A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Alienstravels

London

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

sunny
View London July 2014 on Alienstravels's travel map.

I woke up at the wee hours of the morning to go to Mohammed V airport. My direct flight to London was at 8 AM, which barely gave me the time to grab some croissant and hot chocolate from the only open café in the airport. The flight was surprisingly empty, which gave each passenger the possibility to have three seats for themselves. I did not even wait for the seatbelt sign to turn off to lie down and sleep. Therefore, it has been a short 3-hour flight to London.

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I arrived to London Gatwick airport at around 10:30am. I took the train from London Terminals to the city of London. My first stop was London Bridge station. Then, I took the Jubilee line underground heading to Waterloo station. Changing from the underground to the overground, I took yet another train to head to Hither Green station. The underground/overground transportation system of London requires a great deal of time to get used to it. I had to ask many people for directions, which was not easy with my luggage and backpack. I finally made it to Hither Green, where I began to search for Wellmeadow Road, the street where my friend lives. I had to ask many people to find this street as I was not used to the street signs and directions there. When I finally found the right address, I realized I was 4 hours too early from our rendezvous time. I walked around Hither Green to discover the area. There was not much to see except the houses. I decided to go back to London Bridge and walk around the area until the evening. I bought a bottle of water and a chicken sandwich from the station as I was starting to get hungry and walked around aimlessly. I saw from far away the London eye but I could not find a way to reach it. Before I knew it, it was time to head back to the station and to Hither Green.

I was exhausted after spending the day pulling and pushing my luggage everywhere, and I was grateful to stay with my friend and have some dinner with her. It was only day 1, and I was already both excited and tired.

Posted by Alienstravels 12:09 Archived in England Comments (0)

London

Friday, July 4th, 2014

sunny
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I had to wake up early today because my friend had to go to work. I took the train from Hither Green station heading to Charring Cross, then I changed the train to arrive to St. Pancras station. Across the street stood the magnificent King's Cross station, which I have always wanted to see since I was a child. Thank you Harry Potter. As I still had plenty of time before going to my seminar location in Burwell, I took the opportunity to visit the station and what is around it.

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After being a tourist and taking enough pictures, I decided to find out if the Platform 9 3/4 existed and what Harry Potter related attractions was in Kings Cross. I right away noticed how the station looked nothing like the movies. I am not sure whether this is because the station has been modernized since the 90s, or if the movies made up the station. After perhaps an hour of searching, I finally found the infamous Platform 9 3/4 with the half luggage trolley stuck into the wall. There was a huge queue of fans waiting to take a picture of themselves attempting to cross the platform and reach the Hogwart Express. Alas, it was already past 11 o'clock and the platform was closed.

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I visited the Platform 9 3/4 shop by curiosity but did not buy anything. God knows how much I wanted to buy a Slytherin school uniform but my student's economy would not allow this indulgence. I went on to find some food and took time to find the best food deals. I ended up eating a chicken and corn sandwich with mango juice and a bag of peanuts. I browsed many shops looking for a plug adaptor that was affordable, only to realize that the small shops around the station offered a much better deal than the ones in the station. I bought the train ticket from Kings Cross to Ely. I noticed very quickly that London did not offer many student prices when it comes to transportation and most tourist attractions. This is such a shame!

I arrived to Ely station at around 4pm where I met other people going to the Aikido and peace building seminar in Burwell. The organizers were kind enough to provide cars to take us from the station to Burwell House. I believe this house is usually a summer camp for kids. We stayed in dorms. As I still had some time before the beginning of the seminar, I decided to walk around the House and visit the area. Burwell is a calm, small village not too far from Cambridge.

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I walked to a pub called The Anchor where we had a barbecue on Saturday (the next day), and found nearby a small supermarket where I bought some snacks. I love villages, not only because they are not crowded and noisy, but also because there is a greater sense of community and people know each other better. I wish I could have stayed there longer. But as soon as the seminar ended, we all had to leave.

Posted by Alienstravels 12:19 Archived in England Tagged london england travel well cross harry kings potter bur Comments (0)

London

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

rain
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The seminar ended at around 1 PM, we all went back to Burwell House, and I went with a friend that I met during the weekend to Cambridge where we spent the afternoon. We started on Lensfield road where we visited the church of "Our Lady and the English Martyrs." We walked on Gonville Place and reached Parker's Piece park. Apparently, there was a Tour de France event going on, as well as some sort of farmer's market or fair. There were stands that were selling homemade goods and others offering activities for children. The weather was bizarre because when the sun was showing, it was very hot, but as soon as clouds shadowed the sun, the weather would get quite cold. We stayed in the park until a friend of my friend came to pick us up and took us to Cambridge station. We took the train at around 3 PM and headed to Kings Cross stations. We stayed at a café in the station and discussed the seminar until it got close to 6 PM and we had to leave. We went to St Pancras underground station, and I took the Northerline to Waterloo station, which required me to change trains in Euston.

When I finally arrived to Waterloo station, I had to navigate through the streets (and the traffic that is quite different from what I am used to) to arrive to Webber Row street, where my hostess' home is located. Soon after the initial introduction, explanations and getting-to-know each other, I hurried out of the apartment to explore Waterloo Road. As it was already the evening, my stomach started to cry for some food. I had no idea which restaurant to go for so I took my time to read the menus and consider the prices. As it was still the beginning of my Londoner adventures, I wanted something affordable. I went for a cheeseburger and fries at Fishcothèque on Waterloo Road. It was not the best meal I had, but it was okay for the price. As I was feeling tired, I decided to go back home and catch on some sleep in order to be ready to go the next day. It rained on my way home and my feet were soaked. But I was happy.

Posted by Alienstravels 12:22 Archived in England Comments (0)

London

Monday, July 7th, 2014

sunny
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I started this beautiful day in the Jubilee gardens where I saw the London Eye, as well as the Houses of Parliament and the hidden Big Ben.

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I took a walk on the Queen's walk, which is perhaps one of the most "touristy" place in London. I crossed Westminster Bridge to take a closer look at the Big Ben (which I really never saw, but only heard), took pictures and came back to the Walk. I ate some Japanese Chicken Noodles at Aji Street Canteen, which was not bad for fast food. I then headed back to Waterloo station to take the Northern line to Tottenham Court Road. I topped up the Oyster Card for the week as I calculated that it would cost me less money that buying underground tickets every time I needed them. I am grateful that my hostess provided me not only with an Oyster Card, but also with a London guide book, which told me everything worthy of being seen in London as well as how to get there. I must have read this book about 100 times in one week. It also told me which museums are free (hint: most of them), and thus helped me to maximize the experiences while minimizing the expenses.

I went to the British museum where I saw various objects and art from other times and places. What stroke me the most was the display of a skeleton go a young man who died about 4,000 years ago. As I was looking at him, I thought that this person once lived and had thoughts, just like me. This person laughed, this person cried, this person was hopeful and had dreams, and may also have felt despair at time. However, now, all that remained was his skeleton and nobody knows who he was exactly. I will also become a skeleton one day. My brain will disappear from my skull, and what will remain? Will any of my work, dreams, tears, love and hopes be remembered? Or will they all be forever buried in the graveyard of humanity, and will just become a pile of bones and ashes? I felt sad thinking like this, but also humbled realizing that I was not as big and as strong as I thought I was. And today is all I had to live for. Carpe diem, right?

When I finished visiting the museum, I took the central line from Holborn to St Paul's station. I went to visit the St. Paul's cathedral, both inside the cathedral and its gardens. I personally preferred the gardens, especially the sculptures.

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Going back to St Paul's station, I took the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road, then to Northern Line to Charing Cross station. I ended up in a beautiful place known as Trafalgar square. Due to the Tour de France event, the square was crowded and I could not see much. However, I did go back in the next days and got a better view of it. I walked in the many streets around the square and on Strand Road, I found a restaurant called "Tortilla." As I was craving for some mexican food, I gave it a go, and I have no regrets. I had a naked chicken burrito, which was tasty. If I had to compare it to the US Chipotle, which I love, I would say Chipotle tastes better. However, Tortilla's burrito had a fresher and healthier taste to it. It was clearly all organic food.

At 9 PM, and after many struggles finding Northumberland avenue and the exact pick up location, I decided to go on a Ghost Bus Tour (£15 for students), which was one of the most memorable moments of my stay in London. Through a theatrical comedy/horror show, I have discovered the most gruesome and hunted places in London. It was hilarious and I had so much fun. The actors were talented and entertained us very well. I did not feel the time passing by.

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When the tour finished, I walked back to the Queen's Walk where I saw the Houses of Parliament by night. As I was passing by the Hungerford bridge and had a great view on the Houses and the London Eye, pictures were mandatory (but unfortunately not very clear). The sight, however, was clear and mesmerizing.

Posted by Alienstravels 12:29 Archived in England Tagged london travel bus square houses big tour parliament st ben ghost trafalgar paul jubilee Comments (0)

London

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

semi-overcast
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Yesterday, I read the London Guide in order to make the most of my day. I made the list of the museums with free admissions. My original plan was to buy a weekly London Pass, but as I did some research, I realized that most museums had free admissions and that I only needed a one-day pass. This is why it is always important to plan the day beforehand in order to save both time and money.

Thus, today, I took the Jubilee line from Waterloo Station to Green Park, and then changed to the Piccadilly line to head to South Kensington station. From this station, various museums are walking distance. I started with the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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This museum is filled with different kinds of arts: objects, sculptures, clothing, paintings and has even a history of money currencies. My favorite part was the Asian Japanese exhibition of samurai cultures. I could see several kinds of armors and weaponry, as well have an insight of the Japanese culture in general.

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Afterwards, I crossed the Exhibition Road to go to the Natural History Museum. What I was most impressed with is the escalator that goes through some sort of metal round planet, filled with strange colors; as well as the different rocks from outer space displayed around the escalator. The museum also offers the discovery of the skeletons of some old sea and terrestrial creatures that disappeared hundreds of thousands of years ago.

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When I was done, I hurried to the science museum. As most museums close quite early, I had to keep a strict visiting schedule in order to maximize my time. It did include a lot of running. The science museum offered a wide display of technological machines, from old times to the modern time. It also has some educational games for children, especially regarding biology. I will admit that I tried all of these games and found them quite fun.

I attempted to cross the city of London to St Paul's station and go to the Museum of London, but I arrived as it started to close so I could not visit it. I went instead to the Barbican centre, but did not find it very interesting. There is, nevertheless, a nice terrace where people can eat and meet up with friends. I particularly enjoyed the fountain in the middle. As I still had time in my day, I went back to near the museums; I took the Central Line from St. Paul to Holborn, then the Piccadilly line to Hyde Park Corner station. While running from train to the next, I stopped at a shop in one of the train stations to enjoy a delicious chicken samosa, which gave me the energy to keep going on my touristy adventures. I visited both Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. This is what I absolutely loved about London: its parks! Not only are they free, but they are also numerous, wide and absolutely beautiful. There isn't a flower, a sculpture, or a fountain that did not took my breath away.

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Somewhere between the two parks, on Kensington Road, I saw the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Albert Memorial. The Memorial is particularly beautiful to look at when the sun is starting to set.

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I eventually went back near the London Eye, where I ate a Chicken Sandwich at Le Pain Quotidien. I bought the One Day London Pass on my way home and spent the evening planning and optimizing my next day.

Posted by Alienstravels 12:37 Archived in England Tagged gardens victoria london england park history memorial museum british natural uk royal hall science albert hyde kensington Comments (0)

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