Home DESTINATION SPOTLIGHT Senior Sojourns: London For The First-Timer
Senior Sojourns: London For The First-Timer PDF Print E-mail

With springtime about to peek out from behind the speakers in London’s famed Hyde Park, many seniors plan their first visit to the historic capital city of the United Kingdom. We’ve been there many times, and always look forward to our next chance to enjoy one of our favorite cities. For those going to London for the first time, here are some suggestions:

Nelson statue, Trafalgar Square


If the weather is OK, plan a walking tour of the city. Of course, OK spring weather in London usually means fog, chills, mist and more than a bit of rain. So, make sure you wear waterproof shoes, sport an adequate raincoat and carry that symbol of British propriety, an umbrella.

The best way to introduce yourself to London life is to visit Trafalgar Square. Named for the battle that ended Napoleon’s hopes in the 19th Century, the key structure is the tall column and statue of the victor of Trafalgar, Lord Horatio Nelson. The square serves as the center of historic London, site for speeches and protests, boy-girl flirting place, flocking pigeons and where tourists usually start their London adventure.

Depending where your hotel is located, you may want to include several of the city’s great museums on your walks. We always head for the British Museum, one of the best and most comprehensive in the world. There’s also the Imperial War Museum, the National Gallery, and nearby, the National Portrait Gallery. Most of the major museums are free or charge modest fees, and if not within walking distance, are close to Tube stops.

The Tube, of course, is the underground equivalent to the New York City subway system and the Paris Metro. Along with street-level service by those big red double-decker buses, you can go anywhere in London very quickly and economically. If you prefer a London taxi, those familiar black limos, you can get to where you’re going, and they come with some cheerful information and suggestions in a Cockney accent.

Despite its poor reputation for restaurant food, London actually has some of the best ethnic cafes you can find anywhere, including offerings from India, China, Japan, Spain, Italy and France. There may actually be some restaurants in London that serve good English food. When we didn’t want ethnic food, we usually went to the friendly pubs for our meals, and enjoyed the informality, ales and various kinds of meat pies.

There’s an almost endless list of historic must-see sites in London, including Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. The West End features theater choices that are every bit as diverse and entertaining as you’ll find on Broadway. If you want real history, attend a Shakespeare production at the totally-restored 16th Century Globe Theater on the banks of the Thames.

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