If you ever take a trip to London, I highly recommend booking a tour with one of the official Blue Badge guides, even if you aren’t that into guided tours. I’m not at all, but these guides were exceptional. The knowledge they retain and pass on to their tourists is incredible. We covered a small physical area of London but I feel like I came away from it with a wealth of details I never would have gotten from a guide book or on my own.
Next on the tour, at the entrance of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, was the Albert Memorial–an impressive monument that was once painted black during World War II. We spent about 15 full minutes examining the pieces of the monument and learning its significance (each of the four corner statues represents a continent/area of the world) and then trudged through the rain with our always-cheerful guide down the paths of the park.
After seeing the famous Kensington Palace, which had memorial photos and messages attached to its gates due to the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death having just passed, we learned that some of the wealthiest and most powerful men lived on the adjoining road, and that no photographs were allowed. The guide informed us that one of the most recent acts of terrorism in the UK occured on that very street by a seemingly innocent young women who placed a bomb in one of the cars on the street. Since then, there has been a strong police presence at all times.
We ended our tour exploring the side streets of Kensington, seeing T.S. Eliot’s home, and discovering how close to our original destination we were. The guides were so amazing and I would take another more specialized tour in a second if I ever return to London.