London

London – 2 great visits long ago

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To see “London is the kindliest town in the world. If you doubt it try this: put yourself in a corner with a map in your hand and looking lost, and someone will come at once to help you.”

I read this pearl in a touristic prospect in Barcelona, and didn’t believe, but remembered it years later, when I couldn’t find the Ashley Gardens in London, and made a test.

It worked, do you believe?​

Are the English really so predictable? How can you explain that hours later I almost was arrested by standing upon a wall close to Buckingham Palace, watching the changing of the guard, amidst at least other 20 people? Am I that ugly?
Well, London is always captivating, and I went back years later and will again each time I can.

Trafalgar Square

London
London - 2 great visits long ago

The heart of London, Trafalgar square is a wide and harmonious square, where everybody meets, to make a short break, and prepare the next stage, under Nelson’s supervision from the top of his column. To Piccadilly or from Piccadilly?

Address: Trafalgar Square, WC2

Directions: Charing Cross or Leicester Square tubes

Website: Trafalgar square

​Tower of London

London
London - 2 great visits long ago

In the old days, this building should impress by its size and strength. Nowadays, surrounded by the high monsters of modernity, it is only an historic curiosity. It surely deserves a visit, and inside, you will feel back that sensation of power and domination.

​The only thing that may become boring is the long visit to the huge collection of weapons, most of them so similar that you feel like being in a armory instead of a museum. Maybe that’s the idea…

​Beefeaters

London
London - 2 great visits long ago

One of the attractions in the Tower of London are the Yeoman Warders, usually called Beefeaters.

​Once a guardian force to take care of prisoners and guard the crown jewels, they are, today, a sort of guide or public relations, always available to a smile or the mandatory picture.

​London Parks

London
London - 2 great visits long ago

Watching the children walking in the park, I remembered an impressive image of my first visit to London: In Hide Park, a small aperture in the clouds provided a tiny spot of sun in the lawn. There, more than 30 deck chairs, were occupied by British (I presume), enjoying the sun. As the clouds slowly moved, the chairs hit by the shade were moved to the other bottom, assuring some more minutes of sun. Thus, the pack was slowly advancing along the park, always in the sun, and always with someone walking to move his chair. Nothing special, you say. But that was the first time I deeply appreciated the Portuguese sun.

​Hide Park

London
London - 2 great visits long ago

Taking advantage of the wet weather, London shines with excellent parks.

​Hide park is a world, where several experiences may be lived, from the calm of people relaxing under the furtive sun, to the free assemblies in its corner.

​Tower Bridge

London
London - 2 great visits long ago

Tower Bridge is one of London’s best known landmarks for more than 100 years.

The middle of the bridge can be raised to allow the boats to pass, what nowadays happens less than once a day. From the top there is a great view on the centre of London, with a display with the story of the bridge, and the original mechanism used to raise the bridge, however, the entrance is not cheap. (Actually closed… it seems)

Address: Tower Bridge Road, EC3/SE1

​Parliament

London
London - 2 great visits long ago

Do you really expect that I write something about the parliament Houses and Big Ben? What for?

​Even if you have never been there you risk to know more than me, such is the popularity of them. At least from outside, the only sight that I had.

Address: Parliament Square, SW1

Website: Parliament

​Changing of the guards

London
London - 2 great visits long ago

It is a “must see” in London the changing of the guards, in the royal palace.

​Many hundred people compress against the grids, to see a show that, in the palace’s yard, has not much to see. Part of the changing, daily at 11.00, the other each two days, at 11.30, the show is mainly in the surrounding avenues, with the parade of troops and bands to and from the ceremony.

Let me tell you a story that defines English (and ashamed me):​

I was in Whitehall and saw a band, with the big black hat, coming down the avenue. I stepped forward into the avenue and inclined myself framing the scene, waiting for the band to approach enough to fill the picture. 

​​When I finished I looked back, and shame on me: three lines of cars were stopped behind me, the crazy guy who forgot that in England traffic is by the left hand. All London waiting for my picture, without honking or any other sign of impatience.

London
London - 2 great visits long ago

I visited the National Art Gallery in 1971. After that, with the kids, some other museums seem preferable. However, I remember the quality of the collection, and specially, my friend João with an open mouth in front of a Giotto’s painting, from the 14th century.

Address: Trafalgar Square, WC2

Phone: 0 20 7747 2885

Website: National art

Natural History Museum

London

Dinosaurs and more

That’s one of the museums that children adored. They didn’t notice the imposing building (I did) but the exhibition was extremely attractive. The trend were dinosaurs, well documented there. After the disappointment of dinosaur’s parade in Disney World, the comfort of the authenticity.

Address: Cromwell Road, SW7

Directions: South Kensington tube

Website: Natural history

Vitoria and Albert Museum

Bornholm

Why did Ali Baba come to my mind?

I may be unfair, but I felt really uncomfortable in Victoria and Albert Museum. I felt that the display had too many pieces, somehow mixed, resembling more a receptor’s warehouse than the proud exhibition of respected pieces of art. It was a quick visit, but that was the strongest sensation.

Address: Cromwell Road, SW7

Directions: South Kensington tube

Website: Vitoria and Albert

Positive impression De Salis Hotel

Hotel De Salis at Stansted
Hotel at Stansted

I know that Stansted is far from London, but with the increase of low cost flights, it is becoming an important airport serving London. Coming from Newcastle, with Easyjet, we had to stay for the night, waiting for the morning connection to Portugal with Ryanair. This hotel worked fine. Close to the airport it is only a “to sleep” place, not too priced. Leaving to the airport at 5AM they gently provided a breakfast in the room, and the shuttle was punctual. From the airport you may pick a taxi (we did) or call the hotel for a paid pickup.

Price Comparison: less expensive than average

Site: De Salis

Personal memories Madame Tussaud – Easy fun

Madame Tussaud
Madame Tussaud

With kids, it had to be seen, but we found nothing new in the known quality of those wax figures reproducing famous persons. And everybody taking pictures with one of their idols. The less noticed point is the imagination of some common figures that allow a slightly different amusement. Like that gentleman interested in a child’s Portuguese story, or the lady that felt asleep in the middle of it.

Address: Marylebone Road, NW1

Directions: Baker Street tube

Harrods

Harrods
Harrods

Travelling with women, three “monuments” are mandatory in London – Oxford street, Marks and Spencer and Harrods. I visited all of them (of course!) but my favorite is this one – beautiful, with nice collections, but… expensive, shortening the time (and cost) of the visit. Very good, indeed!

Address: 87–135 Brompton Road

Directions: Knightsbridge adjaent to Knightsbridge Underground Station (Piccadilly Line.

Theme: Department Store

Website: Harrods

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