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"Just touched down in Londontown." You've finally made it to this historic city. So now what?
For the music lovers...
Heading on over to the famous Abbey Road Studios is a must. No, it's not just a crosswalk but also a working recording studio. Be mindful of the traffic though as you try to get that perfect crosswalk shot, since there are no traffic lights for cars to stop. You'd think after a while the locals would stop driving on that street, but I suppose it's the same when Los Angeles locals brave Hollywood Blvd.; It's still our space to use.
If you're into history...
OK. This is one heck of a city to explore it. England has an incredibly rich history with some buildings as old as a thousand years still up and working in London today. One of my favorite locations was Westminster Abbey. This has been home to the coronations, funerals, and weddings of many famous English monarchs for centuries, and in addition, it is the burial site for not only monarchs but also famous people in British history. For the feminists out there, the iconic Queen Elizabeth I is also buried here. She ruled England for 45 years without a husband or child and to this day is considered one of England's greatest monarchs. Not only is the Abbey breathtaking to look at but it is also a working church, where you can submit prayers and talk with reps from the church. When you're done exploring, head over to the Abbey Cafe where you can enjoy a great breakfast and one of the best teas you will ever have. Purchasing tickets ahead of time is a great way to save time in line when you go to Westminster Abbey.
The Tower of London is also a must-see. In my case, I thought this place was literally just a tower, but it is in fact a giant fortress that has been around for a thousand years as well. There's lots to explore here, so make sure to allow yourself a good amount of time in your day to check it out. Don't be deterred by the ridiculously long line to see the crown jewels though; They move it along surprisingly quickly. One of the most moving parts of the Tower of London for me was the inscriptions that various prisoners throughout history wrote on the walls. They left their names, messages, pleas for forgiveness, etc. It was really unbelievable to see the last words from these men and women from hundreds of years ago and for most, they were awaiting their inevitable execution. This is again another spot to purchase your tickets ahead of time.
If you're into royalty...
Obviously English royal history coincides with both Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, but if you specifically want to see their housing, the first spot to see if of course is Buckingham Palace. It's much different seeing it in-person that on the news as tiny William and Kate wave to the crowd after their wedding, or Charles and Diana depending on your era of course. Unfortunately catching the changing of the guard here is dependent on the rain, which tends to be quite frequent in London, so if you don't see it, just know you probably aren't the only one. While I personally didn't catch the changing of the Queen's guards, I did see some English soldiers setting up music stands. That's something right? Just be sure to look up the days and times for the changing of the guard if that's a priority for you to catch. It's not an every-20-minutes kind of thing.
If you're into Shakespeare...
Lots of people go to London to catch shows in the West End, but if you want the theater AND the history, go see a Shakespeare play at The Globe Theater. It's an exact replica of the original and sits right on the riverbank. They are constantly putting on Shakespeare plays, along with providing tours of the theatre and the neighborhoods Shakespeare and his contemporaries hung out at. It's really inspiring to see the work of Shakespeare in the city where it originally happened. You can look up the calendar of shows online and pick which one you'd like to attend. As always, purchasing a ticket online ahead of time will guarantee a spot and better seats as these shows tend to sell out regularly.
If you're into food...
The London Borough Market is a great spot near London Bridge to visit. They have lots of various food stands and bars. For a dessert treat, try a meringue while you're there. Another great spot to grab a bite to eat and a beer with a fantastic view of the Thames River is the Old Thameside Inn. You have the option to sit inside, but if the weather is nice, enjoy the outdoor view. Order a meat pie and a Guinness and you'll be set with your traditional English meal.
Other highlights to see...
Greenwich Palace, Notting Hill, Portobello Road Market, London Bridge, Big Ben, Parliament.
On the next post, say 'Bonjour' to Paris.
Jill Zwarensteyn is an actress, comedian, and writer who has been featured on Amazon, TruTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com