Travel Treasures: London 2012 – Part 3

by Tom Reed
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Story filed July 25, 2012

If you go to London, you’ll no doubt visit some of the world-famous tourist sites. But take time also to see some of the newer attractions, and some of the older ones that have been overlooked.


London Eye

The London Eye looks like a giant Ferris wheel, 443 feet high, looming over the city. A more accurate description would be observation wheel, since it’s not really a ride. The wheel moves so slowly that you can get on and off without it stopping. Each of the 32 capsules can hold as many as 28 people, depending upon the crowds. There are seats, but most people prefer to stand to enjoy the breathtaking view.

It takes about 30 minutes to complete the rotation, and for me it ended too soon. The Eye opened in 2000 and was originally known as the Millennium Wheel. It is normally open until 9 or 9:30 p.m. in the summer months, but during the Olympics it will remain open until midnight.


view from London Eye

During World War II, when German bombs were falling on London, Winston Churchill and his cabinet directed the war from a top-secret underground headquarters in the basement of a government office building. The location was quietly closed in 1945 and left undisturbed for several years until the Imperial War Museum restored it and opened it to the public in 1984, as the Churchill War Rooms. Visitors today can walk through the narrow corridors and see the cramped quarters where the cabinet met, the map room, various other rooms, and Churchill’s office-bedroom. Although the Prime Minister slept here on only three nights, he made four of his wartime speeches from his desk here.

A multimedia museum was added in 2005, the only major museum in the world dedicated to Churchill. One of the most interesting features here is a 15-meter-long (about 50 foot-long) interactive lifeline, which covers every year of Churchill’s life and allows you to see documents, photos, and film clips of the era.


British Library

The British Library is not as well known as the British Museum (covered in Part 2 of this series), but is well worth your time, if only for a visit to the room housing Treasures of the British Library. There, along with the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, and ancient maps, is a display of Beatles music including Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics of “Yesterday”. You can spend as much or as little time here as you wish.

These are just a few of the new and overlooked attractions of London, and I haven’t even begun to mention the entertainment, theatre, dining, and shopping possibilities of this great city. So whether you visit during the Olympics or later, you’ll find more than enough to keep you busy.

To read the previous journals of Tom's London mini-series, click the links below:

Travel Treasures: London 2012 – Part 1

Travel Treasures: London 2012 – Part 2

You can keep up to date on the Olympics at www.london2012.com.

Next: What to Know Before You Go: Some Tips for First-Time International Travelers


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Copyright 2012 Tom Reed