where Shaftesbury Avenue, Regent Street, Piccadilly and Haymarket all come together – four of the busiest and most famous streets in the capital.

London CriterionOne of the gems located here is the Criterion Restaurant – an opulent building dating from the 1870’s, and is the setting of a scene in the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet. For Sir Conan Doyle fans, Sherlock lovers, or those who fancy a bit of a treat, it’s worth stopping in for a glass of champagne in the ridiculous gorgeous art nouveau bar.

London Piccadilly Circus ErosThe state of the angel in the middle of the junction is the most famous monument here. Known commonly as the Statue of Eros, the official name of this piece of art is actually the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, commemorating the philanthropic works of Lord Shaftesbury, a Victorian philanthropist and politician. The figure on top is The Angel of Christian Charity and it is on the steps beneath him that thousands of tourists come every year to sit and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Piccadilly Circus.

Keep going in the direction you were heading before and walk onto Piccadilly itself, crossing Regent Street in the process. Walk along until you pass Eagle Place on your LEFT. Thereafter you will come to Waterstones Book Store.

 

STOP 4 – Waterstones (D)
London Waterstones PiccadillyYou are now standing outside the largest book store in Europe! Worth a visit for bibliophiles, the sheer number of books contained in this building is almost beyond belief. The top floor has a café/bar with wonderful views over the Piccadilly area if you’re looking for a quiet place to take a break, away from the hustle and bustle of the streets below.

Follow the same direction and just after the book store will be Church Place. Turn LEFT down Church Place.Follow to the end and then you will be standing on Jermyn Street. Take a RIGHT and then an immediate LEFT onto Duke of York St. Follow until you get to ST. JAMES SQUARE.

STOP 5 – St. James Square (E)
London St.  James squareSt. James Square is a perfect example of Georgian architecture, including the beautiful semi-private garden in the centre. It was in 1662 that King Charles II leased the land here to the Earl of St. Albans, Henry Jermyn, who soon began building property on the area, primarily reserved for London’s elite. Therefore, wealthy Londoners have called St. James Square for centuries, and today the area is home to the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), the East End Club, the Naval and Military Club as well as holding the headquarters of numerous businesses such as BP.In the centre of the square is a statue of King William III (1650 – 1702) sitting on horseback.

 

It is worth having a walk through the park, which is open to the public during daylight hours, as well as enjoying the beautiful architecture displayed here. Notable houses to look out for are No. 1 – BP Head Office / No. 10 – Former home of Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder / No. 19 London home of the Dukes of Cleveland from 1720 to 1894 / No. 31 – London residence for the Dukes of Norfolk and also where U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s headquarters during WWII.

Once you have walked around St. James Square, go back up Duke of York Street. At the top you will come to ST. JAMES’S PICCADILLY CHUCH.

STOP 6 – St. James’s Piccadilly (F)
This unassuming church is the work of noted architect Sir Christopher Wren, and was completed in the 17th century. The courtyard of the church also holds Piccadilly Market – originally and arts and crafts market, but now holding various goods which alternate depending on the various days of the week. The inside of the church is wonderful to view, the market in the courtyard provides good shopping, and the fact that the church was designed by Christopher Wren means it’s definitely worth a look.

Facing the church, continue left down Jermyn Street. Turn RIGHT into Princes Arcade. When back onto Piccadilly, turn LEFT until you get to FORTNUM & MASON with the ROYAL ACADEMY across the road.

STOP 7 – Fortnum & Mason (G)/ Royal Academy of Arts (H)
Originally founded as a grocery store, Fortnum & Mason was established in 1707. Today it’s known around the world for its’ high quality goods and representation of ‘British’ tradition, food, and design. Fortnum & Mason holds the Royal Warrant which means that it provides goods to the Royal Family themselves! The store itself is worth exploring – stunning goods are arranged in delightful displays and their teas, coffees and chocolates are surprisingly affordable and always delicious. For those hoping to take in a traditional British Afternoon Tea, Fortnum & Mason is our top recommendation – but be sure to book in advance!

Just across the street from Fortnum & Mason stands the imposing structure of the Royal Academy. The building itself is Burlington House, constructed in 1768. The Royal Academy of Arts is an institution which is funded privately by top artists and architects throughout the country. As a gallery for visitors, the Royal Academy has impressive holdings: work by Michelangelo, one of Gilbert Scott’s original London telephone boxes, library holdings, and a constant changing display of art in the massive centre courtyard. Definitely feel free to explore if you are an art lover.

With Fortnum & Mason on your left, and the Academy on your right, continue down Piccadilly until you get to PICADILLY ARCADE. Walk down the Arcade until you get to the statue of the dandy at the end, on Jermyn Street.

London Piccadilly ArcadeSTOP 8 – Jermyn Street Dandy / Piccadilly Arcade (I)
Piccadilly is known for it’s luxuries – shops, houses, and restaurants. The statue of the dandy here typifies Georgian top-class society and is a nod to the fact that London’s wealthy have been outfitting themselves from goods purchased in this neighbourhood for centuries. The shops here are expensive, but provide some of the highest quality goods you can find in the United Kingdom. Piccadilly Arcade itself used to house showrooms for Waterford Crystal and Wedgwood and today numerous shops in the London Jermyn Street Dandyneighbourhood sport the coat of arms of Queen Elizabeth II or Charles, the Prince of Wales – these are giveaways that the royals themselves are shopping at those particular locations!

With the statue on your left, and Arcade on your right, continue down Jermyn Street until you get to St. James’s Street. Take a left and then cross St. James’s Street onto Bennet Street. Walk down Bennet Street until you get to Arlington Street then turn RIGHT. At the corner is THE RITZ.

London Piccadilly the ritzSTOP 9 – The Ritz Hotel (J)
The Ritz really needs no introduction. Opened by Swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz in 1906, the hotel here has been setting trends and typifying style for just over a century. The Ritz typifies English silver-service and hospitality and serves an expensive, but smashing, afternoon tea!

Walk along Piccadilly under the awning of the Ritz Hotel, keeping the Hotel on your left. At the pedestrian crossing on your right, walk across Piccadilly and then up Berkeley Street until you get to BERKELEY SQUARE.

STOP 10 – Berkeley Square (K)
Originally laid out in the 18th century, Berkeley Square was originally surrounded by residential properties for those with the largest bank accounts in town. Today, the buildings that surround the square are mostly business, although they still maintain the appearance of Georgian houses. For such a small piece of London, the number of notable names who are associated with this neighbourhood is impressive, such as Charles Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce, who was born here in 1877. If that’s not impressive enough, then leading off Berkeley Square is Bruton St. and it was here, at Bruton St. Number 17 (M) that Queen Elizabeth II was born ! It is worth taking a walk around Berkeley Square, and keep an eye out for…

Berkeley Square No. 11 (L) – Home to Horace Walpole, our first Prime Minister who moved in in 1779 and died here in 1797
Berkeley Square No. 28 (N) – London’s most exclusive private member’s clubs, Morton’s Club (potential members must be invited by a proposer of the club and then will have an application sent to their Membership committee for evaluation!
Berkeley Square No. 48 (O) – Childhood home of Winston Churchill
Berkeley Square No 50 (P) – Maggs Brothers Antiquarian Booksellers, known to be the most haunted house in London, with ghost stories here dating back to the 18th century and the location of suicides and mental breakdowns by those who have come into contact with the spirits that reportedly still haunt the house.

Here your tour ends. Your nearest station is Green Park. Bond Street and Oxford Street are both within walking distance, as well, if you fancy a bit of shopping!

+++Learn more and join us on our Soho, Piccadilly, Chinatown Walking tour!+++

London shard

London’s Tallest Buildings

Posted by & filed under London.

The London skyline is famous the world over – from the London Eye to Tower Bridge some of the most famous buildings in world can be found in our capital city. For those who are curious about facts and figures, or for those hoping to get a great view of town, here is a list of the tallest buildings and structures in London.

11. The BT Tower (177m / 581ft) – (K)
What is it? A communications Tower owned by British Telecommunications.
Where is it? Fitzrovia (Great Portland Street Station)
Open to the Public? No.

10. 30 St Mary Axe – “The Gherkin” (180m / 590ft) – (J)
What is it? A commercial building
Where is it? The City of London (Aldgate Station)
Open to the Public? No.

9. St. George Wharf Tower (181m / 594ft) – (I)
What is it? The tallest residential building in the United Kingdom
Where is it? Vauxhall on the River Thames (Vauxhall Station)
Open to the Public? Residents only.

8. Tower 42 (183m / 600ft) – (H)
What is it? A general-purpose office building
Where is it? The City of London (Liverpool Street Station)
Open to the Public? Yes, there is a restaurant/bar near the top.

7. 25 Canada Square (200m / 655ft) – (G)
What is it? Headquarters of Citigroup EMEA
Where is it? Canary Wharf (Canary Wharf Station)
Open to the Public? No.

6. 8 Canada Square (200m / 655ft) – (F)
What is it? Headquarters of HSBC
Where is it? Canary Wharf (Canary Wharf Station)
Open to the Public? No.

5. Crystal Palace Transmitter (219m / 720ft) – (E)
What is it? A transmitting station
Where is it? Crystal Palace (Crystal Palace Rail Station)
Open to the Public? No.

4. 122 Leadenhall Street “The Cheesegrater” (255m / 737ft) – (D)
What is it? General purpose office building
Where is it? The City of London (Liverpool Street Station)
Open to the Public? No.

3. 110 Bishopsgate “Heron Tower” (230m / 756ft) (C)
What is it? General purpose office building
Where is it? The City of London (Liverpool Street Station)
Open to the Public? Yes. There are restaurants/bars on the top floors.

2. One Canada Square (235m / 771ft) (B)
What is it? Offices and retail space – previously the tallest building in the United Kingdom.
Where is it? Canary Wharf (Canary Wharf Station)
Open to the Public? Kind of. The shops at the bottom of the building are accessible but no entry to the primary part of the structure.

1. The Shard (306m / 1,004ft) – (A)
What is it? General purpose office building and the tallest building in the entire European Union.
Where is it? London Bridge (London Bridge Station)
Open to the Public? Yes. There is a viewing gallery at the top as well as restaurants and bars.

Dark Side of London

Celebrities Who Died in London (And Where to Pay Your Respects)

Posted by & filed under London.

As a capital of culture, London is a destination for the rich, famous and powerful from all over the globe. Throughout the years many notorious (and infamous) personalities have made London their home. Naturally, in a place where so many live, a fair number have died as well. Here is a handy guide to notable celebrities who died in London, along with addresses for those fans, well-wishers, or the morbidly curious.

(A) Queen Elizabeth I – Youngest daughter of King Henry VIII, became legendary Queen of England, lending her name to an entire historical era. Died at Richmond Palace on the 24th March 1603 of natural causes. [What is left of Richmond Palace can be viewed on Richmond Green ]

(B) Vivien Leigh – Actress, legendary icon, star of Gone With The Wind and wife of Sir Laurence Olivier. Died at home on 8th July 1967 of complications from tuberculosis. Her home at 54 Eaton Square, Belgravia, can be viewed from the street and is marked with a blue plaque. [Map]

(C) Judy Garland – Stage and screen Actress, child star and Hollywood icon. Died at home on 22nd June 1969 of an accidental overdose. Her home can still be seen at 4 Cadogan Lane, Chelsea. [Map]

(D) Jimi Hendrix – Musician and Rock n’ Roll legend. Pronounced dead at St. Mary Abbots Hospital on 18th September 1970 due to an accidental overdose. His home at 22 Lansdowne Crescent can still be viewed from the street. [Map]

(E) “Mama” Cass Elliot – Singer best known for performing in the group “The Mamas and The Papas.” Died at her temporary London residence on 29th July 1974 of heart damage caused by obesity. Her building at 9 Curzon Place can still be seen from the street – although it is now known as 1 Curzon Square. [Map]

(F) Keith Moon – Rock n’ Roll legend, drummer for the Who. Died at home on 7th September 1978 of an accidental drug overdose. Strangely and sadly, his was the same home where Cass Elliot had died 4 years before.

(G) Ingrid Bergman – Actress and Oscar winner. Died at home on 29th August 1982 of cancer. Her home at 9 Cheyne Gardens can be viewed from the street and is marked with a blue plaque. [Map]

(H) Ava Gardner – Actress, ex-wife to Frank Sinatra and Hollywood icon. Died at home 25th January 1990 of complications related to strokes and pneumonia. Her flat at 34 Ennismore Gardens can be viewed from the street. [Map]

(I) Freddie Mercury – Singer, songwriter and front-man of legendary rock group Queen. Died at home on 24th November 1991 of complications relating to AIDS. His home at 1 Logan Place, Kensington, can be seen from the street and is oftentimes used as a shrine by fans. [Map]

(J) Amy Winehouse – Singer, songwriter and London pop-culture icon. Died at home 23rd July 2011 of chronic alcohol usage. Amy’s house at 30 Camden Square has since become a memorial/shrine and can be viewed from the street. [Map]

(K) Dusty Springfield – Singer, songwriter and pop-culture icon. Died at home on 2nd March 1999 of cancer. Her home, known as Little Hill, at Harpsden Bottom in Henley-on-Thames can still be seen. [Map]

Oyster Card or Travel Card

London Oyster Card or Travel Card

Posted by & filed under London.

When it comes to travelling around London, public transport is the easiest, cheapest, and most authentic way to go. To get the best value for your money when moving through the capital, it’s always worth checking out your options. No matter the length of time you will be in London, whereabouts you want to go, or which mode of transport you wish to take, there are transport ticket options for every one! Detailed here are the most common (and most useful) ticket types.

Click here for your London Pass

TIP: If you are considering our All-in-One London Tour, which utilizes the London Underground, we can help you to determine which transport card to purchase at the start of the tour.  Also, check out our blog post on how to navigate the London Underground.

What Are My Options?

In London, there are two options available to visitors: Visitor Oyster Card or Travelcard.

Paper Tickets (Travelcards):  Paper tickets can consist of single-fare tickets, valid for a single journey, round-trip tickets to get you elsewhere and back again, 1-Day-Travelcards and 7-Day-Travelcards (or even monthly and yearly!).

oysterOyster Cards: This is the choice for Londoners themselves – everybody who lives in London has an Oyster card! Oyster cards are plastic smartcards that can be loaded with 1-Day-Travelcards, 7-Day-Travelcards (even monthly and yearly!), or can be pre-loaded with money to spend as and when you need it. Oyster cards are reusable so you can load and re-load your card as many times as you need to while you’re here. Visitors can even take their oyster cards back home with them and either keep them as souvenirs or hold onto them until their next trip to London!

To get yourself an Oyster card you can simply go to the window at any London Underground Station and request one, or use some of the many self-service ticket machines at busier Underground Stations. To get an Oyster card you need to pay a £5.00 deposit, which is held by Transport for London – but can be reimbursed to you whenever you return your Oyster card back to any London Underground Station at the end of your visit. In addition to collecting your deposit, you can also receive any extra money you put onto the card that you have not yet spent.

However! Money you have loaded onto your Oyster card does not expire, which means if you don’t spend it all before you leave, it will remain on your card until your next visit. So if you plan to come back, simply hold onto your card.

For those who like to plan in advance, and don’t mind a non-refundable deposit of £3.00, it is possible to order a pre-loaded Oystercard to be sent to you before you even leave the house! http://www.superbreak.com/go/bp041/oyster-card/index.htm.

So Which Ticket Do I Want?

This depends on what it is you want to do and where you want to go! Note that the London Underground Map is divided into 9 different zones. Zones 1 and 2 are in the centre, where most of the popular visitor attractions are. When travelling across London, it’s worth remember that the further outside of Zones 1 and 2 you need to go, the more expensive your journey can become.

As a general rule of thumb, you can determine which ticket will be best for you depending on the length of time you are in town.

In London for 4 Days or Fewer:

Single Journey: If you have planned ahead and you know that you will only need to use public transport once or twice a day, and you do not wish to get an Oyster card, you can always purchase a single ticket from one part of London to another, which will be issued to you as a paper ticket.

Note: When it comes to single fares on tubes and buses – it is always cheaper to use Oyster Pay-As-You-Go (see below for details on Oyster)!

1-Day-Travelcard: If you know that you will be using public transport quite a bit, you have the good option of purchasing a standard 1-Day-Travelcard that is valid for a 24 hour period (4:30am – 4:30am, regardless of when your ticket was purchased). This ticket is good for Underground journeys as well as bus journeys.  Please note however, that the Underground is not a 24-hour service. After the tube has shut for the evening, your travelcard will still be valid on all bus routes throughout the city. The price you will pay for your travelcard will depend on how many zones you wish to travel in (see pricing overview below).

1-Day-Travelcards can be issued as paper tickets, or can be loaded onto Oyster cards.

If you purchase a 1-Day-Travelcard at a London Rail Station (as opposed to an Underground Station), you will be eligible for 2for1 discounts at many popular London attractions, including the Tower of London and London Eye.  Read our blog post for more information.

Pay-As-You-Go: If you intend to spend a lot of your time walking, or you do not have a specified route of travel in mind when you arrive to London, your best bet is to use the Oyster card Pay-As-You-Go (Pre-Pay Oyster) card. This is when your Oyster card is loaded with an amount of credit that you have chosen yourself. Your bus or tube fare will be deducted as and when you use your card to travel.Red_double_decker_bus_in_London

The best part of Oyster Pay-As-You-Go is that you will never be charged more than it would cost to purchase a 1-Day-Travelcard. Once you have spent the equivalent amount on your Oyster card, that you would have spent for a 1-Day-Travelcard, your Oyster card will stop deducting money from your Pay-As-You-Go balance.

Note: Oyster Pay-As-You-Go can also be used on KPMG Thames Clipper River services!

In London for 5 Days or More:

If you are in London for more than 5 days and you know you will be travelling extensively throughout the capital then a 7-Day-Travelcard is the most sensible choice by far. This Travelcard is good on both London Underground as well as London buses and can also net you a discount on some boat journeys.

You may choose to put your 7-Day-Travelcard onto an Oystercard, or you may wish to use a 7-Day-Travelcard paper ticket – the choice is yours.

What are the Ticket Rates for 1-Day-Travelcards and 7-Day-Travelcards?

Rates vary depending on the time you wish to travel and how many zones you want to cover. 4

Zones: Most London attractions are within Zones 1 – 2 but a Zone 1 – 6 covers absolutely all of them, as well as Heathrow airport!

Time: 1-Day-Travelcards and single fare paper tickets come in two different formats: Peak and Off-Peak. Peak means that you can use your ticket or 1-Day-Travelcard any time to travel on the Underground. Off-Peak means your ticket is not valid on weekdays before 9:30am. If you are fond of lying in – the Off-Peak may be a sensible choice!

Peak and Off-Peak does not apply on 7-Day-Travelcards, Single Cash fares, or bus journeys.

Ticket Type Peak Off-Peak
1-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 2 £9.00 £7.30
1-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 6 £17.00 £8.90
7-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 2 £31.40 N/A
7-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 6 £57.20 N/A
Single Fare in Zones 1 – 2(Cash) £4.70
Single Fare in Zones 1 – 2 (Oyster Pay-As-You-Go) £2.80 £2.20
Bus Journey (Cash) £2.40 N/A
Bus Journey (Oyster Pay-As-You-Go) £1.45

 

Anything Else?

We have some more interesting facts on our blog. This guide is only an overview of the most popular, cheapest, and easiest tickets you may need while you are in London. However, for more information, including tickets for children, travel beyond Zone 6, or bus and tube maps please see the Transport for London Website: www.tfl.gov.uk.

 

 

Guide Spotlight: Boston’s Brian

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington DC.

Free Tours by Foot thought you should know more about who we are! Our tours would not be so highly rated if it weren’t for our guides – the passion, knowledge and fun they bring to our tours. We’ll be featuring more information about our great guides in each city over the coming months.


I’ve had the great pleasure of going on Brian’s Freedom Trail tour. I promise you there was one point when he was telling us about the lead up to the Boston Tea Party and at the end of it, myself and the 15 other guests were ready to don costumes and head to the hah-bah!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brian was born and raised in Boston, attended Emerson College and received a degree in Journalism/History.  He has always had a strong sense of Boston’s rich history and cultural heritage and its roll and influence it has played in the evolution of the United States.   Brian enjoys acting in local theatre productions, reading fiction, poetry and non-fiction and traveling across the U.S. and Europe as often as time allows. Spending time with family (all of whom live in Boston) and friends is very important and because of Boston’s fine museums, buildings, rich history and of course many pubs, there is no other place on the planet where he would choose to call home.  Brian has been leading tours for Free Tours By Foot Boston for the past four years and really would not want to be doing anything else.  

  • Why did you decide to become a tour guide?

I always had a great love for the city and Boston and even when I was not a guide I would walk the streets and point things out.   It is a great city if you have a sense of history or even a small appreciation of architecture.  Many of the buildings have been standing in this city for over two hundred years.  There is a treasure pretty much anywhere you look.  If you know where to look.  And to actually be showing off some of the sites of this great city to people who have never been here, or are trying to learn more about the city and its history is really a pleasure.

  • What is the best tour you’ve ever taken – anywhere in the world? 

I really enjoyed a guide tour that I took when I was in London, and took a day tour of Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge with a professor of Archaeology.

  • When you have friends/family visit, what’s the one place you make sure they see/thing to do?

Beside the Freedom Trail, I always like to take them up to the highest in point in Boston, the Top-of-The-Hub and the top floor of Boston’s second tallest building the Prudential Tower.  Great views and a good place for a drink.

  • Do you have a favorite tour group memory?

I once had a private tour with a group of high school kids.  We were doing a 10 hour all day tour.  The group was from a small American town with only 27 kids in the whole Senior class.  On the day of the tour there was a snowstorm.  The group decided not to cancel due the weather.  I was thinking it was going to be a long, cold wet day.  It was weather wise, but we had a great time and the kids where awesome!  When slogged through the streets of Boston and Cambridge and had the whole city to ourselves (as we were the only nuts out that day).  What I thought was going to be lousy tour, turned out to me a great one despite the weather conditions, and the kids were the best.
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  • If you weren’t a tour guide, what would you be doing?

12 to 20 years in the penitentiary.  Just kidding.  I think I would be working somewhere where I have daily interaction with people.  It would have to be for me.  Maybe in store, or working with in social services helping people who need housing or work.  Maybe even a counselor of some kind.

 

London shard

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The River Thames

Posted by & filed under London.

Take a walk along London’s famous river  and learn about 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The River Thames.

The Thames is home to the world’s first underwater tunnel – Built in 1843 by engineer Marc Brunel, the Thames Tunnel was the first thoroughfare ever built underwater. The original tunnel is still used today by London Underground on the stretch between Wapping and Rotherhithe.

The Thames goes well beyond London – The Thames is over 200miles (300km) long! But is only the 2nd longest river in the United Kingdom – The longest is the River Severn.

The Thames can be deadly – On average 50 people a year die in the River Thames, the majority of which are suicides.

The Thames is home to Swan Upping – An annual tradition where baby swans are officially counted by the Worshipful Company and Vintners and the Dyers. This dates back to a time where swans were counted to let the King know how many he could eat throughout the year!

This is the reason London exists – Evidence of human usage dates back to the BC years. The river’s ability to sustain life, improve trade, and provide travel links with Europe means it was an obvious place to cultivate civilization. Without the Thames, London today would not even exist!

Nobody knows exactly what ‘Thames’ even means – The Middle English word Temese is derived from the Celtic name Tamesas for this river. As for where the name comes from – is thought that the name meant the word ‘dark’ or ‘muddiness.’

The Thames is not always The Thames – The stretch of the river that flows through Oxford is known as the Isis.

Seahorses live in the Thames – In fact a rare breed of seahorse – the short-snouted seahorse – has been found living in the River, suggesting there are large colonies of this creature living in London!

The Thames used to freeze – In previous centuries, the Thames was larger than it is today. This means that the current was slower…so slow, in fact, that when temperatures in London plummeted, the River would freeze! The ice was so thick and solid that annual ‘Frost Fares’ were held on top of the river with ice skating, games, bonfires and parties.

 +++Learn more about the bridges, such as the London Bridge or the Millennium Bridge, which cross over the Thames.+++

London river thames

Self Guided River Thames Walk

Posted by & filed under London.

Boasting some of the most picturesque views in London, this self guided River Thames Walk will take you along the River Thames, taking in historic sights and beautiful skyscapes. This walk can be done both at night and in the day time – depending on your preference. Here is a link to the map.


START: Westminster Underground Station
When getting to the station, take the EXIT for the River Thames and Westminster Pier. As soon as you exit the station you will see this statue:

Statue of Boudica

STOP 1 – Statue of Boudica

Boudica was queen of the Iceni tribe, who rose up against the Romans around AD60. After abuses to her family suffered at the hands of Roman soldiers, Boudica led her tribe to destroy the cities of Camulodunum (modern day Colchester) and Verulamium (modern day St. Albans). After a lengthy and hard-fought battle in London, Boudica’s Britons were defeated by the Romans and Boudica killed. She is commemorated here, along with her daughters, in a statue that was commissioned by Prince Albert and erected in 1905.

 

 

PORTCULLIS HOUSE

BEHIND you is PORTCULLIS HOUSE – dominated by a number of black chimneys that actually serve as an outlet for all the hot air generated by Westminster Station below. Today this building holds a number of committee rooms and is full of offices for various Members of Parliament.

With the river to your RIGHT, walk away from the statue. Stop opposite the long building with the green tower in the centre.

 

Stop 2 – London County Hall
The building across the river from you is County Hall – previously headquarters of the London County Council. Today it is better known as home to the London Sea Life Aquarium! Boasting over a million visitors a year and with tanks holding 2 million litres (530,000 gallons) of water, the London Aquarium focuses on conservation and education about aquatic life. It is open to the public all year long.

CONTINUE in the same direction for around a minute before standing directly opposite the LONDON EYE.

Southbank EyeStop 3 – The London Eye
Originally intended to stand here for the millennium and then be removed, it’s hard to imagine London now without the London Eye! Previously the world’s tallest ferris wheel (135m / 443ft tall), before being surpassed by the Star of Nanchang in 2006, the London Eye is still the tallest ferris wheel in Europe. The most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, the Eye is construction of 32 10-tonne capsules that can hold up to 25 people. Traveling at only 10in a second, it takes 30 minutes for a single rotation!

Continue in the same direction. Go under the bridge until you reach CLEOPATRA’S NEEDLE on the edge of the river (your RIGHT).

 

London Cleopatras Needle sphinxStop 4 – Cleopatra’s Needle
You are now looking at the oldest monument in London (guarded by two sphinxes) – dating from around 1450BC! Presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by Muhmmad Ali, the one-time ruler of Egypt and Sudan, this fixture was supposed to be a commemoration of the victories of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile in 1801. Although a gift to the country, there were mo previsions made to pay for the transport of the needle from Egypt to the U.K! Weighing 224 tons and standing 21m (69ft) high,t he government here refused to shell out any money and it was up to Sir William James Erasmus Wilson (an anatomist and dermatologist) who personally paid for it’s transport.

The ship carrying the needle nearly sunk and 6 crew members on a recovery vessel were killed when their boat capsized near the Bay of Biscay in 1877 during the effort to bring the needle to London. Their names are listed on a plaque attached to the bottom of the mounting stone. The Needle was finally put into this position in 1878 and contains a time capsule that was inserted to commemorate Victorian England. The capsule contains items such as: 12 photographs of the best looking English women, a portrait of Queen Victoria, a Bible, a map of London, 10 daily newspapers and a razor…as well as other bits and pieces!

Continue in the same direction, under another bridge. On your LEFT will be SOMERSET HOUSE.

London somerset houseStop 5 – Somerset House

Originally the site of a Tudor palace belonging to the Duke of Somerset, and in the 17th century a base for King Charles II’s wife, Catherine of Braganza, today Somerset House is a neoclassical building now home to the Royal Academy. Hosting London’s most popular ice skating rink in the winter, and filled with exhibitions throughout the year, Somerset House also has a museum dedicated to the history of the building which is free to visit.

Continue until you reach the traffic lights. The statue on your left is of ISEMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL.

Stop 6 – Isembard Kingdom Brunel Statue
Brunel was an English civil engineer, primarily known for his work on the Great Western Railway and his pioneering efforts on underground tunneling – setting the stage for the London Underground. He was responsible for the first ever accessible tunnel under a river (now part of the London Overground Network) as well as constructing and designing Paddington Station.

Stay along the river and continue walking until you see MIDDLE TEMPLE LANE on your LEFT.

Temple GardensStop 7 – Temple Gardens
Temple Gardens here are located in Inner Temple – one of the four Inns of Court that act as local authority and a centre for the English law profession. Standing here since the 12th century, the buildings here date from any given time over the last 900 years, including fine works of Georgian and Tudor architecture. The gardens here are a rare tranquil spot in this heavily business-oriented part of London and the Temple grounds are free for the public to explore. Oftentimes used for filming, the offices, Halls, churches and gardens here are a wonderful place to try to get lost!

Shakespeare fans take note: It is in the gardens here that William Shakespeare claims the Wars of the Roses began, as depicted in his work Henry VI Part I – which had it’s original stage debut at Temple Church located within the grounds.

If you wish to explore Temple Gardens, please do so. When you are done, return to the river and take note of the tall tower on the opposite side.

OXO TowerStop 8 – OXO Tower
Originally a power station in the 19th century, today the OXO Tower is an iconic building on the other side of the river, holding a bar and restaurant. One of the few Art Deco designs to be seen in London, the building was redeveloped in the late 1920’s to the style you see today. The design of the windows is what makes this building a true London treasure. The windows spell out the word OXO, the name of the company who were using this building for cold storage (Oxo is best known for manufacturing cooking stock). Originally, Oxo wanted illuminated signs on their building to advertise their company but planning permission for the signs was rejected. To get around this, the windows were designed to “coincidentally” spell out the name of the company!

Continue on until you reach Blackfriars Bridge. Continue along the river path UNDERNEATH the bridge. Stay on this path until you hit the MILLENNIUM BRIDGE. Walk across the Bridge, pausing in the middle for some good photo opportunities.

Millennium bridge LondonStop 9 – Millennium Bridge
This is the only pedestrian only bridge in the City of London and is known to most people as either the ‘Harry Potter Bridge’ or the ‘Wobbly Bridge.’ Firstly, because it was destroyed by Death Eaters in one of the Harry Potter films – and secondly because of problems with the Bridge when it was opened to the public in the year 2000.
As soon as the Millennium Bridge was opened to the public and people began to cross, the entire bridge started to wobble and shake! It was closed almost as soon as it was open and it took another 2 years and £2million to finally stabilise it…meaning the Millennium Bridge actually was only properly opened in 2002! The design you see today was created by Arup, Foster and Partners and Sir Anthony Caro and is a total length of 325m (1,066ft).

At the Southern side of the Bridge is the TATE MODERN MUSEUM.

Wobbly Bridge and Tate

Stop 10– Tate Modern Museum
The world’s largest and most visited modern art museum, the Tate Modern is housed inside an old power-station! One of London’s free galleries, the gallery has been here since the year 2000 and is the home of the National Collection of British Art. The Tate is open 7 days a week – so pause for a visit if you like!

Get off the Bridge in front of the Tate Modern. As you step off the Bridge onto the Southbank, the Thames will be in FRONT of you and the Tate will be BEHIND you. Head to your RIGHT to visit SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE THEATRE.

Shakespeare GlobeStop 11 – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
In the late 16th century, this side of the river was home to London’s vice. Outside the jurisdiction and laws of the City of London north of the river, the south became home to thieves, gambling, prostitutes and theatres (all of which were considered in the same category!). It was near this site that William Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre stood. Lost in a fire in 1613, the theatre you see today is a reconstruction, completed in 1997.

The campaign to rebuild the Globe Theatre was led by American actor Sam Wanamaker who spent nearly 3 decades to bring his idea to life! Shakespeare’s Globe is built as close to the original design as historical architects can surmise and is the only thatched-roof building in the entire capital (thatched roofs being outlawed after The Great Fire of London in 1666). Showcasing performances throughout the spring and summer, visitors can get tickets to the Globe for as cheap as £5…if you’re willing to stand during the performance!

In January 2014, next door to Shakespeare’s Globe, a second theatre opened known as the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. This is an indoor theatre, built on the design of a Jacobean playhouse which shows performances throughout the winter months.

Keep the Thames on your LEFT and continue walking. You will cross under SOUTHWARK BRIDGE. Continue on until you walk past THE ANCHOR pub. The River path will then veer to the RIGHT. Follow it and you will be led underneath another Bridge toward THE CLINK.

Stop 12 – The Clink Prison
With all the vice and illegal behaviours taking place south of the river, it’s no wonder there has been a prison located on this site since the 12th century at least! The Clink is the original prison of this name, lending it’s name to a slang-term that can now mean prison/jail the world over. Easily the oldest prison in England, the Clink was run by the Bishop of Winchester and prisoners here were kept in the worst possible conditions.
Prisoners could beg through the iron gratings on the ground (which you can see) to passers –by or family and friends who could bring them food, blankets and goods and slip them between the bars into the subterranean cells. Although this location is accurate, the Clink Prison Museum that stands on this site is in a modern building, as the original Clink burnt to the ground in riots here in 1776.

Keeping the Clink on your RIGHT, continue down the cobbled path-way until you can see the ruins on your RIGHT.

Winchester PalaceStop 13 – Winchester Palace
These ruins are all that remain of a 12th century palace that previously stood on this site. Home of the Bishops of Winchester for centuries, the original Palace was lost in 1814 by a destructive fire. Redevelopment in the 20th century uncovered the pieces of the structure that you can see today – part of the old Great Hall.

 

Just AHEAD of you is a Ship. Walk to it, your next stop.

Golden Hind LondonStop 14 – GOLDEN HIND
Here you are looking at a replica of a 16th century ship captianed by Sir Francis Drake. Drake’s ship navigated the globe, taking his crew of around 80 men all the way around the southern tip of South America. It was onboard the Golden Hind that Queen Elizabeth I bestowed a knighthood onto Sir Frances Drake – despite is notorious reputation as a pirate. Take a minute to appreciate how small the ship is and imagine living on board for months at a time with 79 other people! For naval or military enthusiasts, it is possible to buy a ticket to go on board.

With the Golden Hind on your LEFT, walk down the road and then you will be facing SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL.

 

Southwark Cathedral LondonStop 15 – Southwark Cathedral
There has been a site of worship at this location for more than 1,000 years, but the Cathedral you see today was built between 1220 and 1420. The gift shop here has a hidden treat for visitors: a glimpse of a Roman road that was uncovered on this site during renovations to the side of the Cathedral. The Cathedral is the burial site of William Shakespeare’s brother, Edmund, and the founder of Harvard University (John Harvard) was baptised here in 1607! It is free to visit the Church, but donations are appreciated.

 

 

 

Here you have two options to finish your walk –

London Bridge spikeStop 16a – London Bridge?
With the Cathedral IN FRONT of you, go to the LEFT and head down the path. On your LEFT side you will come to a set of stairs. CLIMB THE STAIRS. This puts you on top of LONDON BRIDGE. Directly across the street from you is a piece of modern-art: a tall, large spike sticking out of the ground. This is to commemorate the fact that previously, in Medieval times, there were 30 spikes placed on London Bridge, displaying the heads of traitors against the crown.
The Tube and Rail Station are to your RIGHT and if you walk to the middle of the Bridge you can get stunning views of the City, as well as Tower Bridge.

 

Tour guide Margaret at Borough Market in LondonStop 16b – Borough Market?
With the Cathedral IN FRONT of you, go to the RIGHT and head down the street. This will bring you into BOROUGH MARKET. There has been a market here since the 13 century at least. London’s largest and oldest food market, Borough Market is filled with countless stalls selling every kind of food, drink and ingredient imaginable – all of them British. The wholesale market opens every morning from 2 a.m. but the retail market is Wednesday – Saturday 10am to 5pm. If your walk coincides with these days and times – you’ve simply GOT to make Borough Market the last stop on your tour!

London Prince Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial

Posted by & filed under London.

When Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, died unexpectedly in 1861 at the age of 42, Queen Victoria was grief stricken. She began to withdraw from the public, dressed herself only in black – a habit she would continue until the day she died – and began a huge effort to memorialise and commemorate her husband in any way possible. The Albert Memorial is a visual explanation of how Queen Victoria saw her husband.

A team of people close to Victoria worked together on various ideas for a monument that would please the Queen. Design and deliberation went on for years and it was not until 1863 that the design for the monument was formally approved by Victoria. The winning design was by noted architect George Gilbert Scott.

Art Explained
Central to the memorial is the large, seated sculpture of Prince Albert himself. The final statue was cast in bronze and then decorated with gilt. The figure is facing the Royal Albert Hall, tying in the two creations, both made to honour Albert. The location of the Memorial is meaningful in that it has been built upon the site of the Great Exhibition – a once-in-a-lifetime event celebrating the British Empire and showing the British glimpses of life from throughout the world. In fact, his statue is holding a catalogue of The Great Exhibition to reference this.

The central part of the memorial is surrounded by the Frieze of Parnassus, containing over 160 depictions of musicians, sculptors, painters, poets and architects which have been put on display in chronological order. At the corners of the monument sit two allegorical sculpture sets. One depicting Victorian industry and science (agriculture, commerce, engineering and manufacturing) and the other showcasing the four corners of the earth (Europe, Asia, Africa and The Americas).

The canopy is an intricate blend of dozens of pieces of sculpture – Allegorical figures of art, historical figures, statues representing arts and sciences as well as Christian virtues. The canopy has words surrounding it as follows: Queen Victoria and Her People . To The Memory of Albert Prince Consort . As A Tribute Of Their Gratitude . For A Life Devoted to the Public Good. Above all is situated gilded angels raising their arms, crowned by a gold cross.

Fast Facts
Architects who have work on display at the Memorial: Henry Hugh Armstead, Thomas Thornycroft, Patrick MacDowell, John Bell, John Henry Foley, William Theed, William Calder Marshall, James Redfern, John Lawlor, Henry Weekes, William Caldar Marshall, Thomas Brock, John Birnie Philip, Henry Weekes, John Gibson.
Years taken to Construct: 10
Officially Opened: July 1872
Height: 176ft (54m)
Cost: £120,000. Equating to around £10million today.

Visitor Information
Location: The Albert Memorial is in Kensington Gardens
Visiting Hours: Visitors to Kensington Gardens can view the Memorial at any time. It closes when the park closers (around nightfall throughout the year).
Nearest Underground Station: High Street Kensington
Bus Routes: 9, 10, 52, 70, 360, 452