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September 10, 2011

Romance/Getaway Series - Tour & Transportation in London

From the various trips that we've taken and articles we've written over the years I've found that the best way to find out about a city or a destination is to take a tour. There are many options these days - bus tours, segway, boat tours, but I still enjoy walking tours. The groups are generally smaller so it's easier to ask questions and have a dialogue going with the tour guide. In London the best way to really get to know the City of London is to walk round it with one of their guides. They can give you a unique insight into the history and customs of the City and entertain you with the stories that it has to tell, helping you to find out so much more than you would from any guide book. Each guide is trained and accredited and was given his or her badge by the Lord Mayor of London. The City of London Guide Lecturers Association provides walks and tours in the City of London which you can just turn up and join and their daily walks only cost £7 for an adult.

We had a chance to take their "Love and Romance in The City" tour. This tour covered tales of romance, marriage and illicit love among the inhabitants. Our tour guide was fantastic. She was full of stories and made the history come alive. Since this was a romance themed tour she told us about a building that was inspired by cake tiers called the St Bride Church (pictured above). We also learned about a criminal and his partner-in-crime and lover that were arrested multiple times, and broke out of prison several times only to be put to death in the end. To the left is an old stone church that they didn't want to tear down so it was turned into a garden, which I think is a lovely way to keep the history and add to the beauty of the city.

On the left is a photo of a wall of tiles. These tiles each represent a common individual who died in a heroic way. This wall was lined with tiles representing men and women who tried to save others, and often, at a very high cost to themselves.

I don't want to say too much or else you won't want to take the tour for yourself, but it was very informative, entertaining and enjoyable.

...but if you don't think that tours are for you, and you prefer to see London at your own pace, then this is an option you may want to consider - the travelcard! This travelcard includes unlimited journeys on all London Underground, Buses, Trams, Docklands Light Rail, Over-ground Trains and National Rail Services within zones 1 – 6 (depending on which zones you purchase) and a hassle free day as you don't need to buy lots of different tickets. We used these cards each day of our trip and they were so helpful. You can buy a one day or a week long travelcard, anytime or off-peak hours. It's the perfect way to get around the city, if you don't want to worry about driving. We took it everywhere, and it was the cleanest public transportation we've ever seen or used, and we've used Boston's, NYC's, Rome's, Paris's and Philadelphia's. It took us past Notting Hill and Hyde Park, down to Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace, over to Waterloo where the London Eye is located and much more. I can't stress how simple and stress-free this transportation option is for out-of-towners like myself. It's a great way to see the city on a budget!

To buy London Travelcards visit:

Tour information can be found here:
disclaimer: tours and travelcards provided for this review

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