Citybreaks, Vienna, London & NYC, but mainly London
By DaveLevy on Jul 27, 2006
I'm planning a trip, to Vienna and met up with one of my Austrian colleagues to ask his advice. He lives there and was almost surprised that people would come and visit. It reminded me that I've often wondered how visiting one's home city and pretending to be a tourist would work, and for me this would be London. Another provocation is "Management Today", the magazine of the Chartered Institute of Management, which has a serial called "business travel". Over Xmas, it published an article written a New York based women working for PWC about London. Her hotel choices look cute, but surely London has more to offer in "A few hours to kill" than "We will rock you", the Queen musical.
The first thing their correspondent suggests is the "Red Bus" tour. As a local, I've never done this and may not know what I'm missing. Otherwise I agree with her advice to walk, although her map and vista seems to be the West End only, i.e. not the City, nor south of the river and moving between these areas involves the tube or taxis.The exhibitions at the Queen's Gallery and Courtauld Institute are usually worth a visit, and I spent an hour in the British Museum this time last year and I really intend to get back there.
The web presence for London's "Forbidden Planet", the classic UK based science fiction chain is a bit crap, but to my mind, the shop is better than its NYC equivalent. Obviously London's Films are not going to excite a New Yorker, but maybe a visit to the NFT or the London IMAX are worth a mention. The west london museums such as the Natural History Museum and the V&A (I really must get there myself) are/should also be worth a visit. If you want to go to a play, I'd choose the National or Royal Court. You can use these links to check out what's on. I used to be more adventurous and use Time Out as a guide, but somehow it doesn't seem so easy any more. I have to add the Tate Modern & Britain, both of which I have always enjoyed. I know St. James Park too well, but would enjoy walking around Kensington Gardens, which I've never visited and Kew Gardens again, which I have.
When in NYC, I have always enjoyed the Circle Line round the island tour, but in London, you can catch a boat from central london, travelling east down to Greenwich ( See Google here... or TFL here..). The views and commentary are fascinating, although the view at Waterloo bridge is too low to see the "City" skyline and again too low at London Bridge to see the City & Docklands skylines, although you do get a great view of the Pool of London. Furthermore, at Greenwich, you can visit the Cutty Sark, (a Victorian tea clipper), the original National Observatory and the National Maritime Museum, which in London is worth a look. I've never done the other direction from Westminster or Chelsea pier towards the west, past the London Eye, the Palace of Westminster and the MI6 building towards residential west london including the Craven Cottage, the boat race route and Hammersmith and Chiswick from the river. Again, something to do!
So what's missing, so far from my lightning review of London, is some stately homes. You can visit Buckingham Palace (but not often), the Houses of Parliament & the Tower of London. The National Trust has a number of fascinating houses & palaces to visit in London, and Apsley House, No 1 London, the house given to the Duke of Wellington, near Marble Arch can also be visited.
My problem is familiarity, I know the city too well; I can no longer see and experience these places for the first time and even the grandeur of some views has waned, but you may not have that excuse? It is the fresh eyes thing that makes the MT article and others like it interesting to me, or my anticipation of my trip to Vienna.
I think that I have created enough things to do in this article for myself, I hope I have done so for you.