You travel to London looking for history, shopping,entertainment, and variety. If that's you, the West End is the place to be. Piccadilly Circus
is next door, where antique book shops mix happily with the latest restaurants and Covent Garden is not far away. Then, of course, there's the world-renowned theater - the rival (some would say tutor) of Broadway.
Soho is just a short walk away. For those interested in the "red-light district" in the home of the Puritans, that's here - and has been for over a century.
For all that, Soho is much more than just strip bars and prostitutes. As the area, along with many parts of London, undergoes a rejuvenation, the
discerning traveller can find expensive restaurants and shops to enjoy. Soho Square
has places to sit and watch the city go buy in safety and comfort.
Leicester Square has cinemas for the movie-goer, and street performers
for live, impromptu entertainment. As expected, there are crowds of people and distinctive architecture for those who just want to take
in the spontaneous sights that uniquely define any metropolis...with London being no exception.
To see what many consider the ground zero of "mod" 60s fashions, you must visit Carnaby Street where you can still pick up a vest or pair of bell-bottom jeans which Austin Powers himself would be proud to wear.
More shopping can be found along Oxford
Street, which stretches 3km (1.8mi) through the West End. At one end is the Marble Arch (relocated from Buckingham
Palace in the 19th century) to Tottenham Court Road.
Oxford street's origins date back to Roman times, but now holds over
300 shops with five million square feet of shopping space. There's
everything from large department stores to small specialty shops for
that unique gift to take back home. Where else can you get a genuine
British Army Officer's swagger
stick than James
Smith & Sons?
(founded in 1909 by the American Henry
Gordon Selfridge) is alone worth a visit. It has an elaborate, ornate facade and features a
clock known as the Queen of Time.
While you're in the neighborhood, check out another interesting clock: the Liberty Clock,
just outside the Liberty store. Very popular with the tourists, there are figures of St.
George and the Dragon on the lower part. Close to Regents
Street and Great Malborough Street. Exit at the Oxford Circus tube stop.
Take a deep breath and listen up: the piece de resistance of the area has to be the theaters.
The Palace Theater, for example, is a sight to see even from the
outside. An ornate terracotta building, first opened as an opera house,
it stands at Cambridge Circus and is still a venue for musicals 80
years later. The Roman columns in the black marble foyer will draw you in and up the arched stairway.
With over a dozen major musicals and plays being performed in the area
at any time, there's a wide array of choices for the London traveller. Not least of
which is the flagship Royal National Theatre with its three auditoriums.
There's also the re-created Globe Theatre, a favorite since the time of
Shakespeare. Open to the elements, with no stage lighting or microphones used, it sits near the original Bankside location of its namesake.
Be prepared for all sorts of weather and all kinds of people when you visit London's West End.
Piccadilly Circus -
Covent Garden - Broadway - Soho Square - Leicester Square - Carnaby Street - Austin
Powers - Oxford Street - Marble Arch - Buckingham Palace - Tottenham
Court Road - Swagger Stick - James Smith & Sons - Selfridge's -
Henry Gordon Selfridge - Queen of Time - Liberty Clock - St. George and
the Dragon - Regents Street- Great Marlbourough Street - The Palace
Theater - Cambridge Circus - Royal National Theatre - Globe Theatre -