London for us is the greatest city in the world. I envy those Australians with the courage to stay and work there and spend a good amount of time exploring it. We have stayed there a total of 17 days now and have seen a good amount by cramming all we could into the time available. It has been exhausting to the body but at the same time envigorating to the mind.

Our second visit in 2003

Our second visit to London was as exciting and varied as the first with another long list of must-sees. Westminster Abbey was the only place that we had seen before and were re-visiting. I had some memorials to re-visit as a result of my readings about famous people, and the Abbey is the greatest repository of Britains famous people, along with St. Pauls. We were to re-visit St. Pauls but had to cross some things off the ever growing list. Museums and galleries were a large proportion of the list this time.

We had 8 nights at the Atlas Apollo Hotel in Kensington and another at the Burns Hotel nearby. Both Hotels were quite adequate for us though not up to our usual standard, but this is London and we are not millionaires. The service was faultless though. We chose these Hotels on price and location and were able to walk to some of our destinations, catching the Tube from Gloucester Road Station to all other locations.

The tube is so easy to use and will get you everywhere you want to go. Most journeys were just a matter of getting on the right line to get off at a particular station. Others just a simple matter of one line to a station which connected to another line which had a station close enough for us to walk from. We also used the tube in conjunction with the river ferries to get to Greenwich. Used a taxi to get from the doorstep of the Tate Britain to Harrods. Obviously more convenient but would have broken the bank for use on every journey. We were particularly tired and hot that day so we spoiled ourselves. Taxi drivers have always been helpful and courteous and the fares are very reasonable. The taxis themselves are comfortable and commodious with room for all the shopping or suitcases. We used them a couple of times to and from Waterloo Station with all our suitcases and found them a better alternative to the transfer companies which we used to and from the airport. Less cramped and were direct to your destination. We were fit enough to walk everywhere that was quick and practicable, and we did walk quickly in order to see as much as possible in our time there. Being dog tired at the end of the day helped us get a good nights sleep despite the heat. If you can afford it, go for the airconditioned room, you will need it in the summer.

Here is a small selection of what we saw in our 10 days on our 2003 trip.

Natural History Museum. _ Victoria and Albert Museum. _ Albert Memorial._ Houses of Parliament._ Westminster Abbey._ Museum of Garden History. _ Tate Britain._ Southwark Cathedral._ Globe Theatre._ Harrods._ Mansion House tube station. Bank of England, Stock Exchange._ St. Mary Le Bow._ Museum of London._ Guildhall._ National Gallery._ National Portrait Gallery._ St. Martin in the Fields._ Royal Academy._ Temple._ Greenwich._ British Museum._ British Library._ Apsley House._

Our first visit, 1997.

We stayed at the Union Jack club right next door to Waterloo Station, thanks to Dad being an ex-serviceman who accompanied us and signed us in and out. We had a room with a window near the train station and we heard the trains rattling into the station. We initially thought our sleep would be interrupted by the trains but after the first afternoon we had blocked the sound out. We had no trouble at all in sleeping after our full days walking and exploring.

Here is a small selection of what we saw in our 7 days on our 1997 trip.

_Horse Guards Parade. Changing of the guard._ Buckingham Palace._ Pall Mall._ St. Jamesís Palace._ Trafalgar Square. Nelsonís Column._ Big Ben and Houses of Parliament._ Monument to Great Fire of London._ Roamed extensively on London Tube (Mind the Gap) and train systems ._ Caught red double-decker buses._ St. James Park. Tea in the Park. Fed Squirrels._ Cabinet War Rooms._ Piccadilly Circus._ Harrods at Knightsbridge._ Oxford, Regent, Bond Streets. Libertyís, Marks & Spencer, Fortnum & Mason etc._ Tower of London._ Ceremony of the Keys as guests of Ray Sanders-Crook at the Yeoman Warders Club._ Tower Pageant time ride._ Madame Tussauds Waxworks._ Open top double-decker bus tour of London._ Tower Bridge. Saw presentations inside the bridge._ Westminster Abbey._ St. Paulís Cathedral. Climbed stairs to whispering gallery and to very top._ Kew Gardens._

London streets from top deck of red bus. Eros statue and lights at Piccadilly Circus.

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