Of the Queen and Crown is London Town. As an English Literature buff its real easy and smooth to get along with London, its just as described by Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and countless others who have based their writing on this charming, warm and storybook city. London does not have a facade, it has a personality. Every street, every building, every person speaks a language and its called English! Its nothing short of a spectacular achievement considering how far and wide their empire really went. We all have rubbed shoulders with all British things all our life. Take the language for instance! The Romans are said to have founded Londonium and then Londonium has does really well for itself!
Flying in from Amsterdam, sitting on the right side of the aircraft and landing at Heathrow means that we have a blissful aerial tour of the city and its landmarks. The clear skies greeted a warm welcome as we saw the London Eye, the Westminster Abbey, the Big Ben, the Trafalgar Square, the Downing street and tried spotting the Shakespeare Globe theatre. Once in and walking round the city the very very inconvenient rain came and went as it wished. Good Lord! I would cry everytime I got soaked and waited to dry as the sun came out. Umbrellas were forgotten at home and thats the stupidest thing to do while in London. Harrruummpph! But the charm of the city inspite of the rain is sure to get to you. Hey Hey Harrods! The umpteen museums and parks make walking a real pleasure. The Kensington gardens along the Buckinham palace I liked a lot. Well it did have something to do with the fact that the quirky RCA is housed right there.
A peek into the street on nobility got a glance of the gates to Lakshmi Mittal’s house. That man’s success is inspiring when I say inspiring, I mean inspiring! King Albert’s hall is genius and the entire area is spelt POSH.
A walk in the Park, we are reminded that the late Princess Diana spent her last years in the Kensington apartment and was often seen enjoying the gardens. Such stories and print media only spark off an imaginative cycle of people and places and standing right there I only tried my hugely effervescent imagination in action. The shops on the Kensington Avenue are so to speak – OFF limits!
The Buckingham Palace is not so though. But the Queen was not in ;). Amid the breezy showers stood the Palace Guards and long throngs of visitors. The irresistable charms were all playing their part. The Buckingham Palace looks shiny and new, the architects who revamped the Palace did a fabulous job I think. The Palace unlike all other palaces in the world had what I call a very engaging feel to it. Probably because its really lived-in and not trying too hard to impress or make a spectacle of itself. The downpour wasnt so gracious and I tried to absorb the Buckingham palace through my drenched hood while my jeans did all they could to absorb the chilly rain. Blah! The most awesome thing about London? The English Accent! Its epic. I listened carefully trying hard not to be bothered by rain as our “English” Guide filled us in with details of the place. The very recent wedding of Prince William familiarized us with the Palace, the Westminster Abbey and all else that comes it the way. The city unlike others has a very humane appeal to it. None of the buildings look old/weathered. I wonder why? Others think its because the city was never attacked, but for the Great Fire ofcourse which was very very long ago. The architecture is Marvellous, the Jacket Potatoes are yum. Slowly we were discovering London, by foot, by bus, by taxi and by the underground.
The underground is another story all-together. After months on the Singapore metro system the London tube is completely fictional. Dragging my luggage up and down was a nightmare. No elevators! And cobbly wobbly stairs with assymmetrical landings and sudden turns or exits. SO very story-book I tell you! And completely painful! But was not painful was the network, network wise its a dream. Reaching places was not in the least difficult. English Language I tell you.
So the next place I was dying to see in London was the Trafalgar Square. Though we couldnt walk through the square we walked around it. The reason? Harry Potter serie’s last movie was being preimeired somewhere there and people were camping for over 12 hours at that point. Jeez! The rain didnt deter their spirits as tents were pulled out and umbrellas were opened. The crowd however didnt budge. I wouldve been there for sure if I were a Londoner 😉 But am not, so I quietly checked out the fringes of the Square. The National museum along the square is a breeze. One of those grim yet artsy buildings in the area. Tate Modern was missed this time around. But there has to be something for the next time right?! Oh yes, also we donated quite an exorbitant sum for a perfectly pathetic umbrella on Trafalgar square. The stubborn thing wont open or close even today. Ive kept it, as a reminder of being fleeced in London town. 😛
Tons of museums, parks and glorious buildings testify of Englands gleaming history. There is so much for those interested in the past as there is for those who are interested in the future. Along the Thames and to the newer part of London we bumped into Bond Street, the Ghirkin,(for the non-architects, its the building by Sir Norman foster, its a nickname), Elm Street and so much more. At this point I have to say that Lord Norman Foster is my favorite starchitect, of them all. So back to my pount if youve read of its streets, London becomes truly a fantasy. And if not, then well it stirs your imagination. The city is very charming and can work its charm on you whatever your taste is. My dear Husband for instance is charmed by the London Stock Exchange, and to my joy the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. All by the Thames.
The next very predictable stop is the Madame Tussauds museum. Let me tell you that not all the wax figures are akin to the people but its so much fun to have a glimpse of people who have left an indelible mark in the world. The Indian celebrities, Albert Einstein, Audrey Hepburn and Tom Cruise were to my liking. Ooh yes and Adolf Hitler. I have proof of repremanding him. He was so stunned that he didnt even blink an eye-lid :P. Lady Gaga I thought found her way into the museum so very soon! What was truly heart-beat stopping in the Madame Tussauds was the Scary House. It was pretty scary. Faint of heart my advice, dont even try it!!! And the dare-devils, go alone!
So after the scare, it was time for food. And we headed to London’s version of our cold storage. And then gorged on cheese sandwiches, pickled to perfection. The tarts and scrunches were only gladdly added on. Stocking up our reserves made us ready to hit the town again.
London, like it or not will easily grow on you. Its charm is irresistable. Wouldnt it be lovely, to spend a little chunk of a breezy existance, even on holiday in this classic city? Audrey Hepburn certainly thinks so. The tea-drinkers will find their taste, the shoppers will find their stores, the architects will find their buildings, the foot-ballers their teams, the readers will find their literature. In short London is certainly worth everyone’s salt.
And you can take my word for it.
Am for one not turning my back on, “theres always a next time” here.
There will be. 😉