Parting Thoughts from Two Weeks in London

p_20160911_132256

Millennium Bridge with view of St. Paul’s Cathedral

We finished our two week visit in London and while it is not the way we normally travel we did learn a lot and had a great overview of the city. First up is a very quick snapshot of some of the places we visited in the second week and then some overall thoughts on our London experience.

p_20160914_112733

London Eye

We took a couple days off in between sightseeing to recharge and rest our feet, but we did go to visit Emirates Stadium (home of Arsenal Football Club), the Globe Theatre, Windsor Castle, Harrod’s of London, the British Museum and we walked the Millennium Bridge.

img_0636

We loved the tour of Emirates Stadium and had a lot of fun walking around behind the scenes in the Director’s Club, the media areas, the team lockers, the tunnel and Anne even got to sit in the manager’s seat. Cool!

img_0736

Windsor Castle and one of the gardens

Windsor Castle was overwhelming, both the structure itself as well as the remarkable collection of art, furniture, weaponry and other artifacts on display. Windsor was a quaint and interesting town but the overall touristy theme complete with high end boutiques, souvenir shops and McDonald’s didn’t work that well for us. We did enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch by the Thames which was great.

img_0978

The Assyrian Exhibit – unbelievable reliefs!

The British Museum surpassed our expectations. Our downfall was spending over two hours in the first exhibit. It was massive and incredible. The Egyptian Afterlife exhibit also captivated us but it was very busy and there were far too many people crammed into the gallery. We were there on a weekend so perhaps a weekday would be better. We will definitely need to return!

img_0927

Lady Diana and Dodi’s memorial at Harrods of London

One of the things we wanted to do while in London was to see a West End show. Our London Passes offered good discounts on some of the longer running productions, so we chose to see Stomp at the Ambassadors Theatre. It was a very entertaining and lively production and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

img_0941

Outside the Ambassadors Theatre waiting for the afternoon show to start

img_0955

Inside Ambassadors Theatre was wonderfully ornate with velvet seats

We had purchased two 10 day London Passes before leaving. We knew that we wanted to take this opportunity to see as much of the city and its attractions as we could and this seemed like a good way to do it. They are not cheap but you do have the opportunity for considerable savings.

p_20160911_112533

The main media room of Emirates Stadium

The biggest drawback we found was that they need to be used on consecutive days. Once they are activated the clock starts ticking. Ideally we would liked to have had 6 or 7 days to use throughout our two week stay. In the end we did save approximately $100 CAD but in fact we found that we were going too much and would have preferred to take things at our normal pace. So yes, a good choice for first time visitors but once is enough.

img_0931

Leicester Square

You absolutely need an Oyster card for getting around the city. You can buy one online ahead of time or at thousands of kiosks and shops around the city for just £5 . We found getting around London to be quite efficient, but it was very crowded, hot and stuffy at times on the Tube. We used the buses a lot and found them excellent – it just takes a little longer but you get to see parts of the city you wouldn’t see using the Tube. The biggest challenge we found with buses was finding the stop going in our direction, particularly on busy or one way streets. All the routes are online so we would map out how to get where we were going ahead of time. It was always an adventure!

p_20160914_114027

In front of Buckingham Palace at the Changing of the Guard – we just arrived!

img_0798

Changing of the Guard escorts waiting for the march down “The Mall”

Big surprise! There are a lot of people in London. Even though you think you are prepared for the press of people, the sheer numbers can at times be overwhelming. The combination of Londoners and tourists at rush hour, at the markets, on the Tube or jostling to the stations and the tourist attractions requires patience, perseverance and a little bit of passive aggression at times.

img_0696

Low tide on the Thames – Looking for pieces of pipes and other bits on the foreshore

It is certainly easy to try and do too much. We probably did and felt like we needed some down time in between. Most days our feet and legs were sore at the end of the day – but no blisters!

img_0932

We had a wonderful lunch in Chinatown

img_0865

The “Old Guard”marching into Wellington Barracks

img_0935

Leicester Square – setting up for premier of the new Ron Howard Beatles movie

The cultural diversity of London is amazing and it is reflected as you walk the streets and hear the myriad of languages commonly used, peruse the shops and smell the aromas coming from the markets, restaurants and food stalls which can be found in many areas. The diversity of activities is just as broad and you could spend weeks and never repeat the same experience.

p_20160914_120619_hdr

img_0824

St. James’s Park with Buckingham Palace in background

We loved the parks and green spaces that can be found in almost any area. Not being used to city living, we found ourselves drawn to the greenery, the bird life, the relative quiet and just the general respite from the bedlam and tourists. St. James’s Park in particular was very welcoming even though it is a stones throw from Buckingham Palace. With the pelicans swimming past and small flocks of parakeets overhead (yes parakeets) we almost felt we were in Costa Rica again – not!

img_0829

White pelicans in St. James’s Park

We did miss the friendly good mornings and even smiles while we were in London. For the most part if you meet someone on the street and say good morning or hello you will get blank or even hostile looks thrown back at you. On a more positive note all of the staff we interacted with at the Tube stations, tourist attractions and most of the shopkeepers were very cheerful and helpful.

img_1004

Shared back yard of our Airbnb apartment

Overall this was a wonderful experience and we don’t regret anything. We could have chosen a 6 day London Pass instead of the 10 day as our bodies were tired after about 6 hours of walking and exploring. We really enjoyed Leicester Square and Soho and would have liked to explore longer and see more shows. We were totally pleased with our Airbnb apartment and as always we love the freedom and the feeling of having a “home” that an apartment brings when we are in a place for an extended period of time. The next time we return to London we will feel more at ease and will start to delve a little bit deeper into its many charms.

 

 

Advertisements

About timannehall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we can. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe. For the next stage of our journey we are going to based in Portugal and traveling from there.
This entry was posted in England, Travel Tips and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Parting Thoughts from Two Weeks in London

  1. kemkem says:

    Your post brings back so many wonderful memories! It’s why we never get out of London, we love doing things over and over again. We would have loved to have done the Arsenal tour. We did it at the Real Madrid stadium last year l think and it was a highlight of that visit. You had quite a hectic pace though. I t kind of sucks when the days are consecutive..the apartment sounds nice too. Great roundup post!👌

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thanks Kemkem. We had a great tour at Emirates Stadium and would love to see the Bernabeu in Madrid. The London Passes would be much better if they weren’t consecutive but in many ways they aren’t ideal for longer term visitors. That’s okay though as we did do more than we would have otherwise. There is just so much to do in London and we can see why you love it so much.

      Like

  2. England and the city of London have long been on our bucket list and I loved your photos which gave me a taste of what a visit to London might be like. You really did pack a lot into your visit and I agree that it’s difficult to do so many things in a day without time to absorb what you’ve seen. The downtime in between seeing the sights helps you recharge and process everything new plus you can rest your poor, aching feet! Great tips and ideas and you can be sure we’ll be asking many more questions when we plan our own trip to London! P.S. Looking forward to your arrival in Portugal. 🙂 Anita

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s