Thursday, December 29, 2011

See the Mysterious Side of London

London is one of the most visited cities in the world, and most visitors will take in the key sights such as the Tower, Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Not many will venture off the beaten track on foot, but this is one of the best ways of getting a true flavor of the city and its sometimes murky past. Over recent years a whole industry has grown up offering walking tours around the city, telling tales of ghosts and horror of time gone by.

Jack the Ripper
Jack was the original serial killer, and terrorized the streets of Whitechapel in East London in the late 19th century. His identity was never uncovered, and the murders of 11 people are still unsolved. There are many companies offering Jack the Ripper walking tours around the Whitechapel area, but one of the best is Ripper Vision, which uses hand held projectors to throw images onto the walls of the area’s dark alleys. This adds a whole new dimension to the stories of the murders. As this tour is so popular is gets booked up quickly, so advance reservations are essential.

The Psychic Tour
For something a little bit different than the retelling of old murders, try the Psychic Ghost Walk, which starts outside Bank station. The guide on this tour, Richard Jones, is an expert magician and conjurer and the walk offers “a recreation of psychic phenomenon”. Although much of it is smoke and mirrors, the atmosphere and tales told are truly eerie and even the bravest people will feel a chill down their spine. Jones has written many books on the paranormal and is a true expert in his field. The cost for the tours is £8 (12) for 2 hours.

London Blood and Tears Walk
Much of the success of a ghost tour can be put down to the guide, and his or her ability to create an atmosphere and tell a story. One of the best guides at doing this is Declan McHugh, an actor and author who has been leading tours for over 10 years. His Blood and Tears Walk is very much based on getting the audience involved and playing psychological games, and many reviews talk about how terrifying the tour is. The tour lasts for two hours and costs £9 ($15), with departures from Barbican Station.

Muggle Tours
Not strictly speaking ghost related, but this tour is based on the popular Harry Potter novels and movies. The tour lasts two hours and as it runs in the daytime, is more suitable for children than the more terrifying experiences described above. Locations visited include the inspiration for Diagon Alley, the entrance to the Ministry of Magic and the Leaky Cauldron pub. The tour is slightly more expensive at £12 ($18) but it’s a must for all fans of the movies. Customers are encouraged to dress up for the tour, so don’t forget to pack your Hogwarts robes before heading to London.

Our guest author, Morag Peers works for Allstar Passports & Visas, a Los Angeles passport and visa service specializing in expedited passport renewals, uk student visas, and tourist and business visas to China, among other services.