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London inspires many to write compelling thoughts and anecdotes just as the grand city on the Thames inspires me to photograph her night after night.  Some words are one-off’s while others are part of timeless pieces of literature.  I’ve combined famous London quotes with my own night images of London for the ultimate list of London quotes.  Feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section below.

 London is the epitome of our times, and the Rome of today.  
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Conduct of Life

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.  
-Samuel Johnson

Go where we may rest where we will, Eternal London haunts us still.  
– Thomas Moore, “Rhymes on the Road”, The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore

Take a perfect day, add six hours of rain and fog, and you have instant London.    
– Anonymous

London’s like a black-browed brute that gets an unholy influence over you.
– Robert Smythe Hichens, The Woman with the Fan

London is the clearing-house of the world.
– Joseph Chamberlain, speech at Guildhall, London, Jan. 19, 1904

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner that I love London so.

There’s nowhere else like London, nothing at all.  Anywhere.

I think London is sexy because it’s so full of eccentrics.

It is the folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffee house for the voice of a kingdom.

 A broken heart is a very pleasant complaint for a man in London if he has a comfortable income.

If London is a watercolour, New York is an oil painting.

London is a splendid place to live for those who can get out of it.

Nothing is certain in London but expense.

A person who is tired of London isn’t necessarily tired of life.  It might be that he just can’t find a parking place.

I’ve been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.

There are two places in the world where men can most effectively disappear – the City of London and the South Seas.

Oh, I love London society.  It is composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics, just what a society should be.

And there is London!–England’s heart and soul.
By the proud flowing of her famous Thames,
She circulates through countless lands and isles
Her greatness; gloriously she rules,
At once the awe and sceptre of the world.
– Robert Montgomery

I love thee, London! for thy many men,
And for thy mighty deeds and scenes of glory.
– Philip James Bailey

 London is a city that has reinvented itself upon the remains of the past.
– Leo Hollis, London Rising: The Men Who Made Modern London

London isn’t a stodgy place. Trend-setting London is to the United Kingdom what New York City is to the United States: the spot where everything happens first (or ultimately ends up).
– Donald Olson, England For Dummies

London goes beyond any boundary or convention. It contains every wish or word ever spoken, every action or gesture ever made, every harsh or noble statement ever expressed. It is illimitable. It is Infinite London.
– Peter Ackroyd, London: The Biography

London is a cluster of communities, great and small, famous and unsung; a city of contrasts, a congregation of diversity.
– Roy Porter, London: A Social History

The English mist is always at work like a subtle painter, and London is a vast canvas prepared for the mist to work on.
– Arthur Symons, Cities and Sea-Coasts and Islands

London is a huge shop, with a hotel on the upper storeys.
– George Gissing, New Grub Street

London is a bad habit one hates to lose.  
– Anonymous

Spare London, for London, is like the city that thou lovedst.
– Thomas Nash, Christ’s Tears Over Jerusalem

London is a roost for every bird.  
– Benjamin Disraeli, Lothair

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky
– John Betjeman, “Christmas”

 London is like a smoky pearl set in a circle of emeralds.
– William Henry Rideing, In the Land of Lorna Doone

London’s like a forest … we shall be lost in it.  
– Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Taken at the Flood

London is a splendid place to live in for those who can get out of it.
– George John Gordon Bruce, The Observer, Oct. 1, 1944

London is like a woman with too many years to encourage confession.
– Louise Closser Hale, We Discover New England

The streets of London have their map, but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?   – Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air – or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.
– Arthur Conan Doyle

Paris is a woman but London is an independent man puffing his pipe in a pub.    
– Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

If the parks are “the lungs of London” we wonder what Greenwich Fair is — a periodical breaking out, we suppose — a sort of spring rash.
–  Charles Dickens, Greenwich Fair

You are now
In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow
At once is deaf and loud and on the shore
Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more.
Yet in its depth what treasures!
– Percy Bysshe Shelley,  letter to Maria Gisborne, 1820

I journeyed to London, to the time kept City,
Where the River flows, with foreign flotations.
There I was told: we have too many churches,
And too few chop-houses.
– T. S. Eliot, The Rock

 London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.  
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

There’s a hole in the world
Like a great black pit
And the vermin of the world
Inhabit it …
And it goes by the name of London.
– Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd

London is a city of clubs and private houses. You have to be a member.
– Alec Waugh, The Sugar Islands

The truth is, that in London it is always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.    
– Jane Austen, Emma

London is an endless skirmish between angles and emptiness.
– China Mieville, Kraken

London opens to you like a novel itself… It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, door, passage, door. Mayfair to Piccadilly to Soho to the Strand.  
– Anna Quindlen, Imagined London

London, thou art the flower of cities all! Gemme of all joy, Jasper of jocundity.
– William Dunbar

I don’t know what London’s coming to — the higher the buildings the lower the morals.
– Noël Coward

When it’s three o’clock in New York, it’s still 1938 in London.
– Bette Midler, attributed, The Unofficial Guide to London

London is like a cold dark dream sometimes.
 – Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

 My Dad says that being a Londoner has nothing to do with where you’re born. He says that there are people who get off a jumbo jet at Heathrow, go through immigration waving any kind of passport, hop on the tube and by the time the train’s pulled into Piccadilly Circus they’ve become a Londoner.  
– Ben Aaronovitch, Moon Over Soho

One of the things she most liked about the city -apart from all its obvious attractions, the theatre, the galleries, the exhilarating walks by the river- was that so few people ever asked you personal questions.
– Julia Gregson

A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping, / Dirty and dusty, but as wide as eye / Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping / In sight, then lost amidst the forestry / Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping / On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy; / A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown / On a fool’s head – and there is London Town.
– Lord Byron

The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.
– Oscar Wilde

It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.
– Arthur Conan Doyle

The truth is, that in London it is always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.
– Jane Austen

In London, love and scandal are considered the best sweeteners of tea.
– John Osborne

This melancholy London – I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air.
– William Butler Yeats

The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane.
– Stephen Fry

Do you realise that people die of boredom in London suburbs? It’s the second biggest cause of death amongst the English in general. Sheer boredom.
– Alexander McCall Smith

 If London is a watercolour, New York is an oil painting.
– Peter Shaffer

Nothing is certain in London but expense.
– William Shenstone

You will recognize, my boy, the first sign of old age: it is when you go out into the streets of London and realize for the first time how young the policemen look. –
Sir Seymour Hicks

I like the spirit of this great London which I feel around me. Who but a coward would pass his whole life in hamlets, and forever abandon his faculties to the eating rust of obscurity?
– Charlotte Brontë

There’s a hole in the world / Like a great black pit / And the vermin of the world / Inhabit it / And it goes by the name of London.
– Stephen Sondheim in Sweeney Todd

I’m leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it’s not raining.
– Groucho Marx

London, London, London town / You can toughen up or get thrown around.
– Kano

I believe we shall come to care about people less and less. The more people one knows the easier it becomes to replace them. It’s one of the curses of London.
– Ambrose Bierce

It is not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them. The walls of London may be battered, but the spirit of the Londoner stands resolute and undismayed.
– George VI

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner,
That I love London so;
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner,
That I think of her wherever I go.
I get a funny feeling inside of me,
Just walking up and down;
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner,
That I love London town.
– Hubert Gregg, “Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner”

 A broken heart is a very pleasant complaint for a man in London if he has a comfortable income.
– George Bernard Shaw

In London everyone is different and that means anyone can fit in.

The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised.

By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.

I came to London.  It had become the centre of my world and I was lost.

One thing about London is that when you step out into the night, it swallows you.    
– Sebastian Saulks, Engleby

There are two places in the world where men can most effectively disappear — the city of London and the South Seas.
– Herman Melville

The best bribe which London offers to-day to the imagination, is, that, in such a vast variety of people and conditions, one can believe there is room for persons of romantic character to exist, and that the poet, the mystic, and the hero may hope to confront their counterparts.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

You are now / In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow / At once is deaf and loud, and on the shore / Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more / Yet in its depth what treasures!
– Percy Bysshe Shelley

London is a modern Babylon.
– Benjamin Disraeli

The London Underground network and UK train system are busy during ‘rush hour’ with commuters moving around the city.  People furiously zig zag through the stations with one aim in mind – getting to their destination as quickly as possible and with minimal frustration.  Anyone in their way is an annoyance whether you’re a tourist or not.

You can expect the trains and stations to be overcrowded in the morning and after work in the evening.  Note to self: Avoid Underground and train stations during rush hour.  Take a walk and enjoy London.  And by doing so, you’ll start your own day void of frustration and make life easier for London commuters at the same time.

Video of Victoria Station During Morning Rush Hour

The London Underground is an engineering marvel.  It is one of the best and most comprehensive transport networks in the world with around 24 million journeys made each day.  Can you imagine?   So, it’s important that everything runs smoothly to avoid delays.

You can help by following these top London travel tips to learn what to expect when you arrive and how to use the Tube like a Londoner.

1. When On An Escalator, Stand to the Right
Londoners love their rules, even if they are not written.  London Underground asks that you stand on the right when using the escalators and leave the left free for others to walk down. If you’re travelling in a big group, or with lots of shopping bags, stand and stay right and let others pass you – it will speed up the process and be a more pleasant journey for everyone.

2. Unless You Want To People Watch, Avoid Travelling During Rush Hour
If you can, avoid using the London Underground during morning and evening rush hours.  The tube network is very busy during ‘rush hour’ with commuters moving around the city. You can expect the trains and stations to be overcrowded between 07:30 and 09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evening.  You’ll enjoy London more by taking a walk instead.

3. Have Your Oyster Card or Ticket Ready at the Ticket Barrier
There is nothing more frustrating for rush hour commuters to be behind a ticket fumbler.  Sometimes there can be a bit of a bottleneck at ticket barriers, especially before 9.30am and around 6 pm during the rush hours. Make sure you have your ticket ready at the barrier so you can move in and out of the station smoothly.   Better yet, buy an Oyster Card so you can tap in and tap out at the ticket barrier.  You can also buy an Oyster Card online.

4. No Fuss Needed. If You Get On The Wrong Train or Miss Your Stop, Enjoy the Ride and Simply Go Back
If you’ve caught the wrong tube or missed your stop – don’t get nervous.  Either return where you started or look at your map to re-route your journey.  I’m an experienced Underground traveller and I often make the most of my goof.  Most of the time I go up the escalator, out the door and walk the rest of my journey.

5. Please Move Down The Platform
As you enter the station platform you will often find more room if you walk down to the ends of the platform.  So true.  If a platform is busy, I always make it rule to walk to the end of the platform.  The train carriages are usually the emptiest as well, perfect if you’re looking for a place to sit.  Plus, it passes the time you need to wait before the next train arrives.

6. Please Don’t Rush A Train.  Let Passengers Off the Train First
I’ll be on a train and when the doors open for me to leave, people rush on before letting passengers off.  I experience this over and over again.  It helps to let people off the tube before you board it; allowing more room for you to get on and passengers to alight the train.  Everyone is in a rush.  Please be patient.  The train won’t leave without you.

7. Check Line Closures and Listen to the Announcements Inside a Station
If possible, check ahead and plan your journey to make sure there are no delays or closures on the lines you need to travel – especially at the weekends when maintenance work is common.  It’s no fun to show up at an Underground station only to learn the line you want to take is closed.  It happens.  Also pay attention to potential Tube Strikes.  It’s the weekend, Enjoy glorious London and take a walk.  While you’re in a station, announcements are made on a constant basis.  Sometimes the voices are garbled.  Ask a member of staff if you’re unsure if the line you want to use is running as scheduled.

8. Carry a Bottle of Water and Pack a Snack
The London Underground is over 150 years old.  I could say enough said, but keep in mind air-conditioning is not the norm underground.  During summertime, the temperature can be unbearable in the stations and on the Tube.  Be prepared and carry water with you wherever you go in London.

9. Mind Your Belongings, Your Step and the Gap
Watch your bag and your belongings.  There are nefarious types in every large city and London is no exception.  A good rule is to keep your purse, bag or backpack to the front of you when you’re in a crowded space.  With that said, watch your step.  London Underground stations are one step up/down after another.  Whatever you do, don’t stop at the bottom of an escalator.  There are people behind you.  And, as you’ll hear over and over again – Mind The Gap.  No matter how famous the announcement is, there really are gaps between the trains and the platforms.

10. If You’re Unsure, Ask a Member of Staff for Help
London Underground stations are always busy but there are staff available if you’re a bit confused.  Even the well healed commuter gets discombobulated when there are thousands of others waiting to go through the ticket barriers.  TFL staff can guide you to your next destination, the nearest exit, tell you whether to turn left or right once you reach the bottom of the escalators and they may even tell you a joke.  Staff are located in several places before the ticket barrier as well as on the station platform.  Every station provides free Tube maps and information leaflets.

Plan your journey on the London Underground in advance with a free tube map.  Download your Free Tube Map.

Friday night’s in London are usually sacred.  The end of the week means relaxing at home after hectic days at work, or any number of after-hours activities.  You’re never short of things to do in London, especially if you are visiting for a short time.

That said, allow me to suggest ‘Friday Lates’ at the British Museum.  And, when I say lates, it’s only 8:30 pm late.  You’ll still have time for dinner afterwards and a night on the town.  Add a bit of culture Friday evenings when the museum hosts a nice range of lectures, discussions, film screenings, and special music and dance performances.  Most of the activities revolve around current exhibitions at the British Museum, so check what’s on before you go.

 Do keep in mind not all galleries are open during late hours at the British Museum, but rest assured you won’t be disappointed. Included below is the list of the galleries opened late on Fridays.  Feel free to download the list to take along with you during your visit.  

Why visit the British Museum on Friday night?  First of all, you’ll avoid the crowds.  With over eight million exhibits in the museum, it’ll be difficult to see it all and even more so with thousands of other visitors.  During the late opening, you can take your time whilst drinking in the vast amount of artefacts.  

The Egyptian collection is one of the finest (and largest) in the world.  When you have the museum to yourself, you’ll have the time to absorb the specially curated treasures.  You’ll discover stone tablets from the ancient Library of Alexandria, reliefs of lions from Assyria dating back to the seventh century, sculptures from the Parthenon, the first depiction of Jesus as well as artefacts recovered from the Sutton Hoo Viking ship burial.

The beauty of visiting the British Museum on a Friday night is you’ll avoid the throngs of people who nonsensically whip out their mobile phones for a selfie with the Rosetta Stone.  And if you are a consummate selfie-taker, you’ll have no fear of photo bombers.  Just don’t climb the Parthenon for your next viral selfie.  All joking aside, you can walk through one of the finest collections of humanity and enjoy your time in peace.  

I think your visit to the British Museum deserves the enriching experience you’ll have with few others around.  Walk through all the world’s continents and ancient eras of human development and civilisations.

I’ve visited the museum on several occasions after normal hours.  Each time I’ve captured interesting images of the Great Court, which is fascinating all by itself.  On this night, I basically had the British Museum to myself.

British Museum
Directions :
Located on Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London. The entrance is a short walk from the Holborn and Tottenham Court Road Underground stations. 
OPENING TIMES
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily  Fridays Open Till 8:30 pm

British Museum GPS Coordinates :  51.5194° N, 0.1270° W
Map Showing Location of the British Museum ::

 
List of British Museum Galleries Open Late on Fridays :: 

Africa
Africa 
The Sainsbury Galleries
Room 25

Americas
North America 
Room 26

Mexico 
Room 27

Ancient Egypt
Egyptian sculpture 
Room 4

Egyptian life and death: the tomb-chapel of Nebamun 
The Michael Cohen Gallery
Room 61

Egyptian death and afterlife: mummies 
The Roxie Walker Galleries
Room 62-63

Early Egypt 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 64

Sudan, Egypt and Nubia 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 65

Ethiopia and Coptic Egypt 
Room 66

Ancient Greece and Rome
Greece: Minoans 
The Arthur I Fleischman Gallery
Room 12a

Greece: Mycenaeans 
The Arthur I Fleischman Gallery
Room 12b

Greece 1050–520 BC 
Room 13

Greek Vases 
Room 14

Athens and Lycia 
Room 15

Nereid Monument 
Room 17

Greece: Parthenon 
Room 18

Halikarnassos 
Room 21

Alexander the Great 
Room 22

Greek and Roman sculpture 
Room 23

Greek and Roman life 
Room 69

Roman Empire 
The Wolfson Gallery
Room 70

Etruscan world 
Room 71

Ancient Cyprus 
The AG Leventis Gallery
Room 72

Greeks in Italy 
Room 73

Asia
China, South Asia and Southeast Asia 
The Joseph E Hotung Gallery
Room 33

India: Amaravati 
Room 33

Chinese Jade 
The Selwyn and Ellie Alleyne Gallery
Room 33b

Europe
Clocks and watches 
The Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly Gallery
Room 38-39

Medieval Europe 1050–1500 
The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery
Room 40

Sutton Hoo and Europe, AD 300–1100 
The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery
Room 41

Europe 1800–1900 
Room 47

Europe 1900 to the present 
Room 48

Roman Britain 
The Weston Gallery
Room 49

Britain and Europe 800 BC-AD 43 
Room 50

Europe and Middle East 10,000–800 BC 
Room 51

Middle East
Assyrian sculpture and Balawat Gates 
Room 6

Assyria: Nimrud 
Room 7-8

Assyria: Nineveh 
Room 9

Assyria: Lion hunts 
Room 10a

Assyria: Siege of Lachish 
Room 10b

Assyria Khorsabad 
Room 10c

Ancient Iran 
The Rahim Irvani Gallery
Room 52

Ancient South Arabia 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 53

Ancient Turkey 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 54

Mesopotamia 1500–539 BC 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 55

Mesopotamia 6000–1500 BC 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 56

Ancient Levant 
Room 57-59

Themes
Enlightenment 
Room 1

Collecting the World 
Room 2

Living and Dying 
The Wellcome Trust Gallery
Room 24

Money 
The Citi Money Gallery
Room 68

Founded in 1123, St Bartholomew The Great is one of the oldest places of worship in London.  Parts of the original church still remain though in the year 1539 King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries meant almost all of the nave of St Bartholomew The Great was destroyed by 1543.  The remaining traces of the monastic building is what you see today.  The nave of a church is the long centre narrow part of a church between the main columns.

The church also survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was one of the few London churches spared from damage in the German Blitz during World War II.   St Bartholomew the Great wasn’t so great during the 18th century as it fell into severe disrepair. Determination and faith led to repair and restoration efforts in the late 1800’s which saved it from destruction.

Today the priory church is an Anglican church and an important architectural monument.  It was established by Rahere, a clergyman for King Henry I.  Folklore tells us Raher erected the church as thanks to God after recovering from a severe fever.  The clergyman’s miraculous recovery led many to believe the church had curative powers, so sick people filled the aisles every 24 August, which is St Bartholomew’s Day.

St Bartholomew The Great is a living, active church but it also welcomes those of no particular religious affiliation because of its history and architecture.

One step inside and you know you’ve entered a special place unlike the more famous St Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey. Inside is the most intact Norman interior in London, with a suitably ancient atmosphere.  There is simple architectural beauty which draws you in and it almost seems as if you’re part of history.  The remains of the original Norman church consist of a transept crossing, chancel, and ambulatory with large round pillars.  The low, wide side aisles have groin vaults.  

If you are a movie buff, you may recognize St Bartholomew The Great.  The church has been a popular film location for Four Weddings and A Funeral, Sherlock, The Other Boleyn Girl, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Amazing Grace, and The End of the Affair. One day I was there The Hollow Crown : Richard II with Patrick Stewart was filming.

The entrance of the church from Smithfield now goes into the churchyard through a tiny surviving fragment of the west front, which is now surmounted by a half-timbered Tudor building.  From there to the church door, a path leads along roughly where the south aisle of the nave used to be.

Prepare yourself to be in awe and add St Bartholomew The Great to your things to do in London list, especially if you enjoy stepping into history.

 
Map and Guide for St Bartholomew The Great

Where is St Bartholomew The Great?
GPS Coordinates for St Bartholomew The Great ::  51.518905° N, 0.099574° W

Map Showing the Location of St Bartholomew The Great:

  • Venice is spectacular in every shade of light
  • The night is Venice’s time of tranquillity
  • Water and Acqua Alta are beautiful even if they are menacing
  • You’ll marvel at every canal you encounter
  • Getting ‘lost’ in the maze of narrow streets and alleys are what makes Venice fascinating
  • Watching night fall over Venice is ever so romantic
  • Walking through St Mark’s Square after midnight
  • Venice is pure magic
  • Venice is arguably the most romantic city in the world
  • The city is charming at every turn
  • It’s possible Venice has more bridges than streets
  • Palaces, churches and museums
  • Rich, remarkable history of Venice
  • Cruising the canals on a private boat
  • You’ll be inspired by the art, which is everywhere and part of everyday life
  • Just because it’s Venice and there’s no other place in the world like it
  • Be stunned by the detail in everything
  • Pause and drink in every square in Venice.  Or, stop and have a drink in every square in Venice
  • The enduring and formidable architecture
  • Private water taxi, especially from the airport.  What a way to arrive in Venice
  • Picture perfect views 
  • You’ll think you’re in a movie
  • Mysterious streets especially in the darkness of the night
  • Your love affair begins here whether you’re with someone or not

Gallery of Venice Photos

 
Watch and listen to the Campanile Bells in Venice

Venice Italy GPS Coordinates ::  45.4408° N, 12.3155° E

Map of Venice Italy

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The Westminster Abbey Choir is regarded as one of the finest in the world.  The choir consists of thirty boy choristers and twelve adult singers known as Lay Vicars.  The young boys, ages 8-13, are pupils at the Westminster Abbey Choir School located in Dean’s Yard near the abbey.  The school is the last remaining choir school in the United Kingdom.

It’s believed the choir originated around the year 1560 as the choir of Westminster Abbey have been educated there since Elizabethan times. So, it’s quite an honour and accomplishment to be part of such history.

There are numerous recordings of Westminster Abbey Choir and they travel the world performing concerts, including a performance with the Sistine Chapel Choir at a Papal Mass in St Peter’s Basilica in 2012.  The choir also plays a central role in royal, state and national occasions that take place at Westminster Abbey.

If you’re curious to listen to the choir in London, plan to attend a Choral Evensong.  There is no charge to attend the service, though do be prepared to dress appropriately as you would at any church.  Everyone is welcome.  I’ve attended Evensong on numerous occasions, including Easter Sunday.  The experience is ecumenical, to say the least, but sitting in Westminster Abbey with over 950 years of history adds to the special experience.  You’ll have an appreciation for the abbey unlike most visitors and it is possible emotion will overcome you. 

The choir boys and men sing Evensong Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 5 pm.  Simply arrive at the main entrance of Westminster Abbey and state you’re there to attend service.  No cameras, video or audio recording is allowed.  Be sure to check the choral service schedule before arriving at the abbey.  

Oftentimes I’ll stroll through Westminster on a Sunday afternoon. One stop I’ll make is Westminster Abbey Cloisters.  During summertime, the cloisters are a splendid place to cool off.  More than this, I’ll time my arrival near 2:30 pm so I can watch the choir procession from the choir room to the abbey door.  With my camera always at my side, I’ve captured many a fun photograph in long exposure form.

I’ll stay in the cloisters throughout the choral service as the choir’s voices float like a graceful feather from inside the church.  I suppose this is a casual way to enjoy the music and beautiful voices without properly dressing.

Video of Westminster Abbey Choir During Church Service :

Too, there is no admission fee to visit the cloisters at Westminster Abbey.  I enter through Dean’s Yard at the right side of the church.  If you’re unfamiliar with a cloister, it is a covered walk or open arcade running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle. The attachment of a cloister to a church or cathedral, usually indicates it was part of a monastery at some point in the church’s history. 

The cloisters would essentially act as a barrier separating the monks from the ‘outside world.’  You could refer to this as an enclosed religious order.  Cloister derives from the Latin term, claustrum, or enclosure.  You’ll find cloisters at many medieval churches around the world.

Where is Westminster Abbey Cloisters?
GPS Coordinates of Westminster Abbey Cloisters ::  51.4993° N, 0.1273° W

Map Showing the Location of Westminster Abbey Cloisters :

The moment I saw a photo of Mont Saint Michel in a magazine I was mesmerized.  The notion of an island off the coast of France topped by an awe-inspiring medieval monastery still in use today immediately captured my imagination.  The realization that I could not only visit Mont Saint Michel but also stay at the very base of the Romanesque chunk of history sent me over the moon.

Mont Saint Michel is one of the world’s most magnificent sights, there is no doubt.  Aside from picturesque, why should you visit Mont Saint Michel?

Mont Saint Michel is connected to the mainland via a causeway which until recently was a thin natural land bridge.  During high tides, the bridge was engulfed by water during high tide and revealed at low tide.  Victor Hugo described the tides as á la Vitesse d’un coeval au galop, “as swiftly as a galloping horse”.   What a superb description because the tides can roll in at one meter per second.  You wouldn’t want to be caught in that.  In fact, over the years more than a few lives have been claimed by the tides and even quicksand.  In 2014 a new causeway opened which allows visitors to safely cross to the island but also opens the flow of seawater so once again the mystical quality of Mont Saint Michel reveals itself during high tide.  You can download the current tides schedule at Mont Saint Michel before your visit.

The abbey built high on the island catches your eye from great distances.  If you’re driving, it will seem as Mont Saint Michel gradually appears out the earth like magic.  The slow emergence into your view only adds to the anticipation of what lies ahead, though the sheer magnitude of this wonder is only appreciated when you stand mere feet away from the entrance.  For me, it is inconceivable how such a grand structure could be built on an island over a thousand years ago.

When you enter, you’ll walk directly into a medieval town though the buildings are filled with modern restaurants, souvenir shops and museums.  Many of the tourists walk no further as the climb to the abbey, which is at the very top, is difficult.  If you choose to climb to the abbey, you’ll have peace of mind knowing few others will join you.  Walk the steps.  By the time you’ve reached the famous Escalier de Dentelle (Lace Staircase) to the gallery around the roof of the abbey church, you’ll have climbed no less than 900 steps.  The climb is worth every inclined step you take.  I guarantee it.

Halfway up Grande Rue is the medieval parish church of St Pierre, which is still used today.  The church features a beautifully carved side chapel with a dramatic statue of St. Michael slaying the dragon.  The day I visited I was treated to the sight of a monk pulling on a long rope to ring the church bell.  When the rope ascended toward the bell, the monk was lifted off the ground.  The memory stays etched in my memory and I can only hope to witness this again.

The Grand Degré, a steep, narrow staircase, leads to the abbey entrance, from which a wider flight of stone steps leads to Salt Gautier Terrace outside the dignified church.  Alongside, you’ll find stunning arcaded cloisters which offer sweeping views of the bay. Be sure to wander at your leisure amongst the maze of rooms, staircases (yes more) and vaulted halls that make up the abbey.

If you’re able, let your creative imagination take you back hundreds of years to enhance your experience.

Information about The Abbey at Mont Saint Michel ::

The Abbey is open every day except January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.
From May 2nd – Aug 31st, the hours are 9 am to 7 pm with the last admission at 6 pm.
From Sept 1st – April 30th, the hours are 9:30 am to 6 pm with the last admission at 5 pm.
The entry fee is 9 euros for individuals age 25 and older.
The rate is 7 euros for individuals age 18 to 25.
Under age 18 is free.
Under age 26 and citizen of a European, Union Country is free also.
Mass is celebrated at 12:15 pm from Tuesday to Saturday and on Sunday’s at 11:30 am. Other masses are conducted at 7 am during the week and at 8 am on weekends.

Interesting Facts About Mont Saint Michel ::
During the 100 Years War, England captured all of Normandy except for Mont Saint-Michel.
The Statue of Archangel Saint Michael atop the Abbey spire also acts as a lightning rod to protect the island from electrical storms.
Mont Saint-Michel was the first site in France to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stage 11 of the 2013 Tour de France ended at Mont Saint-Michel.

Where is Mont Saint Michel?
GPS Coordinates of Mont Saint Michel ::  48.6361° N, 1.5115° W

Map Showing The Location of Mont Saint Michel

Old Map Showing the Layout of Mont Saint Michel

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Operatic performance in London stretches back more than three hundred years, though the organisation of the current theatre began in 1946 as the Covent Garden Opera Company.  The theatre we attend today was built in 1858, but it wasn’t until 1892 when it officially became the Royal Opera House.

The first opera I attended was Don Giovani in London during the 1980’s.  It’s safe to say I slept through much of the production.  I don’t remember much besides the bellowing voices carried through the theatre.  My mind was unwilling to understand the language and my age prevented me from interpreting what took place on stage.  In an odd way, the opera intimidated me.   But, I could say I attended the opera for what that’s worth.

For years afterwards, I turned to musical theatre.  ’42nd Street’ at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane sealed the deal for me.  I was mesmerised by the show, the mighty tap dancing and tunes that stayed in my head long after the show ended.  The list of shows I’ve seen is endless, and for the most part, I enjoy each one I see.  In fact, just recently I saw ‘Hello Dolly’ with Bernadette Peters not once, but twice, in New York City.  The shows are hugely entertaining but in a casual dining out sort of way.  You can have a splendid time with comfort food, or in the case of musical theatre, a song you can hum or tap your foot to.  The shows are mainstream if you will.

On the other hand, opera and ballet productions tend to be more sophisticated and cerebral.  Some see a night at the opera as something only the elite do.  Yes, you might see a sea of black ties adorning the audience, but beneath the grandeur on stage are poignant and dramatic human stories set to beautiful music.  The opera nor the ballet are untouchable.  The productions at the Royal Opera House are for everyone – young to old.

The set designs, lighting, costumes, exquisite music, glorious and heavenly voices, and graceful ballet dance leave you in awe.  When you are at a Royal Opera House performance, you’re part of an experience – and one you won’t soon forget.  What transpires on stage can inspire a lot of emotions.  You might even go through in two and half hours what many people spend their entire emotional lives living through.  You’ll feel everything on stage.

If you get swept away, so be it.  Cry, laugh or gasp.  Some shows might be hysterically funny, horribly devastating, sexy, thrilling, tense, gorgeous, poignant – and yes, sometimes boring.

Royal Opera House :: Favourite Romantic Ballets

And no, wearing a tuxedo or a long gown is not a requirement to attend opera or ballet.  I’ve attended numerous productions at the Royal Opera House and I fit right in wearing slacks and a button-down shirt.  It’s possible I once wore a nice pair of jeans.  Do leave your scuffed up trainers at home.  For ladies, dress pants or a skirt and blouse will work nicely.  Even a cocktail dress is acceptable.  The most important thing for you to remember is this is your night, so make the most of it the best way you know how.  Even be creative and colourful if you choose.

When the curtain goes up, the audience may mysteriously begin to applaud.  Know the conductor is walking to his or her stand.  Simply applaud as the others applaud.  Unlike a concert, there are the right times to applaud during the show.  If you’re unsure, the easiest approach is to take a cue from the rest of the audience.  If they start clapping, join along.

The opera and ballet are for you, me and everyone.  After one performance at the Royal Opera House, you’ll be richer than you were before the curtain rose.  The productions are like fine dining and the flavours arrive in layers.  Each layer ignites your senses in luxurious tantalizing fashion.

Royal Opera House ::  What Do You See?

Photos of Programs and Tickets from Various Royal Opera House Productions:

Royal Opera House :: A Photo From Every Seat

For a better understanding of behind the scene operations of the Royal Opera House, consider taking the backstage tour.  You’ll receive an overview of the fabulous building, the massive backstage area, the Front of the House and Paul Hamlyn Hall.  Better still, you’ll gain an insight into the illustrious history of the theatre, learn about the state of the art technology utilised to pull off each production and see firsthand various aspects of current productions.

Keep in mind, the Royal Opera House is a fully working theatre, so it is possible to catch a glimpse of performers practising or a workshop.  The day I took the tour the Royal Ballet was in class and I couldn’t get enough of the intensity and grace displayed before me.  Royal Opera House productions change day-to-day, so it’s fascinating to learn how backstage technology is used to move around scenery which can weigh up to 30 tonnes.  

The backstage tour is brilliant and one I highly recommend whether you love opera and ballet or not.  The tour lasts a little over an hour.  Currently, tours begin at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm, Monday through Saturday.  Check ahead to be sure tours operate as scheduled.  The cost for the Royal Opera House Backstage Tour ranges from £9 – £12 

Video :: Discover: Royal Opera House – Backstage Tour

Where is the Royal Opera House?
GPS Coordinates of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden ::  51.5129° N, 0.1222° W

Map Showing the Location of the Royal Opera House :

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At weekends I meet a good friend for drinks at our member’s club in Shaftesbury Avenue.  He always asks where I’ve been during the week. When I tell him, his response is always, “Where is that?” or “I’ve never been there.”  The reaction never varies, and I believe him.  His world revolves around the home, the office, a spot of lunch on Saturdays and drinks at the club.  I’d go as far as to say my friend isn’t alone.  Most Londoners, even those living in Central London, don’t know the city very well.

Before Instagram and the rapid growth of blogs, there were numerous ‘secret’ places in London.  Today, a popular London Instagrammer posts a new London discovery and then hordes of others follow in his/her footsteps to take and post the same place. The practice doesn’t seem original, but it happens. 

One good example is Peggy Porschen Cakes in Ebury Street around Victoria Station in Belgravia.  The cake shop is a hop, skip and a jump from where I live. When the shop opened in 2010, it was popular with the residents in the area and Londoners “in the know.” When Instagrammers discovered Peggy Porschen’s and posted photos of the stunning store exterior, the secret was no longer a secret.  London bloggers are no different as one after another writes a post about the cute bake shop on the corner.  Now everyone in London knows.  I can only imagine how much business increased since the rise of the popular social media platform.  Any good marketer will tell you word of mouth is the best form of advertising.  The cake shop struck gold.

Screenshot of photos of Peggy Porschen Cakes :

Out of curiosity I popped over to Pinterest and searched ‘Secret Places in London.”  If you’re unfamiliar with Pinterest, their search page is one that scrolls endlessly toward the bottom, except you never reach the bottom.  The page keeps on going all the while proposing ‘pins’ of secret places in London from a vast array of people or bloggers.  Everyone it seems is an expert of London places about which you need to know, but no one else knows.  A popular buzz term these days is ‘hack,’ which isn’t a congenial sounding word, but everyone seems to use it.

ST DUNSTAN’S IN THE EAST

These are the titles of the ‘Secret Places in London’ according to a myriad of experts :
7 Secret Places in London – You Have To Discover Them
15 Secret Places to Discover in London
10 Secret Places In London
21 Amazing Secret Places To Find In London
15 of the Best London Hidden Gems
10 Quirky, Hidden and Secret Spots in London You’ll Love
15 Secret Spots You Have To See In London
10 Secret and Free Spots to Discover in London
Six Secrets in London

There are more listings but I only chose nine.  For each, I clicked the link and I’m not surprised to find St Dunstan In The East on every secret place in London list except for one.  Most of the bloggers place the bombed out church turned into a garden as their number one secret place.  Even the ever popular Londonist site recently suggested you toDiscover This Secret Garden in a Bombed Out Church.”  It’s a true hidden gem, you know.

My photo of St Dunstan In The East

So, I have to ask – is St Dunstan In The East a secret anymore?  Or, the noses of Soho?  Postman’s Park?  The smallest police station in London?  Each ‘secret place’ shows up on everyone’s list.  Is there any place in London that is a secret anymore or is everyone simply copying one another?  The latter makes no difference to me, though the repetition does make me wonder.

Perhaps when Instagram loses favour, and it will one day, will London’s secrets return?  The same question can be asked when the wave of London blogs recedes and the notion that influencers promote better fades away.

All that said, not everyone uses social media or read blogs to discover London.  If you’re like my friend I meet each week, you’re in this category. There are still secrets in London.  If you’re like me, you discover something new in London every day you walk around the city.  In fact, I found St Dunstan in the East simply be meandering from Tower Hill to Monument over ten years ago.  No one told me the bombed out church garden was there; I simply found it and it instantly became my favourite secret place in London.  The difference is – I didn’t share it with anyone online.  And, St Dunstan in the East is more than a secret, it’s special.  

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Historically, St Dunstan-in-the-East is a reminder of the frightful London Blitz carried out by the German’s during World War II. Ironically, the church survived the devastating Great Fire of London in 1666 but succumbed to an air raid in 1941.  A bomb directly hit the small church destroying the structure except for the north and south walls as well as the steeple designed by London’s famed architect, Sir Christopher Wren.

Today, St Dunstan in the East is a re-purposed ruin.  Instead of the site being razed, the church remained in ruins until 1967 when the City of London Corporation voted to turn the bombed-out remains of the church into a public garden.  

St Dunstan in the East is tucked away on a side street between the Monument to the Great Fire of London and the Tower of London. I found the church garden simply by exploring the streets one day ten years ago.  The notion that such a serene place could exist amongst cold contemporary office buildings fascinated me.  It’s entirely unexpected.  

St Dunstan in the East is like a little oasis in the City of London.  When I shared with my friends what I had found hidden away off Lower Thames Street, no one knew what I was talking about.  At the time, I referred to the church ruin garden as a secret place in London.  In typical fashion, many bloggers today place St Dunstan in the East as number one on their lists of secret places in London you must discover.

 I like to refer to St Dunstan as a London garden retreat instead of a secret.  The gardens consist of overgrown trees, ivy clinging to the walls and flowering vines creeping along the ruined arches.  Benches are dotted around the former interior of the church for visitors to enjoy a moment of quiet or to have a spot of lunch.  At high noon you’ll find numerous office workers from the area enjoying their lunch or simply taking a break.  I visit with my camera even today as the garden is still endearing.

What strikes me most about the space is the calmness and serenity felt in the garden.  The usual city noise seems to disappear once you step into the confines of the old church.   There might be a bit of magic at St Dunstan in the East.  I’ve noticed on more than one occasion how hectic London sounds disappear despite the structure being open air.

Life does indeed go on after tumultuous times like the Blitz.  And, whether St Dunstan in the East is a secret or not, it should be atop your list when you explore London.

 
Where is St Dunstan In The East?
GPS Coordinates of St Dunstan In The East ::  51.5096° N, 0.0825° W

Map Showing the Location of St Dunstan In The East