When love calls you to London, you answer.
By Buck Cooke
As one of the most glamorous and thriving of the world capitals, London has much to offer. Yes, there are tourist traps and big-ticket items like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. But there are also plenty of other things to do and see that carry only a small price tag or are completely free, including most of the museums.
When love calls you to London, you answer. I did, anyway, with the thick-accented man of my dreams. But while I still feel like I’m living in a dream as I settle into life as a wannabe gay Londoner, here are some of the less touted attractions that continually catch my fancy that you should be sure to check out while you’re here.
Greenwich and the River Thames
One of my favorite things to do with visiting friends is to hop on a Clipper and cruise east to Greenwich. When I was dating my husband, he took me on this trip, and the sights were electrifying. For history buffs, the Cutty Sark – one of the last tea clipper ships ever built – is near the Thames, and the Royal Observatory is in Greenwich Park, where you can stand on the Prime Meridian at the home of Greenwich Mean Time.
The Sky Garden
Book a free appointment online to visit atop 20 Fenchurch Street, one of London’s most iconic skyscrapers known to locals as “the Walkie Talkie.” Treat yourself to incredible panoramic views. There is a café/bar and two restaurants on the roof as well, but I think they’re overrated and overpriced.
An iconic sight, most Americans think it’s called “London Bridge,” which is a different bridge on the Thames that’s much less fabulous. The views of the skyline and river nearby are amazing, and if you can snag a romantic marriage proposal on the river bank like I did from my now-husband, I highly recommend it. Inside, explore the history and inner-workings between the pylons almost 140 feet in the air with breathtaking views and a glass floor.
St. Dunstan in the East
A true find in the middle of central London, this park was once a church. Destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666, rebuilt, then destroyed by the Nazi Blitzkrieg during World War II, the building’s remains were turned into a striking public garden in the ’60s. This hidden beauty is worth the hunt, and is just a short walk from Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and Sky Garden.
Gay It Up
Everything in London feels a little gay, to be honest, but if you’re looking for nightlife, the Soho and Clapham neighborhoods are crawling with our people. Find the club XXL with amazing music by two DJs spinning in unique settings under railway arches, and keep your eyes peeled for La Voix, a vocalist, emcee and drag artist who performs all over town. London is also home to the world’s oldest gay rugby team, the Kings Cross Steelers, who just celebrated their 20th anniversary. If you visit in April, catch their annual performance that packs out Heaven’s G-A-Y night to a sold out crowd. Gayer? You can see many of the site listed here via londongaytours.com.
Some attractions offer discounts or priority admittance online, so do your research. And don’t forget about the pound versus the dollar. Exchange rates are not your friend here, but the city always satisfies, and you can’t put a price on that. Cheers!
After living in Atlanta for 15 years, former Atlanta Pride executive director Buck Cooke followed his heart and his man to London, where he hopes to educate all of Europe on the use of the word “y’all” and finally meet Kylie Minogue.