I was delighted to be asked to offer a complimentary walking tour of London to Viator clients last Friday. The idea was to introduce people to the benefits of hiring one of Viator’s qualified Tour Guides.
I called it A Tale of Two Cities because we explored the 1000 year old City of Westminster in the morning and then the 2000 year old City of London in the afternoon. Some people came for one walk and some for both.
We started and finished at convenient underground stations, although when I am hired privately, I would meet people at their hotels and customise the tour to their interests.
The City of London is a place of great contrasts. We saw where London began with the Romans and the importance of the River Thames for trade. The Monument towered above us like an enormous candle, a reminder of the Great Fire that swept through this area in 1666 destroying 4/5ths of the city. Then it was off to discover hidden gardens, atmospheric alleys, a vibrant Victorian market used as Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter film and compared a medieval church with one rebuilt by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire.
There are also a host of striking modern buildings and it was very satisfying to hear one person thank me for opening her eyes to the visual delights of modern architecture, something she thought she didn’t really like!
Today this area is the financial district and I explained how many of the famous financial institutions such as Lloyds Insurance market developed from coffee houses. We finished with one such modern building on one side of the road and the remains of the Roman Temple of Mithras on the other!
The City of Westminster is dominated by famous tourist sites so we explored some of the stories behind Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Queen’s official residence at Buckingham Palace and finished in Trafalgar Square. En route we escaped the crowds and wandered down delightful 18th century streets, walked across one of the beautiful Royal Parks and admired some fine sculptures.
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and hopefully the tours enhanced their visit to London.