Tuesday, July 17, 2012

London, it's closer than you think

I've never been to Europe, my wife and daughter went to Spain together a few years back, but I've never been to Europe. That is not to say, however, that I haven't been to London, because I have, London Ontario, that is.

Prince of Wales hotel in Niagara on the Lake
     From my house, London is only a short 4 hour drive. I go up through Buffalo, head through Niagara Falls, and then cross the border in Lewiston. If you want to split up the drive, the quaint town of Niagara on the Lake is about halfway and a great picturesque spot to spend the afternoon. I went there recently and learned that the town spends a million dollars annually on their street flowers and plants, and trust me when I say,  it shows. If you choose to stay in Niagara on the Lake, I'd recommend a Bed and Breakfast. In that town you have 300 to choose from, but now about London....

The tower at University of Western Ontario
     London was founded in 1801 and it is now the largest Southwestern Ontario municipality, with a population of 350,000.  If you do any research on the history of the town, you'll find it was fraught with tragedy.  These included outbreaks of cholera, a major fire, 2 floods and a ferry sinking that killed 200 people.  They don't let these tragedies define them, but they are a part of their history.  The London area hosts two major Canadian Universities, Western and Fanshawe.  UWO is one of the prettiest campuses that you will find yourself on, and it dates back to 1878.  The entire campus takes up about 1,100 acres in London, and hosts about 28,000 students.  Like I said previously, it's a real pretty campus to visit.  If you are looking for other tourist type things to do, you could consider one of the art museums in London.  I've been to the one on the Thames (I think it's called London Museum), and I really think that the statue of the rhino out front is the best thing that museum has to offer, but it's a free walk through, so take a look and see if you agree.  London also has a theater, the Grande Theater, which hosts a variety of Broadway type shows.  If you plan to visit you should check
their schedule to see what's playing.  They frequently have live concerts in their parks too, so that might be another fun thing to check out.

The deck at Barneys
     I always judge a city by their restaurants, and there are some great ones in London.  For happy hour, you have to check out Barney's in London.  It's an open air space with picnic tables with umbrellas and is a local hot spot.  If the sun is out, the deck will be crowded, guaranteed.  There is a Keg restaurant down the street, a place called the Mongolian Grill, and another called Garlic's and they are all excellent.  I found a neat little hidden gem my last time there, called The Black Trumpet.   The menu was smaller and had some seasonal items on it, but it's hidden back garden was a great place to have a meal.  It has a Feng Shui kinda thing going on with trees planted next to tables, plants all around and a running water small pool that was very peaceful, but it did make me have to go to the bathroom more often. I thought the prices were reasonable for the quality of the food and the portions weren't small like I find to be true in Canada sometimes.  If you don't do happy hour at Barneys, you could always consider taking the Labatt brewery tour.  They have tours at 1:30 and 5:30, so you can choose the more convenient time for you.  The tour is comprehensive and they show you from beginning to end how the beer is made.  I found it to be pretty fascinating and that was before they gave me my 4 samples.  The tour takes between 1 hour and a half and two hours to complete, but I never got bored with it.  When you walk around London, you'll notice
the great architecture immediately and on one street they have a large cathedral right down the block from a Basilica.  If you don't know the difference between those two, I'll educate you now.  The cathedral has to have a bishops chair (called a cathedra) on the altar and the Basilica must have had a Pope designate it as such.  Once a church is designated as a Basilica by the Pope it will always remain a Basilica afterwards.  It generally has to have some historical value to it, but once the Pope calls it one, that's it.  I've hope I given you enough reasons to want to travel to London.  They don't get a lot of visitors like Toronto or Ottawa does, but it does make them more appreciative of the tourists that they do get.  They have major sports that are played in the town and they have an enclosed market in the middle of town that reminded me of a scaled down version of the Reading Terminal Market in Philly.  All in all, I think you'd enjoy a trip there, and after all it's a lot closer than the other London. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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