A Travellerspoint blog

Touristy weekend in London

rain 16 °C

I called this blog "Out of this world" because I couldn't think of a title so I had to run back through all of my old album collections for inspiration. It fits as well because according to my workmates I am usually in my own world anyway! I'm intending to write about places I visit, trips, towns and other countries - and any rants that occur along the way!

Since I am an honorary Londoner (I reckon after 12 1/2 years of living in a place you can call yourself that) I will have to write something about my own city first, since I spent the last weekend as a tourist (my parents visited me). The main issue with this is that since I have lived in London for so long, it's a challenge to find a museum or attraction that they haven't seen yet.

Thus, here are the random more or less touristy things that I did on the weekend:

Shopping on Oxford Street: This is something that I pretty much only do if I have people visiting me, or if there is something I really, really need and there is no other place I can get it from. Shopping on Oxford Street on a Saturday is like slow torture, but you usually end up with everything you never knew you needed, and more. Highlights for me are the huge Borders book store (it even has a coffee house in it, what else do you need?) and Hamleys on Regent Street. It is just too good to walk through all the floors and play with the toys (if the children let you).

Random changing of the guards: I tried to find the Cabinet War Rooms (which ended up being in a completely different place than I thought) and somehow managed to lead my visitors to a Household Cavalry display instead. It was cold. It rained. The horses were drenched. 200 tourists stood around the site and exchanged the following conversations: "Excuse me, what exactly is this about?" "I don't know" "M-hm, thanks" "Maybe we should ask that policeman over there". Ask the policeman is what I ended up doing after about 20 minutes (the reply was "the old guards greet the new guards here - it's nothing special, they do it everyday"), which made all tourists in a 10 metre radios gather around me: "So what did he say this is about?" The whole experience was priceless!

Cabinet War Rooms: After the failed attempt at finding the museum I asked a policeman who led me to the correct site. It is £12 to get in which I thought was extortionate (like most things in London), but it was completely worth the price. The Cabinet War Rooms are a bunker where the British cabinet planned their strategies for WW2 from. Much of it has been restructured to the way it looked back then (using the original items found after the war rooms were opened), so it feels like walking through a different time period. For me half of the fascination was to discover the way technology and communication was used in the 30s/40s, the way offices and other rooms looked, the way people lived in the war... thoroughly recommendable.

The frozen yoghurt / ice cream place at Leicester Square (not Haagen Dazs): The prices are as enormous as the portions, but this is a little like a sugar heaven. The first time I went there I ordered a Belgian waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce. I managed about half of it before I had to succumb, but it was amazingly good. The second time I had a strawberry cheese cake, another calorie bomb but had to be done!

The Sound Of Music: Being Austrian, it was kind of mandatory that I finally saw this musical - not the film version but at the theatre. The average age was approximately 10 as every extended family seemed to take their children to the play. I liked it more than I expected, it was more humourous than I thought and I learned an interesting piece of Austrian geography in the final scene, where the Trapp family happily explain that they only have to cross one mountain to get to Switzerland. Which, seeing that the story plays in Salzburg (some 500 km away from Switzerland the last time I checked) did amaze me. Artistic freedom removes mountains!

Posted by skihippy 29.05.2008 04:32 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged tourist_sites

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