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Updated: Sep 14, 2022

London, city, capital of the United Kingdom. It is among the oldest of the world's great cities—its history spanning nearly two millennia—and one of the most cosmopolitan. By far Britain's largest metropolis, it is also the country's economic, transportation, and cultural centre.

Don't miss the best things to do and iconic places to visit in London. Explore the city on sightseeing tours, soak up culture at museums and galleries, or choose from the many free things to do. Treat yourself on famous shopping streets or celebrate special occasions at world-class theatre shows, restaurants and bars.

The original name for the London Taxi was Hackney, derived from the French word ‘hacquenee’ meaning hiring a horse. Ironically, the first cabs introduced in 1897 were battery-operated cars known as ‘humming birds’ because of the sound they made as they travelled. With a top speed of 9 km/hr, they were unreliable and soon replaced by petrol cabs in 1903. In those days the quality of drivers was the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police and they had to ensure that the drivers had sufficient knowledge of the city.

Hence the grueling Knowledge Exam was founded. In order to pass the test, the drivers have to remember about 350 basic routes through central London, 25,000 small & large landmarks including stations, hospitals, theaters etc. It can take up to 4 years to pass the Knowledge Exam, that is one year more than University! This effort is one of the reasons for the taxi fare being higher than other options. The other is the vehicle itself. The cabs are made by the Austin factory in Coventry, UK with a limited production volume. This makes taxi cabs as expensive as luxury cars and a new one will set you back by £55,000.

The English Pub is very much a part of the British tradition & culture, but its journey over the years has been a consistent one. A pub (public house in short) is a business licensed to sell & serve alcoholic drinks to consume on the premises. Today, there are more than 50,000 of these fine establishments in the UK serving not just beer & spirits, but also traditional pub food. But more about that later.

A ‘regular’ pub is chosen by a local based on proximity to work or home. It also depends on the possibility of including friends & acquaintances in their social environment. There is a difference between an inn & a pub. While there is a confusion at times on the similarity, an inn also provides accommodation.

The red telephone booth has been voted as the greatest British design over the London Bus and the Concorde. It is instantly recognised globally and reproduced over generations on post cards & souvenirs. Millions of tourists have posted selfies against it, with a pout and the handset to their cheek.

It was designed in 1924 by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who won the contract in a competition. There is a popular belief that the colour ‘currant red’ was used because it is easy to spot from far. The fact is that the telecom network in those days was owned by the Post Office and all the post boxes were already painted red. There was some objection for the red colour, as it was a stark contrast to the quiet ambience of some heritage precincts. Nearly 40,000 booths were installed all over UK during King George’s Silver Jubilee in 1935 and the journey of the red phone booth continued until production was discontinued in 1968.


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