London Culture

One Spring Day in the UK’s Historical Capital

Excited about the tickets in our pockets for Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe Theatre that evening, my friend and I boarded our cheap flight to London for our Spring break. Though often known for its over-crowded streets and high prices, London is in fact a place full of culture!

Our first stop was Tower Bridge. My first visit ever, with the two towers lit from below, glowing golden in the late afternoon sunlight, it was breathtaking. Completed in 1894, Tower Bridge became instantly famous as one of the great engineering marvels of all time. Visitors can go inside to explore its history, uncover its secrets and enjoy the stunning views from its high-level walkways, forty-two meters above the River Thames, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, the sky-scrapers of the hip area Canary Wharf, and the Ferris wheel, known as the London Eye. This is the tallest wheel (135 meters) in Europe, and the leisurely, 30-minute ride in the designer “capsules” offers breathtaking views of London, over 25 miles in all directions, taking in many world-famous sights including Windsor Castle and the Houses of Parliament.

A short ride on the tube took us to Regent’s Park. Entering through the ornamental, wrought-iron gates, we were greeted by the expanse of grass where people were strolling, lounging, eating picnics or playing football, and the Spring scene was enriched by rowing boats on the park’s lake with a  small island in the center, where boaters were busy taking pictures of the birds nesting.

Museums are open late into the evening. Ranging from the Science Museum to the Imperial War Museum, London has a huge variety on offer, but I would pick the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Museum of London as the most appealing.

The V & A houses applied art and grabs your attention by virtue of the scale of its collections. It has the world’s largest collection of Indian art outside that country. Chinese, Islamic, Japanese and Korean galleries, seven Raphael masterpieces, a sizable collection of miniatures, watercolors and Renaissance sculptures are just a few of the sections of this vast museum.

The London Museum, where you visit the different periods of London’s fascinating history, is a must. After impressive Roman relics we walked though the eras of the Great Fire of London, Georgian and Victorian times, the early twentieth century and then on to the present day.

In the evening we arrived at the Globe Theatre – an amazing replica of Shakespeare’s original theatre of 1613. Although I had seen Midsummer Night’s Dream many times, none of those performances compared with this magnificent experience, as though I had traveled back in time.

Nightlife in London is fun and fast; clubbing, cinemas, bars, musicals, theatre and restaurants of all kinds from pub food to ethnic, in price ranges to suit everyone. London is an expensive city, but student discounts apply everywhere, and the intense culture on offer makes it all worthwhile.

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