|-Travel London Guide -||by Alexander Theocharis|
Summer 2012 is definitely a unique time to travel in London, when all eyes will be on Britain's capital because of the Olympic Games 2012 or simply London 2012. Here's what to do and to see in London Olympics with a ticket and without it!
|Olympic London - Tower Bridge with Olypmic Rings | London, UK||photo by © David Iliff|
For beginning of our travel plan, let's note what you should see in London 2012. First of all is the Olympic Games by itself, which are: Opening / Closing Ceremony and the most interesting for you Sport events. And secondly, in the intervals between competitions, is the city of London with its the most famous symbols: Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and many others.
Opening Ceremony | London 2012 Olympics
Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony is the first main event you "must" to see. Lucky holders of the tickets to London Olympic Stadium (Olympic Park in Stratford) will share the ceremony with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and about 62,000 people inside the Stadium. Needless to say that the Olympics Opening Ceremony is a visit card of the host city and country. The ceremony entitled "Isles of Wonder" (designed by film director Danny Boyle) will lasts for 4 hours. So if you are going to be in the Olympic Stadium have a good dinner before!
Important parts of the Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony are: the Parade of Nations of more than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations; The Olympic Flag carrying and hoisting to the Olympic Hymn.
And one of the most awaited parts of any Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony is the way how the Olympic Flame will be lighted. The caldron design, its location and the persons lighting it are also the secrets.
|London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, Olympic Stadium | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
the Games | London 2012 Olympics
Sport competitions is what Olympic Games all about. London 2012 has a set of Olympic venues and locations for every sport. The majority of venues have been divided into three zones: the Olympic Zone, the River Zone and the Central Zone. Here's some main olympic venues:
Olympic Stadium - athletics;
The O2 Arena (North Greenwich Arena) - gymnastics;
Aquatics Centre - swimming and diving;
Hyde Park - marathons;
Wembley Stadium - football final;
ExCeL - boxing, wrestling etc;
Whatever sport you like - Swimming, Diving, Athletics, Gymnastics, Sport games, Triathlon and so on - a ticket to qualifications/ semi finals / finals will satisfy your interest.
How to watch London Olympic Games without a ticket
If you don't have stadium/centre/arena tickets, and you wanna be closer to Events - then:
Four big outdoor screens installed in Hyde Park Bandstand. For you: sport events (Live) and highlights, with live music performed daily (28 Jul–11 Aug; admission free).
Victoria Park will show the best of the Olympic Games on three giant screens. Here you can watch Olympic events and participate in sports activities (27 Jul–18 Aug; admission free).
Participate at a live event while some of Olympic sport is on the streets of London. The cycling road races, southwest city (28 and 29 July). Central London will be a great viewpoint for the Marathon (5 and 12 August) and Triathlon (4 and 7 August).
Now, after the Opening Ceremony, and since we know the main venues for our favorite sports, is a time to see London. Here's top 9 London landmarks for newcomers:
• Westminster Abbey
This large Church in the City of Westminster (central London) is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for British monarchs. Westminster Abbey is a 'royal peculiar' and is administered directly by the Crown. Every monarch since William the Conqueror has been crowned here. Full name of this UNESCO World Heritage Site - Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster.
|Westminster Abbey (west side) | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
The Church was built in the 11th century by King Edward the Confessor, in 1245 - Henry III began work on the new building which was finished in 1388. Henry VII began Lady Chapel in 1503, a Perpendicular style chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was consecrated in 1519. Between 1722 and 1745 was built, by Nicholas Hawksmoor, two western towers of Westminster Abbey.
|Westminster Abbey (north entrance) in London, UK||photo by © wiki|
You might remember the last notable event here - it was the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Kate Middleton (now Duchess of Cambridge) on April 2011.
Transport: Westminster metro station, Website: www.westminster-abbey.org , Price: adult/child £15/6, tours £3.
• Buckingham Palace
Built in 1705 as Buckingham House, this palace has been the Royal Family’s London lodgings since 1837, when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. When the monarch is in the palace, over the roof of the palace flies the Royal Standard. Outside the main gates of the Palace is placed the Victoria Memorial, a large memorial statue of Queen Victoria.
|Buckingham Palace in London, UK||photo by © wiki|
Changing of the Guard, a major ceremony and tourist attraction, takes place on the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace (daily at 11.30am from April till August, and every other day in other months)
|Changing of the Guard in Buckingham Palace | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
Transport: Victoria metro station, Website: www.royalcollection.org.uk
Price: adult/child - £17/9.75
• Palace of Westminster (Big Ben Tower) aka Houses of Parliament
The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, commonly known as the Houses of Parliament. It is located in the city of Westminster on the bank of the River Thames. The Palace was rebuilt during 1840-70 after fire. The oldest surviving part of the complex - Westminster Hall - built in 1099, seat of the English monarchy till the early 16th century. The Palace of Westminster is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When Parliament is in session, visitors are allowed to watch the debates in the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
|Palace of Westminster (Big Ben Tower) aka Houses of Parliament | London, UK||photo by © David Iliff|
Surely you know the palace of Westminster because of its famous towers. The Clock Tower, commonly known as Big Ben, a famous symbol of London and the UK. Completed in 1858 and since then it's hard to imagine central London without Big Ben's clocks and bells.
Transport: Westminster metro station, Website: www.parliament.uk
• Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge (built 1886–1894), a bascule bridge in central London over the River Thames near the Tower of London. The bridge was opened on 30 June 1894 by The Prince of Wales. It has become an iconic symbol of London and the UK. In June 2012 a set of Olympic rings was suspended from the bridge to mark the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
|Tower Bridge | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
Transport: Tower Hill metro station
• St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral is one of London's most majestic and recognisable buildings. It is a Church of England cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. Built 1675-1697 by Sir Christopher Wren to an English Baroque design. Towering over Ludgate Hill St Paul's Cathedral is the highest point in the City of London. It has simply gorgeous, impressive interior.
|St Paul's Cathedral (west side) in London, UK||photo by © wiki|
|Interior of St Paul's Cathedral | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
The main space of the St Paul's Cathedral rises 108 metres from the floor and holds three circular galleries – the internal Whispering Gallery, the external Stone Gallery, and the external Golden Gallery. If you want to see one of the best views of London, then you need to reach these galleries.
To get into the Galleries you will need a bit of energy, actually a lot of energy, which are 528 stairs to the top. First stage of this journey will bring you to the Whispering Gallery, so called because if you talk close to the wall it will carry your words around the gallery. To reach this first stage go through a door on the western side of the southern transept of the Church and get ready to walk about 257 steps above or 30 metres of walking. Plus 119 stairs and you reach the Stone Gallery, an exterior viewing platform and a place to rest before the third stage. Another 152 steps to finally get to the Golden Gallery, the second exterior platform, 85m above London, with great views of the city.
|Interior (Altar) of St pAuls Cathedral | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
Transport: St Paul's metro station, Website www.stpauls.co.uk ,
Price: adult/child £12.50/4.50, Hours: 8.30am-4pm Mon-Sat
• Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a central square in London, place for meeting, celebration, cultural events and demonstrations, - in many ways this is the centre of London. The Square commemorates the victory of the British navy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 during the Napoleonic wars. The great square is partly free of the city transport, which makes it a perfect place for walking. You would like two big fountains, which are beautifully lit at night.
In the centre of Trafalgar Square, since 1843, standing Nelson's Column, the 52m-high monument honours Admiral Lord Nelson, who led the fleet’s victory over Napoleon.
|Trafalgar Square in London, UK||photo by © David Iliff|
Around the Square it is interesting to see: the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields and Admiralty Arch, where the Mall begins (Mall is a road in London) and leads to Buckingham Palace.
Transport: Charing Cross metro station
• British Museum
Founded in 1753 the British Museum is one of the world's greatest museums of human history and culture. The museum is huge and houses some eight million works of its permanent collections. So you will need a time to make a few visits. Its endless collections will guide you through ancient world cultures, with galleries devoted to: Egypt and the Middle East, the Romans and Greece, the Middle East, India, Africa, Western Asia, Roman Britain and medieval antiquities.
|British Museum (main entrance)| London, UK||photo by © wiki|
|Great Court (formerly British Library) in the British Museum | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
Necessarily take a look at the Great Court, formerly the British Library; Ancient Egypt exposes a big number of artifacts, papyrus texts, the Rosetta Stone (room 4); Ancient Greece: Parthenon Sculptures /Marbles (room 18), Athens (room 19); the world of Alexander (room 22); Roman Empire (room 70); artifacts from the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis are shown in (room 52); to see Roman Britain go to (room 49); also is very interesting Mexican (room 27) and North American (room 26) galleries.
|The head of Amenhotep 3, Ancient Egypt in the British Museum (room 4) | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
Transport: Russell Sq. metro station, Website: www.britishmuseum.org , Hours: 10am-5.30pm Sat-Wed, to 8.30pm Thu and Fri
Price: admission free, audioguides: adult/child £5/3.50
• Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is one of the popular tourist attractions in London. Built during 1873-1881, it displays five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology, which are some 70 million items. The museum is divided into the galleries by themes: Blue Zone (dinosaurs, fishes... ), Red Zone (Earth Lab: minerals, rocks..), Green Zone (birds, fossils..), Orange Zone (Wildlife Garden, Darwin Centre..).
|Natural History Museum in London, UK||photo by © David Iliff|
The main museum building, was designed by Alfred Waterhouse in blue and sand-coloured brick and terracotta. Just ahead of the main entrance, in the Central Hall is standing an impressive by the large Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton.
|Natural History Museum in London, centrall hall (diplodocus dinosaur) | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
Transport: South Kensington metro station, Website: www.nhm.ac.uk
Price: admission free, highlights tours £3.00
• London Eye
The landmark London Eye one of the modern symbols of London, is a giant Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames. A "flight" in one of the wheel's 32 glass-enclosed eye pods, each one holding up to 28 people, will be on 100% unforgetable.
|London Eye at night | London, UK||photo by © Mike Peel|
Transport: Waterloo metro station, Website: www.londoneye.com
Price: adult/child £18/9.50 ; Hours: 10am-8pm
Closing Ceremony | London 2012 Olympics
Everything good has its end, and the London 2012 Olympic Games are going to be closed on 12 August 2012 in the Olympic Stadium after traditional Olympics Closing Ceremony. With a duration of three hours, the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics entitled "A Symphony of British Music" expecting to be a great music show with a fireworks. Olimpics Closing Ceremony usually less official then the Opening Ceremony because is a place for relaxation and honoring the Athlets after the Games. The list of artists which will be performing in the Closing Ceremony: London Symphony Orchestra, One Direction, The Beatles, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Spice Girls, Queen, Take That and many others.
In the end of the Ceremony the Olympic Flag will be lowered and carried from the Stadium. The most secret part of the Olimpics Closing Ceremony is the way how The Olympic Flame will be extinguished.
|London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony | London, UK||photo by © wiki|
"Good bye" The London 2012 Summer Olympic Games and "Hello" (in four years) The Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics!
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author: © Alexander Theocharis
legal notice: No part of this article may be reproduced without a written permission of the author.