It’s the capital of England, the capital of culture, the capital of cool.
Alright, I’m biased because London is my favourite city, but there is a reason for that (or 192 reasons, to be more precise.)
London’s allure is powerful, whether you’re gallery hopping in this cultural hub or imbibing pints in a historic pub.
There’s a multitude of experiences London offers that that warrant a visit, and no matter how many times I’ve been, there’s always something new to see.
Right now, there are two that top my ever-growing list. *Cue The Clash’s London Calling*
1. Tower of London Poppy Display
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow, while the Tower of London’s poppies are mind-blowing.
For 100 days leading up to Remembrance Day (Armistice Day in the UK), 888,246 ceramic poppies were gradually “planted”, resulting in a red moat of these handmade flowers surrounding the Tower. This wondrous display, “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red,” marked the World War I’s 100th anniversary and the poppies represent each life lost by British and Colonial soldiers during the conflict.
While the moving, melancholic and magnificent installation is now undergoing dismantling; the poppies are being “picked” by thousands of volunteers and shipped to their new owners, two components of the display will remain until the end of November. The “wave” of poppies leading to the Tower of London and the “weeping window” will stay another couple of weeks, then tour the UK before settling at London’s Imperial War Museum’s permanent exhibition. Manchester’s war museum will also display some.
Capturing hearts and imaginations, the Tower poppies have already been admired by over 4 million people. There was a mass call for the beloved installation to be extended until 2018, to continue to commemorate WWI’s anniversary, as it went on four years.
The memorial’s creators, ceramic artist Paul Cummins and theatre designer Tom Piper, intended the display to be transient like this. From the Tower of London, to the homes of those who made a charitable donation for the ceramic poppies and around the UK, it is ever-evolving. Similarly, it grows and continues to be, a great work to commemorate the Great War.
There’s not much time remaining to see these amazing poppies at the Tower of London, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. So I’ll continue, shall I, because the quicker I’m done the sooner you can get there.
2. Tower Bridge Glass Walkway
Here’s something that kicks glass! If your kicks are made for walking, and you’re equipped with a sense of adventure, check out London’s newest attraction, the Tower Bridge’s glass-bottom walkway.
Taking one of London’s most iconic sights to new heights, the glass flooring stretches across the Tower Bridge, almost 140 feet above the Thames River. I’ve always said London makes me weak in the knees, but this would have the literal effect!
The Tower Bridge is appreciated and photographed by most tourists to London, yet ultimately serves a utilitarian purpose as a motorway. There is a Tower Bridge museum, however it had for the most part remained unchanged since 1982, so the glass walkway is a significant revitalization.
The £1 million ($2 million) walkway opened November 9th, with a parallel path between the towers of the bridge unveiled on December 1st. (I first heard that this meant it was halfway completed, which led to jarring images of tourists like lemmings off a cliff!)
I love how this literally “bridges” London’s past and future, a fusion that is symbolic of London as a whole.
Now is the perfect time of year to check out this awesome attraction, as it precedes the hectic Christmas season and the high season isn’t until the springtime. So make like Prince Harry at last call—get there quickly!
Speaking of speed, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge are a mere ten minutes’ walk from each other. In the sprawling metropolis that is London, that quick jaunt is key. If you’re only doing London for a few days, which I’ve often done, London Waterloo, Bankside and South Bank, the areas around the Thames, offer a wealth of attractions. Across from the Houses of Parliament, there’s the London Eye, Royal Festival Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe exhibition and tour, London aquarium and a host of dining and drinking options, from historic to hip (though in London they tend not to be mutually exclusive.) You’ll also find the Tate Modern, Saatchi Gallery and the London Dungeon.
For me right now, it’s a tale of two towers that I must check out.
So that’s my two pence worth on the two reasons to get to London faster than you can say, “crumpet.”
Is London Calling? Presumably yes, considering it’s hard to name another city at once so rich in ancient history and modern coolness. Flight Centre’s Airfare Experts will get you discount flights to London so you have more dollars to convert to pounds (or pints in a London pub).