There is an awful lot to see in London and never enough time. Pat and I set off to see as much of London as we could after Day 1 of our Ultimate 3-day London Itinerary. We packed our walking shoes, an umbrella, and were off to conquer Day 2!
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FIRST STOP: RED K2 TELEPHONE BOOTH AT BROAD COURT
Our goal, as the avid walkers that we are, was to walk from Trafalgar to Tower of London. So we started off towards Covent Garden. Voted as a top 10 design icon in Britain, alongside the Mini Cooper, London Tube and red double decker buses (or routemaster buses), is the red K2 Telephone Box. You’ll see them lined up everywhere around London, but many don’t know that there are only few places that still carry the original and very first K2 kiosks designed in 1924. With only 200 left throughout London, Broad Court in Covent Garden is one of the prime examples of these K2 Telephone boxes. Today they are, I guess one could say, “embellished” with flyers of women selling or giving out their assets for the evening…if you know what I mean…but they still have their charm to them! A picture lined up in front of one of the few original K2 Telephone Boxes is a must on a 3-day London travel guide.
On our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral we walked through London School of Economics. We came across a charming store with these big green vine archways right outside. Just another jewel tucked away in the heart of London. I wish whoever left their bike in there the best of luck getting it out..!
SECOND STOP: ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
One would think that the rich architecture of St. Paul’s Cathedral would be accompanied by a long history, but it is actually one of the newer additions to the London skyline. It was built 300 years ago by architect Christopher Wren and has one of the largest domes in the world. Fun fact, Wren crowned St. Paul’s Cathedral with pineapples due to their symbol of opulence back in the day. Step inside or go to the top of the Cathedral, once considered the tallest building in London, to uncover its gothic richness. If you get the chance to explore the inside, make sure to stop by the Whispering Gallery where the quietest whisper in a corner can be heard from across the dome at the opposite corner, just like the Whispering Gallery in New York’s Grand Central. For the best exterior shots of St. Paul’s Cathedral, cross over to the shopping center One New Change and head up to the rooftop. This is a little inside secret Pat shared with me from his days living in London! See below for some of jaw-dropping and close-up photographs.
On our way to Tower of London we stopped by the Walkie Talkie building as it is called in London, or it’s real name Sky Garden. It’s called Walkie Talkie because of the shapes resemblance. We wanted to head up to the top where you will find a top floor restaurant, miniature garden, and astounding views of London. Unfortunately, the next available time to go to the top was later on in the day during our Tower of London tour, so we passed. We ended up catching a view of London from the Shard the next day, the tallest building in London. But I do recommend everyone book a time to go see Sky Garden on their 3-day London itinerary, it is free and will give you some amazing views and Instagrammable pictures!
THIRD STOP: SECRET GARDEN: ST. DUNSTAN IN THE EAST
One of the many hidden jewels in London is the Church of St. Dunstan in the East, just steps away from Tower of London and the Walkie Talkie building. The abandoned church of St. Dunstan in the East was first damaged by the London Fire in the 17th century and then destroyed in the Second World War. Today, its ruins have been converted into a public garden with overgrown orchard trees, ivy and wall climbing plants that give it a botanical charm. When we stopped by there were 2 photo shoots going on at the time, so although the area is hidden in the financial district, it is in high-demand among artists! But we were able to sneak in a couple of pictures for your enjoyment. If interested, open-air services are still held occasionally such as on Palm Sunday.
FOURTH STOP: TOWER OF LONDON TOUR
Ravens (and no, we are not talking about the ravens from GOT…but similar!), the Crown Jewels, and the old Royal Zoo are just a few of the things that attract nearly 3 million visitors per year to the Tower of London. Last time we were in London we were broke and could not justify spending $60 on touring the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tower of London. But in reality it is a must on a 3-day London trip. This time it was different, we had the money and we were ready to immerse ourselves in one of the few intact medieval buildings in the world.
The tour will take roughly 2 hours and it is best to start it on the outside walls or perimeter and then move inward to the armory and Crown Jewels. The perimeter includes an amazing view of Tower Bridge. When walking around we ran into several Queen’s Guards or Royal Guards and Yeoman Warders. The tower has approximately 36 Yeoman Warders some that still live on the grounds and are sworn to protect the property.
Something I didn’t know about the tower was that it was once home to the Royal Zoo. It once had Lions, bears, gorillas and even an elephant! You’ll see animal statues scattered around Tower of London to try and recreate the Tower of London’s Royal Zoo. Today the only animals that still remain on the grounds from the zoo are six ravens that are kept at Tower of London at all times. Legend has it that based on future experiences; any time the ravens have left Tower of London has crumbled and fallen to its demise. It is said if the ravens ever leave Tower of London again, the monarchy and the entire kingdom would fall. For this reason, they keep a couple of spare ravens around!
12 executions were held in the tower and of course many Kings and Royals have lived in the tower. At one point it even served as a prison for many famous and infamous prisoners. What happened within the walls of Tower of London has led to several rumors and tales being told, including the fact that the Tower is haunted by several ghosts such as Henry VI and Lady Jane Grey.
Of course, no tour of the Tower of London isn’t complete without seeing the world famous crown jewels, said to be valued at more than 20 billion pounds!
FIFTH STOP: BIG BEN CLOCK TOWER AND PALACE OF WESTMINSTER FROM THE WESTMINSTER BRIDGE
No trip to 3-day London trip is complete without a stop at the oh so picture famous Big Ben clock tower from the Palace of Westminster. For an iconic shot, step onto Westminster Bridge to get a full view of the Palace on one side and the London Eye on the other. Last time we were in London we went on the London Eye so decided to skip it this time around. I highly recommend everyone take advantage of it and buy tickets in advance to get great photography shots of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. It is particularly romantic at night when the entire city is lit up.
SIXTH STOP: DINNER AT J SHEEKEY
J Sheekey has been in London for over 116 years. It was started by Josef a market stallholder who in 1893 was given permission by Lord Salisbury to sell fish and shellfish in St Martin’s Court, provided he served meals to Salisbury’s theatre-going pals. J Sheekey’s identity as a post-theatre culinary destination still lives today as renowned people such as Kevin Spacey, Keira Knightley, Poppy Delevingne, the Beckhams, Jude Law, Kate Moss and Bradley Cooper have been seen enjoying their famous fish pie after show time. So of course, I decided I had to get a taste of this famous English pie that has stuck around through thick and thin. If you want to know more my experience at J Sheekey, read on at Great After Show Dinner In West End: J Sheekey.
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