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London touring: Westminster

Our first full day in London was focused in the City of Westminster (which is an inner London borough which holds city status). We started out, through the parks (Kensington, Hyde and Green) past Buckingham Palace and straightaway (the local coming out in me) to the Churchill War Rooms. Was it ever worth it. (Tip: buy in advance on the web site, skip the queue (again, the local) and go first thing (they open at 9:30). The staff do a good job at filtering the influx so that the rooms and museum aren’t overcrowded but that means a wait. We got there at 9:30 on the dot and still waited about 30-45 to get in – we did not buy tickets online beforehand).   Get the headset guided tour (which comes with the price of admission, but we saw some decline it and that’s a mistake).

See more on our war rooms experience in our upcoming “Museums of London” post.

Following the museum, we proceeded to the St Martin’s in the Fields church for a free opera and piano concert. The free music (see website for details) goes down on Mondays and a Tuesdays at 1pm (er, 1300 hours). You can also pay to go to other concerts throughout the week. The lunch in the “crypt” below is not as creepy as it may sound, popular with the locals, is quite delicious and really affordable.

Our last stop before wandering home via parks and neighborhood (with what has become a requisite stop at the Kings Head pub, more on this later) was the National Portrait Gallery.  Ok, maybe this sounds kinda blah to some of you yanks, but we loved it (not just because we dodged the rain shower by dashing in. See, I could live here).  See portraits of the Tudors, the Stuarts, the Beatles, Charles Darwin, the current royals, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Anna Wintour, Dame Judi Dench and the Dowager Countess, Dame Maggie Smith. One of our faves was of Lord Buckingham (see our upcoming Kings head pub post) in the Stuarts section, go find it, it’s worth it.

All in all a smashing good rout about London.

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