Monday, April 11, 2011

My Top 5 'things-to-do' in London

In true guidebook style, here's the list (in no particular order):

5) Ice Skating at Somerset House: In a moment of total lunacy I signed up for ice skating. Not only did I suffer intense physical pain and public humiliation, I paid good money for it. I also had to face the ignominy of watching perfectly formed men and women gracefully gliding around the rink. Seriously, who are these people!!

But you know what? It was insanely fun. Falling on my backside, bringing down some others in the process and clinging desperately to the wooden balustrade turned out to be a great way to ring in the new year. In addition, should Laughing Boy, Cheesy Girl or the Pimp ever assume public office, I will have some very incriminating pictures to blackmail them with ;)

The ice looks pretty doesn't it?
Wait till you fall on it

4) Visit Spitalfields Market: The last thing I thought I would do in England was go to a flea market. After all this was the land of Harrods, Bond Street and all things fashionable and pricey. This little market ended up having way more character than all those shops put together. There is a universal pleasure to be derived from  a good bargain. You can pick up vintage Beatles records, quirky t-shirts, beautiful jewelery and  even some great furniture.

Unfortunately, budgetary constraints meant that I merely browsed through all the wares, picked up some coffee and headed to the nearby Brick Lane.

3) Watch an EPL match: Growing up, I learnt a lot about England. Children's literature was, and I believe still is, dominated by the English. Enid Blyton, P.G. Wodehous and Agatha Christie always portrayed the English as a reserved, polite and incredibly restrained people. Clearly, none of these authors witnessed a live football match. 

60 year old grandmothers cursing a storm, precocious 8 year olds trashing England's most famous footballer and delusional men trying to communicate with the players through wild hand gestures: the atmosphere was electric. A great match and some lovely post-match burgers rounded up a wonderful evening. Spending 2 hours with a horde of mercurial football fans will surely show you a whole new side to England.

Yes, we were part of this mad crowd

2) Take a walk through the Greenwich Gardens: On a last minute impulse, I decided to visit Greenwich and it  reaffirmed my faith in impulse decisions. I was completely blown away by the gorgeous gardens in the middle of winter. I took a long relaxing walk around these magnificent gardens and this remains one of my fondest memories of the trip. Definitely better than the more famous Hyde and Kensington Parks. Greenwich also contains the Queen's House, it's creepy spiral staircase, a surprisingly enjoyable maritime museum and the Painted Hall.

The reason I initially wanted to visit Greenwich was because of the Metro station's name: Cutty Sark on Maritime Greenwich. My fascination with English names is boundless. I made a torturous 65 minute train journey so that I could have the satisfaction of having visited Harrow on the Hill. Sigh!  

1) Visit St. Paul's Cathedral: I know this is super cliche-d and a guidebook favourite but there's a reason. Christopher Wren's labour-of-love is indescribable. This striking marble dome against the grey-concrete skyline of London is especially beautiful at night. Take a few steps back and view this monument from the nearby bridge. I plonked myself on the bridge and spent a good fifteen minutes impeding pedestrian traffic, just to take the view in.

St. Paul's during the Blitz

It's not just a pretty package: there's a beautiful chapel inside. Huff and puff up the stairs and you can visit the famous Whispering Gallery and take in the views from the outer balconies. The Gallery view was a little bit of a letdown. Not as great as I thought it would be. At nearly 12 pounds, entering St. Paul's is fairly expensive

If you are in London for a quick visit, I highly recommend the Sandeman's walking tour: Cheap, fun and rooomba informative.

I had a ridiculously fun time in London and I am sincerely hoping that there are going to be many more follow up visits. Even a job maybe? If you hear of any opening for a food and travel writer in London: email me ASAP.

A HUGE shout out to KK, Shan, A-ditty, Badri, Suchi, Mahesh, Anita, Kavita and Geeta. Thanks for everything. Muah!

Haven't read my earlier England posts?? Click here


Madhu Nair said...

Nice pics ... loved the PM shot of St Paul's!

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Unknown said...

Great blog Keep updating I’ll visit soon…

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