Crossing the Channel. Another travel dream come true!

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I am not too much into travel buckets – my one and truly only such list has one big objective written down with several colours: See the World! – but crossing the Channel Tunnel – if possible to Pas-de-Calais – was always a secret dream of mine. Thus, when I decided to come back from London by car, I knew that this will finally happen. We left London in the afternoon spending a lot of time on the crowded streets. After around one hour and a half of safe driving, we spotted the first signs announcing the proximity with the channel.DSC09358

My dear France was only 35 minutes away from me and went very excited about the coming experience. But first, we went through the passport checking on both sides, that went very fast and without any bureaucratic problems.DSC09363In-between controls, a little stop at the shopping area, a clean area offering a lot of small souvenires shops and some basic fast food courts. DSC09366

Once the legal procedure finished, we were ready to go. I was very curious about the channel but even now, a couple of weeks after went through the experience, cannot explain clearly why. The most important fascination has to do probably with the fact that it is the largest undersea tunnel in the world, with around 38 km. long going under the sea. DSC09368The first plans for such a project were discussed as far as 1802, following the designs of the mining French engineer Albert Matthew Faner. At the time, it was aimed to serve the transportation with carriage, but till 1830, the idea of the construction of rail networks was already in sight. In 1867, on the occassion of the Exposition Universelle de Paris, Queen Victoria and Napoleon III agreed over the necessity of the channel, but the dream come true only at the end of 1990. DSC09371

Most delays were due to various financial problems and some political misunderstandings too. As for now, the channel traversation is part of the daily routine and can be done by train and car in just 30 minutes. DSC09372The process of crossing as such does not justify at all my enthusiasm and curiosity. It may be another example of attraction – my personal one – for scientific achievements that I don’t necessarily understand in their technical details and that fascinates me especially for their inhuman perfection.DSC09375The cars are entering the train platform, some of them with colourful wagons that contrast with the dirty look from inside. There are special schedules for the trains, but we were lucky to be in time and there were some space left for us. The interior is in fact a big parking place and it reminded me of the recent water crossing to Konstanz, the last summer. Except that you don’t see anything. Indoors, everything is that quiet that you might think that you actually are not moving at all. The speed is probably so high that you end up by not feeling it at all.DSC09376

After a while, the waiting is getting bored, but you are allowed to go out of your car and go on the other side of the silver doors and visit the restaurant or the restrooms. Of course I wanted to do it too – mostly disappointed that nothing special is happening during the much awaited travel experience – but after a couple of minutes I was still passing by another cars and decided that I better give up and come back to my car.DSC09378

It was an inspired choice as the traversation was done fast, in around 30 minutes. The pleasant view of Pas-de-Calais and its vineyard hills were welcoming us and I forgot all the disappointments. The worse part was to come: my decision to go back to Berlin from London by car, only because of the Channel, was worth 25 hours of driving across Europe, mostly during the night. But following the motto: Better now than ever, it was just another travel experience that you should go through it if you are really interested about what is done and going on in this world we are living.

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36 Hours in London

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Whatever the reason, an unexpected trip to London, one of my favourite cities in the world, is a joyful occurence. Shortly arrived at my usual headquarters in Golders Green, I switch to fast speed and head to Victoria Station. The massive architecture that every time seems to show me new dimensions of power and creativity that are not easy to find in Berlin.

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Talking about Berlin, another important difference with the city hosting me now is the weather. There is a common place to complain about the ‘bad’ weather in London meaning that not too many experienced the constant low temperatures in Berlin. As my short trip to London does include a lot of walking an no specific indoor activities – not even a small museum or exhibition – I use my time in between meetings enjoying the hot sun of the London spring.

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The perfectly white cubicle houses in the Kensington area makes me feel a spy in a huge lego town. This feeling is amplified also by the emptiness of the streets, as it seems at this time of the day everyone is even taking a well-deserved siesta or just working hard to pay the loans for these beautiful locations.

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The parks offer a more dynamic side of the London life, many offering chaise-longues and green scenery to read a book or enjoy the lunch break.

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Near Buckingam Palace, tourists – like me, and maybe you too, my reader – are intensively busy to spot their photographic memories of the trip.

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As for me, I am looking for some different royal views, paying a short visit at the local Ritz Hotel, whose soothing piano music makes you feel you are visiting a real palace.

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I may not have enough time and peace of mind to dedicate extra time of this trip to an exhibition or a museum, but at least I have the inspiration to stop in the yards of the Burlington House. Time for another open lesson in architecture.

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The view of some pleasant small Japanese cookies at Minamoto Kitchoan diversified the list of things seen and smelled in London this time. The pastel colours of the shop and the open smile of the vendors made me feel sorry for not being in the mood for some Asian purchase this time.

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Every time I visit London I should see this building near Oxford Street. One day, I hope to be brave enough and discover it properly.

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China Town is a place I haven’t visited in London for over 10 years. This time, I want to get lost in the emprorium of senses and colours and authentic cuisine. It is afternoon and I can easily find enough open, half-empty restaurants. When I was there the last time, in was late afternoon and we had to wait some good minutes till having our right to delicious Asian bites. DSC09282

London markets, including in Chinatown, are very well known for their diversity of tasty fresh products and I take the opportunity for some healthy supplies for my trip back to Berlin.

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The simple idea to return, after realizing that I will miss so many beautiful streets and buildings and foods, makes me sad. But I keep going and taking pictures, this is my antidote to travel sadness.

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As usual, I am trying to see the full half of the glass and I am making mental lists of the activities my next trip to London should include. Her Majesty’s Theater is obviously part of the plan.

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The always busy Piccadilly Circus offers everything you need to make your afternoon special: classical and modern art, street music, fresh water and even a lot of people ready to talk and help tourists losts or charmed in London.

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There is even a dynosaur’s metal skeleton…

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The brave squirrels that cut my way in the Green Park, seems to love flowers as much as I do so it is partly forgiven for the impoliteness. Not too much impressed by humans, it offers long photo opportunities and maybe also a squirrel’s smile.DSC09318

On the other side of the river, the Golden Eye is watching silently.

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And so does the Tower of London.

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In the shadows of so many historical landmarks, young dancers are practising their hobby on the river’s bank. After so many hours of walking, I decide to stop for more than 10 minutes, watching the gracious steps and almost perfect coordination of the pairs.

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This is the beautiful view that I left behind. Another point on my to-do-list for the next time: take a trip on the old Thames.

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I have no idea why the time run away that fast, but I am feeling like going fast down the rabbit’s hole. The same hole where Alice in Wonderland got caught. The beautiful porcelain celebrating the 150-year young book reminds me the sophistication yet plaifulness of the British spirit.

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The next day, I am decided to revisit and find some new places in the quiet Golders Green.

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Every time I am in London I am extensively exploring the diversity of kosher restaurants. This time, I can only take a look around to see if some new things are launched – there is a new Indian restaurant that I hope it will be there for the next time. Taking the advantage of the beautiful weather, I cannot resist the invitation to have a last icecream at SoYo before saying ‘good bye’ to London. I previously reviewed this place, that did not impressed me from the point of the view of the service. Some years after, the situation did not change, but at least after waiting way too much, the icecream is good enough to make myself smiling to the sun.

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That was all for this time. I am ready, but not happy, to go back to Berlin, feeling anxious about when will it be the next time to see London again. Meanwhile, I keep repeating to myself that it is up to us to make our travel dreams come true.

For more photos from London, including from previous tips, have a look at the dedicated Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/london/