A lot of people (ok, the occasional American) ask me “Steph, oh lovely Londoner, what should I do when I touch down in London Town?” To which, I inevitably end up saying stuff like “what’s your opinion on mental asylums?” or “do you have anything against really really big slides?”
The thing is, when I’m quizzed on my London recommendations, my hipster senses begin to tingle and my anti-royalist sentiments roar and I have the overwhelming tendency to reject any excursion that you may have seen on a postcard.
But, I get it. There’s Instagram to consider. If you don’t post a Boomerang of Buckingham Palace, were you even there? Did you even venture on a semester abroad? How are people supposed to hilariously comment about how close you were to the Queen?? Did you have afternoon tea? Ask for an internship? Lololololololol. (Oh, the internet makes me weep).
So I came up with a compromise; A Landmark Rush. Aim of the game – visit the ten most famous London landmarks in under two hours. Logistics – entirely possible. Prize – pride, and some pretty valuable orientation skills. Then, you can go back to brunch at Choccywoccydoodah and drinking alcoholic bubble tea.
Should you wish to replicate my challenge, here’s where to go:
The Tower of London is a great place to start because it oozes history and London is super old. The most exciting story about the Tower of London is Anne Boleyn’s beheading for treason against Henry VIII. Her ghost (supposedly) haunts the chapel where she’s buried. So spooky.
Tower Bridge is conveniently located right next to the Tower of London and is, as bridges go, extremely famous. If you decide to try the landmark rush on a Sunday (highly inadvisable), you might just find yourself in the middle of a movie set. So, when a film comes out which features a high speed car chase between a black cab and yellow lamborghini, look for a confused Steph in the background.
The Shard is about ten minutes away from Tower Bridge and is one of London’s most noticeable buildings, given that it’s rather tall and shiny. Rumour is you can also do yoga up there, as well as purchase a £16 pear and cinnamon bellini. Oh la la.
Right next to The Shard there is a Tube station, which you can use to go to Waterloo to find the London Eye. Possibly the most anticlimactic ride of all time, looking at the glorified ferris wheel is pretty much as good as going on it. Watching the street entertainers is far more entertaining, trust me.
Stroll along the Thames and over Westminster Bridge and you’ll see Big Ben. A piece of trivia that all Brits seem to know it that the clock isn’t called Big Ben, it’s actually the bell that has the title. Seriously, if British person tries to impress you with that information on a date, be offended and abort. I’m pretty sure we learn that in primary school.
Big Ben is moments away from Westminster Abbey and you may or may not encounter protesters on the way (I think it was something to do with Gandhi). The Abbey might be familiar from such British hits as the Royal Wedding.
Ten minutes down the street and you will find 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British Prime Minister. There’s a fairly high police presence so be prepared to take one of the more cautious selfies of your trip. A selfie which will literally be you and a gate (just saying).
Another ten minutes and you’ll find Nelson’s Column. Nelson being Admiral Nelson who died at the battle of Trafalgar (ironically his most famous victory). Bizarrely, the column was only recently measured and was found to be sixteen feet shorter than recorded. And if that’s not enough of a shambles for you, the four famous lions that guard the foot of the column are actually anatomically incorrect, as they have concave backs as opposed to in real life, where they have an arched back. It’s makes it easier for tourists to climb on them, but makes you question the creators of columns.
Round the corner and down the road is Piccadilly Circus, which is a little like Times Square but less good. (Very British actually.)
Take the Tube again to Green Park and you will encounter Buckingham Palace, the residence and headquarters of the Royal family. Oh, the luxury. Look to the roof and if the Union Jack is flying, supposedly the Queen is inside. Probably watching The Great British Bake Off and laughing at her colonies. Did I say colonies? I meant Corgis…
This article was written by Stephanie Bailey. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Illustration Credit: Stephanie Bailey