3. Covent Garden> the Strand > the City of London > St Paul’s Cathedral

 

Come out of Leicester Square, and look for the Tube Station.  If you go left, you come to the bottom of China Town.  Charing Cross Road is where you find the electronic, music and book stores.

This is a roundabout way, but for abit of fun, I like to walk back up Charing Cross road to Litchfield. When you can see the theatre that says The Mousetrap.  This play has been showing for about 65 years non-stop.  Anyway, this is where The Ivy restaurant is hidden away.  If you are there in the evening, you will see paparazzi standing around waiting for someone famous to come in.

Refer to your map and make your way up Monmouth Street to The seven dials. This is a roundabout where 7 streets meet.

Locate the Crown pub, and take the street to the right of it, Shorts Garden.  Walk along and look for a sign into a small alley which says Neal’s Yard.  You will find Homeslice pizza (a pizza place with a difference), the Wildfood café and some other really good foodie places.

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The entrance to Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden.

 

The next street you look for is Neal Street, just around the corner and to the right.  Follow along until you come to Covent Garden tube station.  It turns into a pedestrian mall, which leads you to the famous Covent Garden.

Plan to spend a bit of time looking around the shops and watching the entertainment. There is normally a good classical act, downstairs from the open balcony. There is a large market area to the side, for cheaper and quirkier souvenirs.

So you’ve finished watching the buskers from the large open square and the market area, find Southampton Street and walk down to The Strand.  You are walking parallel to the Thames.

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The grand courtyard at Somerset House.

Turn left and follow the Strand. You come to where the street curves off to the left, and this is where you will find more theatres.  Just before the curve, on the other side of the street, is the Coulthard Gallery and Somerset house.  The gallery has a free exhibition and special paid ones.  Somerset House has a massive courtyard where they hold movies screenings, concerts and skating in the winter.  There are galleries and a café, and fountains in the summer.

 

Just past Somerset House is St Clement Danes Church and it honours the Royal Air Force.  Well worth a look if it’s open. It inspired the song ‘Oranges and lemons, ring the bells of St Clements’.

Now things start to get interesting.  Notice the imposing Law Courts building on the left. Lunch time is unique as hoards of black robed men with powdered wigs, hit the street looking for lunch. You can visit the building for a free self-guided tour, or pay for a guided tour. You can also enter the court rooms, and watch justice at work.

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Did you ever wonder where Lawyers buy their powdered wigs?

The Royal Courts of Justice

The Royal Courts of Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the other side of the street is The George Inn, historic public house, and Twining’s tea shop with its white façade.

At the end of the Law courts, you will see a griffin on a pillar.  This is the official border of the city of London and Fleet Street.  Continue walking and poke your nose inside historic pubs and shops.

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Welcome to the City of London. The Queen can only enter by invitation.

 

The street name changes to Ludgate Hill, and when you come to a big church that might look familiar to you, that is St Paul’s Cathedral, where Charles and Di got married.You can visit during mass, for a free look.  (Check online for service times), or arrive around 4:45 pm for free evensong.If you wish to have a proper look around, you pay, but you get to visit the whispering gallery and can easily spend 1 ½ to 2 hours exploring.

If nothing else, there is a café downstairs in the crypt, and you can use the free toilets.

 

Next: 4. St Paul’s to Tower of London