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London, England - Trafalgar Sq. to Westiminster - 5th to 9th of June 2001

Posted by Edmond on Thursday, January 17, 2002

A tourist's paradise - from the famous Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Whitehall and St James Park, London Eye to Trafalgar Square via the cabinet war rooms and the horse guards. Westminster, St James Square and Trafalgar Square in London is an important stop for any tourist or foreigner staying and working in London. This is a diary entry of my first experience in London.

Piccadilly Circus to Westminster.
1. Tube from Gloucester Road to Piccadilly Circus on Piccadilly Line
2. Walk down Regent St towards the tall column of the Duke of York Memorial
3. Cross The Mall to St James Park
4. Walk along Horse Guards road to Parliament Square
5. Walk to Big Ben and Westminster Bridge

West End to Trafalgar Square/Westminster.
1. Tube from Gloucester Road to Leceister Square on Piccadilly Line.
2. Walk down Charing Cross Road from the Hippodrome to Trafalgar Square
3. Proceed down Whitehall to Westminster

While travelling to my destination I realised the environment within the tube can be quite depressing. Each day, commuters would have to endure sitting on opposite sides and face each other, so they either read or sleep. So after enduring 20 mins of depression, I quickly got out of the mad rush at the Piccadilly Circus underground and pushed past the crowd of people at Piccadilly Circus towards the side of Regent Street where the Duke of York Memorial in St James Square can be seen. The memorial is a huge column and on top, a statue of the Duke of York looking outward to St James Park. Here, there are less people walking around, providing instant relief from the crowd congestion occuring in Piccadilly Circus.

It seems that every corner you look, there is always something new to see. At the Mall just in front of St James Park,I could make out Admiralty Arch, and the Horse Guards road on the left (which leads to the Horse Guards parade and the Cabinet war rooms) while to the right I could just make out the Queen Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace. I decided to head to the left towards the Horse Guards and caught a glimpse of the guards changing positions.

After having lunch and taking pictures in St James Park, I headed for the familiar clock tower of the Big Ben and Parliament Square and took some close ups of the famous clock face. The area was filled with tourists and souvenir stands. Further past the square, appeared the London Eye, London Aquarium, and Westminster Bridge over the River Thames. I walked across the length of the bridge to grab a closer look of the London Eye. After seeing the queues going to the London Eye, I decided to go into the aquarium instead.

Entry costs to the London aquarium costs 8 pounds and all sorts of marine life can be seen. Other than seeing some pirahnas and some large marine aquarium tanks, there's not much amazing about the aquarium exhibits. As it was getting late, I soon left for home after more than hour in the aquarium.
The next morning I proceeded back to where I left off, but this time catching the Piccadilly Circus tube to Leceister Square in the West End and walking down Charing Cross Road towards the Thames to get to Trafalgar Square and Nelsons Column and the National Portrait Gallery. From Trafalgar Square, I will proceed down Whitehall through the govenment offices and Downing Street to the Thames and then go back up to St James Park.

Leceister Square is the home of the West End which is situated near SOHO and Piccadilly Circus. Looking from the Hippodrome (which is just outside Leceister Square Station), you can see cinemas, bars and cafes before the square itself where many more cinemas and theatres are found as well as the famous Rendezvous Cafe which serve some of the most scrumptuous cakes. After a short look around the area, I headed off down to Trafalgar Square along Charing Cross Road.

A few minutes later I arrived at Trafalgar Square where Nelson's column and the National Portrait Gallery can be found, not to mention those pigeons that congregate around the area. And to the south, the front of the Admiralty Arch can also be seen. From my readings, Nelson's column is 165 feet tall and has a statue of Lord Horatio Nelson at the top. Lord Nelson is the famous admiral who got killed at the battle of Trafalgar during the Napoleonic wars which he ironically just won. In recent years, it is used as a gathering and meeting place for many major events, including new years day. To get a good view of the statue, you have to walk down to Whitehall as the statue faces down this street.

I proceeded down Whitehall, passing the many government offices including the ministry of defence and not to mention Downing Street and the Horse Guards where the familiar mounted horseman stood at their posts. The guards and the horses seemed almost oblivious to the crowds of tourists standing around them to get the best picture. The horseman will eventually relieve their positions during the day if you have the patience to wait.

After about half an hour walking I arrived at Parliament Square to the familliar sights of Westminster Abbey and the Big Ben and the Westminster halls, and turned right towards St James Park for lunch. Although I have already gone through here, it never feels boring since many of London's famous attractions around the areas I have walked always feel different each time they are seen at a different angle. Whether it is the Roman/Gothic designs of many of the attractions such as the Nelson's column or Big Ben, if time persists, it is a good idea to take another walk around the area and even go into some of the attractions for a small price.

Edmond, 2002