Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 19, 2017

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London’s skyline has been transformed by buildings like 2004’s Gherkin (front left) and 2012’s Shard (background.)

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London

Haven't visited the English capital in a while? You'll find a changed city

A visit to London isn't what it used to be. Boiled vegetables have been re-invented, the double-decker buses have been upgraded, and icons like Big Ben and the Tower of London stand alongside ambitious new buildings. So if you haven't tipped your hat to the Queen in a while, what changes can you expect from the old empire HQ?

Big Ben, meet Gherkin

London Bridge, Big Ben, The Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral are still must-sees, but their physical stature has been dwarfed by the growth of skyscrapers in recent years including The Shard, which at 306 metres is the EU’s tallest building. Take a ride to the top and experience The View from The Shard (Joiner Street; theviewfromtheshard.com; adult £25, kids 4 to 15 £19) a 360-degree panorama nearly twice as high up as any other viewing platform in the city. Book ahead.

Also competing for dominance of the urban horizon is a series of giants that the locals have provided with affectionate (or in some cases, resentful) monikers: the Cheese Grater, the Walkie-Talkie, the Gherkin and the unfinished Helter Skelter. Another recent addition is 2000’s London Eye (londoneye.com; adults £17.28, kids 4 to 15 £11.07; book online); the giant ferris wheel has become an iconic attraction.

Bangers ‘n mash’s foodie turn

Londoners did not enjoy the years of mockery that their supposedly over-boiled, unpalatable food inspired. When English chefs retaliated, they did so full force. After having won their accolades in the Euro food scene they've come full circle and can indulge in a little food nostalgia.

Forget Fish & Chips; try British restos that combine foodie tendencies with the classic oddities. You can eat gull's eggs and salmon pâté at Sweetings (39 Queen Victoria Street; sweetingsrestaurant.com) or pull up at the bar of chef-patron Fergus Henderson's St. John (26 St. John Street; stjohngroup.uk.com), and dig into snails and oakleaf, roast bone marrow and parsley salad, and Welsh rarebit. The Albion (10 Thornhill Road; the-albion.co.uk) serves up shepherd's pie and grilled mackerel while Rivington Grill (28-30 Rivington Street; rivingtongrill.co.uk) has tasty treats like rabbit tarragon pie, devilled lamb's kidneys and nettle soup.

Red double-deckers go green

London’s ageing red Routemaster buses were retired in 2005, much to the dismay of Londoners. But the bus is back! In 2011 Mayor Boris Johnson introduced the "New Bus for London," a slicked-up version of the old favourite, which began its first route this June. The new buses are 40 percent more fuel efficient.

Taxis have gotten greener too. You can still find the classic black cabs, but you’ll also find Prius and Mercedes hybrids run by Climate Cars (climatecars.com) and Ecoigo (ecoigo.com), which also buys carbon offsets. And there are plenty of bikes: the public Barclays Cycle Hire (tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/11598.aspx) bike-sharing scheme has more than 500 docking stations.

Tate Modern takes all

London is rife with incredible free museums, but the Tate Modern (Bankside; tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern; special exhibits and performances extra), which opened in 2000 and houses the national collection of modern art, stands out. In its first year, it became the most popular museum in the world, attracting over five million visitors. A new extension to accommodate the crowds is under construction and scheduled for completion in 2016. Avoid the weekend crowds and see if you can catch a performance at The Tanks, three converted oil tanks at the foundation of the new building.

A polka-dotted Tate Boat (tate.org.uk/visit/tate-boat; adults £6.50, kids 4 to 15 £3.25) zooms over to the Tate Britain every 40 minutes, while the Millennium Bridge footbridge swoops elegantly over the Thames and connects the Tate Modern to St. Paul's Cathedral.

The East London renaissance

These days the city's trendiest area is East London, which includes the neighbourhoods of Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Hackney Wick and Dalston. The Queen of Hoxton (1-5 Curtain Road; queenofhoxton.com) is a club-bar-gallery combo where you'll find live bands and DJs, art installations, fringe theatre and film screenings. The White Cube (144-152 Bermondsey Street; whitecube.com) gallery is full of well-known works by contemporary British artists.

East London has its fair share of markets. The Columbia Road Flower Market (Columbia Road; columbiaroad.info; open Sundays)is a burst of unlikely foliage, and the street itself is lined with galleries, antiques, pastry bakeries and garden shops. Spitalfield's (spitalfields.co.uk) is brimming with vintage jewelry, fashion and antiques. On Saturdays, the Broadway Market (broadwaymarket.co.uk) mixes trendy and traditional fare.

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