Monday, July 5, 2010
I arrived in London on Friday and it has been go-go-go since. After getting settled, we went on a neighborhood tour and like all big cities it's amazing how many famous sites could be passed (or seen in the distance) during just a brief walk. Leicester Square, Waterloo Station, The Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, the Thames... Every where you turn this city oozes history.
Saturday and Sunday everyone went on two London Alive walking tours. I selected the Historic Pubs Tour and Abbey Road Walk. On my previous visits (with family), pubs were not a big part of the itinerary due to the American perception that they are just simply bars. This is absolutely not the case. Pubs, or Public Houses, are a meeting place for the whole community. In fact, families with children can also be found in a pub! There are even some towns in England where the community's civic operations, such as the courts, are housed in the local pub. During our walk, the group saw The Black Friar which sits on the site of an old monastery that brewed ale for public consumption because potable water was difficult to come by in the increasingly industrial and polluted London.
St. Bride's Tavern was another pub seen along the walk. It was named after St. Bride's Church which is located nearby. The church is notable for its architecture. After its predecessor was destroyed in 1666 during the Great Fire of London, Sir Christopher Wren designed the tiered structure that still stands today. This design was first used as a model by a local baker for a wedding cake, and the rest is history as they say.
One of my favorite features about many of the pubs in London is the presence of potted flowers hanging outside. It's such a homey and welcoming aspect of a pub's character.
On Sunday, I had the pleasure of heading up to Abbey Road and Regent's Park with Dr. Davies. It's really quite extraordinary that such iconic music was created in a somewhat ordinary residential neighborhood. The area is filled with lovely homes and apartment buildings with perfectly manicured lawns and then there is this recording studio in the middle that has tributes to the Beatles scrawled all over the garden wall. The resident's comings-and-goings are delayed by the numerous groups of tourists posing in the famous crosswalk. Thankfully, Londoners are incredibly hospitable so there were no incidents during our visit.
For a brief history of pubs, please visit: Wikipedia
For a short biography on Sir Christopher Wren, please visit: BBC
Please visit the Abbey Road Studios' website for more information: Abbey Road Studios
For information about the Beatles' album, Abbey Road, please visit: Wikipedia