United Kingdom
Greater London

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  • Day2

    Sleepwalking through London

    December 15, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    We’d arrived! 26hrs later and 6am on the dot. London Baby!
    Gatwick airport was very quite on a brisk early Sunday morning. Our tired, red-eyed faces were graced with the fresh, brisk air of London’s winter as we downed our long desired coffees and set on off to navigate the intrinsic railway network of London.
    We managed to make the 40 minute express train ride into London Victoria station without any qualms. Passing all the quaint terraces homes and small towns outside London
    We purchases our unlimited underground railway passes for the week’s adventures and after taking several wrong turns with our massive winter packed suitcase in tow, we finally managed to find our way to the correct train, next stop; Earl’s Court, our home for the next 7 days.

    Earl’s Court is a stunning suburb just south of Kensington, full of incredible old terrace mansions, now operating as various hotels and bed & breakfasts. From the moment we walked out of the station we were taken in by this place. As we lugged our monster suitcases to a little luggage storage place near our Airbnb, we couldn’t wait to get out and explore this place. We had a few hours to kill before our little apartment was ready so with excited/quite exhausted spirits we set off on foot towards Hyde park.

    After dreading the prior weather forecast of rain, London really turned it on for us with sunshine and clear skies. We strolled through the surprisingly massive Hyde park, from one end to the other. What better way to stretch out the legs after more than 24 hours of travelling.
    We were taken away by the beauty of Hyde park. Even in Winter with it’s bare trees it was quite stunning. We managed the lengthy walk to the other side where we discovered London’s Winter Wonderland. This picturesque winter show was something to behold. Smells of delicious BBQ mixed with fresh cinnamon donuts assaulted our noses as we wandered the many stores serving up delicious food & drinks. We started off with a steaming hot cup of spiced mulled wine which warmed your entire body before moving on to shishkebabs, German sausages and hot Nutella crepes. We mossed on out of the wonderland going against the crowds and crowds of people heading in for their Sunday afternoon. With our Airbnb still not quite ready we set of to tick more major tourist hotspots. This one was a big one, Buckingham Palace.

    We weren’t really expecting to head here on day 1, tired and sleep walking, but we were in the area so why not?
    Buckingham palace is one of those places we thought we’d seen lot of after binging the entire 3rd season of The Crown, but it’s sheer size when you actually walk up to it’s front gate is pretty impressive. Jo was in her element! We snapped the essential photos, waved to Lizzy and kept moving, we were craving a bit of horizontal time.
    Our Airbnb still wasn’t quite ready so it was to the classic English pub down a cobble stone side ally while we waited. Rested and refreshed we picked up our massive bags and headed to our apartment for hot showers and a chillout.
    The time difference was catching up to us and with sunset at 4:00pm it wasn’t long before we started falling like flies for bed. We were all in bed by 6:30pm an that was it. A great sunny start to our London leg of the trip!

    Asher ☺️
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  • Day5

    Guards, Bridges, & Markets. Mamma Mia!

    December 18, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    It was once again a beautiful sunny day and the changing of the guard was a pretty lavish spectacle! We got there 15 minutes early but it was absolutely packed. You would have thought Queen Lizzy was addressing the nation! Jo managed to push her way somewhat to the front, playing the short person card, however, the view was still pretty rubbish. We found it best just to watch one of the thousands of phone screens being held up in the air trying to get the shot.
    It was pretty amazing though! To think that they close roads and put on this lavish show every few days is crazy! The marching band had to be the highlight. Being able to play so well while staying in formation was incredible.

    From there we beelined for London Bridge and more importantly, Borough Markets. Borough markets are a food lovers dream! Hundreds of food stalls selling delicious cheeses, meats, chocolates, fresh produce, hot food and of course mulled wine, sangria and warmed spiced cider.

    We wandered the many stores struggling to decide on something to eat for lunch before settling on pulled pork rolls, fried chicken burgers, falafel wraps, sangria & hot spiced cider. Oh and of course jam & chocolate filled donuts to cap it off! We’re going to be twice the size when we come back!
    We sat in the shadow of a very old and grand church to feast on our purchases before going our seperate ways. James & Jess were heading to St Paul’s cathedral, we were aiming for The Tower of London. We didn’t quite make it though as our walk there took us through awesome Christmas markets and across London Tower. With our daylight running out we decided to leave The Tower of London to tomorrow. Instead we opted for the Tower Bridge walk.

    A lift took us more than 40 meters up one of the towers where we could walk across the the glass bottomed walkways to the other side. It was somewhat dizzying stepping out onto the glass and looking down, but extremely cool. The views over London and the Thames were fantastic, and the history of the Tower Bridge was really fascinating. It was really an artistic and engineering wonder for London. We toured the engine room which house the huge old steam engines which drove the bascules, splitting the bridge in two to allow for ships to pass through. Back when it was built in 1894 it was raised 10,000 times a year and required a team of 12 guys to operate it. Today its all run by electricity and only opened maybe 1000 times a year at the push of a button. How times have changed. We spent some time soaking in the history before heading back to the apartment in the dark.

    From there the plans were to go and see the musical School of Rock. James jumped on board with Jo & I and we left Jess and Hudsy to hopefully a quiet night. Even after talking to the booking people, it wasn’t long before we discovered I had mad a big mistake. Turns out the musical wasn’t even playing tonight! Spewing!
    Lucky we hadn’t travelled too far and London has about 400,000 theatres scattered across the city. No, I exaggerate, but we were lucky in that Mamma Mia was playing jsut a street away and we had time to make it! So we went from School of Rock to Mamma Mia… not a bad compromise… in fact I think Mamamia probably turned out to be the better option anyway. By the end of it they had us on our feet singing along to Dancing Queen and all those ABBA classics. We felt horrible for poor Jess when we broke the news to her we were heading to Mamma Mia instead! We resolved to telling her it was terrible if she asked.

    All in all it was yet another great day in this incredible city!

    Asher ☺️
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  • Day192

    Day in London and an Oyster malfunction

    January 9 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    Had a breakfast cuppa with Lou and Nat before they headed off to work and we headed off into London for a day of sightseeing and last minute shopping. Our flight was at 9pm from Heathrow so we had all day and we weren’t due to pick up our big bags until 4pm-5pm.
    Got the bus and then the train to Victoria Station with plans to head to the V and A museum. The Mary Quant exhibition is on but is sadly ticketed and quite pricey so we planned to do free viewing only.
    At Victoria we topped up Kate’s Oyster card, went across to the tube... and it immediately stopped working! Luckily she had the receipt to prove she had just topped up not a minute before. What ensued next was a totally British farce. After trying several times the tube staff member told us we had to go back into the main train stations were to sort it out. I had to be let back through the tube barrier as I had tapped on.
    Up to the station and explained the scenario to another staff member who insisted it just needed topping up until he also unsuccessfully tried the card reader despite us telling him repeatedly. Next we got sent to the Visitors Centre where our only options were to buy another oyster card for £5 and then call to transfer the balance over - he could not do this for us! However it would take at least 30 mins to do this so we could buy another ticket to where we wanted to go. However we were working on a capped day rate (£13.20) for multiple journeys having taken the bus and train already.
    No other option we purchased another oyster and then went to Wetherspoons ( yes I hate Wetherspoons!) as it was nearby and had free coffee refills whilst we sorted this all out.
    40 mins later with our breakfast being given to the next table, the oyster transfer was complete except the £5.10 we had already spent this am that could not be put towards the daily capped rate as planned nor could they/ would they compensate us for the inconvenience of the total hour taken out of our day.
    Off we went on our way ( I was later overcharged £7.50 for tapping on and not tapping off within the hour whilst sorting this which meant another 25 mins on the phone at the airport trying to reclaim this!!)
    Anyway we finally got to the V and A, did a bit of last minute shopping, tried unsuccessfully to sort out my travel bag with its non functioning handle ( it needs to be sent away to be assessed- not helpful when it’s full of 23 kgs of gear and can only be posted back to UK and can’t get an immediate replacement etc etc), had a coffee and then got soaking wet at the last hour before heading to the airport!
    China eastern check in was smooth and all in time and we must admit that both of us were more than ready to take off and head home for the summer sun.
    Goodbye UK
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  • Day17

    Last London day

    September 15, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Yet again it is balmy sunny weather. Londoners are in heaven enjoying it, sitting in parks and basking. And of course it is great for visitors too!

    Today Omnia was seeing more friends, and we had an arrangement to meet Kate Gorely at about midday. We love seeing her, the only Gorely who lives in London, and she had also organised for Minty and Oriana (her cousins, my cousin Susan’s daughters) to come too. Such fun. I had seen Oriana a few years ago when she was in Oz, but don’t think I’d seen Minty (Araminta) for about 20 years, when she was running a vodka bar In Soho!! So we met at Brixton, near-ish to where Kate and Oriana live, and had a leisurely light lunch in a Brixton pub, in the garden courtyard. Very pleasant, and a lovely catch up.

    Amr and I had walked from the hotel to Victoria this morning, where we caught the tube to Brixton, and coming back we got the train to Green Park and walked back from there so we have had our dose of walking for the day. Amr’s Apple Watch says we walked about 17 kms....we have to keep ready for the official walk in a week’s time!

    Now back and about to have an Indian meal with Omnia. Another really lovely day.
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  • Day13

    First full day in London

    September 11, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    It’s now Thursday morning, but it was too late to write up then. Having had a LONG sleep on Tuesday night, we felt ready to hit the town...but actually, I have to say that I did feel a bit fuzzy despite plenty of sleep. But we did quite a lot. After breakfast, which is included in our accommodation this time, we set off, walked through Hyde Park, saw there was a September 11 memorial, which was ignored even though it was today sept. 11. Nearby there was a butterfly biosphere...a tent with many species of butterflies in a very tropical tent, so we went in just for fun.

    Then we walked along, through Mayfair towards the British Museum where we spent a few hours looking at the fascinating things there. After we wandered the streets, such lovely buildings (mostly) and in passing picked up our tickets for Mamma Mia from the Novello theatre in Aldwych, (that is for Friday) and also for the concert tonight (Thursday) from St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square.

    After more wandering we actually took the underground to Knightsbridge - getting a little wearier by then - and walked to South Kensington, lots of eateries there...had a pre dinner drink at happy hour, then a pizza and salad before walking to the Royal Albert Hall for our Proms concert. Realised we were joining quite a crowd walking in the same direction...there is a real atmosphere at the prom concerts. Found our seats and enjoyed the whole spectacle. Virtually full house, with always people standing in the middle . We thought it was a concert of Bach orchestral suites - it was, but unbeknown to us there were other very short non-Bach 21st century works interspersed....(they can never have a concert there days without something new and “enlightening” it seems!)...however, this did not detract from the Bach...just lovely. It was an orchestra from Dunedin NZ (their equivalent ACO i imagine)...

    So we walked back after the concert, and decided to have our complimentary drink in the bar at the hotel (because we are such faithful silver Accor members!)...so it was almost midnight when we went to bed, and of course, having been fighting sleep during the soothing Bach at the concert, we found ourselves wide awake....

    So here we are, Thursday morning, slept in till almost 9, ready for a new day!
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  • Day14

    Another London Day

    September 12, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Tonight I’ll try writing up before going to sleep, while the day is still fresh in my mind.

    So we set off after a fairly late breakfast and took the tube to Hyde Park Corner. We can walk all this (yesterday Amr’s watch said we walked 22 kms!) but decided to save it for the later walking. So we had a very pleasant walk round St James Park, Green Park, past Buckingham Palace, looking at all the sights. Ended up in Trafalgar Square and thought we’d have a session in the National Gallery.

    This turned out to be a superb choice. For the beginning of the day I had felt annoyingly fuzzy still, but wandering through the gallery looking at the fabulous art was very soothing, and we both got a new lease of life. We efficiently worked our way through almost everything, and found it was 5.30! Without even the tired hips from museum walking! So it was perfect timing to go to nearby Leicester Square for a meal, and then back to St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square for our Bach concert.

    This was divine. I don’t think I’d ever been inside the church itself. Lovely for a concert, good acoustics. It was the London Concertante who were playing, and they played 4 Bach violin (one actually violin and oboe) concertos, and they too put in a few short non Bach “interlopers”, but they were also lovely - Telemann, Corelli, Piazzola. So a lovely day altogether, and here’s hoping we will fall asleep correctly today! (I think Amr already is!). Will include a photo of the new line in London buses - they have gone sleek and curvy!!
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  • Day12

    Arrived in London

    September 10, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Well here we are in London, and it’s Tuesday afternoon. Yesterday was a travel day, but we started out with a slightly more substantial breakfast as we knew we wouldn’t be fed on the plane till late in the afternoon. We had seen a place in the market each day which always had a long queue which we didn’t want to wait in, but they obviously did something good. So on Monday morning it was much quieter so we indulged - it’s called the eggslut!! And they do scrambled eggs, and other eggs and put them in a brioche roll....yum! Will show in photo. Then once we had to check out from the hotel, we hung round a bit in the lobby, but made our way leisurely to the airport as no time to do anything else.

    And it is nice to be early at LAX as the international terminal is always rather chaotic, especially yesterday with flights to Japan cancelled because of typhoons, British airways striking....anyway, we made it through with the very efficient Air New Zealand people and had an excellent flight, even nice food! AND such an easy entry into the UK - just put your passport in a machine and through you go - no forms, no people to question you! That is only for the good countries - people from EU countries, USA, Canada, Oz, NZ etc....but so good for us.

    So we went to the underground station, topped up our Oyster cards and made our way to our hotel near Earls Court station. This time it is an Ibis, but in an old Victorian building and again charming, not the typical rather soulless Ibis!

    We have had a walk, quite a long one, to Knightsbridge as far as Harrods, and then back via the Royal Albert Hall to pick up tickets for tomorrow’s concert. A short relax now and then a fairly early Indian meal, and off to bed, and hope we will slide easily into this time zone, because we remain at this time for the rest of our holiday - or an hour ahead in Norway, but an hour doesn’t count. All good.
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  • Day8

    Last Day, Market Day

    December 21, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Portobello Road Markets, Notting Hill… what a crazy place! Hustling and bustling with so many people, store holders yelling out there best selection of produce or latest styled hats. We wandered through, bumping shoulders left and right, soon discovering that we needed cash at most vendors. So we found an ATM, which ended up being out of order. All good, we’ll just go inside and get money out. Oh wait, it’s a 10.5% extra bank fee to withdraw cash… No worries we’ll go to that supermarket… oh they don’t do cash out? That’s all good, we’ll try another supermarket… whats that? They don’t do cash out either? ok….oh look, there’s another atm, lets try that… oh that’s out of order as well? Never mind that security guy said that that other supermarket will do cash out… Ok let’s try that. We can get cash out, yes! Oh… it won’t let us use our Australian cards?!! Ok this is getting a bit annoying, let’s keep walking. Oh let me pop my head into this supermarket and check… don’t even bother, it’s tiny! Wait what’s that in the distance?! It’s glowing light on a wall that reads ‘CASH’. Will it work? Will it not? There’s only one way to find out… Yass! It does, finally we have some pounds to purchase our big delicious market pastries with! Woooo!

    Soon the rain set in and we had to bail. We set off for Harrod’s, the super department store of London. Harrod’s was all a it much, packed tot eh rafters with hectic Christmas shoppers. Jo managed to by a few books and we got out of there. We set off on a bus aiming to do a bit of shopping before we left London for the country side tomorrow. We got a few stops away and just weren’t feeling it. Our feet were killing and we were so exhausted. So we hopped right off and got right on the Underground train heading back home. We arrived home to J,J, & H where we all just chilled out for bit before Jo & I headed to grab a drink with the local Carroll. We met Ben and his girlfriend Kate at an amazing underground wine bar for a drink and serious catch-up.We hadn’t seen Ben for several years and had never met Kate so it was so great to catch them. We chatted for a couple of hours and down a delicious bottle of red before we said our goodbyes and headed back to the apartment. It was pack up time and off to bed for an early night before we hit the road tomorrow.

    Asher ☺️
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  • Day15

    Friday in London

    September 13, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Must quickly report Friday before we go off to breakfast - now Saturday morning. It was a great day....we first had a walk around - along Piccadilly, Burlington Arcade, had a pot of tea in Fortnum’s, and ended up in Leicester square to see Downton Abbey the movie. So good!! A feel good movie that anyone who enjoyed the series would love. A continuation of events in the lives of all the people, and gorgeous visually of course. So that was lots of fun, and relaxing, and at 6 o’clock we met Omnia, who is now back in the UK, and going to spend the weekend with us here before we go back to Liverpool with her on Monday.

    So we found an amazing Basque restaurant right near the Novello theatre where we went to Mamma Mia. We had been going to have Italian yet again, but Amr spotted this place and it was absolutely fabulous!! Really special, and not madly expensive, but divine food, and really artistically presented. The only photos of this day will be food!! After that great meal we went round the corner to Mamma Mia....such fun. Full theatre of ABBA fans, and great show, energetic and happy...so altogether a feel good, happy day. Must get ready to go to breakfast!
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  • Day54

    Cornwall to Camden

    August 24, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Sad farewell to mum and Pete this morning at Truro train station as we caught the 08.37 to Paddington.
    Arrived on time after a carriage change due to a hideous, screaming child.
    We caught the Hammersmith and City line to Kings Cross/ St Pancreas and walked to our accommodation.
    After dropping our bags off we went to the British Library for a quick visit. I love Scott’s diary, opened on the page when he reached the South Pole (a bit late!!) and part of the original Magna Carta.
    We then caught the tube up to Camden Lock as Kate has never been. It’s such a cool area of London.
    Now back and watching the highlights of England vs Ireland at Twickenham which was played earlier today. Early night tonight.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Greater London, Grand Londres, Londra

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