London 2012

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London. I always wanted to go to London. Not to make fun of the guards, or ride in double-deck buses, but rather to judge it for myself. The thing is, I have met many people who love the city. I also have met many people who hate the city. So when the chance presented itself, I was on the cheap RyanAir to Stansted airport. And since my Stan was kind enough to buy us online bus tickets, the total cost of travel from Bremen turned out to be around 50 euros.

And now I see the reasons why people love and hate this city. On the one hand, it is such a multicultural city. During the week I was there, I had American, Thai, Japanese, Lebanese, Syrian, British and Pakistani food. 🙂

Other things not to like include the very fast paced lifestyle: People just walking around really fast, talking on cell phones, not waiting to enjoy the moment, just oblivious to their surroundings. But then again, some people might like that… And yeah, it has Imperial Units… (DISAPPOINTED).

And its expensive. It really is. But it has a lot of free stuff as well, which I really enjoyed. Actually the very first day, I mostly did free stuff. After the bus from the airport dropped me off at Baker Street, I went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Although not free, the 6 pound entry is pretty reasonable for avid Sherlock Holmes fans. The museum is the house of Sherlock Holmes, replicated from the stories, and has different “souvenirs” from his many adventures. Having watched movies, tv-series, and having read a couple of books, I knew about 40 % of the stories from which different objects were on display. But if you only have watched the movie, then it is not worth it. Might as well just look at my pictures and be happy.

From there I went to Regent Park, and then Lords Cricket Ground, and onward to British Museum. The park was really well maintained, considering it was January, but all the people I saw were either playing sports, or jogging. No-one was just sitting around. I was later told that you have to pay money to sit around, but dunno if it is actually correct.

The British museum was awesome. It is free, and it is not actually bad at all. And given I went in only to use the toilet, and ended up exploring the Roman and Egyptian sections should tell you, that it is actually good… if you are into history. I also realised something while I was going through the Roman section. The stories I remember are not the ones I read in books, but ones I saw in ROME tv series. TV isn’t all bad.

It was around this time I first used the public transport system. They have a system similar to one I saw in Amsterdam, where you have a card which you use to check yourself in and out of the vehicle. For a journey inside the tube, this works pretty well since you can change as much as you like, but for buses, this turns out to be quite expensive since you pay each time you enter the bus. It is called oyster card, and I would recommend getting a weekly pass. Definitely worth it.

The next day I went to what I found to be the coolest part of London. The House of Parliament and the Big Ben area. I also went on the Millennium Eye to get amazing views of the city. For 18 pounds, you get a “4D Experience” which was pretty cool, and then a 30 mins or so ride. Worth the money.

I also had amazing fish and chips the same day at a cafe next to Trafalgar square (“The Lord Moon of the Mall”). The food was really good and not too expensive. The only catch is that you go to the bar to order food.

Other touristy places I went to were the Tower of London, where they offer free tours around the clock. The tour was very interesting. I think I took the one about the bloody history of the tower.

If you want something not soo touristy, then might be worth going to Greenwich park. This is quite a journey to go there, but on the way back, I used a ferry to till the Millennium Eye. I also managed to use my oyster card to get a discount :). They have a museum at the GMT line, which I did not go to, but the park itself was pretty chilled.

I also was lucky enough to be there during the Chinese new year celebrations, however, that ended up being a disappointment. I had watched the YouTube video of London new year fireworks one day earlier, and expected something similar from the Chinese new year fireworks, but they were a BIGGGGG let-down.

The National Gallery at the Trafalgar square, where the Chinese new year celebrations were held, was much better and offered more entertainment (it has a Da Vinci exhibition there). Actually the whole area towards the North-East of the square is pretty cool. It was also there that I watched Shrek – The Musical, which was really good. Definite recommendation. Though, if you have seen the movie, don’t go expecting an alternative story. You will still get the same dialogues about onions having layers. 🙂

Speaking of onions, one of my favorite place was Borough Market. They had many local vendors selling fresh food there. I had falafel sandwich, humus, fish sandwich, olives, different breads and mustards and a few other goodies (a lot of which were free samples); all very delicious. It is one place I will definitely be going back to.

And I will certainly go back to London. Mostly, because of my friends there, but also because there is just soo much more to see in the city. And untill I have seen more, I will reserve my judgement over whether I like the city or not. 🙂

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