Earlier this year Mr.A and I moved to London, believing we were making a long term shift, but as it turns out it wasn’t meant to be, at least not for the time being. Long story short, we’ve happily returned home to Stockholm after living in London for four months. It’s been a helluva ride, but in all the chaos we’ve had some good days in this bustling, spirited city. Let me share some high points from our short-lived adventure 🙂
Sky Garden atop the Walkie-Talkie
One of the best vantage points for great views of the city of London is the Sky Garden. The top three stories viz. 34th-37th floors of the skyscaper at 20 Fenchurch Street, nicknamed Walkie-Talkie for its typical shape, have been transformed into landscaped gardens open to the public for free. You do have to book an entry slot but that’s quite easy with their online booking system. You can even make a special occasion by reserving a table at one of the restaurants, or keep it casual by snacking at the cafes. Obviously, the highlight is the 360° views of the city, combined with the greenery indoors. Mr.A and I enjoyed the perspective. The garden complete with full-grown palms is quite a delight to stroll in, too.
Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum
Once Saturday we rode the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) that winds through the towering skyscrapers of Canary Wharf before coming out the other side of Thames to the Greenwich station. A short, but rather steep, walk uphill through the Greenwich Park brought us to the Royal Observatory. To tick off places from my Geography lessons has always given me a certain thrill, so this was no different. Taking a picture with our feet in two hemispheres, straddling the Prime Meridian was cool, of course. The real treat on the hot day was the cool breeze on the hill accompanied by splendid views of the skyline. We also went into the National Maritime Museum, which has free entry to its permanent exhibitions, to examine ship models and read up on Britain’s naval history. Since a lot of it was associated with the East India Company and it’s influence in our own history, the days ended up with much reflection and thought. Happy Weekend, I say!
St. Paul’s Cathedral
A trip to the city of London would be incomplete without a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral, architect Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. A magnificent structure, both from the outside and inside. The ticket price includes either an audio guide or a guided tour. We opted for the latter and were so happy following our learned guide, a charming octogenarian who made such a pleasant impression that Mr.A & I decided we would do something like he was doing when we grew old ourselves! Totally worth the slightly pricey ticket. Note however, you can save a little if you prebook online. We loved our culture trip around this 300+ year old building which has seen eons pass by and has so many stories to tell.
A walk around Hyde Park
This giant park despite being in the heart of the city, surely takes one away from its madness into an oasis of calm. Even though there were hundreds of other people, it did feel like a different world within. People seemed so much at ease walking their dogs, enjoying their ice creams, feeding ducks and even parrots (it’s true!), strolling by the Serpentine, playing a casual game of football, and what not. Mr.A and I went to the Park just before sundown and had a lovely time watching all this pass by us in a beautiful golden glow.
Brick Lane & Shoreditch
Brick Lane surely teleported us into another world. Once a settlement for immigrants from Bangladesh trying to make a new home in a new country, today it is a hep center buzzing with student activity, fashion and art. There is a considerable number of restaurants all boasting the best food from the Indian sub-continent, but make sure to research where you want to eat since our experience with the food was not one of our high points here. Graffiti-watching along Shoreditch and Brick Lanes was totally rewarding though. Some amazing street art can be found in small nooks as well as huge walls. Once can surely spend a lot of time being fascinated, especially one like me that has a thing for street art 😉 The pictures warrant their own blog post, so I’ll write more about them soon.
The Barbican Conservatory was a surprise find that I chanced upon in some toplist about London, and decided to drag Mr.A to check it out. It did not disappoint at all. The Barbican Complex with its brutalist architecture captured our imagination, how stark and severe it looked, somewhat reminding us of the buildings in central Delhi, perhaps one influencing the other, who knows. In the middle of the austere lines, sits the cosy world of green in the form of the conservatory, housing London’s second largest conservatory. Amongst 2000+ varieties of plants, also live some turtles and fish in sparkling ponds. There is an impressive array of chillis and a gorgeous desert garden housing cactii of all shapes and sharpness. Entry is free on Sunday afternoons, a refreshing activity before the start of a new week.
What are your favorite spots in London?