What We Love this Wednesday....London at Night!!
Seriously, we can go on and on about how much we LOVE London but we have decided that London might by night may even be better! Especially on a dry, moonlit night, in a car and if possible with a loved one and maybe a friend or two!
We haven't quite perfected the route exactly but we've got ways that get us to ALL the main sights. It also helps that they are all lit up so even if you do take a few wrong turns you can always get back to them.
As the driver I, Sarah, much prefer driving in London at night. The stress level decreases, the angry motorists have all reached their destinations and well, I'm on no deadline so I can take my time. With that in mind I do have to remember I'm in the centre of a very busy city night and day so taking my foot off the gas is not always the best idea. And I apologise to any cab, bus or car that happens to be behind me as I spot a sight.
We live in West London so get to enjoy the best of sunsets London has to offer, and what better way to start a night of entertainment. Once the sun's gone and dinner's been had, we pack up the car with Diet Coke (of course), sweets/candy, blankets and fully charged cameras and away we go. In the last week we have completed this tour with Laura's friend Alison and Lauren & Sarah. As always, Laura is my trusty co-pilot and I rely on her to get us into and through London, and that's about it - we're ready!
We headed out through Fulham, Chelsea, Sloane Square and Victoria. Our first point was Hyde Park and the beautiful statue of the Angel of Peace descending on the Quadriga of Victory standing on Constitution Arch - the original entrance to London. Hyde Park Corner is the intersection of Park Lane, Knightsbridge, Piccadilly, Grosvenor Place (where I work!) and Constitution Hill, and therefore the perfect place to start.
From here we went to Marble Arch and Oxford Street. We love a bit of people watching and as we cruised down the street we saw Selfridges all lit up and more than enough badly dressed people to fill an entire post! (we say from our pajamas and blanketed car) This lead us to Regent Street - completed in 1825, it has kept it's original layout and remains one of the major shopping streets in London. Oh and it's really nicely lit up!
Piccadilly Circus sits at the top of Regent Street and is so called because it is a circular public space. It also has the HUGE advertising boards:
It's also just up the road from Leicester Square which, as it is a pedestrian area, is NOT a good idea in a car. So we drove towards Trafalgar Square. Guarded by four lions - the sculptor had never seen a lion in real life, so the statues have faces sculpted from photos and bodies based on his dogs! Fun fact courtesy of Laura! It is also home to Nelson's Column. Rumour has it Nelson can see the sea from up there!!!
As you drive alongside Trafalgar Square the Mall comes into view. The gates at the start of the Mall are, to me, one of the real iconic London sights. They feature in every Royal occasion, the Marathon runners come through them and they are impressive to say the least!
And what happens to be at the end of the Mall?! Buckingham Palace of course. It's the official London residence of our Queen and home of 'that' balcony. Sitting outside is the Victoria Memorial with the gold Angel of Justice on top. Over the road are the beautiful gates of St James Park.
Next stop was the City, Monument to be precise This is another great stop for me and mainly because its well hidden and not very well known. Other than being a station it is also a column dedicated to the Great Fire of London. 202 ft tall, laid down it reaches the exact point the fire started in 1666 at the King's Bakers in Pudding Lane. The Monument is topped with a gilded urn of fire, and was designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke.
Really, London could entertain you forever but we were focused on making sure we got the 'big' sights so the next stop was the 'Gherkin' or 30 St Mary's Axe to give it its formal name. We also got see St Paul's Cathedral as we crossed the river. Then rather than driving over London Bridge - actually the original one is somewhere in Arizona - true story, the Americans thought they were buying Tower Bridge, but they got the actual London Bridge - as we know, London Bridge really is just a plain bridge!!!- we actually drove over Tower Bridge! A first for me, in fact a first for all of us in the car, so there were plenty of OMG's as we crossed.
We can't forget the Shard either, at first Laura and I weren't quite sure if we liked the new building but driving round London and seeing it from up close and far away we have decided it's growing on us. You may remember we went to see it's opening night and since then it has proved a highlight on our tour.
With my love of facts and history driving people around my city is so much fun and with Laura's sense of direction and knowledge from her walking tours when she first got to London and ability to take AMAZING photos while hanging out of windows we make quite the couple! If only we could do this for a job!!
Well we hope you enjoyed our tour of London - they do actually do 'official' night tours but we can't guarantee they'll be as good :)
Sarah (& Laura)