Just one problem ... which city to choose:
Paris - Cardiff - Lille - Brussels - Birmingham - London - Bergen - Rome - Leicester - Athens
to name but a few we've visited over the last 30 years. So which was my favourite and what three things could I say about them. The competition ends tomorrow and I was still thinking ....
.... until yesterday and our day trip to London - walking around the city in the winter sun made me realise that London was actually my favourite place. Why? well here's my three reasons:
Atmosphere: typical answer I hear you say but seriously it is. The streets were full of people from so many different places, backgrounds and reasons for being there. And yes you can say that about any city but where Paris would be special, London is a treat, a treat for everyone.
Families were enjoying a stroll along the South Bank, children on scooters, parents talking to grandparents - a treat to be altogether.
Couples young and old enjoying time in the city, oblivious to everyone else just enjoying their treat time together.
Students in groups, laughing and joking, enjoying some treat time away from their studies.
Special times for some but visiting the city is an affordable, accessible treat for everyone to share and enjoy the hustle and bustle noise.
History: It's everywhere - you cannot walk more than a few metres before another piece of history jumps out. The fire of London, trading in tea and spice from India, parliamentary uprisings, royal coronations, royal weddings, Jack the Ripper, Shakespeare plays, beheading at the Tower, bridges being bought ship shipped to America - there is so much history all around in many genres.
London's events are filled with tradition; State Opening of Parliament, Changing of the Guard, The Lord Mayor's Parade, Remembrance Sunday - history is all around.
It does not matter what your interests there is something for everyone all evident and linked by my third reason....
Buildings: What a collection, what a skyline, old and new overlapping each other in a comforting not conflicting way.
Monument was once one of the tallest buildings, standing near Pudding Lane where the great fire of London started and not far from Samuel Peeps London, now it's almost invisible with modern glass fronted office blocks all around. Just along the river is Greenwich with it's imposing buildings linked to the nautical aspect of London with it's tidal river providing an inlet for trading - which leads to the breath taking Tower Bridge. Standing ornately as the river entrance to the City, confused in the past with London Bridge, now a replacement as the original was bought and shipped to America with the buyer thinking he has purchased the stunning opening towered structure.
Sitting alongside is the Tower of London, in itself a collection of buildings spanning many centuries, just across the Thames on the South Bank are examples of old warehouses converted to modern shopping galleries and restaurants. Further along the Oxo Tower and Shakespeare's Globe theatre, so very different but sitting so comfortably looking across the Thames to the magnificent St Paul's Cathedral.
The Royal and Parliament buildings stretch right across the city, magnificent in their architecture and brought to life on not just on special occasions but hourly with the unmistakable sound as Big Ben strikes.
|The Shard and Southwark Cathedral|
|In the midst|
|Riverside pub on cobbled streets|
|Shakespeare's Globe Theatre|
|St Paul's from the South Bank|
|Amazing skyline down river|
|Nelson and Westminster Abbey|
|The Thames and Millennium Eye|
|HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge|
|The Tower of London|