The Many Boroughs of London
We were told that London is a combination of 30 plus Boroughs and the center financial district is the London Borough. The London Borough, also known as the City of London is now the financial district for the UK and was the original settlement along the River Thames. During Roman times it was known as Londinium. We understand there are almost 7 million people in the Boroughs of London. The traffic seems to confirm the population!
The busses and little black London Cabs dash about town at incredible speeds with no problem. They drive through the narrow streets bumper to bumper and we never saw any signs of an accident the whole week we were there. One shock about the traffic was having it come from the wrong direction. More than once I was checking to the right before stepping into the crosswalk only to be shocked by a car rapidly approaching from the left. After being scared to death we noticed a lot of the crosswalks had a note painted on the street saying "Look Left." Very good advice, indeed!
As we rode the bus tour around London one of our first stops was at Trafalgar Square for a look at the monument and a good walk about. It is amazing how many different and interesting little shops are all over town, it is a shoppers paradise. We found a fascinating book shop in Piccadilly called Hatchards just filled with signed first editions. I could have spent my vacation budget in that shop, but just got one book "Single & Single" signed by John Le Carre'.
We looked for the London Bridge and the tour guide reminded all of us that the London Bridge now is just a standard steel bridge. The original London Bridge was torn down and re-assembled in Lake Havasau, Arizona. The one spectacular bridge we saw was the Tower Bridge near the Tower of London.
Parliament Square is worth at least a day by itself. Unfortunately we didn't take the time to do it justice. Both Houses of Parliament are there and of course Big Ben. Just a quick glance at Big Ben and off we went to the next stop.
London is resplendent with beautiful courtyards and parks everywhere you look. We've all heard about Hyde Park and the other Royal parks, they are wonderful, but we were pleased to see how much of the city is dedicated to green spaces. As we moved around London, we saw hundreds of the English park benches so famous around the UK. The parks along with outstanding shopping, museums and theatres make London a very pleasant and livable city.
We understood that after the fire London passed an ordinance requiring the city to be rebuilt using fire proof materials, mostly stone and brick. All the Thames River views with the stone and brick architecture add to the charm of the city . Everywhere you look you see lovely Cathedrals, old buildings and parks.
We moved back and forth across the river several times along the route and had constant views of the city, the parks and all the spectacular old buildings.
We felt that a great deal of London is centered around or at least influenced by religious activities (The Church). The religious history of the UK shows up in most of the tour guides descriptions of the places you visit.
We noticed the tour guides spend a lot of time describing the history of the city and trying to put everything in perspective. We found out later in the trip that UK tour guides are required to go through a licensing process and they have to know the history of their country to pass. Of course they all were more than happy to talk about the Royals and gossip associated with the Royal Family and what may have happened to Princess Dianna.