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LONDON 2010

LONDON 2010

By gokatiemak
Trip Plan Tags: 
family
Destinations: 
England,
Europe,
London

No Description Available.

ITEMS

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See + Do

Tate Modern, England

Bankside
London SE1 9TG, England
Tel: 44 207 887 8888
Website: www.tate.org.uk/modern

Sometimes it seems this former power station fashioned into a showy landmark by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron is the center of the city. There is something very glamorous about the vast space, let alone the amazing holdings, which range from Matisse to Matthew Barney. Entering is a thrill—a slope almost as wide as the building descends into aircraft-hangar–sized Turbine Hall. It's become known for site-specific installations on a barely conceivable scale. Anish Kapoor's 2002 "Marsyas," a slightly menacing, sinuous scarlet PVC membrane stretched over the entire volume of the hall like a mammoth Venus flytrap or some invertebrate sea monster from 1,000 fathoms deep. Then, with 2004's "The Weather Project," Olafur Eliasson seemed to make the sun rise and set inside. People were drawn to it like moths, prostrating themselves on the concrete as if to sunbathe—it was that magical. It's possible to catch the Tate catamaran—it's the one with the Damien Hirst polka-dot design—up the Thames to the now unfairly neglected Tate Britain. (It also stops at the London Eye and provides a spectacular view of the Houses of Parliament from the river.)

Sun–Thurs 10–6; Fri–Sat 10–10; free admission.

See + Do

Westminster Abbey, England

Westminster
London SW1P 3PA, England
Tel: 44 207 222 5152
Website: www.westminster-abbey.org

Westminster Abbey, the huge Gothic church beside the Houses of Parliament, has been the setting for every coronation since 1066, as well as a burial site for monarchs, aristocrats, writers (Charles Dickens), musicians (Henry Purcell), generals, politicians, scientists (Charles Darwin), and pretty much anyone who it was felt deserved the honor. The lines are extremely long in summer for a shuffle past Poets' Corner, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Coronation Throne—although the mystical Stone of Scone (renamed the Stone of Destiny) that underpinned it for nine centuries is now back in Edinburgh where it belongs. The lines have probably been swollen by Da Vinci Code fanatics, in which the abbey has a cameo—though a starring role in the film was turned down when the powers that be decided that it was "wayward and inappropriate."

Open daily Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9:30–3:45; Wed 9:30–7; Sat 9:30–1:45; Sun worship only; times are subject to change, see website.

See + Do

Tate Britain, England

Millbank
London SW1P 4RG, England
Tel: 44 20 7887 8888
Email: visiting.britain@tate.org.uk
Website: www.tate.org.uk/britain

Tate Britain might not get the same attention as its glitzy little sister, Tate Modern, but to miss it would be a mistake. Built in 1897, Tate Britain displays British art from 1500 to the current day and also shows the oft-controversial annual Turner Prize. The permanent galleries house the likes of Constable and Gainsborough, Hogarth, Reynolds, and Stubbs. In the adjoining Clore Gallery, visitors can see the largest single display of Turner paintings in the world. This prestigious institution also holds some moderns, such as Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, and Antony Gormley. Temporary shows celebrate major British artists of the past and the present, such as Henry Moore and Chris Ofili. In short, this is where you'll find the world's greatest collection of British art. Visit Tate Modern in the morning and then ride the Tate boat here in the afternoon. (It also stops at the London Eye and provides a spectacular view of the Houses of Parliament from the river.)—Giovanna Dunmall

Open daily 10 am to 5:50 pm (until 10 pm the first Friday of each month).

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See + Do

Tower of London, England

Tower Hill, Tower Hamlets
London EC3N 4AB , England
Tel: 44 870 756 6060
Website: www.hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon/

How can you not see the Bloody Tower? Founded by William the Conqueror in 1066, this huge fortified palace-jail-treasury-arsenal is the source of some of the most-famous tourist photo ops in all of England. View the Crown Jewels—so costly they're officially beyond price and therefore uninsured—the Tudor prisoners' graffiti in the Beauchamp Tower, and the site of royal beheadings. Gawk at the fashion-forward Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters, in their black-and-scarlet 14th-century livery, and at the ravens, without whose continuous presence, so Charles II was told, the Tower and the Kingdom would crumble.

Mar–Oct: Tues–Sat 9–6:, Sun–Mon 10–6; Nov–Feb: Tues–Sat 9–5, Sun–Mon 10–5.

See + Do

Kensington Palace, England

Kensington Gardens
London W8 4PX , England
Tel: 44 870 751 5170
Website: http://www.hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace/

Members of the cult of Diana need to come here to view where the People's Princess lived (more or less—her quarters are not open to the public), and to see one of her gowns, along with royal outfits through the ages, in the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. The palace itself, which predated Buck House as the royal abode, is worth a look as well—the rolling exhibitions are always imaginative (from Mario Testino's portraits of Diana to live actors and musicians recreating the lives of previous royal inhabitants), and it lacks the interminable lines for the brief August opening of the current Queen's house. The King's Apartments, with its Old Masters (including Tintorettos and Van Dycks) and a lot of booty from the Stuart-Hanoverian periods, are highlights. Afterward, take tea in the lovely Orangery, and should you be trailing kids, take them to the adjacent Princess Diana Memorial Playground—a forest of wooden climbing apparatuses.

Open daily Mar–Oct: 10–6; Nov–Feb: 10–5.

See + Do

Houses of Parliament, England

20 Dean's Yard, Westminster
London  SW1A 0AA, England
Tel: 44 207 219 4272
Website: www.parliament.uk/visiting/

The mother of all parliaments, the Palace of Westminster comprises Big Ben (which is the bell, not the tower) as well as the chambers of both Houses, Commons and Lords. The Gothic Revival building you see today, built between 1840 and 1888 on the site of the original 11th-century palace, was designed to blend in with nearby Westminster Abbey. During the early-August to late-September summer recess, you get to roam through it all (and skip the line with an advance tour reservation by calling 44-870-906-3773 or through the website). When parliament is in session, visitors can stand on line outside the St. Stephen's entrance to view debates in either house from the public galleries.

August: Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat 9:15–4:30; Wed–Thurs 1:15–4:30; Sep–Oct: Mon, Fri, Sat 9:15–4:30; Tues–Thurs 1:15–4:30.

See + Do

Greenwich, England

London, England

Greenwich is a bustling little market town in its own right, colored by bucketfuls of maritime history. Most importantly, it's where time begins. No, seriously, it does: At the top of a hill in Greenwich Park, a brass line marks longitude 0 degrees, the starting point of every time zone in the world—better known as GMT (Greenwich Mean, or Meridian, Time). The Royal Greenwich Observatory is up there, too, and for the effort of walking up a gentle hill, you'll be rewarded with excellent views. Down below are architectural gems: Georgian houses, the National Maritime Museum—designed by Inigo Jones, it displays Admiral Nelson's coat from Trafalgar, complete with the fatal bullet hole in the left shoulder (44-20-8858-4422; www.nmm.ac.uk)—as well as the stunning University of Greenwich and Trinity College of Music, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The Cutty Sark, the last clipper ship to be built (dating back to 1869), has rested in a dry dock in Greenwich since 1954 and is currently being restored. Until it's completed in Spring 2010, you can only view the ship from the nearby souvenir shop; see the website for more details (44-20-8858-2698; www.cuttysark.org.uk). Nearby is the glazed cupola entrance to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which runs under the Thames. Alternatively, in keeping with Greenwich's nautical roots, catch a boat back up the river to central London.

See + Do

Covent Garden, England

London, England

The area where a fruit-and-vegetable wholesale market once stood—and where Eliza Doolittle met Henry Higgins—is now one of the most touristy parts of London. Even so, the Piazza and adjacent Jubilee Market are not unpleasant at all with their array of upper-end high-street stores and market stalls that now sell crafts and clothes instead of cabbages and roses. South of the Piazza is where you find most of the West End theaters; while the Royal Opera House, which was expanded in 1999, is to the north (Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2, 44-207-304-4000, www.royaloperahouse.org.uk). Plus, the little area around Endell and Monmouth streets and "Seven Dials" (look for the sundial monument just south of Shaftesbury Avenue) is great for hip clothes shops.

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See + Do

Buckingham Palace, England

London SW1A 1AA, England
Tel: 44 207 766 7300
Website: www.royal.gov.uk/TheRoyalResidences/BuckinghamPalace/BuckinghamPalace.aspx

The queen's London pied-à-terre is not the most beautiful of palaces, but it's big. Most of the year, all you can do is peer through the iron railings at the guards in busbies—those silly two-foot-tall black fur hats—and check the flagpole to see whether Brenda, as Private Eye calls her, is at home (the standard only flies when she's in residence). But from late July to September, even commoners can enter those gates. The Throne Room, Picture Gallery, Ballroom, and 16 other state rooms are open, as is (a bit of) the south side of the unbelievably huge palace gardens. The Royal Mews, with working stables and display of fancy state vehicles, is just around the corner and also worthy of a visit, as is the Queen's Gallery.

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See + Do

British Museum, England

Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury
London WC1B 3DG, England
Tel: 44 207 323 8299
Website: www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

One of the single greatest museums in the world, the British Museum houses collections that date from the prehistoric to the modern—in sum, the works of mankind. The Egyptian rooms are famous for their mummies and the eventual key to deciphering hieroglyphics, the Rosetta Stone. Then there are the controversial Elgin Marbles, stolen from the Parthenon, and countless other Greek and Roman antiquities. The leathery, ancient Lindow Man, preserved for centuries in a Cheshire bog after having been ritually slaughtered, and the treasures from the seventh-century Sutton Hoo royal burial grounds are also here. If you only have a few minutes to spare, trot in to see the 2000 addition—Sir Norman Foster's spectacular two-acre interior Great Court with its glass-grid roof. The museum is free, though special exhibitions are not.

Sat–Wed 10–5:30, Thurs–Fri 10–8:30.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.