Things I Learnt on a Bus Tour
The bus tour – Original Tours, started at Trafalgar Square. Apparently, it wasn’t an all London tour, just a few main areas around.
Oscar Wilde – One of my most important to-do things is to visit the grave of this amazing man in Paris, who once lived, dreamed and wrote beautiful stories. The Langham is a hotel where Oscar Wilde stayed and wrote ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’.
Ho Chi Min – once worked in the kitchens of the New Zealand House, in London.
Savoy Hotel – London’s first luxury hotel which first introduced electric lights throughout the hotel, electric lifts, bathrooms inside most of the lavishly furnished rooms, constant hot and cold running water and many other innovations and where Winston Churchill regularly took his cabinet to lunch thinks the number 13 is unlucky. If there are only 13 guests at a table in any of the Savoy’s restaurants, the waiter outs a black china cat to serve as the 14th guest.
Trafalgar Square – A very lively part of London. The square has a commemorative column called ‘Nelson’s Column’ built in honour of Admiral Horatio Nelson who died fighting the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. At the base of the column are four lions on all four sides. The lions are designed by an artist Edwin Henry Landseer. Interestingly, the lions have their tongue sticking out – this is because the artist used dogs as models! It is believed that when the Big Ben strikes 13, the lions will come to life and roam around London.
Great Plague of London – Also on the bus we crossed the area where the Bubonic Plague first broke out, the Great Plague of London is said to have killed 60,000 people but that’s an official number that is way lesser than the actual numbers (as the commentary on the bus said). The disease was first noticed among Flemish weavers of the area. A red cross was hung on the doors of whoever was infected with the disease. The people of the city suspected dogs to be the carriers of the disease so they put hundreds of street dogs to death. That was a disastrous thing to do for the real carriers were rats! As the dogs were killed, the rat population increased and the plague spread rapidly, killing over 30% of London’s population. It was very difficult for me to imagine the London of those times, in front of me was a happy, vibrant city but to go back in time and imagine the same street cursed with the plague, people sick and dying – my heart sank a little bit.
Covent Garden – This posh and busy area now houses some of the world’s best brands showrooms and is a lovely place to sit and watch London passby. The Covent Garden was initially a fruit and vegetable market that catered to the grocery needs of the monks of Westminster.
Titanic Connection – I adore Titanic, the movie. Therefore, it was exciting for me to know that the first-class ballroom room scenes of the movie were shot in the Palm Court Room of the Waldorf Hotel which we passed on the bus – the closest I got to Titanic (the movie). I heard that the price for an afternoon tea here are very reasonable – I couldn’t do it on this trip, so I will have to come back to London to go to the Waldorf Hilton (Hilton took over the over 100 year old hotel in 2004) in a great black dress.
St Paul’s Cathedral – Who passes St Paul’s Cathedral by and doesn’t go in? I did – Stupid of me but that’s the story of my trip to London. I couldn’t do the most obvious things but what did I do the four days I was there? You will know soon. However, outside St Paul’s Cathedral was the statue of Queen Anne who was unfortunately known more for her fondness of alcohol than her extraordinary political reforms. The statue interestingly doesn’t face the cathedral and therefore the saying – ‘Poor Queen Anne, left in a lurch, faced to a pub and her back to a church.’ My heart went out to this lady when I learnt that she lost all her seventeen offsprings (many in womb) and the Stuart Dynasty which she led ended because there was no heir. If there’s a top favourite I am taking away from London, it’s Queen Anne.
The Dorchester – is a super luxury hotel, a neighbour of the Intercontinental where I stayed, is where Elizabeth Taylor had all her honeymoons.
St Thomas Hospital – where Florence Nightingale first worked. I read about Florence Nightingale in primary school and was touched by the beauty of her soul. I went back in time to the first time that I heard this beautiful name, ‘Florence Nightingale’ what a beautiful name and what a beautiful woman she must have been. I love Florence Nightingale and I was deeply moved to walk road she once walked.
The Strand – is a street name, a Germanic word that translates to ‘the beach’ and so called because the banks of River Thames extended until this busy street of today before the embankment was built.
Tower Bridge – at one point in time, had the heads of traitors on spikes for decoration.
Street Names – I loved the street names in London, mostly named after the most important produce of that street – I’d love to have an address that says Milk Street or Garlic Lane or Honeycomb Street or Candle Street or Bread Street – Bread Street being my favourite, imagine the smell of fresh bread all day long? Heaven 🙂
And I passed a church whose choir still sings this
I fell in love with London from the top of a tourist bus.