Friday, September 02, 2005


London Walks Reviews

Before I left Australia, Lindsay recommended that I do some of the walks run by London Walks. They looked interesting, so I thought I'd give them a go.

Turns out, they rocked.

I did the Old Westminster on Saturday morning. Since it was my first walk, I wasn't sure how it was all meant to work. It was actually very easy - I just went to the right exit at the tube station and there was a guy holding up a pile of London Walks pamphlets. I got my ticket (and a frequent walkers card) and off the group went. The guide was fun, knowledgeable and friendly. We'd walk along and he'd stop us at anything interesting and tell us some stories. He told us about Churchill, Cromwell, the Queen and the parliament. Having a guide who knew the area meant we saw some things I'd never have found if I was by myself - like the house Lawrence of Arabia once lived in.

Since I knew I could easily spend 8 hours at the British museum and still not get past the first two rooms, I decided that would be my afternoon walk. It turned out the guide was the same as the morning guy - which was cool, because he was good. He took us straight to the most important and interesting artifacts. We saw artifacts from Egypt, Persia, Britain, Rome and Greece. The really amazing thing was that everything we saw - the massive marble statues, the huge stone wall carvings and even the entrance to an Egyptian tomb - were the real thing. My personal highlight was actually seeing the real Rosetta stone.
After the tour finished I stayed in the museum until they kicked me out. There was so much to see.

On Sunday morning I did the Tower of London walk. I'd been to the Tower last time I was in London (when I was 15), and if I'd remembered how expensive it was I might not have gone again. But it was cool to have a guide. He took us in through a back way so we avoided the line. The guide pointed out all sorts of interesting things - like how the hump in a path was actually an access tunnel to the river at one point. We got to see the Traitor's Gate (I could just imagine what it would have felt like to be taken in to the Tower through it). The best thing about it was that our group was small - unlike the groups the Beefeaters were leading around of 80+ people. This walk was the least good, but was still well worth the money.

Sunday afternoon was a walk around Wapping. This was really cool. Our guide took us all through the dock areas and the East End. She told us about pirates, smugglers and murderers. We got to go down onto the banks of the Thames (since it was low tide), which I never even knew was possible. We walked past impressive new apartment blocks, really old pubs and learnt about a really interesting part of London.

Sunday night I did a Ghost Walk through old London. The guide was an actor, and very good at what he did. He take us to an interesting site, stand on a little stool he had with him and told us a spooky story. We heard about ghosts looking for their heads, their husbands or just mischief. There were ghosts in churches, pubs, houses and even the National Bank. The best ghost story was totally made up and had me nearly kicking someone in the head. It was great.

There were lots of other walks I wanted to do, if only I'd had time. So if you're ever in London, do at least one of these walks. They are fantastic.

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