London

London is a fabulous city, with a rich heritage and history that greets you everywhere you go. There is so much activity and beauty in London that multiple trips are usually a necessity to get a true sense of the region. Perhaps Samuel Johnson was right when he said, "a man that is tired of London is tired of life." The glory of Big Ben and the splendor of a trip to Buckingham Palace are only a beginning. The British Museum is magnificent, and the shopping in the city is spectacular.

Present-day London still possesses an air of the medieval, which only adds to its charm. St. Paul's Cathedral, which has stood since the 1600s, is a glorious site. The Thames flows by on the same course as it did two thousand years ago, and London's time machine museums are magnificent. Art, fashion, and dining in London remain popular, and even the United States tries to imitate the dress and music of Britain's hot spot. London is still a swinging city, and Vanity Fair recently proclaimed it the coolest city in the world.

But all you traditionalists do not dismay, for Britons have a strong sense of culture and tradition. Teatime remains the most sacred part of the day, and it is honored by nearly every citizen in the region. The tall, red double-decker buses still tour the city, and the matching red telephone booths can still be found on nearly every corner. And of course, the Royal Family continues its own tradition in England. Taking a tour of the Royal Quarters, gallivanting around the area, and exploring all of London's sights first-hand are unparalleled experiences.

There is so much adventure to be found in London, but it does take a bit of effort. The layout of the area is quite difficult to navigate, but this simply adds to the fun! Venturing around the city and discovering unique experiences is the best thing about London. It is made especially enjoyable because London is one of the safest cities in the world, so you will be secure and comfortable in all of your travels. It is the swirling maze of streets and the city's medieval arrangement that make London difficult to travel from point to point. As a result, you will end up taking roundabout directions from locals, encountering wonderfully eccentric people and experiences along the way.

Docking & Local Transportation

Cruise ships will typically dock near the Strait of Dover in the Isle of Sheppey. From here you can take a taxi or bus into London, located eighty miles from port. The excitement of traveling into the city never wanes, no matter how many times you have done it before.

Traveling by bus is always a good choice in London, because both residents and tourists find the bus system reliable and safe. Single-day travel cards can be purchased, providing bus access in London for the entire day. These will typically cost around $5.00. The Underground System, known as "The Tube", is the most widely utilized means of transportation in London. There are twelve basic lines, each with a distinctive name, so be sure and match up your destination with the proper underground line. The Tube can take you directly where you want to go within the city (020/7222-1234, www.tfl.gov.uk).

Local Interests

Big Ben is not only the most impressive clock in the entire world. It is an historical landmark as well as an important piece of architecture. Located in Parliament Square, Big Ben is a truly amazing edifice. Its seven-hundred-pound pendulum keeps excellent time. The clock tower adjoins the Houses of Parliament, and whenever the House of Commons is in session, a light shines above the clock face.

The British Museum (020/7323-8299, www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk) is the premier museum in London (and the world, for that matter) and is an extraordinary tourist attraction. Combining remarkable architecture with incredible exhibits and displays, the British Museum is a world-class establishment. It is located on Great Russell St. in Russell Square, and there are over six million items on the premises to peruse! The museum covers seven acres and has been a great source of pride to England since the 1800s.

The National Maritime Museum is a great place to learn all about the British and their ancestral relationship with the sea. Boats, artistic representations, and artifacts from wars and shipwrecks are among the fascinating features at this wonderful site. Located on Romney Road, the National Maritime Museum (020/8858-4422, www.nmm.ac.uk) is unlike any museum you've ever seen.

On Tower Hill stands the Tower of London, an infamous and impressive destination. The Tower of London (087/756-6060, www.hrp.org.uk) has stood for seven hundred years and was used in medieval times as a prison and execution center. Today it is a wonderful historical site and a great attraction. The guided tours are interesting and strikingly eerie, making this turreted marvel a must.

As you gaze upon the Tower Bridge, you will get a sense of what an unbelievable work of craftsmanship and architectural genius it is. Located at Tower Hill, the Tower Bridge (020/7403-3761, www.towerbridge.org.uk) is exquisitely ornate. The infrastructure is as complex as it is extravagant, and the Tower Bridge is by far one of the most visited bridges in the entire world.

The Royal Botanic Gardens (020/8940-1171, www.rbgkew.org.uk), located on Kew Road, feature three hundred acres of garden and over sixty thousand species of plants. Two royal ladies, Queen Caroline and Princess Augusta, founded the Gardens in the 18th century. The 19th century greenhouses and the state-of-the-art Princess of Wales Conservatory are the two most beloved attractions.

Westminster Abbey (020/7654-4900, www.westminster-abbey.org) is located at Broad Sanctuary and is the most famous church in Britain. A striking example of Gothic and English architecture, the abbey is where the majority of the kings and queens of Britain were crowned and the burial spot of British royalty and notable figures throughout the centuries. It was founded in 1065, and the church is open to the public Mondays through Fridays, 9am to 4pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 2pm.

Activities

Buckingham Palace

This magnificent site at Buckingham Palace Rd. (020/7839-1377, www.royal.gov.uk/output/page555.asp) has been the official home of the Royal family since 1837. The Dukes of Buckingham first owned the palace, and Queen Victoria's numerous renovations during her reign greatly improved the look and structure of the royal home. Every day during the summer, and every other day during the winter, you will be treated to the world-famous Changing of the Guard ceremony. This event is a must for anyone visiting London.

Outdoor Sports

Britain is traversed by hundreds of miles of waterways and historic canals, making London and the surrounding areas fabulous for boating. There is a wide variety of seagoing vessels to choose from, ranging from the most basic of narrow boats to luxurious barges.

Dining and Nightlife

Le Caprice commands the most loyalty in all of London. The food, atmosphere, and service are all perfect, and the wine list, while pricey, is exquisite. The set up of the restaurant lends itself to the best people watching in town, but the food is so marvelous that you won't be too distracted by the passersby. The crispy duck and grilled rabbit are exotic delicacies that will amaze your taste buds. Le Caprice (020/7629-2239), is located on Arlington St., SW1. Momo is a Moroccan restaurant that impresses hundreds of patrons every day. One of the most popular dining facilities in all of Great Britain, Momo (020/7434-4040) is located at 25 Heddon St., W1. Reservations are essential, and the live music is always incredibly entertaining.

The Comedy Store is a popular nightspot where you are guaranteed to laugh. This factory of improv is a great place to spend an evening after a day of touring and sightseeing (1A Oxendon St., 0870/060-2340). Head to The Library (020/7259-5599), located at 1 Lanesborough Pl., for some terrific mixed drinks and a lively crowd to boot!

Shopping

Antiquairius is the best store to find antiques and specialty items. It is located at 131-141 King's Rd., and is a marvelous indoor shopping experience (020/7969-1500). Selfridges (0870/837-7377, www.selfridges.com) is London's largest department store, and is located at 400 Oxford Street. Finally, no London shopping experience would be complete without a trip to the world famous Harrods department store (020/7730-1234, www.harrods.com). Located at 87-135 Brompton Rd., Harrods is simply marvelous, featuring beautiful men's and women's clothing, a fantastic food court, exquisite jewelry, and so much more!