Sunday, 30 June 2013

Eric's Uninformed Travel Tips: The London Edition

I put this one off in my first entry about England and swore that I would come back to it later...and dammit if later hasn't arrived...!

We found ourselves on our way back to Jolly old En-ga-land for a second time in the 2012 in the latter half of August, and I guess I need to take this opportunity to write about London.  Also, I took literally, not a single, solitary photo to remember this trip by...So, I have decided that instead of posting London photos I am going to post photos of things that are stereotypically British.
I believe this kid has since become the Earl of Grey
 I am also going to stray a bit from my normal format in this blog article, but before I get too off topic I will dispense with the usual basic travel information.

Trip to London, England: August 24-26th 2012

How did we get there: Eurostar Bay-Bee!

Where did we stay: We stayed closer to the Leicester Square this time at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel.  The choice to stay closer to the action was a great one, however, it has to be noted that the closer to the center of London you get, the higher the already crazy hotel costs get...I can't recall the exact price on this one but I know it was over 200 Pounds/night!!!  Bottom line, if you are not prepared to get fleeced for your hotel fees, you shouldn't expect to stay in a convienient locale in London...

Now onto the meat and veg...the bangers and mash...the bubble and squeak...To the point, I say!
Bangers and mash....mmmmmmm...
I have made allusions throughout my blog posts that there is one place in particular that seems to never get old for me...One destination I have been to that I can always go back to and never feel like I have run out of things to do, or spent too much time, or simply gotten enough of.  That place for me is London.

I realize that this is the part of my post where any English (from England, not people who speak English) are itching to point out all the deficiencies that plague the city...I find that, like the French from parts of France outside Paris like to trash talk the city, so too do the English from parts of England outside London (for that matter, see my own opinion on Toronto...or as I like to refer to it "A hell spawned from the nightmares of a coked up Steven King...AKA the worst place imaginable").  However, as you can see, it seems that this thought process is pretty much universal in every country with a major central city, and is nearly always a load of hooey (mine included Torontonians...mine included...).  Yes your city has deficiencies, the rent is too damn high, public transport is too crowded bla bla bla...Pick any city as large, historical, and important as London that doesn't have similar problems...I dare you.
What fresh hell is this?!?
So, instead of focussing on the negatives, I prefer to look on the bright side of life ;)  Yes folks, I like to look at the stagnant pigeon poop filled puddles as natural bird baths, bird poop facial included...And when crossed against the overall grandeur and spectacle that is London, can you blame me?

Why do I love it so much you ask?  Well, let me give you some of my reasons....

1.  Mix of old and new:  I have travelled to quite a few European cities now (more than I have written about unfortunately as I am incredibly lazy), and though almost all of them get the old part down, very few get the new part mixed in there to the extent of London...And, the new adds to the old in London, it doesn't take away from it...The Gherkin may look strange hanging out there in the skyline, but that strangeness makes a photo of London instantly identifiable, even if that building is all you see.  Likewise the London Eye not only adds to the skyline, but gives the patient tourist a whole new way to experience it.

2.  An Anglophile's dream:  As a student of history, particularly European history, I spent a lot of time and...well, at least a little effort studying English history and literature.  And when it comes down to it, there is no better place to see that history, that culture...our culture, come to life.
The original London Bridge was a bit less "bridge-y"
3.  Europe's Broadway:  If you like plays and musicals, London is a mecca.  I honestly didn't realize the extent of this until my first trip, but on any given night there are some 50+ musicals to be seen...take your pick!  So far, I have seen Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail and Rock of Ages...both are super funny and very well done.  Tip - Buy your tickets from the street vendors that are all over the place.

4.  Shopping mecca:  I am not a great shopper in the traditional sense of the term, but I have heard from pretty much all my lady friends that the shopping is incredible in London.  And based on the bit I have done, I would agree.  If you like your more traditional shopping (clothes, brand names, etc.) then you have the areas between Oxford St. and Trafalgar Square. If you like everything in one place then hit up Harrods, and if like me, you wish you were born 100 years ago and had money, hit up the snooty man shops around St. James Place.  This is where I found the (and bought) the same model hat (from the same store) that Sean Connery (as James Bond) wears in Dr. No...Amazeballs!
This bad boy
5.  Royal chasers:  Buckingham palace, Westminster Abby, The Crown Jewels and all that...I'm not super huge into it, but it is still pretty cool that they are right there.
How come when I wave like that it just comes out looking pompous...?
6.  Pubs, pubs, pubs:  I have written about my love o pubs in about half of my blog posts at this point so I won't go into it any further here...I love pubs!  Ok, sorry...that slipped out...I really do love them though...done.

7.  It's Alive!:  For the final point, it is simply that London is alive, people are out enjoying themselves and being loud about it!  They like to laugh, to drink, to be a bit silly and they don't care that people are looking.  Juls and I have often remarked that that attitude is something that is sorely missed in Paris, where is seems that everyone is too caught up in their public appearance to ever allow themselves to have too much fun...We have actually gotten to the point now though where we find the fact that everyone is so loud in London a bit shocking at first...Then of course, we realize that people are having fun, and that we used to be that cool too ;)

Well, that's it on London....I think I am going to let this one sit for a while now...There are too many other places to write about...I should note however that we have been back 3 times since this trip in August 2012...Oh well, if I think about anything I missed I will post about it in the future.

Oh, and if you are looking for my ratings on London, I've already done them in a previous post "ya tart!"...You can find them here Eric's Uninformed Travel Tips: England Edition.

And for the last English Stereotype...
Yeah Baby!
Next up, Ireland!

1 comment:

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