Top Trends for Touring London like a Local

“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” – Sir Francis Bacon

As much as I (Pamela Martin Duarte) love Texas, I have to admit my beloved state is hotter than Hotter this time of year! During the Summer months, I like to while away the lazy hours planning vacations in cooler greener pastures and I won’t be very American If I didn’t plan on visiting  London and the Olympics this Summer which will be televised here in America on NBC Universal.

Harrods I love you more than many things in life however, I won’t get caught in the crowds of tourists who will be in town for the Olympics unless you promise to sneak me in and out the side door!  Call me maybe?

Let’s take a look at what’s hot in London this Summer:

Antiques Book Stores and More!

For antique lovers seeking souvenirs of their Olympic visit, I propose the Spitalfields Antiques Market, where hundreds of vendors set up every Thursday in the Old Spitalfields Market Hall While in the area you must stop by Dennis Severs’ extraordinary historic house in Spitalfields The home offers the chance to enter the mythic world of 18th-century London. I recommend it on one of their “silent nights” when speech is forbidden because there is nothing worse than chatter during the tour. And you guys know me well enough that on occasion I have been known to tell someone to shut their trap and hold their horses!

Every Sunday, the East End becomes one huge labyrinth market where you can “get lost” among thousands of stalls that are participating in a tradition of trade that has been happening for over one hundred years!   While you are there don’t miss Nicholas Hawksmoor’s towering baroque masterpiece, Christ Church Greyfriars. This gothic masterpiece had its origins in the conventual church of a Franciscan monastery, the name “Greyfriars” being a reference to the grey habits worn by Franciscan monks. The first church on the site was built in the thirteenth century, but this was soon replaced by a bigger building, begun in 1306 and consecrated in 1326. This new church was the second largest in medieval London, measuring 300 feet (91 m) long and 89 feet (27 m) wide, with at least eleven altars. Afterwards I recommend a leisurely stroll through Brick Lane via the Truman Brewery  over to the Columbia Road flower market for bargain bouquets and gorgeous shops and restaurants that will surely tempt your senses beyond anything  one might find during the blistering months of July and August in Texas.

Swimmers, Marathons and Michael Phelps New Mustache Oh My!

Hyde Park will play host to the triathlon and marathon swimming events.  Hyde Park is handy for tourist hotspots such as the Natural History Museum and Royal Albert Hall.  Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner is the former home of the Duke of Wellington where there is an impressive art collection and a giant nude statue of Napoleon.  After taking in a bit of history and nudity you should head south into the grand streets of Belgravia for a pint of fun with the locals, Belgravia is a “best kept secret” and is home to some of the best pubs in London. Seek out the eccentric Grenadier and the Nag’s Head to name a few.

Shall I Shoot that Apple off of Your Head?

St John’s Wood is a place to be where the Lord’s cricket ground and Andrew Strauss will host the Olympic archery events.  I love archery in more ways than one and the lovely grounds where all of this will be taking place have plenty to keep you busy. While in the area you cannot miss the world’s most famous pedestrian crossing nearby on Abbey Road. For you kids who are not familiar with Abbey Rd,  it was made famous by a little band called the Beatles.  Just a short walk north is the wonderful Ben Uri Gallery which specializes in Jewish art. Afterwards head south to the Regent’s Canal for a lovely afternoon waterside stroll!

Calling all Libero, Strikers and Defensive Specialists – No we are not lynching anyone YET! Summer Olympics will send you California Dreaming in St. James Place

The royal neighborhood will be transformed into a beach volleyball mecca. The only thing missing will be the rush of waves and the cool Pacific breeze. The obvious places to see here are Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, but take time to wander the surrounding streets they are lovely and hold lots of surprises like palaces and regal residences. If you are looking for a great bottle of wine to toast your winning teams you must plan to visit the building that was once home to Napoleon III and now is home to Berry Brothers & Rudd wine shop.  Now let’s start practicing… USA USA USA!

Note: Things change over time. The author of this article therefore makes no claims about the 100% accuracy of any information contained therein. 


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