Some places in London the indigenous populace is almost non-existent.
Your Dad might have dragged you these tourist destinations when you were young and nowadays you cannot dissuade your out-of-town friends when they insist they be taken to the ‘real’ London when visiting.
These tourist hot-spots mainly serve two functions. First they bring in much needed money keeping the Capital functioning.
[B]ut secondly, and more importantly, they serve to Hoover up tourists ensuring that the best that London has to offer is relatively empty for us to enjoy.
The most popular tourist hot-spot is that waxwork emporium on the Marylebone Road. Thousands queue outside waiting for a chance to take a selfie with Michael Jackson or David Beckham, not with Rolf Harris who curiously is now absent. Those possessed with forward planning have even stumped up extra to bypass the queue, little do they realise the highlight of the visit is mingling with others while standing in the most polluted place in London. With three-and-a-half times EU limit for nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas linked to asthma, lung infections and other respiratory problems the Baker Street Marylebone Road junction has no equals, it’s a chance to really take home a long lasting London souvenir – emphysema. The last time Tussaud’s was worth a visit on a wet Sunday afternoon was over 10 years ago to experience the London Planetarium, this now houses the dubious 4D superhero experience.
If getting down and dirty with London’s traffic is your thing, a ride in a rickshaw ticks all the boxes. With an exhilaration of an Alton Towers ride, experience travelling up one-way streets against the prevailing traffic and luxuriate in the knowledge that your transport of choice is the most expensive in the western world. Occasionally drunk Londoners might be found hanging for dear life from one of these vehicles, but the frisson of fear is lost when inebrated.
The Cable Car (Boris Buoys)
This ride designed on the back of an envelope by the unlamented Mayor is designed to take you from a spot you’re unlikely to visit to a destination you have no reason to seek out. Along the way you experience a bird’s eye taste of being hit by a fast moving jet. Aircraft take off from London City Airport their pilots aiming their craft directly at you. Not a cheap thrill but you are comforted by the knowledge of re-experiencing the sight of the Silvertown scrap yards on your return trip.
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
For just under £100 you can take your family to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, admission to the Monument is thrown in for good measure. It’s not the London Bridge erroneously thought by many a tourist, but Tower Bridge and by London’s timeline, almost new – opening as recently as 1894 when the Prince of Wales really did open it. Look out at the Tower for some of the poorest pointing to brickwork found on the planet (presumably the craftsman felt the executioner’s axe). After having the Crown Jewels stolen in 1671 by the appropriately named Colonel Blood who flattened with the crown and stuffed into a bag, and shoved the orb down his breeches, while attempting to saw the sceptre in half. No such opportunities now exist, a moving walkway (remember to stand on the right please) glides you effortlessly past these regal artefacts.
Fish and chips
Londoners seem to live on a diet from the sea’s bounty. Oysters were the poor’s fast food of choice in Georgian times, now – apparently – it’s cockles, whelks, winkles and jellied eels. The most popular seafood dish is fish and chips. Now there are many excellent purveyors of the national dish, Masters Super Fish in Waterloo Road or the Seashell in Seymour Place especially after nearly burning it down. So why do all our tourist go to an expensive and indifferent restaurant in Covent Garden? Described by an unknown critic as ‘the best in London’ cod and chips for two will set you back just shy of £40, but you do get tartar sauce thrown in.
Time was when England had a thriving confectionery industry. The philanthropic owner’s benevolence would give their workers housing, health care and recreational facilities. Then along came the large conglomerates that after purchasing the factories moved manufacturing to Eastern Europe and closed down the ‘candy’ plants. So why is it that in Leicester Square there resides 35,000 sq ft given over to overpriced Smarties? Given that London’s M&M World is the only one of its kind in Europe it has made it the must-see destination for tourists, completely ignoring the sublime Fortnum’s a short walk up the road.
Fish and chips ssrtleu/Flickr Creative Commons)
Rickshaws Taxi Leaks