I really like traveling. It has a special magic of the upcoming unknown with a pinch of surprise. Last week was this kind of week. On Sunday morning, 16th of September, we (my husband and me) arrived to London. To England. A country I have never been to, but learned a lot about in the English lesson at school. A distant, slightly cold, very royal and strange country. With awkward looking left-driving vehicles on the street. I was immersed in an amazing world of beautiful gothic and modern architecture, huge ethnic and cultural diversity, amazing nature and skyscraper high prices. Yep. London is expensive, especially when it comes to sightseeing. But thanks to several tricks and planning in advance it was affordable. We got a 3-Day City Attraction Pass with a bus and boat day ticket included. On Sunday we walked a bit around in the area of our hotel that was located near Earls court. The location and public transportation were perfect. We stumbled across a small farmers market and got some really delicious spelt bread that saved my breakfast for almost a whole week. And went to see Chinatown.
On Monday we started our city marathon with the 3-day sightseeing tour. And it was amazing and tiring at the same time. We visited Tower of London and saw the ravens, jewels and the buildings inside the medieval walls. Next stop was Tower Bridge with its amazing structure and view through the glass floor down on the street. After that we discovered the HMS Belfast and explored the Second World War Royal Navy warship from the top to the bottom. What an experience climbing up and down ladders and finding the way around the decks. A definitive recommendation for adventure seeking people. Then we had a thrilling elevator ride and view from the Shard. The city looked like a scaled city diorama in size Z or smaller. After that we were almost ghosts and we just had a quiet walk to the Elizabeth Tower and the Big Ben. But the tower is currently in renovation for several years, so we just so a huge construction forest around it. The day was finished with climbing 4 floors up to get to our hotel room. Of course there was no elevator. Classic.
Next day we continued our city tour with Westminster Abbey, then Jewel Tower. After that we ate delicious Ice-cream and visited the transport museum. I really like the double decker bus. The one I like most is the Routemaster from 1963. After that we visited Churchill war rooms. I am not that much into politics and history. But it was cool to see the bunker where Churchill worked and his life presented from the childhood, through his military career to his Prime Minister years. Then we escaped the busy streets and went on a boat tour on the Thames and experienced London from a different angle. We got off the boat at Greenwich and went strait to the Cutty Sark Ship Museum. This historic sailing ship was build for China tea trade. It was an amazing experience standing on the deck and see the Thames from such a beautiful vessel. After that we tried to find the observatory and when we finally did, it was 8 minutes past closing time. But we still got to see the Prime Meridian and enjoy the view from the Observatory hill in Greenwich park. Then we caught the last boat back to London. It was a very long day indeed.
On Wednesday, with the last day of the city 3-day pass, we visited one of the temporary exhibitions at the Victoria & Albert Museum – Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt. Seeing contemporary Games like Splatoon, No Man’s Sky and The Last of Us at a museum was surprising and exciting. We had our city bus tour on that day, so we got on and off the bus wherever we thought was good. We saw Baker street with the entrance to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Madame Tussauds. We got off the bus at St. Paul’s Cathedral and we also looked inside this incredible Church. After that we continued our trip to the Borough Market. On the way there we passed by the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and visited the exhibition. Sadly for us, there was a performance inside the theatre. So we didn’t get to see the famous theatre from inside. At the market we enjoyed the atmosphere and the mix of smells. We ate our dinner there and continued our trip back to hotel.
On Thursday we started the day with the main exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, then we went for a walk in the Hide park and visited the Serpentine Gallery. After that – a short walk to the Harrods to see inside the famous luxurious department store. Was nothing new to see there but: a butter croissant with mushroom pate and summer truffles from the bakery there was the most delicious pastry I ate in times. I almost regretted eating it because of all the ingredients I usually cannot eat, but it was worth the pain. Then we just went for another relaxed walk around the city.
The Friday was similar to Thursday – we visited the Kings Cross and had a glimpse of the platform 9 3/4. The line to make a photo with the trolley was about 2 hours, so we just took a look and continued our walk to another film location, this time to the Speedy’s Sandwich where the new BBC Sherlock series was filmed. On the way there we visited the British Library and saw the The King’s Library – the collection of George III books. Then we went for a walk around Leicester Square, had lunch at Friday’s and macaroons from TWG Tea Shop, and walked around the Chinatown again.
On Saturday the weather had rain in mind, so we went to Natural History museum and Science Museum that is located nearby. Both museums had an incredibly huge collections of different interesting objects and animals. The week was amazing. We also had a long list of other events and places that we wanted to visit. One of these was London Design Week happening but we were always too tired to get out extra to visit the different events. We saw several projects and exhibitions that were on our city tour route but not the main events. But this first trip to England will hopefully be not the last one. I really want to explore more of the capital and other beautiful places around the island.
Visiting a new city and a new country is such a great experience but it can be a bit frustrating because you would love to visit many more places or stay longer but you can’t copy yourself to visit everything in a tiny amount of time. For me, traveling means collecting emotions, experiences, smells, memories and lots of different stories to tell when I’m old. It does not matter if I travel alone, together with my husband or with friends – I love and enjoy it all. Especially travelling to a place where you have never been before. So many questions. So many input and inspiration. Get out there and travel as much as possible. Live the life.
Photo by Yelena Vakker
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