I have a confession to make. I have completely neglected my blog. No, really, COMPLETELY neglected my blog. But with lots going on and lots about to happen, I thought I would to attempt to complete my posts on London and move on to other topics.
When thinking of the content of this, the most apt description I could think of to describe Westminster is regal.This is home of the British Parliament, British Prime Minster and the British monarchy. With one of the most expensive postal codes in the world, it is sometimes referred to simply BY its postal code, SW1.
The most iconic landmark of the area is Westminster Palace, home of the British parliament (bottom right side, just off map). If Westminster Palace doesn’t ring a bell with you, “Big Ben” should as it is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. Although my friend took a tour, I skipped out as I had already visied Parliament twice previously and also been able to attend “Question Period” during one of those visits. For a glimpse of how entertaining “Question Period” can be when grown adults behave like children, watch the following clip (thanks to my friend Adam in London for this clip).
Directly, across from Parliament is the world-famous Westminster Abbey. It is here that kings and queens are crowned, as well as some of England’s most historic citizens were buried, with names such as Chaucer, Newton and Darwin. As it has been some time since I visited the abbey, these pictures date from a few year back.
Up Whitehall 500 meters is 10 Downing Street, home of the British Prime Minster. Although I am sure it is nice inside, it is not particularly ornate outside, the only indication of its importance conveyed by the heavy gates barricading the street and the presence of heavily armed guards.
On the back of 10 Downing Street are the Churchill War Rooms, facing St James Park. Much of the British war operation was run in these underground bunkers during World War II. It is also where Churchill stubbornly refused to be confined, preferring rather to roam the city to keep the people’s spirits up during one of the country’s most difficult times.
Westminster’s second most famous landmark is Buckingham Palace, home to Her Royal Highness Queen Elisabeth II, Queen of England. If that all sounds a little to pompous, Brits bring things down a peg by commonly referring to the palace as “Buck House”. However, there is nothing at all austere about The Mall, the grand avenue leading up to the entrance of the palace or St James Park, which borders it to the south-east.
The St James area north of the Mall is one of London’s most exclusive neighborhoods. Anchored by St James Palace to the south (home of Prince Charles and Camilla), the district is bordered by Piccadilly Street to the north and Green Park to the west. The backbone of the area is Pall Mall, home to exclusive gentleman’s clubs such as the Oxford and Cambridge Club. St James Square serves as the neighborhood’s lungs with some of the most desirable homes in the city situated here.
Piccadilly and parallel Jermyn Street offer some of the city’s most exclusive shops. Jermyn Street is known for its exclusive menswear shops, selling everything from $10,000 suits to canes and footwear. While most of the shops are out of my budget range, I enjoy visiting Fortnum and Masons, an upscale British grocer with carpeted floors and everything you can possibly think of related to food. On this trip, I enjoyed a take-away lunch within the calm confines of Green Park, a bright oasis in the early spring sunshine. For those into economic and global affairs, the headquarters of The Economist are also situated in St James, adding Westminster’s cachet as one of the most influential districts in the world.