Great Places to Visit - London

By: Scott James

London is a great place. London as a major capital city deserves respect.

London like all major cities has had its good times as well as it's bad times and I have been there for most of them.

From the ecstatic heights in 2005 of being told that it was to be the home of the 2012 Olympics to the awful depths of having the news broken of the Harrods and Hyde Park bombings London has had the experience and gravity to treat both with equal respect.

I remember travelling through London to return home to Northern Ireland where I now live on the day the news broke that Princess Diana had tragically been killed in a car accident in Paris. The almost hypnotic manner with which mourners just blindly made their way to Kensington Palace to lay flowers was quite eerie. Then at the other end of the spectrum you have London the day of the "Live 8" Festival in Hyde Park where the city centre was brought to a standstill with blaring rock music belting out across the entire City Centre.

There is so much history in London. Real live, vibrant living history in London that sometimes when you live there just passes you by and you take everything for granted.

If we use as an example, the changing of the guard. A daily occurrence at Betty and Phil's place at the end of the mall. Perhaps I should be slightly more serious at this point because most onlookers will realize this point I am of course referring to Buckingham Palace and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh. Perhaps the most notable of the Changing of the Guards in recent years was held shortly after the awful events of 911 when instead of playing God Save the Queen the band of the Guards performed what turned out to be quite an emotional performance (certainly for those visiting American tourists in the audience) of the Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America.

It was important to note the significance of this event in that it was the only time that any other national anthem had been played at the changing of the guards instead off God Save the Queen.

It could be argued that it is incidents like this that go to sum up exactly what a rich variety of tradition and history exists in London. Unlike other major international capital cities, London may lack perhaps the historic grandeur of the Parthenon in Athens or the Coliseum in Rome but through out London you will find examples of perhaps a more modern architecture (though no less splendid and impressive) such as the mother of all parliaments, the Houses of Parliament in Westminster or the serenity of St Paul's Cathedral a survivor of many centuries and in many ways every bit as impressive now as in the days of its design under the architect Sir Christopher Wren.

The construction and existence of St Paul's Cathedral is a wonderful example if anyone needed of how history, living history can survive great national and international catastrophes such as the great fire of London and then 400 years later the blitz of World War II.

Possibly the existence of living history such as St. Paul's Cathedral in the heart of such a modern and a bustling city of London really sums up the overall appeal of London where there is such an amazing and historic blend of old and new.

There is absolutely no way a visit to London will disappoint

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