Posts Tagged ‘Harry Potter’

There and Back Again: A London Tale

April 17, 2012

„You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson, 1777

There is no other better way to open my little travel story then with this quote. And how truthful are the words of Dr Johnson. London is without a doubt one of the biggest most vibrant and beautiful cities in the world. So in the next lines I will try to share my thoughts and experience and who knows maybe help other travelers who want to take a stroll down the crowded small streets of this fabulous city.

For lodges we stayed in Clapham Hotel which was in Zone 2 and was affordable, 40 pounds per night, breakfast included though it was bland. The room was small, nice and comfortable with a TV on which to my joy we watched Big Bang Theory and Southpark episodes and saw some good movies. As for traveling the best way was to buy Oyster Cards, we used the tube allot and economically it was more feasible then travel checks for a week.

So early in the morning we took the tube and headed out to explore London. The first location we wanted to see was the famous Palace of Westminster. We stood and marvel at the Big Ben and of course the rest of the palace itself, which is probably London’s number one attraction point, at least it was for me. Next we took a stroll down the street to the abbey, in the park next to it i didn’t miss to marvel and take pics with statues like the one of Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and others.
Now Westminster Abbey is a beautiful gothic church and a really must go in for any traveler but in my opinion i would never pay (16 if i remember correct) to go in and see a church. I suggest doing the following like i did: go in when it is the worship time particularly the choir hours. You won’t only get in for free but you will have the opportunity to hear the choir and preaching which i tell you it’s a great and unique experience.

The London Eye is easy to spot, biggest bicycle wheel you will ever see. Well technically the world’s third largest observation wheel is a must to see the city from up high. Sitting on the South Bank of the Thames (which if were on the subject is quite dirty –evil face-) it will take you for a brief journey to see the magnificent views over London.

Well i thought Buckingam Palace was something more special but to tell you the truth i wasn’t very impressed. It might be impressive inside but from the outs it’s a dull grey building with some gold on it that looks very kitschy same as with the statues and gates. At least be sure you don’t miss the changing of the guard, that is far more entertaining than taking photos by the gates.

Maybe not as great as St. Peter Basilica of Rome or other cathedrals from England, St. Paul Cathedral is still great to visit and worship. Built after the 1666 Great Fire of London it has very nice acoustics so be sure to catch the choir again and see Nelson and Wellington tombs.

Another iconic sight in London located near Tower of London is the Tower Bridge. It’s big, imposing and decorated with high towers plus it is a drawbridge so if you are lucky it will lift up to let the ships and present an even more greater photo opportunity.

We reached this castle as a classic London rain started pouring on us. This armory, treasury, public office at times and of course prison the Tower of London is a must see. The Beefeaters will give you a free tour every half an hour to entertain and explain the tower history. You will also see the walls, the torture chamber, an exhibition or armors and various items from the history and of course the Crown Jewels. And if you are very lucky maybe you will see a ghost 😉

Home of Nelson’s column and the lions, you can take a break and stand near the fountains and maybe your feet will take you into the National Gallery which is next to Trafalgar Square.

Leicester Square is a small square shadowed by lots of restaurants, clubs and entertainment buildings.

Busy, small, full of lights and buzz Piccadilly Circus is one of the most visited site in London.. You can take a break from tour life near the statue of Eros and breathe the London air.

A very focal tourist attraction that i didn’t necessarily want to go to but was dragged too was Madame Tussauds. My fears were to be proved correct, there are few wax figures to marvel at some of them which bear no resemblance to the one they portray. Add that with a „Scream” set where actors childish try to scare you, a 4d Marvel Heroes experience which left me with a dry mouth even if they were spraying water on me and a Taxi Ride through time to see London which i admit was fun. However i thought the whole thing was overblown and overpriced so i don’t recommend it.

Leandenhall Market is a small nice place with pubs and shops covered with a beautiful contraption that i forget the name. Plus this is where Harry Potter’s Leaky Cauldron exterior was filmed.

If you like history or just want to see interesting things the British Museum is the place for you. It’s a huge place so you can enjoy wasting many hours and see things like egyptian mummies, roman and greek statues, murals and of course the highlights such as Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, Crouching Venus, Head of Augustus and many others. Definitely worth seeing.

We went to the Imperial War Museum because i am a big history buff. This museum is filled with interesting things like the first WW1 tank, V2 Rocket, Gustav 800 mm shell, T-34, a Spitfire, Jagdpanther and many more. Also it has a Holocaust section, a Secret War section where you can see one of the Enigmas Machines and big sections on the two wars which include a ww1 trench experience and a WW2 London bombing experience.

First time we went to The London Dungeon was around noon but the line was soooooo huge that we came the next day at the first opening hours and we were the first in line. Even though the ride is quite pricey (24 pounds) it was better than i expected. For about two hours we were took from room to room learning about London’s Dark History and entertained by actors who played they part very good. We got to wander into the labyrinth of lost souls which is a mirror maze, experience the Great Plague, London fire, Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd. I also got condemned for having sexual relations with the Queens horse. The attraction contains also a boat ride, a 4d show (better than the Maddame Tussauds one) and a simulated experience of a hanging. I would say this is a worthy place to go if you want to be entertain and learn something.

If you are a Beatles fan you must come here to Abbey Road and take a picture on this famous crossing. If you want to do some shopping Oxford Street is the way to go. Full of people will find most of the famous firms here.

On Bond Street you will find the most luxurious firms and shops, take a walk down Mayfair the most expensive neighborhood in London and there is a nice bench with the statues of Roosevelt and Churchill you can take your photo with.

In Convent Garden youll find lots of shops and markets where you can buy every little kitschy thing about London..

The best way to experience London is to just walk; spots and locations tend to be close to each other. There are so many parks that you will find it hard not to stop and then stroll to admire the beauty. Also i would say hop on a bus and just ride along, ot if you have money to spend take a tour bus ot a boat down the Thames.

As for food and drinks, let’s get down to the English cuisine. They assimilated various cuisines from when they had their empire, so you will find here a multinational emporium of foods for all kind of tastes, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Lebanese etc as well vegan places, stake houses, gastro pubs as well as the big brand fast foods like McDonalds, KFC, etc. In a few words the only thing you should rap your head around is what does your heart and stomach desire.
For me, i was attracted by the all you can eat buffets. We don’t have things like this in my country and i am a big boy so naturally i was attracted to the 7 pounds all you can eat buffet. I have eaten at some place in Chinatown and at Pizza Hut near Piccadilly Circus. Besides that you need to eat fish and chips cause you are in London nay? You will find these at nearly every corner.

As for drinks, we ended up in The Tottenham pub where apart for eating a meat pie which was delicious and ended up sampling a few beers. Im not an expert on beer, i drink it very rarely, but to my amazement i didn’t like it. Though the Guiness was better than it’s can counterpart which i buy at the supermarket, the beers we drunk were very stale, don’t know if its the proper word, maybe because i am used to our type of beer which is very bubbly and acidulated.

With only four days to wander through this magnificent city, i feel that i achieved nearly all the locations i wanted to see more or less. Of course this is such a huge and beautiful city to see everything it has to experience you may need a longer time.

London surely is one of the greatest cities in the world that is a must for any curious traveler hungry for knowledge, history, food, entertainment, shopping and let’s be honest any little thing a man could want.

All photos are the property of Jade