Hello from London by Celia Klassen Time for Tea

Press/Times staff writer
Today’s column will be slightly different. This summer I plan to turn this column into a sort of travel column. Things to do in the summer, from right on our doorsteps, maybe even at home, through to things a few hours away. This week however, I’d like to impersonate Paddington Bear and say “Hello from London!”
London is where I grew up, and I would love to share some of the more ‘touristy’ parts with you. I’ve lived in Aberdeen, ID, for 11 years now, but it’s always been fun to go ‘home’ and do the tourist things with my family. My Dad is a true Londoner. To be a ‘true Londoner’, you need to be born ‘within the sound of the Bow bells’. These are bells in a church called Bow Church located in Bow, which is in what is called the East End. My Dad was born in the hospital nearest to the church so he qualifies as a ‘cockney’, although he doesn’t have quite the accent because he grew up a ways away.
But he’s lived in London his whole life and he offers the best unofficial tours to family and friends. We skip the expensive tour-guide specials like the London Eye and the Double Decker Tours. The London Eye is neat, but once you’ve done it once, you’ve done it. The Double Decker Bus is a regular mode of transport, and if you already know where to get on and off, a special tour on one gives you less time to stay at your favorite places along the way.
My London must-see is the changing of the guard…I suppose I should correct myself there. The actual ceremony of the changing of the guard, which happens literally to swap out the soldiers who guard the front of Buckingham Palace (the King’s residence), is pretty boring. Just a lot of marching and shouting.
The real fun is the soldier band that plays when the soldiers march to and from the Palace. A Londoner will know where to stand to get the longest view of that rather than squashing your face through the railings of Buckingham Palace – or standing several rows behind and seeing almost nothing.
You fly into Heathrow airport and catch the train into Paddington Station (where Paddington Bear was found). Let’s find him and ask his advice; “Find someone from London if you can – and ask them where to go! Research and plan out your time and use the public transport available, it’s authentic, and reasonably priced, and you can get near almost anywhere. Use your legs! You can’t see everything from the window of a bus, and you see nothing from the tube, pack your marmalade sandwich and walk around, take a selfie in an old phone box or in the middle of Tower Bridge.
Try to spend more than one day there. There are many world-class free museums as well as the outdoor sights. Visiting London doesn’t have to be a drain-your-savings experience.
If you’d like to spend some money…spend it on cream tea at Fortnum and Mason – but don’t step on any jam tarts or spill the tea!” If you can’t visit…travel vicariously through my photos! Also if you don’t know who Paddington Bear is…find his book!

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