Time travelling in London

London has long been an intriguing melting pot of cultures and nationalities, a place where edifices from its glorious past co-exist with modern-day goliaths like the Shard (the tallest building in Europe) and the Gherkin (30 St. Mary Axe.)

The Tower of London with the Gherkin in the backdrop

The Tower of London with the Gherkin in the background

February 2013. London was in the middle of long winter. But that wasn’t going to stop me from exploring the Swinging City.

I grew up listening to the powerful balled Baker Street by Scottish singer-writer Gerry Rafferty and that’s exactly where I started. My first stop on Baker Street – the iconic Sherlock Holmes Museum. This is the first museum in the world to be dedicated to a fictional character.

The charming bobby outside the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Notice the deerstalker cap on his right.

Run by the non-profit Sherlock Holmes Society of England, it is a recreation of the life of the celebrated detective. The museum’s doorway is even marked as 221B, though it actually lies between 237 and 241. As soon as I set foot inside, I was transported to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian world of intrigue and mystery, of deerstalker caps and smoking pipes – a magical realm I quickly got lost in.

An antiquated rotary phone at the Sherlock Holmes Museum

An antiquated rotary phone at the Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sadly, I was running out of time. I only had the weekend in London and there was so much to see and do. I dragged myself out of the Sherlock Homes Museum and walked over to Madame Tussauds, located a short distance away on Marylebone Road.

Madame Tussaud (born in 1760 as Marie Grosholtz in Strasbourg, France) learnt wax modelling at a young age and created her first wax figure, that of French philosopher Voltaire, in 1777. During the French Revolution, she was forced to make masks of guillotined nobility. In 1802, she came to London and after nearly 35 years of traveling across Britain with her wax exhibit, she set up base at the Baker Street Bazaar (on the west side of Baker Street). She died in 1850 and her grandson moved the collection to its present location on Marylebone Road in 1884. Talk of travelling back in time!

Madame Tussauds at Marylebone Road

Madame Tussauds at Marylebone Road

After some quick hobnobbing with celebrity wax figurines, I headed back to Baker Street for a long evening of shopping. Baker Street is dotted with stores selling music memorabilia and I spent hours browsing at It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll.

London’s music scene, both past and present, is unparalled. It is the home of some of the most revered acts in music history – Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Coldplay, Adele and the late Amy Winehouse. It was also the base of the legendary band from Liverpool – The Beatles.

The Beatles store at 231/233 Baker Street

The Beatles store at 231/233 Baker Street

That evening, I left Baker Street with a ton of band merchandise, pictures autographed by music greats and a much lighter wallet 😉

Sunday morning, I took the hop on, hop off bus and paid my respects to the British monarchy at Buckingham Palace. The weather was nippy but I enjoyed watching London’s many landmarks whiz by from the comfort of a sheltered bus. Soon, it was time to fly back home.

So long London! Till we meet again!

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