Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Visiting London 4

After visiting museums, monuments, churches we were somewhat tired already, so took the tube to Picadilly Circus, another iconic place, and hung there. Then we decided on some shopping on Oxford Street.

I was looking for a big supermarket, but people in small stores didn't know of any. There is a Mark and Spencer but it is not a grocery but more of a department store. We used to have one in Montreal and I enjoyed shopping there. anyway we had fun seeing various stores and buying some souvenirs.

There was a lot of construction and crowds at the tube station were unbearable.

Then we returned to our hotel and decided to go to  Granary Square, not far from our hotel, and on a channel to relax. When we passed it I have seen a sign for a big Waitrose store, finally we fund a supermarket. I was curious to see food choices and if we could buy something from there to bring back home. What a surprise, almost all their products were the same as back home. I bought some mushy peas, which I didn't see home and baked beans, not the same as back home.

Tesco had actually more exotic items for us. We passed by the tube station and recovered remaining money from our Oyster cards, from a machine and in little change. Oh boy, 46 pounds. I tried to exchange at one of the stores, but they wanted us to buy something. We found a change office with best change rate and got it in Canadian dollars. Then back to our room for packing, our Eurostar to Paris was early next morning.

London visit was pleasant, but we will return one day to visit more. Food-wise it was better than expected, everything was good, although doesn't compare to France, and of course for us all was expensive because of exchange rate, but we have got a taste of London. I wouldn't live there I think because of so many crowds and buses some days just unable to run. It is a big city with several problems, but for visiting it was nice.

In the morning we checked out and just walked to St Pancras where we went through Security and Customs. Everything went well, except one mad woman who was rushing everyone and went with families and mixed up her family bags. She was really impatient, her husband and daughter didn't talk. Finally she was returned back as she forgot one bag. We like keeping our stuff together and go through detectors one after the other, so we don't leave our bags unattended. All other people were rather quiet.
A very polite man even helped us with our bags up to the train.

Visiting London 3

Next we took a red bus to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

Walked around the Tower, there were may people walking and the fast foods around were full. The weather was nice for pictures and walking. Then on the bridge, there is a tourist information office. The views were lovely. From there it was possible to see also modern London buildings which are spectacular.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Visiting London 2

In the morning we decided on O'Neil's for our breakfast and so we walked there. St-Pancras station building is really spectacular and looks like a red castle.

We chose a big keg as our table and since nobody came to take our order, people at the neighbor table told us to go and order at the bar.

Our son and I went for breakfast in buns: egg and bacon, which was delicious.

 My husband decided on small breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, triangle potatoes, toasts, grilled tomatoe and baked beans. Coffee was free to refill, more in big cups like back home, but not great. He didn't like the sausage at first but then it was ok. You get used to it apparently.

After such big breakfast we decided to take the bus 91 to Trafalgar Square, then walked to St-James park. We arrived too early for Horse Guards change, so we could walk and appreciate the park.

We walked through the park to Buckingham Palace, where crowds started gathering in advance.

My favorite view of the palace was from the park without crowds surrounding it.

After a couple of pictures, we walked back to Horse Guards Parade at the other end of the park. Really, the Parade was much nicer and with much fewer visitors, than crowds at the Palace. We were close to them. The ceremony took 30 minutes with most of the time just waiting between the guard changes.

We then had enough time to walk back to Buckingham Palace and to see the Guards leaving with orchestra and it made us nice pictures. Once the crowds had thinned we approached for pictures.

We then decided to walk to Laughing Hallibut for fish and chips lunch, and we walked through Victoria station neighborhood, which I found t be very modern. When we arrived my husband decided on best fish and chips and our son decided on a kebab right in front.

Fish and chips were good, but we had to return as no sauce was provided, but we could buy a kraft type of mayonnaise or sauce packaged, very disappointing with such good fish and chips although a bit bland by itself.

We then decided on taking a bus to St Paul's, and after that to Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

St Paul's was spectacular and I could use my printed vouchers with my National Rail tickets purchased on line and retrieved on arrival from a machine at Kings Cross station. The woman before us argued for a while, but she didn't have the right train tickets to qualify for the 2for1.

The Cathedral is spectacular, we walked around, then took the stairs to the next level which was quite high. Whisper level. My husband and son walked up to the highest level and to the roof, and I could appreciate people were whispering, but the acoustics made it everyone to hear, very amusing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Visiting London 1

On our first afternoon we could visit the Big Ben and see Westminster Abbey. The Weather was cloudy and there were some gatherings at the Westminster Abbey, so we just walked around a bit and back to Trafalgar Square to our bus. It was exciting for our first visit in London.

We really started to appreciate our hotel, especially the location and easy transportation. the beds were comfortable and bathroom a good size. It was surrounded by stores and restaurants. We forgot an adapter and could purchase one at good price from a close by electronic store.

Next morning we woke up to a rainy day and I had to adjust our itinerary. We decided to go to the RAF museum. After a quick breakfast at the McDonald on the corner, we took the tube to Swiss cottage, then a bus 113 to Hendon center, and then the bus 186 to Heritage Avenue, which was very close to the museum. We arrived before museum opening and waited about 10 minutes with other visitors, then in we went as they had opened at 10AM.

The museum is big and was interesting to visit, although it doesn't compare to Le Bourget  museum North of Paris (nothing compares to it really). I found interesting they had included some Canadian aviation history as well in the RAF museum. It was bigger than the aviation museum in Ottawa, but the Ottawa one is also a good museum. We spent our morning there and then took the bus back to Hendon Center where we had lunch at a Subway.

The choice of subs were different from Montreal. my Italian sub which I requested all dressed was good but they also included some corn and carrots, very strange mix to the rest of ingredients. Back home when we order all dressed, I don't expect everything in store, but each sub has a specific filling. Well, this is London I guess.

While we were having our lunch the weather has improved and we decided to take the bus 113 to the teminus, Marble Arch, to see more of London. Some patches were really typical English but many were so similar to Montreal, which is a mix of some older and modern architecture.

We crossed most popular shopping areas in Oxford Circus and neighbor streets. We walked a bit to Hyde Park, then decided to take the tube back to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in good weather for walking and pictures. More gatherings around the Abbey and they even closed the street for Parliamentarians to cross the street to the abbey for commemorations of a recently killed member.
We just stayed away, as I don't like big crowds. But Big Ben was really nice and so was the Parliament building. we walked across the bridge for nice views, and just soaked up nice weather and atmosphere before going back to our bus then picked up big buns from Ribman at the Euston station, right across from the bus stop.

My husband also had some sauerkraut, which was not as good as expected. Our son didn't like the bread, but the meat was delicious.