London - my introduction
Trip Start Oct 17, 2011
24Trip End May 22, 2012
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This city is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. And I have never climbed so many steps - at the Underground stations, in museums, up towers and domes for good views, and 84 steps up to my room! I stayed in a small, self-catering studio flat on the top floor of a Georgian-style (I think) rowhouse in the Kensington area. I bought an Oyster card, the public transit pass, and made good use of it, riding the Tube almost every day.
I met up with Sue, my friend from Ashford, and we journeyed down the River Thames to Greenwich, Sue pointing out the notable modern and ancient buildings along the way. We visited the Observatory and its exhibits about the road to determining longitude at sea, the Planetarium and of course the Prime Meridian line. Too bad we were just a bit too early for the reopening of the restored clipper ship Cutty Sark. It was fun to see a filming of Les MisÚrables taking place on the streets of Greenwich, actors and extras dressed in 19th century French costumes, horses draped for a funeral procession and a big French flag at half-mast.
I got together with a few of the women I met on the Christmas Walking Women holiday for an outing to some of the real ale pubs in the city. I enjoyed reconnecting with them.
London Walks is a well-regarded company that offers a wide range of walking tours around London. I went on four: Secret London (lots of back streets that you wouldn’t normally find out about), Tower of London (what a history! and Crown Jewels too), The Blitz (compelling) and Old Westminster by Gaslight (gas lighting is still used in some areas of London). All the tours were interesting; all the guides were good. Following the Westminster tour, many of us went into the House of Commons and the House of Lords to watch the evening proceedings from the public galleries.
London has a lot of green spaces and public parks. You could walk all day just in Kensington Gardens and the adjoining Hyde Park.
It rained most days of my stay, so I got used to wearing my waterproofs and carrying a brolly. I made brief visits to the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum (Rosetta Stone, Lewis Chessmen, mummies...), but they warrant a few days each, and I just didn’t have the time or energy. I saw Buckingham Palace and Canada Gate opposite it but never saw the Changing of the Guard. I did spend over three hours at the very interesting Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. I have a very long list of places I want to go next time I come to London. I want to return asap!