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A Five Minute Tour of Modern London: Guest Post by Stephanie Abbott

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let’s spend as little time as possible in Heathrow, shall we? London’s world-famous airport is one of the noisiest, most chaotic and unpleasant landing places in the western world. But once we find our luggage, we’re free to hop on the Tube and begin our adventure.

The Tube, or the London Underground, is a great way to see the city. The Piccadilly line will take you directly to London’s posh West End in less than an hour. There you can enjoy world-class shopping: Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney and Harrod’s.

Hangman’s Haunt: a spot in West London where routine executions used to be carried out, as many of seven at a time. Executions were a public treat. Onlookers packed a lunch and boosted their children onto their shoulders to see, while the condemned dressed in their finest and made speeches to the crowds. Hanging wasn’t outlawed in Great Britain until the 1960s.

Piccadilly Circus: daring souls over eighteen should be sure to visit Amora: the Academy of Sex and Relationships. Sometimes called “the sex theme park,” it’s really more of an educational exhibit devoted to a topic virtually everyone finds fascinating.Chinatown: Of course, here you can find all sort of Chinese cuisine, from the sublime (authentic) to the ridiculous. During the Chinese New Year, be sure to stop by and see enormous papier-mâché lions marching through the streets.

Have a taste for fine art? Stop by the
National Gallery to fill up on Vermeer, Cezanne, Rembrandt and hundreds more.

East London, home of Jack the Ripper. But that was in the 1880s, you say – not quite fair today, is it? Of course not. But East London, for better or worse, is still linked to poverty, prostitution, gambling, cock fighting, brothels and opium dens – in short, all the things the Victorian toffs went slumming for on a Saturday night. Over the years, East London has experienced a revival of sorts. The 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics will be held there, hopefully fueling new interest and improving the area for years to come.

The British Museum is the perfect destination for history buffs or those seeking only the rarest treasures. Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and Lindow Man – also known as Peat Bog Man, the ancient human preserved for centuries in a peat bog – can all be viewed at the British Museum, along with so much more.

The Tower of London is reputedly haunted by many of the royals executed within, including Lady Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn, said to walk by night with her head tucked under her arm. Highborn traitors were killed privately; those less exulted were marched out to Tower Hill for the pleasure of the crowds.

Last but not least, why not take a ride on the
London Eye? This gigantic Ferris wheel, the world’s largest, takes thirty minutes to make a full rotation and the passenger cars are fully enclosed. On a clear day, you can see twenty-five miles in every direction – for about $55, the best view in Britain.

About the author - Stephanie Abbott is the face behind the popular pseudonym, S.A. Reid. Well-known for her “real and likeable characters”, she also writes paranormal fiction (a new series titled Past Lives is currently being penned), fantasy, and sci-fi. Additionally, she also pens cozy mysteries as Emma Jameson.