“The city of London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom. It started as an ancient Roman settlement scattered on the current site of today’s city along the Thames. Nowadays London is an administrative, economic, educational and fashion world centre visited by millions of tourists annually.” This is the brief description and the usual visit card of the city which you can come across in every tourist guide, book and on the Internet. But maybe there are several symbols that make it distinctive from any other place in the world. Do you guess which they are? Yeap …. They are plenty in number and some of them are inseparable part of almost every post card, magnet or souvenir from London while others are the associations we are accustomed to making when we hear about London. (By the way, I have to make a short statement here regarding them in order to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, i.e. they are to be seen around the United Kingdom and are British symbols but somehow they are related mainly to the capital city….Jesus, I am telling you once again – it’s because of the mass-production Chinese souvenirs sold out throughout the capital city 😀 ). Soooo …..
What’s London without its traditional red telephone box? This is an emblem of Great Britain and of the capital city, in particular. The whole telephone kiosk story started with the “grandparent” green K1 telephone box which was redesigned in the middle of the 20s of last century. The designer of the second generation telephone kiosks (K2 model) was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who won a sponsored competition and his domed red telephone box was spread out throughout the country. It was cast iron, massive and extremely impressive but, unfortunately not that practical for the British cities. That’s why newer and newer models have been produced and modernized through the years up to now, K8 being the most recent model.
Principally, double-decker buses are commonplace in the United Kingdom and are used for mass transits. But these two-storey buses are specific in the capital city. Their colour is in a “red” harmony with telephone kiosks in London and they have become an iconic emblem of the city as well. They were introduced to the city just after the WWII and their mission was to replace the double-decked trams that were in service at that time in London. And maybe they were painted red for the same reason for which the first K1 telephone box was painted from green into red, namely Britain and London, in particular, have never been short of green things surrounding citizens in their everyday lives and that’s why it’s always been an issue (especially for a short-sighted old grandma or for a clumsy and absent-minded teenager, or a concerned and stressed adult) to avoid bumping up into green telephone box pillars. Just imagine what would happen with buses …..
If you want to go around in London, but you’re not accustomed to the left-hand driving there (and not only), don’t run any risks driving. It’s a humble piece of advice from me. Just take a hackney. It’s another iconic means of transport in the capital city. The black cab, as it’s also known, is an expensive and high class experience. The vintage taxi cab has a long history dating back to the 17th century and literally it was regarded as a horse-drawn carriage. Later it became more advanced and turned into hansom cabs which could be hired. Today’s black cab is quite an expensive and high class experience.
Hmmmm……. It’d be your choice to take either a double-decker bus or a hackney and reach the Buckingham Palace. You won’t regret it at all since the spectacular Changing of the Guard will leave you with unforgettable memories only. The official shift change of the Queen’s Life Guard (or it’s known as the King’s Life Guard when the monarch who reigns is male) is a 45-minute ceremony lasting till 12pm that attracts millions of people. By the way, don’t get confused if it starts pouring with rain all of a sudden while watching the fabulous spectacle. London rain is one of the not so charming symbols of the city and that’s why an umbrella (and why not a comfy pair of waterproof ankle boots) at hand is a reasonable belonging when you’re there. Even at such rainy moments you have an option to visit some of the world famous museums until 5pm when you can follow the most traditional habit of drinking “English tea”.
And last but not least, if you wanna see the city from above, do it from the Millennium Ferris Wheel, i.e. enjoy the capita through its London Eye. Have fun, folks. 🙂