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Madrid City in English
Saturday 25th of November 2017
Maritza Mossberg 11th of March 2013 by editor 11th of March 2013
I get by with a little help from my friends
California girl goes to London town

If you’re visiting London, what’s the best plan to see the city? InMadrid’s Maritza Mossberg recently ventured to the capital of the land of tea and biscuits, and offers her personal view on how to make the most of your time

When I say I had a laundry list, I am not exaggerating. You know how it is—you only have six days to make the most of your holiday, and your list is longer than the aircraft you’re flying on. Mine had more than thirty places on it.

            It had expanded to include Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Camden Town, shopping on Oxford Street, a pub crawl, China Town, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, Platform 9¾, a ride on the London Eye, (breathe now, then continue) the Museum of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, eating fish and chips, drinking beer in the city’s oldest pub, watching a West End Show, crossing Abbey Road, Covent Garden Market, Big Ben, Notting Hill and Portabello Road Market, a picture in a phone booth, and Kensington Gardens. And that was just page one.

            Born and raised in California, it had always been a dream of mine to go to London. I grew up watching movies with iconic images of the big and bustling city on the other side of the world and was utterly enchanted. Did I manage to visit every place on the list? Yes; but in doing so hope I can offer some helpful hints, and less popular discoveries, for any future visitor.

 

Cross at the crossing

Crossing Abbey Road is surely a must, but you may be surprised by just how busy it is—especially at around 5pm, which is more or less rush hour. We asked strangers to take shots of us (I travelled with a girl friend) at least four times before my friend was satisfied with the result, and therefore suffered the consequence of angry Londoners going home from work. The Beatles probably had it easier.

            The Platform 9¾ plaque at Kings Cross Station was also a photo necessity—although it doesn’t look anything like the scenes in the Harry Potter movies. Don’t worry—I wasn’t one of the tourists who actually sprints headfirst into the brick wall. Rumour has it that tourists could be seen actually hurtling their bodies into the wall between Platforms 9 and 10, and when the city finally realized that it was due to Harry Potter fanaticism rather than a strange cult of wishing personal injury, they put up the plaque that now marks the imaginary platform.

 

Hunger pains

Eating the classic fish and chips is, of course, a class thing to do in London. We wound up at a well-known fish and chips joint called Rock and Sole Plaice and after being thoroughly impressed by my main course, we made our way to the oldest pub in London, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street. Impressed by its décor and character, we treated ourselves to the delicious wheat beer and took in the pub’s classic and authentic ambiance.

            Straying from my wish list, we discovered the “love” display in the plaza outside Covent Garden Market. It’s comprised of the letters L, O, V, and E, each about the height of an average person. There is a large locket describing what love is, and inviting people to share their love with the world by writing a few words on personal locks (available there), then attaching them to any of the letters. All the sweet messages are fun to read, and are not just written for lovers but for friends and family as well. “I love my mum” was in fact one of the most common. Assumedly this is only a temporary exhibit, but it holds a great curiosity value.

 

Mmmm          

Not in all the guide books, but hard to miss in the centre of the city, is the one and only M&M World. Boisterous with its three floors of M&M products, it’s a colourful and busy store celebrating the famous sweets. From mmmme to you There are M&M mugs, pyjamas, pencils…you name it. At its basement level there is even a large replica of Abbey Road and several life-size M&M’s crossing it. And yes, of course it merited a photo.

            Of all the London experiences, the most meaningful was purely staring up at Big Ben. It was a surprisingly yet gloriously sunny day, and the tower made my heart race. I had seen the iconic symbol in countless movies, including childhood favourites like Peter Pan and The Great Mouse Detective. It was a sight to remember, and a chime to recall.

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