LONDON- BUCHARESTOnce you have arrived in London, there are assorted places that you should, you really should, go and see. A good starting place is Trafalgar Square with Nelson`s Column right in the centre. It is a 51m column, poised on top of which is the hero of the Battle of Trafalgar, who was killed while winning in 1805. The four lions which surround the column are of more recent date, having been sculpted by Sir William Landseer in 1868. There are many claimants to being the heart of London, but Trafalgar Square has the best right, because it is the hub of so much that is wonderful. Just alongside is the church of St Martins in the Fields, which is open throughout the day and has been around for a long time. The current church dates from 1726, but there has been a church on that site since the thirteenth century. This is the parish church for Buckingham Palace and, yes, there is a royal pew. The church has some wonderful lunch time concerts, which are normally free. On the next side of the square is the National Portrait Gallery, which is fascinating because it has the largest collection of portraits in the world although, understandably, only part of the collection is on show at any one time. Behind is Charing Cross station, not of great interest except that in the side road running alongside is The Players Theatre, old time music hall where the audience is expected to dress up in the right costume and positively join in with the show. Running from there is the Strand, which was once the fashionable thoroughfare of London but fell on slightly seedier times. It is currently being upgraded and it still contains the Savoy Hotel - one of the great hotels of the world. If you reverse your course from Trafalgar Square, you will go up the Mall, past Horse Guards Parade and at the end is the impressive building which is Buckingham Palace. And you pass St James on the way up.So that`s one quick fix on part of London from one central point. But London has so many other central points. You can do the same sort of orientation from Piccadilly Circus or Hyde Park Corner or, indeed, pretty much anywhere. Once you have your bearings you can start to concentrate on specific areas.You might like to start with the Houses of Parliament, which have been operating in one form or another since 1275. Worth knowing that the original Parliament was in St Stephen`s Chapel and the members sat in the choir stalls facing each other. That tradition carries on to this day.You can go to the visitor`s gallery in the afternoon and evening when Parliament is sitting. Typically it opens at 2.30 PM and will stay open until 10.30 PM or even later. If you plan your visits for the evening you will not have to queue.Just round the corner is Westminster Abbey. Every King and Queen of England since William the Conqueror has been crowned here, and many are buried here, as well as many other notable historic figures. In the memorable words of an American Wimbledon contestant - "it`s just a lot of dead dudes." Westminster Abbey is one of the great tourist attractions of London and it is nearly always crowded. Your best bet is to get there at opening time, which is 8 AM. And from there you might like to go and see the Changing of The Guard, which happens from about the middle of April until the end of July at 11.30 in the morning, and creates monster traffic jams with parked tourist buses everywhere. Get there early and you will see one of the five regiments of Foot Guards march from Wellington Barracks and go through the age-old ceremony. You may not understand the orders being shouted, but they are in English. On one occasion that whole guard was mounted using the single command, "bacon and eggs." Strange but true. If the scene outside Buckingham Palace is a bit too crowded for you, go to Horse Guards in Whitehall and watch the Household Cavalry mount the guard and then ride off along the mall. Both guards are changed about the same time. From military pomp and circumstance you can venture to somewhere a little softer, a little more restrained. One of the new places, which have grown into a major tourist attraction, is Covent Garden. This used to be where all the fruit and vegetables coming to London from the country were sorted out and sold. You may recall that the opening scenes of Pygmalion and, later, My Fair Lady are set there. Now the fruit and vegetable markets have moved out to the suburbs, but some of the old feeling still remains. There have been tremendous efforts made to refurbish the old buildings so they retain a feeling of authenticity. Covent Garden Plaza in the centre of the area has regained some of the popularity it experienced in the 17th-century. It has coffee-houses, street entertainment, boutiques, elegant shops and a feeling of cafe society. All traffic is banned, which makes walking around a pleasure.Walk from Covent Garden down Fleet Street, once the newspaper capital of Britain until Rupert Murdoch moved his newspapers to the old dockland area. And there, ahead of you, is the majesty of St Paul`s. This is the building that survived the Second World War against all odds. It was designed by Christopher Wren, although this is the third church on the site. The previous one burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is interesting that this is one of the very few cathedrals in Britain to have been designed by an architect, and the result is glorious. If you`re feeling exceptionally energetic, climb to the Golden Gallery - 530 steps, and you will be puffing at the end - to see one of the great views of London. In a very real sense St Paul`s is one of the churches of the City of London. It gets a bit confusing, but note that the City of London is quite separate from the rest of London, which is Greater London. The City of London even has its own special police force. It is the financial centre of the city of Greater London, and once boasted Dick Whittington as its Lord Mayor. You can walk the narrow streets for hours and find something fresh and fascinating around every corner.From there it is very easy to walk down to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, which is awesome, frightening and yet at the same time extremely charming. While you are there, look at the Crown Jewels in the Jewel House. You go past them on a traveling walkway, which gives you time to try and work out how much they are worth.All of this that has been suggested would take two days and would give you a feel for the city and a taste, but only a taste, of the charms of London. Noel Coward in one of his better songs had the line "every stone bears the stamp of history". The song was called London Pride and the words are very true, very precise and very accurate.Bucharest is the capital and largest city of Romania, located in the southeastern part of the country. The city is situated about 65 km north of the Danube River, near Ploiesti, on the banks of the Dimbovita River. Bucharest lies on a generally level plain and, including suburban districts, occupies an area of about 300 sq km.The first written appearance of the name Bucuresti dates from 1459, when it was recorded in a document of Vlad III the Impaler, the ruler of Walachia. Vlad III built the fortress of Bucharest--the first of many fortifications--with the aim of holding back the Turks who were threatening the existence of the Walachian state. By the end of the 16th century, Bucharest was South-Eastern Europe's largest christian city. In 1640, a traveller remarked that the population of the city exceed 100,000. Under the Ottoman suzerainty that was eventually established, Bucharest developed rapidly as the main economic centre of Walachia, becoming the capital in 1659.In 1859 Bucharest became the administrative center of the united principalities of Walachia and Moldavia, under Ottoman suzerainty. By the decisions of the Congress of Berlin, which provided for a general settlement of the Balkan situation after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 and 1878, Romania was recognized as an independent country with Bucharest as its capital. German troops occupied Bucharest from December 1916 until mid-1918 during World War I. During World War II Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu admitted German troops into Romania in October 1940, and the Germans occupied Bucharest until 1944. Weakened by Romanian insurrection and Allied bombings, the Germans surrendered when Soviet forces entered the city in August. Soviet military occupation lasted until 1958. The city is divided into two sections by the Dimbovita River and is crossed by two wide boulevards. Bucharest contains six administrative districts; the adjacent rural area forms a seventh district. Most industrial areas are located in the suburbs, while the city is primarily residential. Bucharest, known as the "Paris of the Balkans" in the early 20th century, was a cosmopolitan city before 1944 when its architecture, city planning, and culture were French-inspired. After a Communist government came to power following World War II (1939-1945), French cultural qualities were ended, although the architecture remains. During the 1980s, under the orders of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, a vast area on the banks of the Dimbovita was razed, including houses and historical monuments. Buildings of North Korean architectural style were then erected.At the beginning of the 20th century, the city's streets were lit by electric bulbs and petrol lamps. In 1904, the public trasportation system saw the introduction of electric street cars. After World War I, Bucharest strengthened its position as the most important city of a greatly enlarged country.In 1930 the population of Bucharest was 631,288. By the 1950s, as a result of industrialization and urbanization policies, the population doubled, and it has continued to increase steadily. The population was 2,037,000 in 1997.Bucharest is a major industrial center and the main financial and trade center of Romania. The city accounts for about 20 percent of the country's industrial production. Industries include heavy machinery, aviation, precision machinery, agricultural tools, furniture, electronics, chemicals, textiles, leather goods, wire, soap, cosmetics, and food processing.Noteworthy secular structures include the Palace of Justice (1864), the Stirbey Palace (1835), the National Bank (1885), the Presidential Palace (previously Cotroceni Palace; 17th century with later additions), and the buildings of the Central Library of the University (1893). In the 20th century, the Cantacuzino Palace (1900), the Central Post Palace (1900), the Central Savings Bank (1900), the Royal Palace (1935), the Central Army House (1913), and the Arch of Triumph (1920) were built. Among Bucharest's outstanding religious structures are the Antim Monastery (1715) and the Patriarchate Church (1665). Bucharest has many parks and wooded areas, including Herastrau, a large park with lakes.The city has a large number of churches, usually small, in Byzantine style. Apart from the Curtea Veche (Old Court) church, the Antim Monastery (1715) and the churches of Stavropoleos (1724) and Spiridon (1747) are of considerable architectural interest. The most important centres for higher education are the Technical Institute of Bucharest (founded 1819) and the University of Bucharest (founded 1694). In addition, there are several academies in both arts and sciences, as well as numerous research institutes.