London is a great place to visit. I would love to live there if I had big bucks and a gorgeous place to stay, but that is not an option so a visit is good enough. It is actually the fourth time I have stayed in this big city and every time I love it more and more.
We had a lovely place to stay called The Grovesnor Hotel which backed on to Victoria Station. When we booked the room the hotel was in the process of changing owners and by the time we arrived it had appeared to have had a significant makeover and we certainly benefited from it. The decor was just the most lovely Victorian English style. Very sumptuous. The doorman and the concierge were extremely charming. The breakfast room was beautiful and our actual hotel room was just perfect. One thing though, we would not be able to afford it next time as the price from when we had booked it had increased hugely for any new bookings.
Everything and everyone in London is on the move. Action stations all round. When we left the hotel each morning, we had to do a lot of ducking and weaving to catch the tube. There was one place where people would come up the stairs from the underground like lemmings and move on in a fashion that suggested they were oblivious to anyone else around them. Somehow this moving mass of people coming out from underground would avoid crowds of people on their left and right. There was an interesting weaving motion that one had to have to avoid a collision. There is a way of looking ahead to ensure you do not miss the turn off to the correct platform. You also have to be rather quick as the crowd kind of determines the speed of the human traffic.
So there you are, getting out the ticket, looking ahead, weaving, walking and watching. Reading signs to point you to the right direction. Turning around to make sure you have not lost anyone you were with. All in a matter of seconds before you are down the escalators, keeping to the right.
I am sure a lot of people who use the Tube everyday have a lot of negative things to say about it. To a tourist it is the most fascinating mode of transport one could travel on. The history of the Tube is fantastic and if you go to London you would have to include a visit to the London Transport Museum to get the overall picture of the complex system of the Tube network. Considering that it has been an ongoing process for over one hundred years, it is fairly impressive. What I find interesting is that there are many disused Tube stations that have been just shut down for a number of reasons. Yet they still exist in this no man's land.
I like the combination of old and new that you see when going on the London Underground. People have been coming and going for decades and it all happens without us really thinking how, just being grateful that it generally works.
The down side of the Tube is the serious lack of space in the train itself. The photo I took below was on a Sunday. Any other day was packed with people. When those train doors opened people would stand back and let passengers disembark before they themselves alighted. It was almost bedlam. Then to stand there like sardines in that warm and smelly place was quite unpleasant. I cannot imagine how awful it would be in Summer with bare armpits being on show one inch from your face.
S found the whole process of getting on the train quite stressful. The crowds annoyed him and it was a constant peeve that he kept missing out on getting a seat on the train itself. On the last day, however, he took matters into his own hands. As the train stopped at the station, he pushed past everyone (including the people exiting) and got himself a seat. He then stretched his legs over two extra seats for K and myself. When I sat down I asked him what brought that on. He just said he had to get a seat and no one was going to stop him. Well done dude!
On one day in London we went and visited the HMS Belfast. This is definitely a visit for the boys - and me of course. But I think boys just love ships and love exploring all the ins and outs of any vessel. I like the mock set ups they have on the ship. This was enhanced by great sound effects. I think it just adds to the authenticity of the display.
Both K and I had been on the Belfast on previous trips but it was quite different this time around as we were part of a child's perspective on it.
We spent some time in Trafalgar Square where there was some pigeon interaction. The one on my son's head had been on my arm only seconds beforehand. I do like birds but all I could think of was "prospective bird poo" might happen.
One time when I went to Trafalgar Square it was sunny and people were everywhere, their brightly coloured summer clothes were a beautiful foil against the grey of the stone. In the cold weather I felt as grey as the buildings all around me. I know I wore a lot of darker colours and wondered why people tend to do that. Seriously joyless colours that absorb any light around you. It would make sense to wear lovely oranges and reds in cold weather. In fact, I shall go out of my way this Winter (tomorrow) to find a nice orange or bright green wintry article of clothing just to brighten it up a bit.
One of the places that we could not wait to show S was the Tower of London. I thought he would love the armoury, the chopping block, the military museums and the gloomy rooms that told even more gloomy stories. Unfortunately S did not feel quite the same way. Or more honestly, he had a shorter attention span than we had when we first saw it. And fair enough.
After about 1.5 hours he said he was bored. We managed to get a bit more time out of him before finally leaving the stony walls.