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ZB Travel – London, April 6

What’s Hot in London. The weather is not, right?

London experienced its coldest April day in twenty years yesterday, and it’s been the second coldest April since records began. But the good thing about London, is there is never any shortage of indoor attractions to spell-bind you. So regardless of the weather, London still delivers a magical holiday experience.

Just opened, London’s new skyscraper and viewing platform, The Shard. What’s it like?Shard, London

Well, the city’s newest landmark has only been open a month, but it’s already taking top billing on the tourist tick-list. Twice the height of the London Eye, Western Europe’s tallest building delivers dazzling panoramas of the capital. It’s situated just by London Bridge, so very central. And the viewing platforms feature ingenious time-lapse telescopes, which enable you to point down at any part of the city, and then the telescope will showcase that perspective of the city from daybreak to nightfall, with a built-in time lapse 3D video. Quite amazing. 

the-shard.

The David Bowie Exhibition at the V&A. This exhibition of one of the UK’s iconic musicians is rocking its socks off. The exhibition, which only costs 15 quid to enter, is on until mid August, and features over 3 hundred items from Bowie’s personal archive. It’s the costumes, particularly from the seventies, that are the real stand-outs. 

The Museum of London has been extensively refurbished. Has it got any Olympics memorabilia?

Impressively up to date, yes the Olympics display is excellent, with a brilliant display of some of the costumes that sported the Opening Ceremony. I last visited the Museum when I was living in London fifteen years ago, and it has transformed out of sight. The Lord Mayor’s gold coach is still there, but the galleries have been been sexed up considerably.This is the world’s largest urban history museum, and it’s very engaging. The presentation of the Great Fire of London is a highlight.   

The Olympic Park has strictly limited site tours. For the next three months, there are guided tours of the Olympic site which is being transformed. Much of it is decommissioned and is being regenerated as a permanent new neighbourhood. The Olympic stadium will soon be shrunk and revamped as the new home of West Ham United.  Fortnum__Mason_Afternoon_Tea.

Fortnum & Mason’s new afternoon tea service. Well, London has dozens of high tea options, but one of the best is at the royal’s grocer, Fortnum & Mason. The Piccadilly store which is over three hundred years old, has commemorated the Queen’s 60 years of service, by rebranding its restaurant, the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. Bookings are essential, but it’s a great place to indulge in a very British pastime.

The hottest West End shows .

Les Mis is going off, in the wake of the movie version. It’s been running for 26 years in London, and yes, in the wake of the movie, audience bookings have surged dramatically. Another very popular  show currently on stage is, The Audience. Helen Mirren stars in the show, reprising her role as The Queen. The Audience is a fictional look at the weekly conversations between the Queen and the 12 Prime Ministers who have served her, including Churchill and Thatcher. It’s on-stage until June 15. queen.

But the big new blockbuster show, set to open in 6 weeks, is Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. London is buzzing about this production. Warner Brothers has lavished millions of dollars on the show and its being directed by Sam Mendes. charlie

My dream-like experience at Heathrow Terminal 5, on arrival.

In recent years, the news has been full of horror stories about Heathrow Terminal 5 and the monstrous delays confronting new arrivals. Well, I don’t know if I had a lucky Wonka Bar gold ticket in my pocket, but after leaving the aircraft, I was through immigration, customs and reunited with my luggage within a staggering 30 minutes. It was the best entrance I’ve ever had into Blighty, so maybe the Brits have finally got their act together at Heathrow.

( As discussed by Mike on Newstalk ZB’s Jack Tame Saturday Morning Show.) newstalk zb

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