Saturday, 4 December 2010

Charlie (on holiday) in London (4): The West End

Does a holiday count if you decide to stay in the same city? To visit the sights and sounds that is normally mundane and routine? Well, we have a much quoted maxim, you never bother to see Madamme Tussaud's unless a visitor is in town. Well, last month I decided to head out into the city, and explore it, just a little. So join me this week, as I take you on a mini-tour of some of London's more fashionable (and quirky) sights.

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If you want to pick out London's great past time, then it is shopping. Yep, 100,000 years of existence on this planet has come to this. The pinnacle of humanity spends its time buying crap they do not really need, only to throw it in the nearest landfill when they are deluded by the next object of their desires. But, if you want to pick something up, then, well, London's West End is the place to be.



Oh yes, this is Oxford Street. Normally filled with buses, taxis and shoppers, but occasionally they close it off so that the mighty pedestrian can rule the tarmac. It becomes a pickpocket's paradise. This is London's high street, but to be honest, you could exchange it with any other suburban town in the country. The chain stores here sell exactly the same junk in your own town, and even the large department stores do not really have much to offer...

But there are gems to be found in London's West End, away from the hordes. Actually, I am lying, the hordes are everywhere! We do not have much in the way of assets or originality, but we do have a lot when it comes to finding the best deal. Hah, I laugh at our capitalistic mores...

Shopping is one aspect of the West End, but the area is also filled with bars, clubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. Probably nowhere else best illustrates the lure of the West End than Piccadilly Circus. No more than a glorified billboard, but it does look pretty in the night sky...



It is hard to draw a real border to this part of London. After all, there is no official boundary to the West End and it can go as far as Notting Hill, but for me, anything to the west of Park Lane is outside the core of London, and of course, the West End is north of the River. That leaves one large landmark smack bang in the middle of London's West End - Buckingham Palace!



Before I take my leave of the West End, there is one last place I want to point out. Covent Garden Market, a fascinating place. Was once one of London's largest wholesale fruiterers, before being shunted over the river to Vauxhall. Its layout is one of the few places in London that has been designed like a European piazza. It is a beautiful part of London, and it houses the fascinating London Transport Museum, amongst other shopping emporiums. The buskers are still there, doing their thing, but it still remains one of London's most relaxing (if now expansive) quarters. A place to do a little bit of people watching, to sip a cup of tea, or (of course) a place to come shopping...



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The West End of London is really easy to reach, and is surprisingly compact. It is far easier (and often quicker) to walk through rather than wait for transport. Still, if your feet are a little tired, then bus routes 9/N9, 14, 139, 159 and 390 give the most scenic bus rides through the West End as well as pretty much connecting to everything else. Tube stations are everywhere, but really, it is a lot easier to walk through this part of London!

1 comment:

magiceye said...

aah the glitter and glamour lures...