“The London fog”- guide to the British capital. Part I

“Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollution of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. (…) Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper (…). Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all around them (…). 

~”Bleak House”, Charles Dickens

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So surrounded by that special London weather; weather so symbolic, that you can find in every book, in every movie, you read or watch; surrounded by rain and fog I stand on the Millenium Bridge, with St. Paul’s Cathedral, looking over the buildings on my left and the great Tower Bridge in front of me, trying to set my camera on that special “London mode”, to catch the atmosphere, that amazing feeling inside of me.

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When you’re in London, you are part of the book, Victorian story. You see people in Victorian clothes around you, getting in or out the Hansom Cab, you see prostitutes in every little street, travellers on horses entering the city gate, you hear news about a new victim of Jack the Ripper. London is a place where your imagination gives you new pictures over and over. (That’s not only my idea, I actually heard people say the same thing)

And no matter what time of year you’ll go, if it will be early or late winter, spring or summer, fog and rain we’ll find you, maybe it will be one day, maybe two, maybe the whole stay. But you can’t tell you visited London if you’ve never experienced its fog. Some may say it’s a little depressing, or that destroys their vacation, but this is part of London’s atmosphere and my advice- if rain and fog make you angry, better don’t go to England.

Speaking of typical things for London, yes, red double-deckers and telephones are real.

 

But if you’ll decide to visit my personal favourite Europe capitol, maybe some of my experience will be useful for you.

In this part I want to take a closer look at THAMES ATTRACTIONS 

One of the great British actors- Martin Freeman said: “You absorb 2,000 years of history just by being near the Thames”.

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What you should know is that until World War II, the river was the border between rich and poor London, with Strand, newspaper district and Court on the north bank, and the smoky factories on the south.

[If you like walking I propose you to walk along the river, checking the most famous monuments. It’s a great way to get to know the river]

And this is my plan- I’m gonna take you for a walk from west to east, looking at the most important part of Thames river.

Starting in Westminster, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in London, walking next to, I think, the most famous symbol of London- Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. If you didn’t know that, you may be surprised (like me) that famous Big Ben isn’t a name of the tower that rises over the Parliament, but it’s a name of the 14-ton bell. Wait for the full hour to listen to its beautiful sound.

[update: 2017 is a sad year for Londoners and London visitors- in August they could hear the last bong of the bell, before it fell silent for next four years, due to expensive restoration of Elisabeth Tower]

The tower itself is called Elisabeth Tower and was built in the 19th century..

 

 

 

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Leaving Big Ben behind us, we cross huge, wide Westminster Bridge, which gives us an amazing view for our next famous attraction, the London Eye, (built in 2000) which is shining with great colours during the night. What I’ve heard is the ride takes around 1,5 hour, so if you’re an anxious person, like myself, maybe it’s not an attraction for you.

 

 

 

But right next to the London Eye there are two other places that may interest you. London Aquarium and my personal favourite The London Dungeon (some may have heard about The Amsterdam Dungeon or The Berlin Dungeon too, but considering London’s dark history I think the London’s version is much more recommended).
The place takes you years to the past, to the stories of kings and queens; to the dark dungeons of Tower of London; to the times of most famous legends of London, like Jack the Ripper or Sweeney Todd, all of it accompanied by great actors and amazing decorations.
But shh, I don’t want to destroy a surprise.

 

 

 

TIP: if you’ll decide to visit any of those bigger attractions like the London Eye, Aquarium, Dungeon, Madame Tussauds etc. better buy tickets on the internet in advance. It’s usually cheaper and it cuts, at least a little, the time you will spend in the line. 

Then let’s cross the river with the Waterloo Bridge and follow nice sidewalk along the river, checking on our way places like Cleopatra’s Needle, made in ancient Egypt, brought to London from Alexandria by Sir Wilson in 19th Century (I had a whole lecture about it, but I promise I’ll try to not bore you with those little archaeological facts!), Savoy Hotel, which is situated on the site of medieval palace, or if the weather is nice enough eat a lunch in the gardens of the Temple and the Inns of Court.

 

 

 

Walk, until you’ll see a bridge that you cannot ignore, much different than others, much newer Millenium Bridge, surrounded by two special buildings- with St. Paul’s Cathedral on north and Tate Modern on the south. Tate Modern is really easy to recognize because of its look that reminds me fist with “f**k you” gesture. But it’s only my conclusion, Tate Modern is a perfect place for modern art enthusiasts.

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After crossing the bridge to the South Bank, you’ll find yourself at the beginning of my favourite parts of London. To be honest, I take everybody for the walk there, whenever I have a chance, my family and BF were forced to do that walk with me too. It starts usually with a nice music playing by some street musicians, putting you ina mood.
The walk is easy, although it leaves the river boulevard for a little bit, it gets back giving you some of the most spectacular sights (especially if you go there at dawn or by dark), but hey, let’s cross that bridge, he he, when we get there.

So the South Bank walk starts with something that even “silly” Americans can recognise- The Globe, world-famous Shakspeare theatre, with its thatched roof.

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Later you’ll get to some interesting archaeological excavation and weird looking (since it’s standing in a dry dock, between the buildings) modern replica of the Golden Hind, English Gallon, Sir Francis Drake’s ship, voyaging on the oceans in 16th Century.

 

Then you’ll pass some attractions for thrill seekers- The London Bridge Experience and the Prison Museum (which gives a wonderful dark scenery, located under the bridge, especially when it’s dark). I’ve never been to the Prison Museum, but I tried both The London Dungeon and The London Bridge Experience, and I have to see, if you have money only for one, definitely go to the London Dungeon.

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Eat some roasted peanuts! They’re part of the atmosphere too.

Here’s the point where we sadly leave the Thame for couple minutes, but when we get back first we’ll see a beautiful Hay’s Galleria, with a high glass roof and a weird sculpture in the middle, then a scary looking WWII destroyer HMS Belfast and then to our one of the most stunning views will appear in front of us- The Tower Bridge, with rushing cars and Double Deckers, making it the most recognisable English icon.

 

So we enter the bridge, passing The City Hall on our right, get to the middle of it and we have London in front of us, the bridges, old and new buildings, churches and cathedrals. That’s the place where London finds its way to your heart, with its individual vibe and its unique atmosphere. 

The last thing we’re gonna pass on our walk, famous Tower of London, with Royal Jewels hidden in its walls. If you’re not planning to go inside, at least see it from the outside. Especially check out the Traitors’ Gate, that was used to bring in many famous prisoners, among them Thomas More and maybe even Anne Boleyn.

 

TIPS:
*when you buy a week travelcard you can travel by every bus in the city, that’s why to save some money buy ticket for underground in zones 2-4 and travel by buses in the city centre, it takes a little longer, but travelling with red double-deckers is almost like a sight-seeing trip; it’s also worth getting an Oyster card, because of the capping that happens when you travel a lot (e.g. for buses the daily cap is 4,50 pound)

*be aware of last underground train, if there’s no bus in your area (or at least you don’t know about any)- you don’t want to spend money on cab, especially it can be hard you don’t know your address 😉

*bring an umbrella; I think that doesn’t need an explanation

*if you’re a traveller from outside of UK (and that’s not only for London but also other parts of the country)- because of the weird tax rules take away food is very often twice cheaper than sit in in the restaurant; that’s why if you want to save money (and don’t want to cook) take food away, or I recommend checking out Pret-a-Manger, they have really good and pretty healthy food and you’ll fit in less than 5 pounds per person.

 

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Like whole box of delicious Chinese food from Chinatown for 5 pounds

 

*watch people; again I heard a lot of people saying London is a collection of different people, with different cultures and languages, and they are a part of what makes London what it is; make sure you get some time to see it

*and the last important tip: don’t kill yourself with all the attractions, give it time, leave something for the next time, because London is huge and has really a looot to offer- hell yeah, I even divided the post about it into 3 parts, that’s a proof….

P.S.: I tried to write that post for almost a year, but this year visit to London finally pushed me to finish it. And it’s amazing sometimes to go back to some places and look back. Well, a lot has changed since then. 

 


Thanks for getting to the end, I hope information a gave will be useful!

If you have any questions or feedback, shoot me a message below.

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America’s National Parks: Yellowstone

America’s National Parks: Yellowstone

So.. One very important thing to know about Yellowstone and all its surroundings: even though it seems close- it’s not. The sign says 20 miles, you think “awesome, we’ll get there in 20 minutes!”, no, you won’t. Because you’ll pass traffic, animals, people, more animals, more people and a whole 20-miles trip will become a one hour trip.

Also remember, when traveling by car in Yellowstone, or other parts of Wyoming: have enough gas. What is enough, you ask? Well, try to not go below half of the tank. On our trip, we got to an empty road, straight from King’s horror books, and have been driving for 2 hours,  without seeing any gas station, with our gas control getting awfully close to “empty”. That’s the moment when you really know what fear is. And I was told that wasn’t even half as long as it can be in Wyoming.

 

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We had a nice sunset on the road though

 

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America’s National Parks part 2: Grand Tetons

Hello friends!

After a long break it’s me again! This time very ambitious and encouraged.

Grand Tetons are known, I think, to every climber for its incredible rock formation, and what it brings, climbing. But the truth is, other than that, it’s not a very popular park. But pretty popular destination. Okay, that’s weird, how?

Well, let me tell you! Grand Tetons National Park lies about 30 miles south from Yellowstone National Park and buying a pass to Yellowstone you also get a pass to the Grand Tetons (and vice versa) so people end up going to both of them. Usually.

But, not popular doesn’t mean not interesting.

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Moab: Utah’s capital of adventure

I gotta say, our Memorial Day trip to Moab was already my third voyage to that amazing place. And finally I can say I tried out all the main attractions Moab has to offer, so I think it’s a very good time to finally write that post.

So first of all, what Moab?

If you just thought that’s a ridiculous question, I’m really sorry, but I did meet people who I had to explain what is Moab.

So, Moab is a city on the East side of the state, about an hour from Colorado border and 6 hours from Denver. It’s a typical tourist city, with lodging and tourist attractions ads on every corner. Sometimes driving through there I ask myself a question- “Are there any people actually living here?”, because honestly, it’s really hard to find here a normal house.

I did mention tourist attractions, so now another question pops up.  Why do tourists come to Moab? Hot, small and not very famous. But still, thousands of people come to visit every month. The reason for that is simple- wide variety of outdoor activities. Starting with famous Arches National Park, through plenty of wonderful mountain biking and ATV trails, amazing rock climbing and canyoneering places and finishing on beautiful rafting areas.

 

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Colorado Climbing Treasures

Colorado Climbing Treasures

You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy of living your whole life on the ground.”

Like I promised, here’s a second post about climbing coming. This one I would like to direct to people from the “outside”, visiting Colorado, trying to find some state adventures or people who are maybe just moving in and want to check out that famous Colorado climbing.

Because cmon, it’s everywhere. Whoever you’ll ask- “Hey, what y’all doing in Colorado in the summer?” (yeah,  I know, of course, no one will ask that, it’s a stupid question, but MAYBE). You’ll always hear the same answer.

Cause Colorado is about three things:

14ers, whitewater rafting and rock climbing

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Fun weekend in New Orleans for Solo Traveller

“Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it.” ~John Mayer

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When less than two weeks ago I suddenly decided to go to New Orleans, the first question everybody asked when they found out was “who are you going with?”. Well, “by myself” was the only true answer I could give them. There were surprised faces, questions, consternation…

Why people travelling alone are such a surprise? 

I asked myself a question once “what do I travel for?”. When you think about it, it’s a really hard question. The answers “because I want to see the world”, “because it’s cool”, “because everybody does” don’t come into play…

I’ve heard a lot of people say, they travel to find themselves. I think it’s an amazing answer. But I went further. We are all lost in this world, in our daily lives, in our routine. We want to run away, as far as we can. We want to find out who we are, where we belong and how far we can push ourselves.

And to find your borders you need to go beyond people’s limits, cross your “comfort zone”, try everything. 

That’s why we travel alone. 

It may be hard. It may be rough. It may be dangerous. 

But it’s also a great adventure. 

Continue reading “Fun weekend in New Orleans for Solo Traveller”